- 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.
Vermilion snapper (Rhomboplites)
The body of the vermilion snapper is slender, somewhat drawn-out and a vivid red in color. It has a series of short, irregular, diagonal blue lines formed by spots on the scales above the lateral line. The vermilion snapper sometimes appears yellow below the lateral line. The body does not have dark lateral spots found on some other snappers.
The vermilion snapper has a small head with a short snout. The mouth is small with a projecting lower jaw. It has large canines relative to the size of the mouth. The position of the small eyes make it appear as though it is looking upward. The dorsal fins have 12 to 13 spines, 10 to 11 soft rays and appear yellowish in color. The white anal fin has three spines and nine soft rays. The pectoral fins are too short to reach the anal fins when against the side of the body.
Found in the western Atlantic from as far north as North Carolina to as far south as Brazil, the largest concentrations of vermilion snapper are in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea.
Vermilion snapper live close to continental or island shelves at depths between 600 and 1,000 feet. They tend to form large schools with other species of snapper, including the red snapper. These fish prefer flat areas to slopes. Younger fish are found at shallower depths around 80 feet. Like the red snapper, vermilion snapper congregate around underwater structures such as reefs, shipwrecks and oilrigs.
The spawning season is between April and September in most of its range. Like other snapper, the vermilion is a pelagic spawner, meaning it doesn't build or guard a nest or create a territory. Instead, eggs and scattered and fertilized externally prior to hatching.
A carnivorous bottom feeder, the vermilion snapper usually feeds in schools, preying upon small fish, shrimp, cephalopods, mollusk and plankton.
Like many of the other snapper species, the vermilion is a scrappy fighter and will pull hard in deep water. However, due to their relatively small size, the fight is minimized by the heavier tackle needed to reach the depths the fish inhabit. This makes them somewhat less popular than the larger red snapper, although both are caught in basically the same areas. Anglers typically fish for vermilion snapper around wrecks, reefs and ledges. The most effective fishing methods are still fishing the ocean floor or drift fishing with natural bait like baitfish, shrimp and squid.
Tackle consists mostly of light-action boat rods with spinning, bait-casting or conventional reels and lines of 15- to 30-pound test. Many anglers find suspected snapper schools with sonar equipment prior to fishing.
- Vermilion snapper is the second largest source of revenue for commercial reef fishermen but is not heavily fished for recreationally. The value of the vermilion snapper catch is between $2 and $4 million per year in the United States.