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Captain's Corner

Location matters: Many divers will be spearfishing in the Key West Open this weekend, where the largest snapper is often a mutton snapper weighing 15 to 20 pounds.

By CHAD CARNEY
Published April 28, 2007


Location matters: Many divers will be spearfishing in the Key West Open this weekend, where the largest snapper is often a mutton snapper weighing 15 to 20 pounds. It's rare to see snapper that size around Tampa Bay, unless in very deep water. Cubera snapper usually win any tournament because they can get over 100 pounds, but they are the rarest and smartest snapper that divers hunt in Florida. Mangrove or gray snapper are the most common snappers here and average 4 to 6 pounds. On the shallow structure of oil rigs off Alabama and Louisiana, mangrove snapper, often called black snapper there, are easily double that size and numerous. Red snapper are the most prized snapper on the rigs. They are wary, tend to dive deep when seen and are difficult to shoot.

Pro tips: All snapper are hard to land because they are masters at shaking spears. You need a fast, long-shooting gun to place a good shot from behind and above the fish and quickly pull it in before the barb wallows a larger hole, allowing an escape.