Snapper (Yellowtail) Fishing (Ocyurus chrysurus)

All Tackle Record

Snapper (Yellowtail) Fishing (Ocyurus chrysurus)

Often overlooked because of its relatively small size, the Yellowtail Snapper is possibly the tastiest and the prettiest of the Snappers. They're tricky to catch, but very worthwhile.

This species makes up a good portion of the recreational and commercial catch of Florida. However, more often than not they're a bycatch - recreationally when targeting larger Snappers and commercially while trawling for shrimp.

They swim in loose schools or alone and can be found over sandy or rocky bottoms or coral reefs at depths between 30 and 230ft. Usually stationary once they find a suitable place, these fish are a reliable catch.

How big

Yellowtail Snappers can grow up to 30'' and a bit over 10lbs. A common catch will be between 1 and 5lbs, with fish over 8lbs being extremely rare. The largest fish are called "Flags".

Excellent game for novice anglers. Kids taught to fish by Miami Light Tackle Adventures

When & Where

This species is distributed throughout the western Atlantic, from Massachusetts up north down to southern Brazil, most abundantly off south Florida. Their range includes the Bahamas, Bermuda, the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico.

The largest fish can be caught in the Keys during late spring/early summer months, but they're plentiful even during winters, following cold fronts.

How to catch

Chumming is a must for Yellowtail Snapper - a few glass minnows chucked into the water every couple of minutes help draw them close to the surface. Most anglers prefer strips of ballyhoo for bait, but any live or cut small fish should work - even plugs and flies have proven successful.

The bait should be drifted to the fish in free spool after having chummed them up. As they have excellent vision, leaders should only be used when it's dark (which is also a good time to target them, as they feed at night as well) and the line should be the lightest possible - this is the key to fooling Yellowtail Snapper. Once they grab the bait, as with all Snappers, you should give them a couple of seconds before setting the hook.

Good to eat?

Excellent meat, arguably the most delicious fish in the snapper family. Very rare cases of ciguatera (fish poisoning) reported.

How about a wheelbarrow full of delicious Flags?


Season - always open;
Size limit - 12'' minimum;
Bag limit (per angler per day) - 10, within the Snapper aggregate;
Similar Game Fish:

Snapper (Yellowtail) Fishing Destinations