Fun with a ‘Cuda
Although Barracuda are often thought of as an undesirable fish to catch by most hardcore fishermen, its no doubt they can put up a show like no other fish. And those teeth, man do they have big teeth. Barracuda put on an awesome fight and can be found widespread throughout the Keys. If you are staying on the water or live by the water chances are that if you check out your dock they’ll be a juvenile barracuda standing watch waiting for a careless glass minnow to cross its path. They are torpedo shaped and often appear brownish to silvery in the water. For most novice fisherman who have never fished in South Florida catching a barracuda can be lots of fun and is easier than you think.
In my opinion the easiest way to catch these fish is with a tube lure. Its probably the weirdest looking lure you’ll see at the tackle shop. They are usually 10 to 15” long and come in bright neon colors such as yellow, red and green. Most have a couple of treble hooks and have a sinker at the point where your line attaches to it You should use a light tackle outfit with nothing over 12# test. The thinner the line the longer cast you’ll be able to make and it won’t be visible to the fish.
Barracudas are all over the Keys. Anywhere there is a dock, piling, reef, lighthouse, bridges you’ll find these underwater wolves. If you spot on simple cast beyond the fish so that your lure moves quickly across its face. Your retrieval should be quick and if the fish becomes interested you should not stop reeling in; instead reel quickly as this will signal the fish that its prey has noticed it and is trying to escape. If you stop the lure it will probably stop and wait to see what happens and become suspicious. If you have access to a boat try trolling a tube lure over shallow (15-25ft) patch reefs. You will undoubtedly catch a ‘cuda this way, I guarantee it.
I would say that a big part of the stigma that surrounds the barracuda is due to the fear most of us have of getting “ciguatera” poisoning. It’s a disease that the fish acquires through its diet and unfortunately can pose serious health hazards to humans. Common knowledge among most fisherman is that smaller ‘cudas of less than 5 lbs. are safe to eat. I usually release them but have eaten them and I must say they are quite good. They are usually cut in steaks as most streamlined fish are.
Good luck and Tight lines from
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