GRAY-SNAPPER

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The Gray Snapper, Lutjanus griseus

Gray or greenish above and light on the underside, usually with an overall reddish hue that can range from coppery to bright brick red. Obvious black line runs from the snout through the eye to just below the dorsal fin.This line darkens when the fish feeds or gets excited.


OTHER NAMES: Mangrove Snapper, Black Snapper, Mango

SIZE: Few surpass 1 foot inshore, but Grays can aver- age 2-6 pounds in deep water, and reach perhaps 20 pounds or more. World and Florida records 17 pounds.

FOOD VALUE: Excellent up to a pound or so. Large ones are stronger in taste but still very good.

GAME QUALITIES: The little fellows can be easy to catch on dead shrimp or cut bait, but as they grow they become more difficult to fool. It’s generally necessary to trim down the size of hooks, leaders and terminal tackle. When hooked, Gray Snappers make strong runs, then wage a bulldogging battle all the way to boatside.

TACKLE AND BAITS: Inshore—spinning and light bait- casting rigs are best and should be baited with live shrimp, live minnows, fiddler crabs, cut shrimp, cut squid or cut baitfish. Many inshore Grays are also caught on lures, along mangrove shorelines or around snags. Surface plugs and popping flies often catch Grays, as do jigs and small shrimp flies or streamers. Offshore, heavier spinning and baitcasting tackle, and light ocean tackle, are called for. Best baits are live small fish, such as Pilchards and Sardines, live shrimp, cut squid, cut crab and cut fish.

FISHING SYSTEMS: Still Fishing; Casting; Drifting.

RANGE: All Florida, the Bahamas and Caribbean.

HABITAT: Juveniles are seasonally present in nearly all shallow waters and coastal estuaries of Florida, and are plentiful throughout the year in the southern half of Florida, the Caribbean and the Bahamas. Upon reaching a size of 10 or 12 inches, nearly all Gray Snapper switch their homes to deeper waters and are fished mostly over coral reefs, artificial reefs, wrecks and Gulf ledges, although big ones can also be caught in deep channels and passes along the coast. In the Panhandle, the bigger fish of deep water are called Black Snapper.