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Species Spotlight: Cubera Snapper

Species: Cubera Snapper

Scientific Name: Lutjanus Cyanopterus

Also known as: Cuban Snapper

The Cubera Snapper, also known as the Cuban Snapper, is a species of marine fish native to the western Atlantic Ocean. They feature an oval-shaped, somewhat streamlined body, less deep than other species in their family, a pair of front and rear nostrils, a large mouth with thick lips and a jaw containing a multitude of canine teeth. They usually feature a brown colouration, although many have a characteristic reddish hue. Their dorsal fin contains ten spines and fourteen soft rays, while the anal fin has three spines and seven or eight soft rays. They have been known to live for over fifty years and reach spawning maturity around four to five years.

Notice the super strong canine teeth that the Cubera is famous for.

Where To Catch Cubera Snapper

The Cubera Snapper get found in the Western Atlantic Ocean, as far north as Nova Scotia, as far south as Santa Catarina in Brazil, and throughout the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico. As juveniles, they frequent in-shore coastal waters and mangroves, often seeking shelter in seagrass beds. As they mature, they generally move offshore, where they inhabit rocky ledges, outcrops and reefs in depths anywhere between one metre to eighty metres. Adults are solitary fish and will typically be found alone.

For anglers wishing to target and catch one, the countries in Central America, like Panama, Costa Rica, Mexico and Guatemala, offer an excellent chance. Panama, in particular, has some of the largest populations and most significant specimens; the area around the Gulf of Chiriquí, Isla Montuosa and the famous Hannibal Bank are some of the best locations on the planet.

Casting lures, poppers, & jigs to rocky outcrops or underwater structures is a popular method of targeting & catching Cuberas.

Average Size Of Cubera Snapper

Cuberas are one of the largest species in the Snapper family, and the biggest ever recorded was a giant weighing over 120lb; however, fish over 100lb are unusual. The average for anglers is around 30lb to 40lb, with larger specimens mixed in. They’re a highly predatory species, feeding mainly on other fish and crustaceans. Their large canine teeth allow them to crush the largest of crabs and lobsters, and they often get found foraging on the bottom of the sea bed in the vicinity of hard structure.

They’re considered good-quality food fish, and their predictable and accessible spawning aggregations make them an easy target for commercial fishermen, which is why bag and size limits get enforced in many places. As a result, over the past twenty years, the populations in some areas have decreased by as much as 60%. With a growth rate of 1lb to 3lb a year, developing slowly, conservation is critical to ensure these fish will be around for generations.

Cuberas have been caught to over 100lb, but fish around the 30-40lb mark is average.

How To Catch Cubera Snapper

Cubera Snappers get found in an array of underwater environments; however, if you can find the structure, you’ll often find the fish. They love pinnacles in deep water, rocky sea beds, wrecks and reefs. A good rule of thumb is if you can find an area like this from fifteen to seventy metres deep around any pinnacles or reef that rise towards the surface, you’ll most likely encounter a Cubera or two.

As a sportfish, they’re mighty powerful, and when fishing for them, you must use the tackle to match. Therefore, heavy-duty rods, reels, good quality braid and end tackle are essential to battle these fish away from their underwater habitats. They can get targeted on many different methods, from lure fishing, with poppers and jigs to live baiting and dead baiting.

At most of our destinations around the globe, they mainly get caught when fishing with poppers and jigs for other species, like Roosterfish, Jacks, Dorado and Tuna.

A big Cubera is a beautiful beast and one we thoroughly recommend catching if you never have.

Contact Us

If you’ve always wanted to catch a Cubera Snapper, we have a range of destinations in Central America where we can make this happen. Our popper, jig and big game fishing lodges in Panama and Costa Rica are considered some of the best in the world, with incredible fishing opportunities. If you’d like to learn more or enquire about these trips, contact Paul Stevens on 01603 407596 or via email at

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