South Atlantic Fishery Management Council

Snapper, Yellowtail

Snapper, Yellowtail

Snapper, Yellowtail

Flag, Ocyurus chrysurus
Recreational
All areas are open for recreational fishing.
Commercial
All areas are open for commercial fishing.

The scientific name of the yellowtail snapper roughly translates to “swift-swimming golden fish”. The coloration is characterized by a prominent lateral yellow stripe originating on the snout, widening posteriorly, and covering the caudal fin. The back and upper sides are olive to bluish with yellow irregular spots. The belly and lower sides have narrow longitudinal stripes that are pale red to yellow, and the fins are yellowish.

The yellowtail snapper is distributed from North Carolina to southeastern Brazil, but most abundant in the Bahamas, off south Florida and in the Caribbean. It appears to have the same role in the tropical reef fish community that the vermilion snapper has with reef fish assemblages in the more northerly latitiudes. Both species form schools and are found above the bottom over hard substrates in waters 60-300 feet deep. Spawning takes place from April through August. Most females are sexually mature by age 3, when they are at least 9 inches. The shape of the body and tail and size of the mouth and eye suggest that yellowtail snappers feed differently from most lutjanids. The majority of animals making up the diet are found on the bottom. Most western Atlantic snappers feed predominantly on benthic fish and large invertebrates.

Regulations

NC, SC, GA, FL

  • Season is currently open.
  • 10 Aggregate Limit
  • 10 Bag Limit
  • Min. Size: 12 in Total Length
  • Additional Licenses Required: Beginning July 1, 2020, anglers intending to land this species in Florida are required to sign up as a Florida State Reef Fish Angler if they fish from a private recreational boat and are 16 years of age and older. To sign up, call 1-888-347-4356.
  • Notes: A descending device is required on board all vessels fishing for or possessing snapper and grouper species in federal waters of the South Atlantic. The descending device must be readily available for use and attached to at least 16 ounces of weight and at least 60 feet of line. Get more information at Best Fishing Practices Webpage

    Must be landed with head and fins intact. If you are bringing fish back to the U.S. from the Bahamas by water, please see Bringing fish back from the Bahamas.

    ———- Federally Permitted Charter/Headboats:

    -If a federally permitted vessel fishing in federal waters catches a species that is closed to harvest in federal waters, the vessel is not allowed to retain that fish.

    -If a federally permitted vessel fishing in state waters catches a species that is closed to harvest in federal waters but open in state waters, the vessel is not allowed to retain that species.

    -If a federally permitted vessel fishing in federal waters catches a species that is closed to harvest in state waters but open to harvest in federal waters, they may retain that fish if they do not stop to fish in state waters when returning to port. All gear must be stowed.

    For more information, see: SAFMC Yellowtail Snapper Regulations

    To see commercial regulations, download Fish Rules Commercial App for iOS devices or Android devices.

  • Gear Description: Allowable gear includes vertical hook-and-line, including hand line and bandit gear, and spearfishing gear without rebreathers. When fishing for or possessing snapper grouper species in federal waters of the South Atlantic, the following regulations apply: (1) Use of a dehooking tool is required. (2) The use of non-stainless steel hooks is required when using hook-and-line gear with natural baits. In waters North of 28-degrees N. latitude, the use of non-offset, non-stainless steel circle hooks is required when fishing for snapper grouper species using hook-and-line gear with natural baits. (3) A descending device is required on board all vessels and must be readily available for use (attached to at least 16 ounces of weight and at least 60 feet of line). See below for more details.

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