As one of the dominant inshore habitats throughout Florida and the Bahamas, as well as Central and South America, mangrove trees play a vital role in providing safety and feeding opportunities for a variety of species — principally, the snook.

Aggressive and strategic, snook  use the twisted tangles of emergent mangrove roots to hide from dolphins and ambush prey such as pilchards, shrimp and crabs. For anglers, this scenario presents an ideal opportunity to fish topwater baits.

The sleek profile of a Heddon Saltwater Spook Jr. makes it a great option for this game. On rising tides, cast as close as possible for fish that are feeding right along the trees.

When the water’s falling, look for your bites to come within about five feet of the mangroves.

When the occasional errant cast sends your bait into the overhanging limbs, don’t overreact. Immediately jerking the rod only sinks the hooks into the entanglement, whereas a measured wiggle with rod tip will often shake the bait free.

If you can’t loosen the bait, tighten your drag, pop the line and circle back to retrieve the bait after you’ve fished that stretch of shoreline. No sense spooking the spot by pulling in tight until you’ve given it a chance to produce.