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Catching Snapper from the Shore: The Full Guide

Catching Snapper from the Shore: The Full Guide

Snappers are extremely strong fish and don’t give up easily when hooked. Snappers are beautiful to look at and delicious to eat. Snapper can be found along the eastern coasts of South America, Central America, North America, Australasia (for Pink Snapper), and the Gulf of Mexico. But do you know how to catch Snapper from shore?

You’ve come to the right place! In this article, we’ll go over all the different ways to catch snapper from shore. Snapper are generally found around some form of structure. Off-shore they hang around reefs and rocky outcrops. Snapper can be caught in water ranging from 3 ft. – 400 ft. and can also be found in estuaries and natural water systems.

How to Catch Snapper from Shore

You can catch Snapper from the shore but unfortunately, it is not that common. while Snapper will venture to shoreline areas and shallow flats, they typically like to live around deeper structure such as reefs, wrecks, and other areas.

Author Note: When unsuspecting prey are swimming by, the Snapper can burst to ridiculously quick speeds to catch them. To target snapper from the shore, you will want to find deep water that is close to shore, and the more structure in the area the better.

The chance of your tackle getting constantly snagged is extremely high, and you might just find yourself replacing your tackle all day. We recommend surf fishing for snapper or getting an inshore kayak.

What are Good Baits to Catch Snapper?

There are numerous dead baits that are effective when targeting Snapper. The most popular (and often the most readily available) are options like pilchards, red-eye mackerel, and squid.

Fresh strip baits from fish like yakka, tuna, salmon, and slimy mackerel also work really well. Should be given a chance if the mainstream options aren’t working.

Tips for Catching Snapper

Snappers have extremely healthy appetites. They are in no way fussy eaters and feed on a variety of species. Adult Snappers are considered generalists, and apart from feeding on a variety of species, they also have the ability to occupy a wide range of habitats. Crustaceans make up the bulk of their diet, but they also eat other fish, sea urchins, and shellfish.

For those of you that have access to marine estuaries, there are many Snappers up for grabs. By no means the easiest fish to target, but with some patience and a little hard work, you can have loads of fun and a tasty meal. There are three general techniques for targeting Snapper in an estuary:

Artificial Lures

holding fresh red snapper fish

Artificial lures are extremely versatile, but it’s unlikely that you will hook into a Snapper by trolling one. Most success comes from fishing the banks, as well as any type of structure that may be around. Fish these areas thoroughly as it might take a few casts to lure a Snapper.

Author Note: Deep diving lures and various types of jig heads can be effective. I tend to stick with the classic bucktail or naturally colored paddle tails.

Cast your lure into the desired fishing spot and allow it to sink to the bottom. Slowly twitch and jerk the lure while simultaneously retrieving. If there is no action, don’t get despondent. When you least expect it, you will get a hit.

Live Bait

Live bait can either be used on a fish finder rig set-up or can be suspended from a float or bobber. When down rigging your bait, use a 4-6 ounce weight, attach your live bait to the mainline about 3 ft above the weight.

The line that connects your bait to the mainline should be about 3 ft long. This will allow the live bait a little freedom to swim around and hopefully get noticed.

When using a float or bobber set-up, suspend your bait from the float with a line of around 3 ft. Cast towards the structure and sit back and relax.

Dead Bait

Dead bait can be fished in the same manner as live bait. Striped baits are more effective when compared to whole baits. Fish the banks and look out for any type of structure.

The best time of day to target Snapper is first thing in the morning or late afternoon. However, they are quite active and feed throughout the night.

Targeting Snapper off-shore can be exhilarating, and bringing one up from the deep is quite an experience. The most effective off-shore technique is to down rig a bait over a reef or structure. Whether it’s a live bait or a dead bait, the key is to get it down to the fish. Artificial lures can be effective if you are able to get them down to the reef and keep them there (this works particularly well with Pink Snapper lures).

Can You Eat Snapper?

Red Snapper

Snapper is a very tasty fish, and there are numerous ways to prepare it. All fish contain some levels of cholesterol, but if eaten in moderation, it can be part of a healthy diet. Snapper tastes similar to Barramundi or other white meat fish.

