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Florida Fishing - Species

BARRACUDA

Regulations

No size or bag limits; no closed season. A good species to catch and release.

General Information

One of the ocean's best known and feared predators. In the water, the menacing stare of this fish combined with its mouth full of sharp teeth give it a far more dangerous appearance than it actually deserves. The barracuda is a curious fish and it likes to check out visitors that venture into its domain. Don't construe this as the fish sizing you up as its next meal. Attacks on divers are rare.

It is a dangerous fish when hooked and being fought or brought into the boat. The fish does leap out of the water and there are documented cases of a barracuda jumping into boats. Be especially careful whenever handling this fish. Its teeth are very sharp and if your hand gets too close when releasing a fish you can be bitten. Give this animal plenty of respect and don't take your eyes off it when its out of the water.

The barracuda is a summer spawning fish whose young grow up in the estuaries. Occasionally anglers will hook a small fish when fishing around the mangroves in the southern part of the state. Eventually the fish move offshore where they live as adults. The fish is not normal table fare because it is known to cause ciguatera poisoning. The fish get this from eating other organisms that have ciguatera and then concentrating the toxins in their bodies. Since there is no way to tell if a fish has ciguatera, short of a laboratory test of the meat, most people do not eat barracuda meat.

Distribution

State-wide distribution - It is a year round resident in the southern part of the state and will move into northern Florida during the warmer months. Look for barracuda around any submerged structure, along the beaches, and on the flats.

Tackle and techniques

A heavy leader monofilament or wire leader is essential when fishing for barracuda. The rod and reel should have 15 pound test or higher line. The fish is often caught when trolling for bluewater species. Barracuda on the flats can be taken by fly rod. Use at least an 8 weight line and corresponding rod and reel.

Bait

Any species of fish, live or dead, will work since barracuda will eat just about anything that crosses its path. While they will hit some artificial lures, the tube lure is the most popular and successful type for this fish.

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