Scientific name: Lutjanus campechanus
Description of red snapper
Red snapper begin to reproduce when they are about two years old, spawning from May to October along rocky ledges or coral reefs. Fertilized eggs float on the surface and hatch within a day. Only a month later, the young fish settle out of the water column in shallow waters, and as they get older, they move to structured habitats where they will mature and eventually move to the deeper waters of the Gulf. Red snapper can grow to about 40 inches and weigh up to 50 pounds and live more than 50 years. Bigger and older red snappers produce more eggs than young ones. One 24-inch female red snapper (about 8 years old) produces as many fish as 212 female snappers. Most red snapper caught in the Gulf today are only between four and six years old.
Economically, red snapper are among the most valuable fish in the Gulf. In 2011, commercial fishermen from the five Gulf states landed more than 3.2 million pounds of red snapper, sold dockside for $11.5 million. The population is recovering so people are seeing more and bigger fish in the water and in places they haven’t been seen in decades, making the fish easier to catch. This leads to higher catch rates and more fish being removed during a typical day of open recreational season for red snapper.
How to catch red snapper
Some Red Snapper spots are in fairly shallow water, About50 or 60 feet, permit the use of light ocean tackle, or even heavy spinning and baitcasting tackle. Much Snapper fishing needs a heavy rod and strong lines of 50 to 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 it will probably be necessary to use live small baitfish to coax bites from Snappers of decent size.