Incredible Underwater Mangrove Snapper Strikes – How They Really Feed

By: Luke Simonds on May 22, 2020
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underwater snapper footage

Want to see how mangrove snapper actually feed on live shrimp?

Here’s a scenario…

You’re fishing a bridge using live shrimp in hopes of getting sheepshead or snapper for dinner, but you keep feeling little tap-taps and losing your shrimp.

Sound familiar?

What do you think is happening down there?

I always thought snapper or sheepshead were stealing my bait, but after watching this video, I now know exactly what’s going on.

In this video below, you’ll learn:

  • How snapper feed vs. pinfish
  • What to do after hooking a snapper to quickly catch more
  • How sheepshead act underwater (very different than snapper)
  • And much more

If you want to catch more mangrove snapper, then check this video out.

How Mangrove Snapper Actually Eat [VIDEO]

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Alright, let’s break down how each of these species act underwater.

How Mangrove Snapper Act Underwater

As you can see in the first clip, mangrove snapper have a hard time denying what seems like a free meal.

Even though the snapper knew something wasn’t quite right, he still inhaled the shrimp.

And not only did he inhale it, but it took just 1/60 of a second for him to do it!

I could not believe how fast it was.

And here’s another interesting point: after I caught the first snapper, more snapper came over to see what was going on.

They saw him thrashing around and thought it was a feeding frenzy.

So if you catch one snapper, be sure to get another bait down as quickly as possible.

And finally, you’ll notice in the video that snapper bite in the middle or the head.

They’re not tail-biters, so if something is biting off your shrimp’s tail, it’s probably not a snapper.

If you’re feeling little taps, which could be pinfish or snapper bumping it with their nose, wait for the bigger thump to set the hook.

How Sheepshead Act Underwater

sheepshead on savage gear crab

Where the snapper couldn’t resist the shrimp, even though it knew something was wrong, the sheepshead was very shy.

I had one come up to the shrimp, but as soon as he saw the camera he bolted.

And in another clip, where more snapper came around thinking there was a feeding frenzy, you can see the sheepshead in the background leaving when the action starts picking up.

So if you want to catch more sheepshead, be careful to be extra stealthy.

How Pinfish Act Underwater

Ah, the dreaded pinfish…

As you can see in the video, pinfish are tail-biters.

They grab onto the tail and shake the shrimp, trying to break it off (or at least a piece of it off) and eat it.

These are the bait-stealing culprits, and this is why you feel a lot of little taps when you put a shrimp down near structure.

Because they probably won’t be inhaling your bait, make sure to wait for a big thump from a snapper, sheepshead, or other species to set your hook.

If you set the hook too early, you’ll probably just rip the shrimp off the hook, or donate the tail to a hungry pinfish.


mangrove snapper on live shrimp

If you want to catch more snapper and sheepshead, and lose fewer shrimp, make sure to wait to set the hook until you feel a big thump.

If you feel little taps, it’s most likely pinfish biting your shrimp’s tail.

Also, if you catch a snapper, be sure to get another bait down there as soon as possible because there are likely more hungry snapper down there.

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Red Dzielak
22 hours ago

Thanks for all the great fishing info. I have a problem though-when I try to scroll down to find the video to watch it, the site immediately zooms to the end of the email. Then, when I go back up to the first part of the email and start to go down to the video, sometimes it zooms back to the end and sometimes it lets me get to the video and watch it! Am I doing something wrong? Thanks again for the super videos. Red Dzielak-Roscoe, IL

Chuck Shaw
23 hours ago

Great video of the snapper and pin fish! We seem to have more “Puffers” here on the Indian and Banana rivers. They seem to be the bait stealers here. You thing they behave like the pinfish?


John Higgins
1 day ago

Thanks for the videos and commentary. I’ll probably save enough on scrimp and buying fish dinners to pay for my Insiders membership for another year.

Great Job.

James Rahn
1 day ago

I’m soooo tired of feeding pin fish! Lol

Delbert Young
2 days ago

Good stuff Luke. Very interesting. I enjoy how you seem to enjoy creating this stuff as much as we enjoy watching.

2 days ago

Great video. Looking forward to seeing strikes from other fish.

Justin Rhymer
2 days ago

Luke what size hook and weight are you using for the snapper?

Justin Rhymer
1 day ago
Reply to  Luke Simonds

What would you recomend for a depth of 3 -5 feet and no current flow?

Stan Mitchell
2 days ago

Awesome video Luke, can you Imagine how it would be offshore and the BIG boys were on fire with the GoPro filming it . Thanks for sharing 🎣💪

Bill Moore
3 days ago

Hey Luke. If the snapper are hitting the head or mid-section, should we hook the shrimp toward the head instead of the tail?

Steven Rackas
3 days ago


Just an idea….your website does not have an area to send suggestions to. It might be a good idea to have it as a header next to the logo on the upper left hand corner.

Steven Rackas
3 days ago

I would also like to see an artificial shrimp vs. a live shrimp video.

