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OTHER NAMES
American red snapper, northern red snapper, mutton snapper.

DESCRIPTION
The back and upper sides are scarlet to brick red, and the lower sides and belly are lighter. Small red snapper, up to 10 inches, have a dark spot on the upper sides just below the soft dorsal fin. Adult red snapper are easily distinguished from other red-colored snappers. They are much deeper bodied than the vermilion snapper and not as streamlined. Red snapper have a bright red iris, whereas the silk snapper has a yellow iris. Red snapper lack the prominent black spot at the base of the pectoral fin, which is characteristic of another lutjanid, the blackfin snapper, Lutfanus buccanella.

TYPICAL HABITAT
Off the southeastern United States, adult red snapper occur in depths of 150 to 300 feet over both low and high-relief hard bottom. Immature red snapper will live closer to shore, over sandy bottoms.


AGE AND GROWTH
As with other reef fish, growth of this species is slow. Young red snapper are about 9 inches and weigh half a pound at the end of their first year, 23 inches and 7 pounds at age 5, 33 inches and 22 pounds at age 10, and approximately 37 inches and 30 pounds when they are 14 years old. Although the maximum age is at least 16 years, most of those caught are 5 and 6 years old.

FOOD QUALITY
The white flesh of red snapper is rated one of the very best. It may be prepared in a variety of ways, but frying should be considered a misdemeanor crime. Baked stuffed red snapper smothered with cream sauce is a delightful dish made famous in New Orleans and Charleston.

FEEDING HABITS
They are opportunistic bottom feeders that consume a variety of shrimp, crabs and small fishes.

SPORTING QUALITIES
Whether fishing for pleasure or profit, consistently catching red snapper by hook and line is an art. Not only must one know where the best fishing grounds are located, but also the bait must be presented in a manner to entice the snapper to bite. A bottom recorder and GPS are necessary to pioneer new fishing grounds as well as to relocate proven grounds and concentrations of fish. While multiple-hook rigs (similar to those used for other reef fish) are effective, a favorite rig for large red snapper is a single 7/0 hook. The hook is fastened to a 4 to 5-foot dropper off the mainleader, which ends with an 8 to 16-ounce sinker. Selection of bait is critical. Squid heads with long tentacles, whole medium-size fish, and fresh, bloody strips of little tunny or greater amberjack catch the big red snapper. The fish seem to prefer a still or very slowly moving bait. Fishing from an anchored boat is productive, but when drifting, one might free-spool the line for a few minutes before slowly retrieving the slack.

 

Information courtesy of Salt Water Sportsman
(www.saltwatersportsman.com)

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