The Tampa Bay Times’

By Ed Walker

The biggest and strongest of all the snapper species in the Gulf is the cubera. Capable of reaching over 100 pounds, these elusive creatures lifecyle is somewhat mysterious. The juvenilles are found under mangroves and around inlets and bridges. As they get bigger they seems to move offshore to reef and ledges. The adults seem to settle into depths from 150 to 250 feet and generally live very isolated solitary lives. However, during the month of August, huge cubera snapper from wide swaths of the Gulf and South Atlantic will aggregate for spawning in specific spots, usually large wrecks. These annual gatherings are one of the best opportunities for anglers to target them.

Getting shots at big cuberas and landing them are two different things. They are one of the hardest fighting fish there is, and they are found over line slicing structure. Heavy tackle is a necessity and even with it the odds favor the fish. We typically set up with 150 braided line and a very long 400 lb mono leader. Here in the Bay area large live baits such as mullet and grunts will get bites. Like others snapper, cuberas feed best at night. Power drifting over the spot at night with baits suspended just above the wreck works well. If you anchor, set up on the up-current side of the structure and let your baits drift toward the spot. The big fish are just average for food quality so we usually release most of the ones we catch so they can continue their spawning activities.