- Black sea bass have dangerously sharp spines on their dorsal fin that can puncture human skin.
- The all-tackle world record for black sea bass is 9 pounds, 8 ounces.
- When hooked in deep water and brought quickly to the surface, a black sea bass will often regurgitate its stomach contents.
Gray snapper (Lutjanus)
Gray snapper are long, slender fish with high-backed bodies that vary in color. They can be dark green, dark gray or dark brown. Gray snapper are gray on the bottom with a hint of red. Some specimens, particularly the young, have a dark stripe that runs from the eye down the side of the fish. Unlike many snapper, gray snapper do not have dark spots on the sides. The anal fin is short, not reaching the anal opening. It has three spines, seven or eight soft rays and appears darker around the edges. The dorsal fin has 10 spines and 13 or 14 soft rays and is dark red in color.
Gray snapper have long, pointed, v-shaped heads with large snouts. There are two large canine teeth in the upper jaw. Gray snapper are distinguished from the cubera snapper by the anchor-shaped patch of teeth in their mouths. The teeth are larger on the roof of the mouth than on the bottom, but all of the teeth are very sharp.
Gray snapper are found throughout the Atlantic Ocean including Florida, the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico. In the western Atlantic they range from Massachusetts in the north to Brazil in the south, but are seldom seen north of Florida. In the eastern Atlantic gray snapper are found off the coast of Africa between Senegal and the Congo. They are most abundant off the coast of Florida and throughout the western portion of the Gulf of Mexico.
Young gray snapper are typically found close to the shore. They prefer smooth, shallow surfaces like grass beds, tidal creeks and estuaries. Some young gray snapper have been found in fresh water. As gray snappers grow they move farther away from the shore. More mature snappers are found at various depths between 20 and 300 feet near underwater structures such as reefs, shipwrecks and rock ledges. They congregate in schools, often drifting with other species of snapper, pinfish and pigfish.
Gray snapper reach their spawning size, approximately 9 inches, between ages 3 and 6. They travel in aggregations away from the coast to spawn, typically between June and August. The female lays the eggs in open water above the floor of the ocean where they float to the bottom to be fertilized by one or more males. Eggs are not guarded after they are fertilized and hatch in approximately 20 hours. Spawning occurs at night around the full moon phase.
Gray snapper are opportunistic carnivores. While young specimens feed on plankton and shrimp, as they grow, they prefer small fish and crabs living near the bottom. They feed mostly at night, moving away from the reefs they inhabit during the day to feed in grass beds. This movement occurs at dusk.
The variety of locations and methods of fishing for gray snapper make the fish an anglers favorite, and they are generally found year round. Anglers can fish from a boat or various shoreline locations. Fishing the bottom near underwater surfaces is the best technique for catching gray snapper. In shallow water, gray snapper can also be caught fishing off of bridges and piers near grass beds or estuaries.
Snapper are hard-fighting fish requiring the angler to use a sturdy boat rod. Squid, cut fish and shrimp work well, and natural bait will usually outproduce artificial lures. Gray snapper have good eyesight and will not bite if they can see the anglers terminal tackle. Using the smallest hook possible and transparent leaders is recommended.
- Gray snapper are fished for commercially and sold fresh and frozen. Their white meat can be pan-fried, filleted or baked.
- Gray snapper are often raised in captivity and can be found in many show aquariums.
- Eating gray snapper has been associated with ciguatera poisoning, a seldom fatal digestive disorder.