Mutton Snapper

by Robert Trosset

This month, the mutton snapper will be spawning on the reef. Muttons congregate in large schools during the full moon to spawn and this provides an excellent opportunity for spearfishing. These fish will travel large distances to get to the specific spawning grounds and meet up with hundreds of other snapper. In June, I notice more snapper on the reef moving toward the spawning grounds giving me a better chance to bag a trophy mutton. In May, we were fortunate enough to bag a couple of nice mutton snappers for dinner on some of the Spearfishing charters I ran for FINZ Dive Center.

Mutton snapper are notoriously shy and will often run if a diver looks at them wrong. Many divers have found that wearing a tinted or mirrored mask helps to confuse the snapper. The theory is the fish will not see your eyes and therefore think you are less dangerous. I am not a fan of those masks because if one diver is having a problem, the dive buddy can not see the other one’s eyes. The eyes never lie and they can give a lot of information about how a person is feeling just by looking at them. I prefer to look away from the fish, drop to the bottom, and pick up a few handfuls of sand. By throwing the sand up, it creates a slight camouflage and attracts the fish to move closer. They know that where there is a disturbance, there could be food. When the snapper comes close enough for a shot, I will take it quickly.

Patience is key and being able to stay silent and still on the bottom for a minute or more is often the difference between a great shot or coming back empty handed. Taking the F.I.I. Freediving course was extremely helpful to increase not only my breath hold but also my safety knowledge.

The water on the reef has been extremely clear all throughout May, although there has been a strong current. This has made for excellent drift dives where we can cover lots of area very quickly. I have had excellent luck shooting fish this way and have had some amazing days all month long. With any luck June will be even better.

By Robert Trosset; Featured in Coastal Angler Magazine, Florida Keys Edition, May 2017

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