The red snapper is a fish found in the Gulf of Mexico and the southeastern Atlantic coast of the United States and, much less commonly, northward as far as Massachusetts.
The red snapper commonly inhabits waters 30 to 200 feet deep, but some are reported to be caught at 300 feet deep. All feature a sloped profile, medium-to-large scales, a spiny dorsal fin and a laterally compressed body. The maximum published age of a caught red snapper was reported to be 57 years. Coloration of the red snapper is light red, with more intense pigment on the back. A red snapper attains sexual maturity at two to five years old. An adult snapper can live for more than 50 years and weigh 50 pounds. Red snapper are a prized food fish, caught commercially, as well as recreationally. Red snapper is the most commonly caught snapper in the continental USA (almost 50% of the total catch), with similar species being more common elsewhere.
The red snapper's body is very similar in shape to other snappers, such as the mangrove snapper, mutton snapper, lane snapper, and dog snapper. All feature a sloped profile, medium-to-large scales, a spiny dorsal fin and a laterally compressed body. Red snappers have short, sharp, needle-like teeth, but they lack the prominent upper canine teeth found on the mutton, dog, and mangrove snappers.
The red snapper reaches maturity at a length of about 39 cm. The common adult length is 60 cm, but may reach 100 cm. The maximum published weight is 22.8 kg, and the oldest reported age is 57 years. Coloration of the red snapper is light red, with more intense pigment on the back. It has 10 dorsal spines, 14 soft dorsal rays, three anal spines and eight to 9 anal soft rays. Juvenile fish (shorter than 30–35 cm) can also have a dark spot on their sides, below the anterior soft dorsal rays, which fades with age.
This species feeds primarily on fish, crustaceans, worms and cephalopods. They tend to be nibblers and pickers and soft touch is needed when angling. Red snanpper seem to prefer a still or slowly moving bait. Squid, whole fish and cut bait can be used to entice red snapper to bite. By chummming them up to the surface, flies can also be used.
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