Home Fishing Tips & Advice How to Catch a Mutton Snapper

How to Catch a Mutton Snapper

The Mutton Snapper is one of the most delicious looking fishes you can catch. Their glimmering silver scales are stunning to look at and their shining eyes are easy to spot. Not to mention their white, flaky meat, this is one of the tastiest Snappers you can catch. They’re also one of the most popular table fares found along the North and South American Atlantic coasts. Don’t be fooled by their shining exterior, this fish will put up quite the fight.

It’s important to know what to do before you embark on your first adventure to go snag one for yourself. Catching the Mutton Snapper is all about preparing – knowing where they tend to be found, what they like to eat, how to set up your line to best attract the Snapper. Be forewarned – the Mutton Snapper is known as the fighter of the Snapper family and you will need to be adequately prepared.

Because of their individual lifestyle, pinpointing where exactly to search for a Mutton Snapper might be the most difficult part of the journey. With our handy Mutton Snapper guide, you’ll be well-prepared to start your search soon! 

Where to Find a Mutton Snapper

The Mutton Snapper is native to the Atlantic coastal regions of the Americas. This includes both North and South America, as both Brazil and Florida are popular fishing spots for Mutton Snapper expeditions. Florida’s population of Mutton Snappers is among the largest in the world and the chances of you finding this species there are rather high. Catching the Mutton Snapper is often done by accident when live bait is dropped for other species like the Yellowtail or the Mangroves. Learn more about the rules and regulations of fishing for Mutton Snapper in Florida here.

The best place to find a Mutton Snapper when specifically targeting them would be to head to an offshore reef or wreck. Their favorite spots to congregate seem to be underwater man-made structures, which is why finding a shipwreck just off the coast is a fantastic way to increase your chances of catching a Mutton Snapper. They do tend to live closer to the bottom of the ocean and will feed off of any scraps that higher fish gather. Make note of how deep the waters are, you want the bottom in order to catch the Mutton Snapper. 

When the moon is full, the Mutton Snapper comes out to play. They are certainly considered a game fish. This species will gather along cliffs and ledges during the summer full moon in order to mate. During this time, you could encounter hundreds of Mutton Snappers by simply drifting your line along the ledge. Their congregation makes snagging one for your freezer simple. When searching for a Mutton Snapper, keep close to the shores of the Americas and search for underwater wrecks or man-made reefs. 

How to Catch a Mutton Snapper

They tend to stick to depths anywhere from 80-300 feet, so you might want to prepare a nice sized line for your expedition. This fish is a bottom lurker and will typically stick pretty close to rocky outcrops and shielding locations. That’s why you’re most likely to find them in wrecks or around reefs. The plethora of protection keeps them safe as they congregate and so you’re more likely to find them here. Catching them is all about knowing where to look.

Once you’ve found a bountiful location that looks promising, it’s time to employ your method of fishing. One of the most effective methods that many experts use to catch the Mutton Snapper is bottom bouncing. This tactic involves letting your line reach the bottom of the water and bounce along as you drift through an area. The Mutton Snapper is closely associated with the bottom of the ocean and so bottom bouncing is a great way to grab their attention. 

If you’re looking for a sure-fire way to guarantee a Mutton Snapper on your dinner table by the end of the day, use the popular combination of bottom bouncing and bait drifting to grab the fish’s attention and coax them into biting. Go to a location where they might be frequent at a time when the Snappers are most active. As they tend to inhabit the bottom, it’s common that another fish might take your bait while you’re waiting for a Snapper snag. You might walk away with some unwanted prizes. 

Best Bait for Mutton Snapper

While there’s a chance that you’ll catch a Mutton Snapper with artificial bait, it’s much less likely than if you were to use live bait. The Mutton Snapper loves live bait and will go for the live option over the fake one or dead ones. Not only is the live bait more attractive to the Mutton Snapper, but it’s also less likely to scare them off. With artificial lures and fake worm baits, the Snapper might get close, realize the bait is fake, and you lose your chances of catching any Mutton Snappers for the day. 

We highly recommend using smaller fish as your live bait. Our favorite type of bait for the Mutton Snapper are small Sardines. They seem to be a favorite of Mutton Snappers, especially in the Florida region and don’t cause too much of a stir. They’ll grab the attention of the Mutton Snappers and won’t scare them off. The size is perfect and seems to be a rather large part of their diet. Though the Mutton Snapper is rather solitary and difficult to catch, with live bait, they become significantly easier to catch. We usually try to catch live Sardines inshore, on our way to the fishing spot.

Best Lures & Lines for Mutton Snapper

It’s important to remember that the Mutton Snapper is commonly known as the fighters of the Snapper family and can be difficult to bring in on a lighter line so pack heavy. You’re likely looking at a much heavier lead than with other species of Snappers attached to a durable and weight bearing long line. Some jigs can be used to lure them in, but it’s more beneficial to utilize a live bait to bring them in. The heavier the fish, the stronger the line. Keep it durable when fighting this type of Snapper. 

Interested in learning about catching more types of fish? Check out our other article: How to Catch an African Pompano.