Scientific Name: Lutjanus analis
Ideal Temp: 60-70°F (15-21°C)
Environment: Inshore, Nearshore
Technique: Bottom Fishing, Jigging
Lure Type: Bottom Rig, Jigs
World Record: 30.4 lbs. near Dry Tortugas
The mutton snapper is a fish of the Lutjanidae family. Largely a Caribbean species, they can be found from North Carolina to South America. They prefer low-relief reef structure searching for fishes, shrimps, crabs, squid, and snails. In the Florida Keys, they may be encountered in shallow water, over coralline bottom. In that habitat, they are very colorful with olive-tinted backs and red sides. In deeper water, they can easily be mistaken for red snapper (L. campechanus). Also a favorite of spear fishermen, the mutton snapper is an often difficult target, as they do not allow close approach.
Mutton snapper are a highly prized fish by saltwater anglers; they can be caught on a variety of baits, but are most commonly caught on live or frozen shrimp, whole or cut squid, minnows, and smaller bait fish (such as live or dead pinfish). Mutton snapper have been caught on artificial baits, but seem to prefer live bait. They can generally be found in deeper (50 to 200 ft or deeper) water, although catches (generally of juveniles and smaller fish) are not uncommon in more shallow water. They are also caught on the surface during night-fishing expeditions. Mutton snapper are typically known as great fighters relative to other snapper species, so are harder to land on lighter tackle. Many are often landed as a "bycatch" of anglers targeting other species of snapper or grouper.
Mutton snapper, especially adults, tend to be solitary, but can be seen in smaller schools. Their flesh is considered by most as excellent table fare. Like most of the snapper family, the meat is white, flaky and light; and is excellent prepared in a variety of ways.
- Color olive green on back and upper sides
- All fins below the lateral line having reddish tinge
- Bright blue line below eye, following contour of operculum
- Anal fin pointed
- Small black spot below dorsal fin
- V-shaped tooth patch on roof of the mouth
Mutton snapper are similar in appearance to lane snapper, L. synagris. Mutton snapper's anal fin is pointed whereas it is rounded in the lane snapper.
Mutton snapper are an inshore species associated with grassbeds, mangroves, and canals. Larger adults are occasionally found on offshore reefs.
These snapper spawn in July and August. Mutton snapper feed on fish, crustaceans, and snails.