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Cubera Snapper Fishing Tips

How to Catch Cubera Snapper

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While cubera snapper are found from New England down throughout the Caribbean to South America, they are not found in great numbers anywhere in their range. They are more concentrated in the Caribbean, but many are taken off the South Florida area. They can be found on very deep water reefs, and fishing for them becomes a very special activity.

Inshore Tips

Cubera snapper are seldom found inshore. Smaller ones are hard to tell from a mangrove snapper. Many times a large mangrove snapper caught inshore is mistaken for a small cubera.

Offshore Tips

Offshore deep water fishing is the almost exclusive fishing method for the cubera snapper. These fish are definitely not a schooling fish, although they can be found in groups during the spawning season. The spawning season usually occurs during the full moon on July and August along the South Atlantic coast of the U.S. Usually from 1 to five fish can be found in any given area, but catching one of them is considered a triumph. One fish per trip is about all you will ever get, if you even get that one.

    Tackle

  • Medium to heavy weight bottom fishing rig
    • A Peen 4/0 reel.
    • A nice stiff bottom rod.
    • 50 to 80 pound test monofilament line
    • 80 to 100 pound fluorocarbon leaders
    • Only enough weight to get you to the bottom – as dictated by the current – that could mean as much as a pound of lead in some cases.

    Bait

  • Live Bait
    • Live Florida crawfish
    • Live fish – small yellowtail, small mangrove snapper
    • Dead Bait

      Dead bait is not normally used when fishing for cuberas.

    • Artificials

      Deep jigging can sometimes bring a strike from a cubera. A red and white, 8 ounce or more nylon jig with a good strip bait jigged off the edge of the reef in water from 180 to 250 feet deep can sometimes entice a cubera to bite

      Off of South Florida, live crawfish are the absolute preferred bait.

      Location

      Many of the reefs off of south Florida hold cubera snapper during the spawn. On the full moon in July and particularly in August, big cubera snapper move into shallower water to spawn. Shallower water means somewhere around 200 feet, give or take. Anchoring is not recommended and is difficult in water that deep. So drifting with the current and with you live bait on or close to the bottom is the method most anglers use.

      On a weekend nigh in August around the full moon, you will find a small army of boats drifting for cuberas. The best nights are when the wind is blowing the same direction as the current. Ideally, the boat will be pushed along by the wind, and your bait will be straight down. The boat and current are moving at the same speed.

      It’s a tough night when the wind opposes the current. It means you need really heavy sinkers, and that means a sore back come morning.

      Cubera snapper are the largest of the family, weighing in at almost 100 pounds. They will give you the fight of your life if you can manage to get them up off the bottom structure!

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