Which Florida fishing boat is the best for catching a yellowtail snapper? Most anglers agree that a medium-sized boat with good fishing equipment is ideal. The yellowtail snapper has an unusual hunting behavior, jumping up to 4 feet into the water to scare fish. This makes them very hard to catch with a big boat.
habitat & range: The yellowtail snapper can be found in the central Atlantic Ocean off the northern shores of Massachusetts to southern Bermuda and as far south as south Florida. They are most frequently caught in warm coastal areas, but have been known to spawn in shallow water off southwestern Florida and Texas. They are nocturnal and feed during the night.
Common Names: “chrysurus” is the most common name for this beautiful fish, but other names have been suggested including “shiner”, “tenglin”, “sinker” and “chum.” These names are probably referring to the color or pattern of the fish rather than their name. However, the common names imply that the yellowtail snapper belongs to a species of the genus Chrysurus. This is actually a common name for the fish in the Mediterranean and this word does not imply any relation to the common name.
Physical Characteristic: This is a naturally occurring fish with a long, spiny body and a head with two large pointed pincers. It’s olive colored below and black or brownish above. The head and upper parts of the body are white with red or yellow spots on the skin. A small yellow spot near the ventral fin helps to identify this fish. Its dorsal and anal fins are long and tapering. There are no paired fins on the lower sides.
Natural History: This is a small to medium sized freshwater fish which lives in both fresh and salt water. It prefers rocky or mud bottoms and fast moving streams in southern United States and along the west coast of Canada. It was first caught in southern Massachusetts in 1820 by French Canadian fishermen. Its natural environment has made it very versatile species.
In recent years this fish has been introduced to the eastern and central parts of the Eastern Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. It has slowly made its way up the Mississippi, Okaloosa and Atlantic coasts to Texas. Yellowtail snapper found its way to the southwestern Bahamas and to the peninsular Florida Keys.
Life History: This is a solitary fish that moves about at night. It builds a bright array of underwater reefs, which provide protection from prey fish and other predators. It also likes to ambush its prey from below the water’s surface. For this reason this fish spends most of its time under the water.
The United States Fish and Wildlife Service has listed the yellowtail snapper as an endangered species. The local governments of the United States, Gulf Coast, Florida and Louisiana are working feverishly to conserve the beautiful yellowtail snapper population. To date this beautiful fish population has been saved from extinction thanks to these efforts. Together, with the red snapper and the banded collar fish the Florida/Texas coasts are truly a team of sharks looking out for man.
Be sure to capitalize on the fact that Florida and Texas are so concerned with preserving their species that they have put into place several programs that help make fishing more accessible to people in need. One example is the “Save Our Sea” program which is a partnership effort between the federal government, local wildlife organizations and the National Marine Fisheries Service. This is a great program that benefits not only the yellowtail snapper but all fish populations and strengthens ties between local stakeholders.
Life Expectancy: This is a very good, mature fish that will live to around ten years. It has a very strong spawning cycle and can produce over fifteen litters in it’s lifetime. The female yellowtail snapper will produce a single clutch of eggs that will hatch in the spring. The youngsters stay in nursery pools where they swim with the mothers and feed on small crustaceans and invertebrates. As they grow older the chrysurus migrate to warmer waters in search of food.
Conditions: This species is an aggressive predator that makes it a dangerous target for any trapper. This is a result of the size and aggressive nature of this fish. They will frequently bite or net a trapper without hesitation. If you plan to fish in the gulf coast areas or the Caribbean please avoid this boat-trap as they will often return even after being trapped. Also be aware of the seasons as many times these boats will return to the same area year after year.
Conclusion: Yellowtail snappers are fantastic fish to catch and enjoy. Their reputation as top predators in the gulf has made them a very popular target for many sport fishermen. The key to catching them is avoiding the many mistakes many novice fisherman make when choosing a location to fish. Also know that the gulf coast and Caribbean are perfect for catching this popular and delicious fish.