Mingo snapper fish (How to find and catch them)

Mingo snapper fish in a group

Have you been pulling up mystery red fish that look kind of like snapper but aren’t sure what they are?

Chances are it’s a Mingo Snapper fish. 

Mingo fish are great fun to catch, easy to hook up and absolutely delicious. They are a very popular target for anglers because they have relaxed bag limits too.

So if you want to learn what Migo Snappers are, where to find them and how best to catch them, keep reading this article!

Mingo Snapper is a snapper that is part of the Lutjanidae family. It looks like a Red Snapper but are smaller, football-shaped and subtly different in colour. Locate Mingo Snapper in deep ocean near structure on the ocean floor. The best rig is a double dropper baited with squid, bonito, bobo, or mackerel. 

Ever heard of hardtail fish – a fantastic saltwater baitfish? Click here to find out where and how to catch hardtail fish.

Mingo Snapper – what kind of fish is it?

A mingo snapper is a type of reef fish, that is typically the size and shape of panfish.

Mingo fish are a saltwater fish found in deep ocean, swimming around structure on the ocean floor. 

A ‘Mingo’ is a type of snapper, looking similar to a red snapper with its red appearance and bright orange eyes, and are often confused by anglers with red snapper. 

However a Mingo snapper is different to a typical red snapper however they belong to the same family Lutjanidae, of the genus Rhomboplites. 

Mingo tends to be found in the west Atlantic Ocean. 


Do Mingo Snapper have different names?

Mingo snapper fish are called many different names by anglers catching them out at sea. 

Formally, the Mingo Snapper is known as the Vermilion Snapper, but it also is nicknamed:

  • Beeliner
  • Mingo fish
  • Club head snapper
  • Night snapper
  • Or sometimes Mongo for the larger ones 
  • The other name a larger Mingo Snapper might be known as is a ‘football’, for their shape and size resembling an American football.

Mingo snapper tackle and how to catch them

(Bait/rigs etc.)

The best way to target Mingo snapper is with a rig with multiple baited hooks. Seasoned Mingo anglers recommend two hooks to be optimal. 

Let’s break down the specific tackle and rigs to use for catching Mingo fish.

Rod and reel

A strong boat rod with fast-action tip should do the trick.

You want strength built in, in case you hook up two mingo fish as they can put up a good battle, but also the fast action will help the circle hooks set themselves as the fish strikes the bait and tries to swim off with it. 

A spinning reel is recommended here to allow the weighted bait to drop rapidly to the bottom structure where the mingo will be located.

Main line

For you Mingo main line, it’s advised to use a strong mono (50-60lb) or a fluorocarbon (20lb). 

The additional strength means that any breaks are less likely and you have a higher abrasion resistance built into the line. 

Mingo snapper like to stay close to structure so your line may come into contact with structure at the bottom, which can risk damaging or breaking your line. 

The other main line option is to use braid (40-50lb). Some anglers experienced in Mingo fishing mentioned that it can be difficult to sense bites on monofilament line when fishing at the depths that Mingo fish can be found.

The braid has less stretch and therefore you feel more at the end of the line. 

Some anglers noted an increase in the bites they got from dropping down to lighter gear, so it might be worth having rods set up with different main line spooled onto the reels to test which works best. 

Leader line

If you opt to use braid then it still might be worth having a mono leader (40-50lbs) to add the abrasion resistance back in. 

Similar to if you have chosen to drop the weight of your mono or fluro mainline, it might be worth keeping a 40-50 leader line on to avoid breaks and abrasion Dana get spoiling your session. 


The recommended type of hook for fishing for Mingo snapper is a circle hook to aid with hook ups. 

Circle hooks are designed to almost ‘automatically’ hook up in the fishes mouth by the way they are designed, meaning you don’t have to strike hard everytime there is a bite – just let the Mingo fish take the bait and run. 

In terms of size, it’s recommended to use anything between a 1/0 and 3/0 hook. 

Some more expert Mingo anglers suggest that smaller hooks can lead to more successful bites and hook-ups, so again test out different circle hooks within this range on your next Mingo Snapper session.

A mingo fish on a hook!


The main baits for Mingo Snapper are as follows, in order of popularity with anglers:

  • Frozen squid
  • Bonito
  • Bobo mullet
  • Northern Mackerel fillet

The top most mentioned bait for catching Mingo Snapper is cut up strips of fresh frozen squid on each hook. 