Delicious Snapper Recipe: Snapper with Rosemary and Garlic


  • 4 x Snapper Fillets
  • 3 x cloves garlic
  • 2 x tablespoon fresh oregano
  • 4 x fresh lemons for serving
  • 2 x teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 x tablespoon breadcrumbs with Italian herbs


  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees
  • Rinse fillets with fresh water and pat dry with a kitchen towel
  • Place a sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil on the broiler rack
  • Lightly coat fillets with olive oil and season with oregano, garlic, salt, and pepper
  • Place the fillets skin side down on the aluminum foil and sprinkle with bread crumbs and Italian Herbs
  • Drizzle with olive oil and cook for about 15-20 minutes or until cooked through (Do not overcook)

Nutritional Value

Protein 45.3 g

Carbohydrates 3.2 g

Calories 256

Sugar 0

Sodium 141 mg

Fiber 0.2 g

Tips for Surf Fishing for Snapper

There is a wide variety of fish that you can catch off the shore-line. The most popular are Mackerel, Rockfish, various types of bream, and Flounder.

This makes it easy for saltwater anglers to get some fresh air, have some fun and catch a meal without having to leave the land.

Surf Casting for Novice Anglers

Surf fishing is a great way to get introduced to the madness that is saltwater fishing. There are just a few simple steps to ensure you have fun and start creating positive habits. You need to be versatile when surf fishing as the conditions, weather, and tides are constantly changing.

Surfcasting is similar to regular casting, but more focus needs to put on accuracy and distance to get your bait out into the surf. An over-head cast requires you to hold the fishing rod in your weaker hand, flip the bale switch over with your stronger hand (this done to release the line from your spool when casting).

Bend your arm up to approximately 90 degrees, flick the rod towards your target and straighten out your arm. Focus on finding the balance between power and accuracy, keeping in mind that accuracy is most important.

Reading the Beach

The ocean can be intimidating for beginners, but seasoned saltwater anglers have the ability to read the beach and determine the features that will make a good fishing spot. Here are a few things to consider that will hopefully help you get some action

The sand bars will constantly change with the passing storms and waves. The sand bar is a vital component in figuring out where the fish might be. It will let you know if the fish are closer to shore or whether the fish are feeding behind it.

You can locate the sand bar by identifying where the waves are breaking. Fish will often come to feed in the surf close to rip currents or outflows. These are formed by the sand bar. Try casting your bait on either side of the rip current or outflow.

Weather and Tides

As you become more experienced with surf fishing, reading the beach will become easier. As the tides and weather change, you will also see changes in the behavior of fish.

Pay attention to the behavioral and feeding habits of the fish you are targeting. Although every surf angler has their own opinion as to what are the best fishing conditions, there are a few basics that most would agree with.

Author Note: Rainy and overcast days are good for fishing, grab your raincoat and a flask of coffee and get out there. The lack of sunlight will minimize shadows from your line and will make your bait more appealing.

Always keep one eye on the weather, be prepared to find shelter, and be careful of strong winds that could bring large waves.

High tide is when the majority of fish come to feed, this is a great time to be out there, and you will find more holes to fish.

There are certain species that prefer low tide, but generally, high tide and a few hours before is the best time to fish.

Take advantage of the low tide to learn about the beach, structure, and sand bars that are around.

Surf Fishing Gear

Snapper from Port Phillip Bay

If the weather and water conditions are looking good and you decide to go fishing, make sure that you are prepared. Have the following fishing equipment with you:

  • Fishing License
  • First Aid Kit
  • Sunglasses and Sunscreen
  • Umbrella and Rain Gear
  • Surf Fishing Rod and Reel
  • Tackle and Bait
  • Surf Fishing Rigs
  • Cast Net
  • Knife
  • Spare Spool of Fishing Line
  • Air Pump and Bait Bucket
  • Saltwater Fishing Pliers
  • Tape Measure


Snapper can be caught from shore, but it is not common. There are better ways to target these wonderful fish. The main reason for this is because Snapper are extremely territorial and don’t actively pursue their prey, like gamefish and other predatory fish do.

Fishing from a vessel would be ideal, but if you don’t have access to one, fishing an estuary would be your best bet. We hope you enjoyed this article on how to catch Snapper from shore. And remember, the most important rule of fishing is that you can’t buy experience.

Happy Hunting!


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