The Vermilion Snapper, Rhomboplites aurorubens
Rosy red above, fading to pinkish then whitish below. Red fins. Large eye. Similar to the Red Snapper in color but easily distinguished in addition to much smaller average size by the lack of prominent “snapper teeth”, and by its rounded anal fin.
SIZE: Averages less than a pound. May rarely reach 5 pounds or slightly larger. World record 7 pounds, 3 ounces.
FOOD VALUE: An excellent panfish.
GAME QUALITIES: Poor. Most are caught on too-heavy tackle at considerable depth—not a sporting combi- nation for a small fish.
TACKLE AND BAITS: Since the Vermilion is caught in greatest quantity by partyboat fishermen, the usual tackle consists of rods and reels stout enough to han- dle the hoped-for Snapper and Grouper. Even if the fisherman specifically targets Vermilions, he generally has to use the same tackle and heavy sinkers, switch- ing only to smaller hooks. When conditions are favor- able enough to permit getting down with weights of an ounce or so, spinning and baitcasting tackle are more productive—and certainly more fun. Beeliners usually bite greedily at any sort of small dead bait, including cut fish, squid and shrimp.
FISHING SYSTEMS: Still Fishing; Drifting.
RANGE: All Florida coasts; more common northward.
HABITAT: Prefers the same depths as the Red Snapper, with which it often mixes. A common panfish around offshore deep wrecks, reefs and ledges of the upper Atlantic and Gulf Coasts. Like the Red Snapper, it is more of a temperate than a tropical fish, and is unfamiliar to most anglers in the southern reaches of the state.