- 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.
Red snapper (Lutjanus)
The body of the red snapper is deep and compact. The head and upper body are pink to brick red in color, with a silver and white lower body. The tail sometimes can have a dark outer edge. Young red snapper occasionally have blue stripes and a dusky spot below the dorsal fin.
The red snapper has a long triangular snout and a strongly pointed anal fin. It has a large head with the lower jar projecting past the upper jaw, and strong anchor shaped teeth on the roof of the mouth. A distinguishing characteristic of red snapper is their small eyes with a red iris. The pectoral fins are long, almost reaching the anal fin when pressed against the body. The red snapper has 9 soft rays, approximately 48 flank scales and 8 to 10 scales between the dorsal fin and lateral line.
Red snapper range from the Gulf of Mexico to Massachusetts on the Atlantic Coast of North America, though they are seldom found north of the Carolinas. They are most plentiful off the Florida panhandle and the coast of Texas.
Underwater structures such as reefs, rocky bottoms, oil rigs and shipwrecks at depths between 60 and 400 fee are prime areas for red snapper. They stay near the reef in cooler months and tend to move closer to the shore in the summer. Larger members of the species are usually found farther from shore. Younger fish are found closer to the shore inhabiting more muddy and sandy bottoms. Typically, red snapper are found in waters between 55 and 90 degrees F.
At around 3 years, when they are approximately 15 inches in length, red snapper are considered mature. They typically spawn between April and October, with individual fish spawning many times during the spawning season. Red snapper tend to spawn away from the reefs at a depth of approximately 100 feet over firm sand bottoms. The female lays between 200,000 and 9 million eggs. These eggs are scattered in the water, fertilized externally and hatch in 20 to 27 hours.
Carnivorous by nature, red snapper eat crab, shrimp, baitfish and aquatic worms. Younger fish tend to eat more heavily on shrimp and zooplankton off of mud bottoms. Older fish primarily consume fish, squid, crustaceans and shrimp around rock bottoms and reefs. Most of the red snappers prey lives on the bottom near reefs rather than on the reef itself.
The combination of good fighting ability and excellent eating quality make red snapper one of the most popular saltwater fish for recreational anglers and especially commercial fishermen. This had led to reduced populations and restricted harvest in many areas.
Angling efforts usually concentrate on deep bottoms around oil rigs, shipwrecks and reefs. Relatively heavy tackle is often needed to handle the heavy sinker weights required to get bait to the bottom. Lines up to 50-pound class and 8- to 16-ounce sinker weights are common. Fishing can be done from an anchored boat or while drifting. Red snapper prefer a slow-moving or stationary presentation. Common natural baits include squid heads and cut or strip bait. Many anglers use sonar equipment and GPS to find and record concentrations of fish.
- Commercial shrimp fishing is heavily restricted due to the bycatch of young red snapper.
- Artificial reefs have been built in the Gulf of Mexico to increase sport fishing opportunities and habitat for red snapper.
- The red snapper is often confused with the Caribbean snapper, which is found south of Florida. The main difference between them is that the scale count is much higher on the caribbean snapper.