There are 15 species of snappers in
Florida waters. Because of their slow growth rate the regulations
governing these species is complicated and anglers should consult the
regulations so they do not fall foul of the law. The five most common species of
snapper are the Gray (Black or Mangrove) Snapper, Lane, Red, Yellowtail and
Mutton Snappers. Because of the slow rate of growth many of the snappers
became scarce due to over fishing. Their numbers over the last years have
seen a revival which is probably due to netting bans and other regulations.
Red Snapper (Lutjanus campechanus) Color pinkish red over entire
body, whitish below. Long triangular snout. Anal fin is sharply pointed. No dark
lateral spot. Red eye. Juvenile red snapper occur over sandy or mud bottoms.
Sexual maturity is attained at age 2. A standard bottom feeding fish and is found on the Atlantic coast
and the more northern deep waters of the gulf. It is still found however
in the south and middle Florida. General size is up to 20lbs. Juveniles
are found over sandy or a mud bottom and are often caught in shrimp trawls.
Adults may live more than 20 years and obtain a weight of 35lbs.
Florida record is 46lbs 8ozs caught near Destin.
The World Record is
50lbs 4oz. which is some fish !
The Lane Snapper ( Lutjanus synagris) Color silvery-pink to
reddish with short, irregular pink and yellow lines on its sides. Diffuse black
spot, about as large as the eye. The dorsal fin centered above the lateral line.
The outer margin of caudal fin blackish. Juvenile lane snapper are found inshore
over grass beds or shallow reefs. Adults are typically found offshore and are
most common in south Florida. Lane snapper spawn from March through September.
They are sexually mature at 6 inches. Lane snapper feed on the bottom, eating
crustaceans, mollusks, and fish. Has a state wide
distribution but tends to leave the northern part of Florida during the colder
months. It is the smallest of the major species. Most are caught of the
fairly deep reefs and offshore waters. During times of very hot weather
they can be found in inshore waters.
The Florida record is 6lbs 6ozs caught
near Pensacola and the
World record is 7lbs.
The Vermillion or Mingo Snapper (Rhomboplites aurorubens) Color
of entire body reddish, with a series of short, irregular lines on its sides,
diagonal blue lines formed by spots on the scales above the lateral line;
sometimes with yellow streaks below the lateral line; large canine teeth absent;
orientation of mouth and eye give it the appearance of looking upward; no dark
lateral spot. Suspends at mid-depths over rocky reefs OFFSHORE. Spawns April to
September, females maturing at 3 to 4 years of age; grows slowly; attains weight
of 6 pounds and length of 24 inches; feeds on small, swimming crustaceans and
mollusks. This species is not currently eligible for a state record. Juvenile
gray snapper are found inshore in tidal creeks, mangroves, and grass beds.
Adults are generally found nearshore or offshore on coral or rocky reefs. Is
the smallest of the five most common species caught. Its habitat area is
the same as that of the Red Snapper. The average fish rarely exceeds 1lb
and a fish of around 5lb is unusual.
record is 7lbs 3ozs.
The Gray (Black or Mangrove) Snapper
(Lutjanus griseus) Dark brown or gray with reddish or orange spots in
rows along the sides. A dark horizontal band from snout through eye is present
in young only. Two conspicuous canine teeth are present at front of upper jaw.
Dorsal fins have dark or reddish borders. No dark spot is present on side
underneath dorsal fin.
are found from the mangrove and salt marsh fringes to the bays and offshore hard
bottoms areas, wrecks and coral reefs. Gray snapper caught offshore are common 8
to 10 pounds.
The Florida record for the
Gray Snapper is 16lbs 8ozs. which is also the World record
Yellowtail snappers (Ocyurus chrysurus) are distinguished by a yellow streak on the side of the
fishes body running from the head to the tail. Back and upper sides olive
to bluish with yellow spots; lower sides and belly with alternating narrow,
longitudinal pink and yellow stripes; prominent midlateral yellow stripe begins
at mouth and runs to tail, broadening as it passes the dorsal fins; caudal fin
yellow and deeply forked; no dark lateral spot. Juveniles INSHORE on grassbeds
and back reefs; adults NEARSHORE or OFFSHORE over sandy areas near reefs. Spawns
in midsummer; rarely exceeds 30 inches and 5 pounds in size; feeds on small fish
and invertebrates. The best place to catch
this specie is in the southeast of Florida, especially the keys.
record for the Yellowtail Snapper is 8lbs 9ozs and the
World record is 8lbs 9ozs caught near Ft. Myers.
Another Keys specialty is the Mutton
Snapper (Lutjanus analis). Color olive green on back and upper
sides. All fins below the lateral line having reddish tinge. Bright blue line
below eye, following contour of operculum. Anal fin pointed. Small black spot
below dorsal fin. V-shaped tooth patch on roof of the mouth. Mutton snapper are
an inshore species associated with grassbeds, mangroves, and canals. Larger
adults are occasionally found on offshore reefs. It is an occasional catch in offshore waters and other parts.
These snapper spawn in July and August. Mutton snapper feed on fish,
crustaceans, and snails.
Florida record is 30lbs 4ozs and was captured near the Dry Tortugas.
(Lutjanus mahogonare) Color grayish-olive with a reddish tinge. Conspicuous dark spot, about the size of the eye, is located below the
soft dorsal fin, 1/4 to 1/2 of it below the lateral line. The large eye and caudal fin are bright red. Lower margin of the preopercle has prominent spur with strong and sharp