Yellowtail Snapper Fishing In The Florida Keys

Snappers are found in the tropical and subtropical regions of all the oceans. One of the most popular and best eating of the snapper species, the yellowtail snapper ranges as far north as the Treasure Coast but are in their greatest abundance in the Bahamas and the Florida Keys. During days around the full moon, you will probably have excellent catches of the mutton snappers.

Yellowtail snapper is one of the best eating fish in the entire tropical roster of fish only eclipsed by the pricey yellowfin tuna steaks. The small size of the fish adds only to its succulent taste. Typical catches of yellowtail range from the 10-12 lb size. This fish is so versatile that it can be cooked in any number of ways with any number of sauces & still come out superbly delicious.

Yellowtails are characterized by its yellow mid body stripe that extends into its yellow tail, the sleek and abundant yellowtail snapper swims in loose groups well off the bottom. There is a 12-inch minimum size limit and 10 snapper aggregate bag limit. June will be a good time, weather permitting, for night offshore fishing for mangrove, lane and yellowtail snapper.

Bait for Yellowtail Snappers – Weighted live bait will produce grouper & mutton snapper sometimes following in the chum slick. Depending on the time of year you might also catch Kingfish and Cero Mackerel. Use Live Ballyhoo whenever possible.

When yellowtails pull drag on 20 pound spin tackle, you know you have a good yellowtail on. Cut pieces of squid, small pilchards and even live shrimp are productive baits for yellowtail snapper. Sardines, silverside and glass minnows will also work well.

You’ll also need frozen chum to put in bags to chum up the water behind the boat. Chum up the water heavy at first. When you start to get a good bite of yellowtail, ease off on the chum so that they will feed on the bait of your hook.

Sandball for Yellowtails & Flat Lining – Filet your ballyhoo & squid & then cut them into strips. Then mix your chum & sand for sandballs – 60% sand & 40% chum. Make sure your chum is oily. Always add the chum to the sand. Mix chum until there are no dry areas. Mixing some oats into the sand/chum will help you catch more yellowtail.

Put the hooked ballyhoo bait into the middle of a sandball. Wrap your line around the sandball & then throw your bait out into the chum slick. Let the line feed out as the current goes until you feel the fish strike the line & pull on your bait.

Fishing Tackle – Use the smallest hooks, 1/0 or smaller, you can find & small conventional reels. Shimano 10 lb spinners for fighting those yellowtail, so everyone gets to enjoy the challenge. We also recommend bright colored jigs to attract the fish.

12- 15 lb test is the best for these fish. Use a pink line so that the fish cannot see the line in the water. A #4 hook up to a 1/0 and a 1/8 oz weight will be best on your rig for flat lining or sandballing.

Finding Yellowtail – Look for a sharp drop off on the edge of the reef. This is where you will find small stacks of fish & plenty of bottom life to support the bait fish. Your Loran or GPS will tell you where the best drop offs are.

Swordfish, Marlin, Sailfish, Dolphin, Cobia, Wahoo, Tuna and Kingfish are just a few of the species we catch off the Southeast Florida Coast. We catch Most of our dolphin while fishing for Tuna. Whether gunning for tuna, marlin or dolphin, Fish ‘em all with Live Bait!!

Instructional DVDs on How to Throw a Cast Net, Yellowtail & Mutton Snapper fishing, Live Bait Trolling, and more!!

Marilyn Davis has been fishing the Florida Keys for over 20 years a nd is the Webmaster for the Florida Keys Info-Net. Key West fishing: Instructional DVDs on How to Throw a Cast Net, Yellowtail & Mutton Snapper fishing, Live Bait Trolling, and more:

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