Cubera snapper are not the most common target in Texas waters, but when one considers just how many species of snapper are present here (an even dozen are listed by the TPWD) it shouldn’t surprise anyone that they can actually be caught in Gulf waters. And these are the biggest of the snappers around – the state record, set way back in 1983, sits at beastly 131 pounds. That’s the largest snapper of any kind caught in Texas, period.
So, how can you target cubera in specific? Truth be told, it isn’t easy. They frequent inlets, reefs, and the usual structure other snappers are found at and are usually caught by accident as part of a mixed bag. That said, there are a few things you can do to boost your chances of bagging a cubera.
- Use large live baits. Few things will tempt these fish more than a livie dropped down to the bottom. The trick here will be to use a very large offering, which won’t get slurped up by every other snapper that weighs five or 10 pounds. A one-pound bait is not out of line. That will keep the smaller species at bay, while still presenting a tempting target to the cubera.
- Use a circle hook, with a relatively light leader. By “light” we mean in comparison to the potential size of these fish, at 40 or 50 pound test. That’s light enough to prevent leader-spooking and allow the baitfish to struggle without being too restricted. And the circle hook is an important part of this equation, because as long as it lodges in the corner of the jaw as intended, it will prevent the leader from coming into contact with the fish’s snaggly and abrasive teeth.
- Use monofilament line, or a long top-shot of mono. This is important because the fish will often drag your line across rocks, reef material, and other abrasive items. The abrasion resistance of monofilament is much better than that of braid, and you want to be sure that anything which rubs rubs against mono.
Bonus Tip: If you get a cubera into the boat, consider baking the fillets in a lemon and white wine – it’s a fantastic way to prepare the firm, chunky white meat!