Snapper (Cubera) Fishing (Lutjanus cyanopterus)

All Tackle Record
124lbs, 12oz

Snapper (Cubera) Fishing (Lutjanus cyanopterus)

Looking like a beefed up version of the Mangrove Snapper, the Cubera is by far the largest member of the Snapper family. As if their size wasn't enough, these fish are armed with sharp canine teeth that help give them an extra edge over their prey.

These solitary bottom dwellers can be found over rocks, reefs, wrecks and ledges at depths between 60 and 180ft. Due to forming known spawning aggregations, they have been widely hunted recreationally and commercially and are currently classified as vulnerable to extinction.

How big

The species can grow to over 60'' and 120lbs, but the average fish will be up to 35'' and around 40lbs.

When & Where

Cubera Snapper inhabit the subtropical and tropical zone of the western Atlantic Ocean. They are rarely caught north of Florida (Miami and southwards, in the Keys)  to Brazil in the south, including in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, off the Bahamas and Bermuda. The Pacific Cubera Snapper (Lutjanus novemfasciatus) can be found off Mexico, Costa Rica and Panamá.

These fish spawn throughout the summer and early fall, peaking April through July. They form aggregations in the thousands during the full moon and are often fished for at night time (the darker, the better). Several known spawning grounds are off Belize, Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Keys.

How to catch

The species is voracious and will take various natural bait such as fish, shrimp and lobster. Live Skipjack Tuna make great bait, as they will head to the bottom straight into the mouth of the Cubera. Fresh dead fish chunks are a good alternative, but artificials like metal jigs (and poppers, if the reef is shallow) will be effective as well.

Depending on where Cubera Snapper are targeted, their size will vary from moderate to large, with light tackle equipment ceasing to be enough at a certain point. Braided lines and almost Marlin grade tackle is recommended if going up against a heavyweight Cubera.

These giants are challenging to reel in, as their first run is considered to be among the most intense of all fish. They will head straight for bottom structure, often resulting in a cut line, so they must be turned quickly at all cost.

Caught aboard Sweet Leilani in Boca Chica, Panama

Good to eat?

Fish up to 40lbs are excellent table fare. Larger fish have coarse meat and have been connected to ciguatera (fish poisoning).



  • Season - always open;
  • Size limit - 12'' minimum;
  • Bag limit (per angler per day) - Florida, the Carolinas, Louisiana - 10 fish within the Snapper aggregate (for Florida: no more than 2 over 30" per harvester or vessel per day, whichever is less. Fish 30" or larger are not included within the Snapper aggregate); other states have no bag regulations;

         Mexico allows up to 10 fish per angler, not more than 5 of which may be of the same species;

Similar Game Fish: