The Tampa Bay Times

By Ed Walker

The full moon in August when giant cubera snapper aggregate in long established spots for spawning. These heavy bodied fish spend most of the year living alone inside deep wrecks and around isolated ledges with deep caves. They are quite rare to catch until they come together in the late summer.

There is at least one fairly well-known aggregating location near The Elbow 70 miles off St. Petersburg. It was discovered by commercial fishermen years ago and passed along to sport fishermen due to the poor selling value at the fish market. The spot is a ledge with some undercuts but is nothing different that many similar ledges and peaks in the area. Only the giant snapper know why it is their chosen spot for spawning.

For anglers, landing one of these behemoths is extremely hard to do. There are few bottom fish that fight as hard or that dash into structure as directly. Heavy tackle is a must. We typically target cuberas with 100 pound test braided line, a top shot of 150 pound monofilament and 15 foot leader of 300 pound monofilament. I like to use the minimum weight that will get the bait down into the zone the fish are holding. If the current is strong this can mean 3 or 4 pounds of weight although last year we found slack current and were able to freeline large baits to them.

Big live baits are the way to coax them into feeding. Some anglers use jumbo grunts or pinfish, others use even bigger baits like jack cravelle. Perhaps the most important factor is when you fish. Cubera snapper feed almost exclusively at nite or right at sunset. The best bet is to set up on your spot before dark and then fish til 12 or 1 am.

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