The Mutton Snapper (Lutjanus analis) is one of the most requested fish by our anglers. Key West is the Mutton Snapper capital of the world with some of most consistent Mutton fishing to be had. This fish maybe taken year round, however the prime months begin in November and produce the larger fish during the winter and spring. The average size is usually 8 to 15 pounds, however, fish of 15 to over 20 pounds are not uncommon.
Muttons are so numerous that they are the mainstay of our bottom fishery and a big part of the Carts Full of Fish page on our web site. Mutton Snapper will take a variety of live and dead baits as well as jigs and lures. They are targeted on the flats as well as throughout the channels, reefs and structures as deep as 250 feet of water.
Fishing for Mutton Snapper is not as difficult as some may think. The best way to catch a Mutton Snapper is to be patient and know the specific area you are targeting. However, Mutton Snapper are so prevalent in the Florida Keys and the Dry Tortugas that you are almost guaranteed to catch one in the surrounding areas.
The great part about Mutton Snapper is that they will eat all types of bait, live or dead. Here at Delph Fishing we almost always use live bait to catch Mutton Snapper. They will eat Pilchards, Pinfish, Threadfin Herring and other species of live bait. A Mutton Snapper will almost never resist a live bait when dropped down to the bottom. Put on a live bait, drop it down and wait for the bite.
Mutton Snapper are known for putting up a great fight. Once the fish realizes it is in trouble it will start to pull very hard, bend the rod and make a strong run. The trick is to hold on, pull up and reel in your slack line. Repeat the process of pulling up and reeling in slack until the fish is next to the boat. Gaffing a Mutton Snapper is rarely needed when fishing deeper waters. The fish is exhausted and not prepared for the rapid change in pressure, so you only need to lift it by the gill plate and set in the boat.
Be willing to use tackle as light as 12 pound test for the experienced angler to enjoy some great sport fishing. You may lose a fish now and then, but you will have plenty to eat and some great memories at the end of the day. Most anglers consider the Mutton as one of the best eating fish. Recipes for cooking Mutton Snapper as well as other types of fish can be found on our Weekly Recipes page.
Mutton Snapper Photo Gallery
Mutton Snapper Fishing Locations
The Dry Tortugas is the last, great vestige of sportfishing in the northern hemisphere. This remote group of islands are surrounded by more than ten thousand square miles of fishing resources that have remained relatively untapped due to the time that it would take to cover this vast and remote area.
Gulf of Mexico
The Gulf of Mexico, for our purposes, begins at the North side of the flats, along the lower Florida Keys and includes a portion of the Florida Bay, continuing to the West and North of the Dry Tortugas, encompassing more than 5000 square miles of fishable water within range of our hi-tech, offshore boats.
Key West offers the sportfishing enthusiast the largest variety of gamefish in the world. Other locations will argue that they are the sportfishing capital of the world, or the best for this species or that particular fish. There are more “I.G.F.A. World Records” from the waters of Key West than the next closest, several locations combined.
Marquesas is a magical word that conjures thoughts of tropical breezes, emerald green water surrounding a tropical island paradise. A ring of islands surrounded by acres and acres of pristine water and shallow flats where giant Tarpon, Permit, Bonefish, Mutton Snappers, great Barracudas and monster Sharks of all kinds prowl the flats.