Every year around the Full Moon of July and August, cubera snapper (Lutjanus cyanopterus) come into shallower water to spawn. This year was a little different having a blue moon over Miami. This is when a second full moon occurs in one calendar month. The last blue moon occurred in 2009 and won’t happen again until 2015.
South Florida fishermen take advantage and try to muscle up this monstrous fish. I had the opportunity to communicate with Martin Arostegui who is an IGFA representative to discuss his recent incredible catch.
The night started out with great friends and family. Martin was accompanied by his father Marty Arostegui who is an IGFA Trustee, local legend Capt. Bouncer Smith, and deckhands Ron and Billy. The game plan was to run south of Miami and try a deep wreck.
It was a Thursday night and all the conditions were in their favor since Hurricane Issac’s passing – prevented others from fishing the area. Once at the wreck, a live lobster is used to attract these voracious fish. I’m sure your asking, live lobster? Well yes! Lobsters make great bait for these fish and in case you get skunked, you can still take home a tasty meal – it’s a win, win situation.
Fishing for cubera snapper takes a heavy tackle, so 50-80 pound conventional reels are highly recommended. These fish are powerful and can put a strain on your gear. Rigging consist of 80 pd monofilament, with 200 pound leader and 12/0 hooks as shown on the lobster. Depending on the current, up to 24oz sinkers are used.
It didn’t take long after the first drop, an estimated 45-50lb cubera snapper was caught and released! Cool thing that these guys represent the IGFA and do official measurements. The fish was measured on an official IGFA measurement device used for all-tackle length record. Qualifying catch for this record category requires that the fish be released alive.
Martin also explain to me that a release device made by SeaQualizer that clips to fishes jaw and an attached weight is used to lower the fish to a desired depth down without puncturing nor injuring the fish.
A total of eight fish were caught and seven were released, but nothing measured to what Martin’s father Marty caught. A massive 75lb monster! The cubera snapper measured 122cm and also qualifies for a record.
“I could not be gladder to have shared it with Capt. Bouncer Smith, deckhands Ron and Billy, and my father Marty Arostegui, all of whom made this dream of catching big cubera snappers possible, as an IGFA representative and IGFA trustee – I and my father strongly believe in responsible and ethical angling practices and are dedicated to safe handling of our catches, minimizing stress on the fish while ensuring safety for the angler and crew. Our strong support of catch-and-release led us to go to such extents to ensure the survival of these fish, especially the large ones during their breeding period.” Martin said.
As a conservationist myself, I really admire the true dedication towards our ecosystem that Martin and his crew show. This should be a lesson to all of us that there is nothing wrong with a little practice of catch and release – protect the future fisheries.