This bait is highly tempting to Mingo and durable too so won’t be at risk of falling off on the way down to the bottom structure. 

Next we have bonito – fatty belly fillets of this bloody and oily fish go down really well as a bait for Mingo – apparently they go wild for it. 

Then we have Bobo mullet – a popular bait fish in the Gulf of Mexico that seems to be a killer bait fo hooking up Mingo Snapper.

Finally, the good old northern mackerel. Fresh fillet strips of this fish as bait can be irresistible to Mingo fish swimming on by. Mackerel also holds its integrity due to the skin of the fish, so again a durable bait to use down below deep.

For extra temptation and deadliness, you could try combining any two of these baits on the same hook – an irresistible feast for any Mingo Snapper swimming by!


The standout rig for successfully catching Mingo Snapper is the double dropper rig.

This is a really simple rig that has two dropper loops on the leader line that you attach the two 1/0 – 3/0 circle hooks to. 

The double dropper gives you variance in the height at which the bait is presented off the bottom for increased chances of positioning in front of a monster mongo. 

It’s worth learning how to tie dropper loops into your heavier mono or fluro leader line. It’s a subtle rig without swivels or beads to scare the fish off – just pure and simple line, hook, bait. 

You’ll want to tie the dropper loops about 12-14 inches apart on the leader line. 


For the weight, you’ll need something to confidently send your bait up to 350ft down. 

If you’re opting for a line strength in the 40-50lbs rating, then something like a 10-12oz bank weight should do the job well, without overbearing your line. 

If you want to fish a little lighter, drop your weight size, but don’t go too light as it will take too long to reach the mingo fish at the bottom. 

Also check the current on the day and in the location you want to fish. If the current is really strong, you might want to increase your weight.

Targeting Mingo Snapper – where and when? 

Let’s have a look at the best places and times to target mingo fish specifically. 

Distance from shore and depth

The best spots to find Mingo Snapper can be found anywhere between 15-30 miles offshore.

Mingo fish can be targeted in anything between 75-350ft depth of water and how deep you want to fish will determine your distance. 

The typical advice if you want to target Mingo Snapper exclusively in Florida is to travel to a spot called ‘The Edge’ which is about 30 miles offshore from Pensacola Pass, where Mingo Snapper tend to live in vast numbers.

Here, you’ll be fishing at depths of between 175-275ft, so make sure your reel is well spooled! 

If you fish for mingo snapper closer to shore, it’s likely you’ll keep getting hit by red snapper, which have different size and bag limits.

Location in the water

Mingo tend to live and swim around structure. This is where they seek out food to eat and protect themselves from larger predators.

On your sounder, look for areas of structure on the bottom that are in deep water. The Edge provides this natural structure, which is why its such a popular spot to target Mingo Snapper.

Time of year

Mingo Snapper populate The Edge and structure out deep all year round, they are also legally available to catch all year round, unlike other species of snapper that have specific seasons. 

Mingo snapper – Size and bag limits

The season for Mingo Snapper is all year round.

The size and bag limits for Mingo Snapper vary between the location you are, whether the Gulf or the Atlantic.

Gulf limits:

  • Minimum size: 10 inches
  • Daily recreational bag limit: 10 per angler

Atlantic limits:

  • Minimum size: 12 inches
  • Daily recreational bag limit: 5 per angler

The bag limits for Mingo Snapper aren’t included in the total bag limit for snapper either. 

Mingo snapper vs Red Snapper – how do you tell the difference? 

Mingo Snapper tend to be more football shaped than Red Snapper, and also are smaller too. 

A monster mingo fish might be 4lbs, whereas a monster Red Snapper can be up to 20lbs! 

Some anglers think mingo fish a a brighter red than red snapper, but this can vary fish to fish.

Targeting tarpon? Then read this article about whether they have teeth and how to handle them. Click here.

Mingo snapper fish summary

So there you have it. Mingo Snapper are different in some subtle ways to Red Snapper but are still a great catch to target. 

Make sure you use our location tips to find mingo fish – deep water with natural bottom structure. 

And use a double dropper rig baited with some irresistible squid, mackerel, bonito or bobo.