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.