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The cubera snapper is a species of snapper that is native to the western Atlantic Ocean, and can be found from Nova Scotia to the Amazon River in Brazil. It can also be found in the Caribbean Sea, although it is very rare north of Florida. It loves to inhabit areas with reefs, liking areas with rocks and its prey of fish, shrimp, and crabs. This species is usually found at depths of 18 to 55 meters (59 to 180 feet). They can grow up to lengths of 160 cm (63 in) though most do not ever exceed a length of 90 cm (35 in). It is a very popular game fish, as well as being a target for commercial fisheries.
Cubera snapper are the largest species of snapper, and have massive heads with a big girth and strong teeth. They are a very tough fish with large scales and thick bones. In some areas they are almost impossible to land, as a fish will bite and then head straight for the rocks. If they can make it to the rocks, it doesn’t matter what tackle you are using your odds go down dramatically. They are very challenging to catch as they have powerful runs and head towards structure. They are not a light tackle fish, and if you try for a big one on light tackle you will just waste your time and money. These things are extremely strong, so braided line of at least 80 pound test with a fluorocarbon leader of at least 80 pound as well. Heavy conventional tackle is going to be the best option. Find rocky structure in 150 feet or less of water and try to find fish around it. The biggest fish come on live bait, so try dropping some around these spots. If you are fishing with a lure, try to set the hook immediately and pull with every muscle you have. If fishing with bait, let them eat for a while before setting the hook. If you wait too long, however, you will lose the fish.
Large live fish make great bait choices. Live skipjack tuna are popular, and are usually very easy to acquire. If you can’t get live bait then you can use big chunks of fresh dead fish. Make sure you have the drag up on your reel very tight, because these fish will always drop down once they do hit the bait. The months of January through July are the most productive months to catch these fish, although they can generally be caught anytime of the year depending on the location. Snapper are amazing fish, and the cubera is no exception. It is no surprise that they are such a popular game fish and again, taste delicious. Every angler should try targeting these beautiful fish at least once in their lifetime, as they will not regret it.