Key West Yellowtail Snapper Fishing
The yellowtail snapper is one of the most abundant fish in the sea. They are found almost everywhere in the western Atlantic Ocean, from the waters off of New England, to the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico and as far south as Brazil.
The fish also goes by the name cola or yellowtail in many places. They can grow to 30 inches although most fish never exceed lengths of 16-18 inches. The largest yellowtail snapper ever recorded weighed nine pounds.
These fish have olive to blueish black scales on their backs and upper sides that feature yellow spots. On the lower sides and belly, they have alternating narrow pink and yellow stripes running vertically. The most distinctive features are the yellow stripe running laterally from the mouth all the way to its tail and its forked yellowtail. It is this last feature which gives the fish its name.
The species normally congregate near coral reefs at depths of between 32-230 feet. However, as juveniles, yellowtail snapper tend to stay inshore near seagrass bed nurseries to avoid predation until they reach maturity.
They reach sexual maturity at lengths of 10-12 inches and their life expectancy is 6-14 years. Yellowtail snapper spawns in offshore aggregations from spring through fall with a peak occurring in midsummer.
These snappers are nocturnal predators that feed on a variety of fish and are also prey items for some species. Yellowtail feed on shrimp, crabs, worms and smaller fish. Fish such as sharks, barracuda, mackerel, grouper and even larger snapper feed on the yellowtail.
The edibility of its light, flaky white meat is fair to good and it is one of the more sought-after snapper because of this. Due to its prevalence in the waters of the Florida Keys and tasty meat the yellowtail snapper is a very popular game fish.