Stephen Rothman
3 days ago

I feed fish in the canal off of my deck, using a rapid sinking pellet of which the principal ingredient is shrimp, made for use as an aquarium food. We get a ton of mangrove snappers, some sheepshead, some catfish, a three inch fish that from it’s shape I would guess is a juvenile triple tail, but I don’t really know. Snook come through fairly often, usually but not always juveniles. The snook don’t eat the pellet food, but they wait for a swarm of mosquito fish to collect around a pellet and then accelerate to devour them so fast, that it sounds almost like a gun firing, and the water is disturbed so much that you don’t see the actual take but then see the snook cruising away around 3 feet from where it fed. In the summer there are lots of cichlids. Occasional other visitors include grass carp, black drum, some kind of skate or ray, dolphins and manatee, blue crabs and other crabs I don’t recognize.

Anyway it gives me a chance to watch some of these fish feed, though not on their natural targets. There is one very consistent thing about the mangrove snapper, also visible in your video but you didn’t mention it. As soon as the bait is in their mouth, they turn at a sharp angle and swim away fast. It’s almost like they think if they get away fast enough they can’t be hooked. Maybe it’s an instinct that is for avoiding getting eaten themselves when they are feeding. But because they always do this, I think it would be very hard to miss a snapper bite. They absolutely take off. Sheepshead don’t do this; they usually just continue on their way after engulfing the bait. One other thing I have noticed about the snapper, at least with pellet bait, is that they often swim at the bait, break off and swim a foot away, and then come in a second time, which is when they swallow the bait, and then take off fast.

Another thing I have noticed about the sheepshead is that they tend to look down for food on the bottom. Not that they will never come up higher in the water column, but it’s not their habit. To the point where if there are 10 snappers and a sheepshead and I throw in 20 pellets, the sheepshead usually gets none. They sense the frenzy of the snappers above them, but the snappers eat everything by the time it gets into the middle water column, so usually nothing makes it down to the sheepshead. So I think if you are sheepshead fishing you definitely want to be on the bottom.

Scott Rispaud
3 days ago

Hey Luke, great video! It’s interesting that the Sheepie was shy and the snapper weren’t. My buddy held his gopro underwater at a very lit up dock with hundreds of snook cruising the light in crystal clear water by the Jupiter Inlet. All he wanted was footage but got a whole lot more! A biggin took the camera out of his hand very aggressively. It spit it out and another one grabbed it! When it got spit out again, he jumped in and recovered the camera!!! Camera was running the whole time. I’m trying to reach him to get a copy of the video to share. You could see the Snooks gills, so cool. We believe the Snook were attracted to the electronic pulses from the camera. Certain species seem to be attracted to different things like light, monotone sounds, electrical pulses etc.

Ron Vahey
3 days ago

Excellent video! Explains a lot of what is going on down there! Thanks, keep them coming. Learning a whole lot to be able to be better once back on the water!

Steve Krotzer
3 days ago

Really great footage of the strikes Luke. Way cool! More,more, more.

Christopher Scott
3 days ago

Awesome video! That explains the hundreds if not thousands of half eaten shrimp we’ve all brought back up from the depths. Watching the way even the small snapper use the jaw snap suction to feed really clears up the ‘tap’ vs ‘thump’ feelings from the rod/line. Thanks!

Steven Rackas
3 days ago

Luke you need to start interviewing the fish

Steven Rackas
3 days ago
Reply to  Luke Simonds

This was actually really helpful. Putting different color lines down and different presentations would be interesting. Also doing this during temperature changes in the water would be interesting. Different baits would be interesting. A lot of young kids use chunks of squid because it is tougher for the fish to nibble off. I would like to see how the fish approach this. Chumming the area would also be interesting to see and how the chum changes the area would be interesting.

Frank Santana
3 days ago

That was awesome !!!

Scott Carlin
3 days ago

In future videos would be cool to see if they are less spooky with changes to your terminal tackle like flouro, red hooks, smaller hooks, or smaller weights. Or do you think it was just because of the GoPro?

Scott Carlin
3 days ago
Reply to  Luke Simonds

Makes sense. I was taking some underwater video of some HUGE black drum with mine and they would scatter when I put the camera in the water. Quickly realized it makes a beep after you push record so I turned that off. Also, I’m sure it’s giving off tiny vibrations and electric fields. I wonder if the super suit would muffle some of that.

Christopher Scott
3 days ago
Reply to  Luke Simonds

Hmmmm, time to shop the aquarium store and find a rock or fake coral and go full blown stealth go-pro mode! Let the creative juices flow. This seems like the recipe for the elusive sheepshead bite. They are going to make you work for it.

Randall Perron
3 days ago

Thanks Luke for the Great footage. I often wonder what’s going on down there. I get so frustrated about losing so many shrimp, with nothing to show for it. Please keep up the great work!

3 days ago

I’m a teacher… which video casting software do you use for your videos? thanks

Gary Rankel
3 days ago

Pretty neat, Luke. For your next challenge, how about a video of a redfish striking a topwater lure?