Pacific Cubera Snapper Fishing
Pacific Cubera Snapper Description
The Pacific Cubera Snapper, also known as the Pacific Dog Snapper, are the largest Snapper species in the Pacific and are second only to the Atlantic Cubera Snapper in size. They have a massive head with a massive girth and big menacing teeth. They are a very tough fish with large scales and thick bones. In some areas with lots of rocks they are almost impossible to land as they will bite and then head straight to the rocks. It doesn't matter what tackle you use in some areas; if they can get to the rocks without pulling drag then you have little hope.
Pacific Cubera Snapper are one of my favorite species to fish for, and I have been fortunate enough to land quite a few and lost even more.
Pacific Cubera Pound for Pound Fight Rating - 10 out of 10 on the Saltwater Scale
Cuberas are very challenging to catch as they always head straight for whatever rocks are around and their initial run is tremendously powerful. I have only seen one person pulled out of a boat by a fish and it was a 30lb Pacific Cubera Snapper. You have to use heavy tackle, lock down your drag, and pray you can turn them before they bust you off in the rocks. They don't put up a long fight, but they will stretch your line, knots, rod, arms, and everything else to the very limit on their initial run. Definitely one of the toughest customers in the ocean on rod and reel.
Pacific Cubera Snapper Culinary Rating - High
Pacific Cubera Snapper are absolutely delicious with firm white meat that can be cooked a number of ways like most Snapper. Even the big ones are tasty, although they can be a bit tougher and have huge scales that need to be removed.
Pacific Cubera Snapper Tackle
This is not a light tackle fish. If you try for the big ones on light tackle you are better off saving your gas money and just staying at the dock and throwing all your tackle into the ocean because you will basically get the same result. These things are extremely strong and always head for the rocks when hooked. I recommend braided line of at least 80lbs with a fluorocarbon leader of at least 80lbs. Wire would be nice to use but they won't bite it. Heavy conventional tackle is the way to go here. Personally I use the same tackle that I use for marlin and I don't feel like it's overkill. Lock the drag down. If something breaks, it breaks. Most of the time you will be able to turn the fish before anything breaks if you use good tackle and tie good knots.
Pacific Cubera Snapper Techniques
Find rocky structure in 150ft or less of water and look on the fish finder to see if anyone is home. The biggest ones come on live bait so just drop a bait down on a likely spot. Fish right off the bottom. If you are fishing with a lure then set the hook immediately and pull like crazy. If fishing bait you have to let them eat it a little longer. However, if you wait too long they will already be in the rocks.
Pacific Cubera Snapper Lures
Iron jigs such as Salas 7x and other big metal jigs will work right off the bottom. I have caught them up to 35lbs this way. When they are found in reefs that rise up shallow you can throw big poppers to them which is a really fun way to fish.
Pacific Cubera Snapper Baits
Large live fish make great baits. Live skipjack tuna are my favorite because when hooked they head straight down to were the snappers are. Very convenient. If you can't get live ones then you can use big chunks of fresh dead fish.
Where to get the big Pacific Cubera Snapper
I've caught some nice ones in the 70lb class in Panama. I also have had the fewest breakoffs in Panama in the Mariato area. Puerto Vallarta is also a very good place to get them. Baja has some but most spots are shallow and rocky and it is impossible to land the big ones unless you fish with very little line out. In which case they probably won't bite. They didn't get big by being dumb.
Other Pacific Cubera Snapper Resources
These guys will put you on fish in Puerto Vallarta: www.marlasportfishing.com
This place offers great trips in Panama in areas loaded with big Cuberas: Cebaco Bay Sportfishing Club
In Costa Rica's Osa Peninsula, the owner of this lodge can put you on the big Pargos: Las Islas Lodge