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Snapper Fishing and Some Great Eats

This is my favorite time of the year to go Snapper Fishing in Tampa Bay. Summer time brings the spawn of the larger snapper and they make for some great eats!
Targeting them along shoreline rocky structure and bottom fishing the reefs,wrecks and rock piles can be productive. Light tackle is key when fishing for snapper. I set up such as a 7′ medium action rod with a 4000 size spinning reel is about as heavy of a set up as needed. A leader about 4′ long in 20# test gets the bite although we do downsize at times to around 15#. Depending on tidal conditions the amount of weight you use can vary from no weight at all up to 1 1/2 oz.
The more natural the presentation of the bait the more bites you will get. Allowing the bait to free flow with the current can be a key factor in your success.
The type of bait you use will vary at times. One bait you can typically rely on is a medium size live shrimp. Everything loves a shrimp! Scaled sardines are another option but catching them takes time so for the average guy or gal just wanting to make the most of there time on the water buying a few dozen shrimp is an easier option.
Snapper (Mangrove or Gray) have a size and bag limit. In our state waters the minimum size is 10″. I recommend not keeping any under 12″ unless you plan on cooking them in whole condition. The bag limit per person is 5 per day.
I recently had the opportunity to take my wife Karen out for a morning of snapper fishing. We didn’t keep our limit but we did keep enough for 4 of us to have a fresh fish dinner. We kept it simple and I cleaned the fish,and breaded and deep fried them. They were absolutely delicious. In my opinion this is the best way to cook the snapper that are on the smaller side because you get the most out of it.
I first prepared the fish by scaling it and gutting. I then made 4 vertical slices down each side of the fish being careful not to slice completely through. I then made one horizontal slice lengthwise.
After I was done with that I rinsed the fish in fresh water,patted dry and then mixed up some seasoning in melted butter. I them brushed the fish with the seasoning inside and out. I stuffed the cavity of the fish with some fresh cilantro and bagged them up and placed in the fridge for a few hours to marinate.(Overnight would be much better)
snapper fishing

When I was ready to fry it I coated the fish in an egg wash and then rolled it on a fine ground cornmeal breading mix. I typically would of fried the fish head on but I had to remove them as they were a little larger that I anticipated and wouldn’t fit in my fryer correctly.
I heated my counter top fryer to 350 degrees while the coated fish rested letting the breading mix dry a bit. This helps keeping the breading stuck to the fish. Once the hot oil was ready I dropped the fish in one at a time and fried for about 5 minutes. The result was a beautiful golden brown fried snapper. I added a side of Plantains and yellow rice.(Rice not pictured)
snapper fishing charterI enjoy fishing and I love a fresh fish dinner. If you would like to get in on this action give me a call or text to book a charter. I am happy to clean your fish and bag it for you. If whole fried fish isn’t your thing filleting it is not a problem. I will share my recipes with you.

Capt Steve Betz
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