Mangrove trees can be found on the Atlantic coast from St. Augustine to the Florida Keys, and on the Gulf Coast everywhere south of Cedar Key. These trees are nurseries, breeding grounds and feeding areas for many different types of shellfish and fish.
If you’re planning a fishing trip to the flats, you should consider targeting marsh or mangrove edges. During times of low tide, you can find fish in these areas, looking for their next meal. Your best bet is to check the areas near the marshes or mangrove edges for places where water is rushing in or out. This is where fish like to hide out waiting to ambush their prey.
You can find many different species of fish among the mangroves, including redfish, snook, snapper and grouper. The changes in the tides can have quite an effect on the number of bites you get – high tide being the best time to catch a lot of fish. Most people use live bait when fishing in mangroves, but you can also use lures if you choose.
For the best chances of success, get your boat close to the edge of the mangroves or marsh, then try out a few different techniques to see which one works best. You can try moving a jig along the bottom, casting a baitfish or shrimp rigged with a popping cork, or using a torpedo-shaped top water plug to “walk the dog” around the edges of the marsh or mangrove.
Lures vs. Live Bait
Live bait is your best bet for fishing in mangroves, but there are times when lures can offer you an advantage.
If the shoreline you’re fishing is several hundred yards long, you’ll need to look around a bit to figure out where most of the fish are hanging out. You can use a live shrimp to see if an area has fish, but it may take a while to get a bite.
However, you can cover some good ground and get a better idea of where the fish are hiding if you drift or use a trolling motor and cast to several different spots with artificial lures. Since lures allow you to find feeding fish more quickly, they often work better than live bait in certain areas of the mangroves.
Lures have another benefit as well – they can help keep your line from getting snagged. Some suggestions for good lures to use in mangrove are jerk shads and paddletails. Both of these types of lures can be rigged weedless and they also do a great job at catching fish. You can also make these lures look like fleeing shrimp or wounded baitfish, which predator fish like trout, redfish and snook find irresistible.
Weighted swimbait hooks are also a good option because you can bury the hook inside the lure and also rig them weedless to help prevent snags. The less a hook is exposed, the less likely it is to get hung up on weeds, trees and such.