Snapper (Red Emperor) (Lutjanus sebae)

Snapper (Red Emperor)

  • Size 65-70 cm
  • Food Value Excellent
  • Game Qualities Good
  • Habitats Nearshore, Offshore

Anglers call Red Emperor Snapper by many names, including Red Snapper (not to be confused with this Red Snapper species), Emperor Snapper, Queenfish, Redfish, Red Kelp, Seba’s Snapper, and Government Bream. While it shares some of these names with other species, the Red Emperor is unmistakably unique in his appearance. Young fish are distinguished by three dark red bands that wrap around their bodies; as these fish age, all their scales turn a pink-red hue.

How Big?

Red Emperor typically grow to 60 cm in length, and are known to grow as large as 116 cm on occasion. The largest fish of this kind credited by the IGFA so far was a 39 lb 7 oz Emperor caught off the coast of Tokyo, Japan.

When and Where

Red Emperor is native to the Indian and western Pacific Oceans, from northern Australia to southern Japan and east to the Red Sea. Despite its name, this fish is a Snapper species and bears little-to-no relation to other Emperor fish.

Red Emperors swim in water anywhere from 5-180 m deep. They live near inshore reefs when they’re young and then move offshore, typically inhabiting sandy flat areas near reefs.

Red-emperor-snapper

Juvenile Red Emperor Snapper have distinct stripes on their bodies, whereas mature fish are entirely red.

How to Fish

By the time this fish is fully grown, it becomes a formidable opponent for anglers. Size, strength, and its position close to the ocean floor are all advantages that a Red Emperor will use against you! Heavy tackle (50 lb mono or 80 lb test braided line) and a long leader (10 m of 80-100 lb test line) are essential.

It’s common to anchor up or drift over offshore reefs when targeting this species. Many anglers use berley (chum) to capture the attention of this fish before dropping large baits near the bottom. Red Emperors bite fresh bait like mullet, pilchard, tuna, and octopus as well as large soft plastic and demersal jigs.

Good to Eat?

Red Emperor is one of the finest eating fish in the sea–at least as far as anglers in Australia are concerned! Your catch should be bled and iced immediately. Placing the meat on a salty ice slurry will enhance the flavor. The sweet, juicy flesh of this fish tastes excellent when baked, steamed, grilled, fried, poached, and barbequed. All in all, there’s no wrong way to go about cooking Red Emperor!

Fish Species Similar to Snapper (Red Emperor)

Bream (Fingermark)

Red Bass

Snapper (Mangrove)


Top Snapper (Red Emperor) Fishing Charters

Top Snapper (Red Emperor) Fishing Destinations