As an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

How to Catch Snapper Fish (Huge Fishing Guide!)

A keeper Gray (Mangrove) Snapper from The St. Petersburg Pier just south of Tampa. Thonny caught by freelining small greenbacks.

Welcome to our “How to Catch Snapper Fishing Guide”! We’re big fans of these fish for a couple of reasons, one is the taste. They’re great fish to have on a sandwich or taco.

The other reason we like fishing for them so much, is because they are plentiful and almost always biting.

You can find Snapper inshore where they’re easy to reach on your lunch break if you happen to be nearby. Target them sometime soon if you haven’t already, this is a somewhat easy fish to catch and great for kids too!

Don’t miss our other Barracuda Info Pages: Facts | Laws & Bag Limits | Records | Gear, Rigs, Lures | Recipes

[Page Updated – 4 August 2022. Bookmark this page (Windows CNTRL+D, MAC CMD+D) so you don’t lose it.]

Salty101 paragraph spacer.

HOW TO CATCH SNAPPER FISH — Guide

Snapper Gamefish Ratings

  • Size: 3/10 stars (some get 8/10)
  • Fight: 2/10 stars (some 7/10) 
  • Difficulty to Catch: 2/10 stars
  • Taste: 8/10 stars

INDEX to Sections in this Guide:


PRO TIP – The deeper the water, the bigger the fish. Know the rules for catching these tasty fish and you can catch 100 lbs. of some species!

Why Catch them?

Huge Red Snapper caught offshore while Deep Sea Fishing.
An absolute monster of a Red caught offshore while deep sea fishing, I’m guessing over some sort of structure!

Snapper are always around. If you’re standing on a beach with structure of any kind, a pier, a dock, a boat, a sea wall, fallen trees, a wreck, rocks, literally anything, and you probably have some of these fish close enough to you to catch.

They are like the ultimate always-available fish. AND they are delicious. They grow quickly and don’t have a chance to eat a lot of mercury and other toxic metals in smaller fish and marine-life, so you’re generally safe to eat them often.

Where To Find Snapper?

Find some structure. It’s that simple. They are widely distributed and absolutely love structure of any kind. If you’re inshore, head to piers, bridges, rocks, or fallen trees. If you have a boat, head out into deeper water for better action.

Find wrecks and reefs for the best chance to find some keepers. The easiest place to catch one is to go to a saltwater canal and throw small baitfish free-lined on a non-stainless 1/0 circle hook (non-offset).

What Do Snapper Eat?

They are mostly fish eaters. They eat fish smaller than them, obviously. Any small baitfish is a great bait for Snappers of all kinds. You can also try other baits like live crabs, squid, sardines, small pinfish, and jumbo shrimp.

Throw a cast-net over a shallow area, especially with seagrass and see what sort of baitfish you can find. The mangroves are excellent for this, lots of seagrass and bait in the shallows. Pinfish are too big for Snapper inshore, but good for offshore if you can’t get bigger baitfish.

How to Catch Snapper—Techniques

From Inshore

There isn’t much to catching snapper, you just have to be where the fish are. Free-lining a small live baitfish is the easiest and one of the best ways to do it when the tide isn’t pulling hard. When it is, you can use a swivel to drop an ounce or two sinker to the bottom and float the baitfish off the bottom.

A 1/0 Circle hook (non-offset) and a 20 lb. mono or fluorocarbon leader is all you need to catch almost any size fish you’re going to find inshore. Most will be under a pound, and if you’re lucky, you’ll hook into something around 5 lb.

It’s basically the same from a pier or bridge. They love structure of any kind and I’m sure you can find them at any pier pylons you know in Florida.

From a Small Boat – Kayak, Canoe

If you have a boat, you’re probably going after something other than snappers but some people do it and have a blast. Especially if you’re fishing with kids and you want them to have FISH-ON often, snapper fishing is a great way to keep them interested in the hobby and coming back for more.

What better way to spend time with your kids?!

From a boat, hold over any sort of structure or rocks and drop a live baitfish down to see what grabs it. This fish can be there by the hundreds, and you will be catching them all day if you find the right spot. The deeper the water, the bigger the fish (and other fish, generally).

But, you can find them in 2-3 feet of water. Once you know a couple of spots to find them, you can also find them in the same places for years. A saltwater canal full of docks is the ideal place to find them with a kayak, Black Drum, Redfish, Sheepshead, and Flounder.

If you can free-line baitfish as you fish from the boat, even better. If you have to use some weight, try some pinch on sinkers to start and see if that’s enough. Put the sinkers far from the fish so it can swim more naturally.

Catch Snapper at any Pier in Florida – List here >

When Is the Best Time to Catch Them?

All year! They are most active in the warm months, they seem to enjoy the warmer water. The cool thing about Snapper is that you can often find them biting regardless of tide conditions, especially when you have the right size baitfish (small) on the end of a hook they can’t see, on a line they can’t see.

You may be catching them all day. Change it up and go fishing at night too from a fishing pier, some species of them tend to bite more at night.


Farming Snappers

In the Philippines in 2020, they have made a breakthrough in Reds reproduction and farming and they will be ramping up the production of the fish to supplement supply from countries abroad.

Red Snapper is a great fish to eat but the cost is too high in the Philippines. They hope to create a number of these farming facilities around the country in the next few years.

Image credits: Some images were sourced from stock agencies, others were obtained directly from anglers in Florida.

More Fishing Help