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The Cubera Snapper fish identification, habitats, characteristics, Fishing methods

The largest of all the snapper occurring in the Atlantic Ocean and a member of the Lutjanidae family, the Cubera is a hard-fighting gamefish as well as a fine food fish. They commonly weights up to 40 lbs (18 kg) and reaching lengths of 3 feet (90 cm), it can weight more than 100 lbs and reach lengths of 5 feet (6 m) in length. Cubera Snapper, the largest and one of the hardest fighting specimens of the snapper family, move into shallower water to spawn on the full moon in July and August, and fishing for them becomes a very special activity. You would get the fight of your life if you can handle to get them up off the bottom.
The Cubera Snapper Fishing Cubera Snapper, Lutjanus cyanopterus, also known as Cuban Snapper, canteen snapper, gray snapper, Cubera, Guasinuco, Pargo Cabalo, Pargo Cubera. Distributed in the western Atlantic from Florida and Cuba southward to the mouth of the Amazon in Brazil. They found north of Florida to New Jersey, are rare in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Cubera Snapper have elongate, comparatively slender body that is not very deep. Canines at anterior ends of both upper and lower jaws very strong and equally well developed; vomer and palatines with teeth, those on vomer in crescentic or triangular patch without posterior extension on median line; no teeth on ectopterygoids. They have a single dorsal fin, spinous portion of fin not deeply incised at its junction with soft portion. Last soft ray of both dorsal and anal fins not elongated. Caudal fin truncated. Membranes of soft dorsal and anal fins are with scales. There are 45 to 47 tubed scales in lateral line. The caudal fin is fairly truncate shaped. The mouth has thick lips and large teeth. Cubera snapper have large mouth with thick lips. Both jaws contain canine teeth with one pair of canines large enough to be visible even when the mouth is closed. The vomerine teeth are arranged in a triangular shape on the top of the palate.
    The head, body, and fins of the Cubera Snapper are silver or steely gray to dark brown with an occasional reddish tinge; the body is darker above than below, sometimes with a purplish sheen. There is no dark lateral spot below anterior part of soft dorsal fin. Young fish have faintly barred pattern. Their dorsal and caudal fins are light gray, anal and pelvic fins are reddish, and pectoral fins are translucent or gray. There is a bluish tinge on the anal and ventral fins. Most young fish and some adults have irregular pale bands on the upper body. The Cubera Snapper has dark red eyes, thick lips, and a rounded anal fin with 3 spines and 7 or 8, usually 8, soft rays. It also has connected dorsal fins that consist of 10 spines and 14 soft rays, and pectoral fins with 16 to 18 rays that do not extend as far as the start of the anal fin.
    It is similar to other Lutjanidae in having a longish pectoral fin, and a continuous dorsal fin. The Cubera Snapper is easily confused with the Gray or Mangrove Snapper. However, they can be distinguished from each other by the shape of the vomerine tooth patch on the roof of the mouth. The gray snapper has an anchor-shaped tooth patch while the cubera has a triangular-shaped patch that does not extend back as the anchor-shaped does. Although, they can be easy differentiated from each other by the number of gill rakers present on the lower limb of the first branchial arch. There are averages of 7 to 9 gill rakers on the Gray Snapper while Cubera Snapper has 5 to 7 gill rakers.

Cubera snappers are solitary reef dwellers. Living inshore or nearshore, they most often associate with ledges over rocky ledges, wrecks, reefs and overhangs. They live at depths to 175 feet (55 m). The young typically inhabit inshore mangrove areas and sea-grass beds that offer some protection from predators. Small cubera also are known to enter estuaries, mangrove areas, and the tidal reaches of streams and freshwater canals.
    An aggressive, carnivorous fish, the cubera snapper feeds primarily on fishes and crabs. The strong canines allow mature cubera to feed on large crustaceans including lobsters and crabs. Feeding grounds are typically located near the bottom in rocky reef areas or adjacent to other structures.

All snappers are oviparous breeders, releasing pelagic eggs into offshore waters. The spawning season usually occurs during the full moon on July and August along the South Atlantic coast of the U.S. The cubera snapper spawns from June to August in the waters in the Caribbean, in June and July they spawn off south Florida and Belize. In the Florida Keys, Cubera Snapper spawn during late summer and early fall during full moon phases. During spawning, hundreds of individuals may aggregate over deep areas. The eggs hatch within a day after fertilization, producing pelagic larvae that are dispersed by the currents. There is little known about the development of the larvae and their settlement out of the plankton.

Fishing Methods. Cubera Snapper is a deep reef fish and primarily caught by bottom fishing methods at the right depth over irregular terrain. These fish are definitely not a schooling fish, although they can be found in groups during the spawning season. The full moon in July and August is the time the Cubera snapper move to spawn from their depth of several hundred feet to the relative shallow water of 180 to 210 feet deep. Cubera snapper, the largest and one of the hardest fighting specimens of the true snapper family, feed better at night than in the day. They could be caught on wrecks with heavy tackle using lobsters, live crawfish, small yellowtail or small mangrove snapper for baits on bottom rigs. Deep jigging can sometimes bring a strike from a cubera.
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