Species of The Mexican Caribbean IV:Bucket

By. Gustavo Silva Mendoza; Cancun Tarpon

Andthe fourth installment of this series of writings, we will now describe a species that is hunted both by anglers as by commercial fishermen, since their meat is prized on the table and his fight and greed is sought by many anglers.

On this occasion won’t talk about of a pelagic, as in the first installments of this series, being the same trend will continue, this brief is not intended to be a guide and a collection of diverse information and own experiences.

Bucket or Pargo Cubera as we know him in our country, we can identify it scientifically as Lutjanus Cyanopterus being part of the family of the great majority of Snappers of genus lutjanus, which can be found both in the Pacific and the Atlantic.

In this brief we will refer to the snapper bucket that can be found in the Atlantic, Caribbean, Mexican and, occasionally, in the Gulf of Mexico, the species that can be found in the Caribbean and especially those that are important for sport fishing being our interest.

Some general aspects:

Usually associated with the Snapper with fish Reef and actually this species we can preferably be found in reef areas, however large Snappers can be found at the sites less thought, on the shores of the beach where to come to hunt during the day or night or in mangroves and estuaries, where it will occasionally come to protect them from storms or simply to get food.

When the bucket is small, we can find it in the estuaries and mangroves in areas relatively low and can easily be confused with red snapper gray or mangrove snapper, are physically very similar. Perhaps the most representative difference is size and somewhat the tone of your skin.

One of the possibilities that exist to find cuberas several joints is in mating season, that both females and males, are concentrated in a relatively small area, usually in open areas, in order to carry out the implementation and fertilization. These areas are visited in each mating season and when they are already places known to man, you can then affect the species, since they returned to the same place each time, jeopardizing the process. Other predators such as shark whale feeds on the eggs of these big snappers, usually in open water, where the whale shark eats. There have been some studies which estimate that the implementation of this species occurs in the months of June, July and August, and found schools of cubera mating in some places of the Caribbean Sea that have made these records.

In general we can describe them in the following way: your skin is reddish, which can range from Brown to intense shades of red tones, with large scales that cover your skin, your mouth is big and her lips are thick and cover a denture that is quite dangerous, since they have a pair of fangs (dogs) in the upper jaw and one on the bottom that allow them to attach to their prey.

The common names for this species, as previously mentioned they are varied, here in our Mexico it is called Cubera snapper, or simply cubera, in the United States is called “Cubera Snapper”, “canteen snapper”, “cuban snapper” and “gray snapper” in Portuguese and basically in Brazil called “caranha”, “vermelho-caranho” in some other Spanish speaking countries is also called : cuberta, snapper, snapper hair, in German called schnapper; and in French it is called: vivaneau cubera.

Morphology and some scientific data:

The maximum size reported so far is 1.6 metres in length with a maximum weight of 57 kg, so we can consider that this is one of the Snappers more large which can be found in our waters.

Usually are found in rocky areas and reef at depths ranging from the shore up to 60 meters.

Can be found in almost all the Atlantic coast of our continent, from Brazil in South America to the United States, occasionally in the Gulf of Mexico coast, being very frequent to find it in the islands of the Caribbean such as Bahamas, Cuba and the Antilles.

In this map, the areas marked in red is where we can find this species, being able to observe that you for the case, is a very extensive territory where we can find him, but like many other species, we can consider that it is hot (22-26 degrees Celsius) in tropical seas.

This species has a high importance to commercial fishing, and also for sports fishing, as it is powerful in his fight and occasionally rises to the surface to look for floating lures such as poppers and some others.


He has 10 spines distributed at the top back of your body, followed by 14 soft rays on the back, 3 Annals spines at the bottom, followed by soft rays 7, his big mouth has lips that cover his teeth and occasionally have stripes of color more clearly, in the upper part from the midline of your body towards the back. The caudal and dorsal fins are grayish and reddish pelvic fins. As many other fish, it presents a “knife” on the covers of the guts, that may well cause us damage trying to loosen hooks when we caught them.

Adults are usually found in areas of reef and rock, on rocky bottoms with small Caverns that allow them to hide to catch its prey consisting mainly of smaller fish, crabs and shrimp and lobster, is an active predator that hunts continuously. When young and small they can be found in low areas and areas of mangroves in estuaries, in general we can say is a kind of cautious and that it is not very easy to see them under the water. To feel the presence of man in their habitat is quickly hides.

Like many other species may be carrier of ciguatoxin, by eating prey contaminated with this or even algae or kelp which contain it. So during the summer months should be caution in their consumption.

It is worth mentioning that it is the ciguatoxin, as dinoflagellates found in algae and that to be consumed by fish, they become carriers, sometimes and for some people, reactions to the consumption of fish contaminated with ciguata generated an intense allergic reaction and may cause intense stomach and intestinal disorders that cause harm to the body even as much time.

During reproduction females shed eggs to water generally in deep areas where they are fertilized by the males, but are also prey easy of some predators such as the whale shark, harmless for many species, not for bucket that feeds on the eggs deposited in open water. (Photo Doug Perrine, Belize CA)

When they are young and we find them in areas of mangroves and estuaries, easily confused them with gray snapper, its coloration is very similar, however there is a feature that allows them to differentiate, the snapper teeth grey form are triangular with a wide basis while the bucket with more thin and sharp.

In this figure you can see the difference in the teeth of bucket and grey snapper, A image corresponds to the grey snapper, or snapper mangrove and B, belongs to a bucket.

Sport fishing:

For your fishing is not recommended the use of very light equipment if we want to catch a big bucket, also it is highly recommended to use metal leaders, followed by a line of impact of a libraje higher than the main line.

As mentioned at the top of this text you can fish them with lures of surface and depth as Idol, Manns, Rapala Magnum lures or even Nice YoZury, the latter is proven as a decoy multi-species well can fish from pelagic to reef fish.

To catch them with bait, it is recommended to use lizeta or liza, and if we want to catch a big bucket, well we can put live in our hook, whole, we can also use ballyhoo, or bonito as bait, cut into large pieces and attached to the hook, we can also use crabs or crab or even a lobster, however for the cost that now have the locusts little recommended for use as bait.

To launch either from the beach or boat is preferable to a team spinning, if a conventional team dominates or casting we can fish with the also, personally I do not recommend lines ligereas, because I’ve had some experiences where I’ve lost good dams by using thin lines in areas of rock. The use of braided lines allows us to achieve greater sensitivity in our team, and we can feel when the fish takes the bait.

In the case of bucket, must leave that bait is carried by about three or four seconds, usually takes to take the bait and comes out in race, there is where we must apply pressure and nail, will begin a singular fight and much power, this is a highly recommended fishing for any angler!