Snapper Blues On The Swarm
Docks and bulkheads.
Lagoons and bridges.
No boats are needed, nor high-end tackle.
Welcome to late summer fishing for snapper blues, the progeny offspring of adult bluefish that arrived in New Jersey coastal waters back in April and May before migrating northward.
Traveling in schools and on the hunt for spearing, glass minnows, killies, and just about anything small enough with fins they can bite and slash into. These downsized eating machines provide fast fishing and are not only popular with youngsters but also anglers who realize the effectiveness of a live snapper when it comes to catching big and bigger summer flounder.
They are a prime crabbing bait (affix 3-4 to the clip in a cage trap) and are downright delicious drizzled in butter and lemon juice with a dash of Old Bay, wrapped in foil tent-style then put on the grill over medium heat for a few minutes.
A spearing on a long shank hook under a bobber is the easiest way to catch snappers. These mini marauders will also chase and smash small (1/8-oz.) silver spoons. Mashing the barb on the treble hook will make it much easier to remove the fish. The Snapper Popper with a single hook glow tube is another way draw strikes.
A unique setup that originated in south Jersey is the Lenny Lance It rig. It has a small spinner atop a four-inch wire that is looped on to and bottom. The top loop is for the line; the bottom has a twin hook that slides off. The spearing is impaled through the eye and the wire slid down to where it will exit just above the tail. The twin hook is then slipped on. A bobber or cigar float is attached to the line 18 or so inches above the rig and then it’s cast. The float will have the rig moving with the current, and an upward twitch of the rod every 10 or so seconds will get the spinner blade rotating, giving off some flash. Drives the snappers insane.
When using a long shank hook/bobber setup, rig the spearing the same as on the Lance It rig with the point of the hook exiting just above the tail.
As are adult blues, snappers are tail biters. With the Lance It rig hooks at the spearing’s tail, hook-ups are pretty much guaranteed.
Snappers are somewhat tide-sensitive. Dead low and slack periods are downtimes. The last three of the incoming and the first two of the outgoing are prime periods.
Despite their abundance, the daily limit is only three, with no minimum length limits. Predicated on where you’re fishing, snappers will range anywhere from 6 to 10-inches. With only a trio allowed, we’ll do a catch and release until we start hitting them in the 8 to 10-inch range. Six of these size in the aforementioned grilling situation makes for a nice appetizer.
Oh...beware the teeth. Though they may be small, they’ll chomp, hold on, and will draw blood.