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Red Snapper

Know Your Sportfish

Fin identification helps to correctly identify your catch. *Click to enlarge.

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Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission: MyFWC.com A great many kinds of fish are protected by conservation laws that may include licenses, daily bag limits, possession limits, minimum and maximum size limits, permitting and other legal requirements. Many different jurisdictions and agencies are involved in managing the fisheries—at least a half-dozen in Florida alone, to say nothing of other countries—and their regulations sometimes conflict.

In Florida, information is available from such sources as Florida Sportsman Magazine, county courthouses and many tackle shops. Visitors to Florida or the Islands usually are able to get the needed information from their travel agents, resorts, fishing camps or charter captains. Visit www.myfwc.com www.myfwc.com or www.floridasportsman.com for the most current fisheries regulations.

Red Snapper

RED-SNAPPER

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The Red Snapper, Lutjanus campechanus

Overall rosy red. Canine teeth less prominent than those of most other Snappers. Red eye. Anal fin is triangular. The Caribbean Red Snapper, Lutjanus purpureus, is very similar in appearance and is found in the northwest and central Caribbean. 


SIZE: Common from a pound or so to about 6 or 8 pounds. Usual maximum is about 20 pounds, although the Red Snapper can rarely run as high as 30 or 40 pounds. World record 50 pounds, 4 ounces; Florida record 46 pounds, 8 ounces.

FOOD VALUE: Excellent at all sizes.

GAME QUALITIES: A hard-fighting fish that uses

strong, head-shaking tactics rather than long runs.

TACKLE AND BAITS: Some Red Snapper spots in fair- ly shallow water, say up to 50 or 60 feet, permit the use of light ocean tackle, or even heavy spinning and baitcasting tackle. Much Snapper fishing, however— especially on long-range headboat and charterboat trips from Panhandle ports—requires deep drops in strong current.This means that only very heavy rods and strong lines of 50- or 80-pound test can handle the heavy weights needed to do the job. As for baits, dead Cigar Minnows, Pilchards or cut fish and squid do well at times, although in heavily fished spots (which most are these days) it will probably be nec- essary to use live small baitfish to coax bites from Snappers of decent size.

FISHING SYSTEMS: Still Fishing; Casting; Drifting. 

RANGE: A temperate fish rather than tropical, the Red Snapper is rare in South Florida, although caught occasionally. It is standard bottom-fishing fare, however, off- shore of the Atlantic Coast from about the center of the Peninsula northward, and in deep waters of the northern Gulf.

HABITAT: Along the Panhandle, Red Snappers are sometimes found in fairly shallow water off the beaches, and even in deep holes of the larger bays. Off the Peninsular Gulf Coast, however, few Red Snappers are found close enough to shore to merit a one-day effort; most offshore Snappers along that part of the coast are Grays.