Barracudas are Fast and Powerful fish and a very fun fish to Catch.
A lot of people act “disappointed” when they hook a fish on the boat and it turns out to be a barracuda. They should not be. Barracuda are a fun fish to catch Barracudas can be quite large. The Biggest one I have ever caught on the Southbound was Approximately 40 lbs. That is an estimate because we released the fish. But it was over 5 ft long and thick around as a man’s thigh. Any fish that big can put up a good fight. Barracudas fun fast and hard, they jump and generally put on a good show. To the beginning angler, they are a blast to catch. Young children seem to really enjoy catching them. A relatively small child can catch a big barracuda, (maybe with a little help from the first mate) and have a memory of a lifetime
I guess the reason a lot of people are not happy with them
is because generally speaking, here in the Keys, they are not considered “table fare”. The meat of a barracuda is actually tasty, but because the Barracuda is a voracious reef predator, it consumes many of the fish that eat the Coral, such as Parrotfish. The coral has toxins and many of them can Sting a person if you brush up against it. Parrot fish absorb the toxins when they eat the coral, but it doesn’t bother them. Barracuda absorbs the toxins when they eat the Parrot fish and again, it doesn’t bother them. When humans eat the Barracuda, we also absorb the Toxins and unfortunately, it can bother us very badly. It’s called Siguatera Piosining.
The bigger the Barracuda, the more toxins it can have and the sicker it can make you. My old first mate Ben Garfield used to describe it as having severe food poisoning and a really bad hangover at the same time and it lasts for a week. I’ve never had it so I will take his word for it. But that doesn’t sound like fun to me
So we generally only bring Barracudas to the dock
if someone wants to mount it. They are probably the most popular Trophy fish we have. They are big, have very impressive teeth, and just look mean! A few years back, my younger brother caught one that was close to 30 lbs and I had it mounted for him. I use Gray Taxerdimy and have for 30+ years. The fish is hanging in his house in NJ and always draws comments from anyone who comes by the house.
As a charter Capt. we love Barracudas,
especially on slow days or short trips, Most days, when we need a bite, we can get shallow on the reef and catch some barracudas for people to have fun with. Depending on the customers we have and their skill level, I prefer to put out some of the light-spinning tackle when we do this. Barracuda will hit on the surface baits and also on the baits we troll below the surface. We generally only put out the spinning tackle on the surface.
Barracuda does not “Rock Up” in the bottom, but many of the other fish that tend to hit the bait we troll below the surface will try to get in the rocks when hooked. Grouper, Mutton Snapper, and even Yellowtail Snapper will all try to dive under a coral head or rock when they feel the hook. For this reason, we keep the heavier rod down deep and use the lighter lines on the surface. There is less chance of losing a good “eating” fish this way.
One of the reasons Barracuda are a fun fish to catch is because they jump during the fight. The lighter the tackle, the more they jump, which is another reason I like to use lighter tackle on the surface on the reef. Most of my spinning tackle consists of Penn spinning rods and reels or Shimano trolling reels. We fish as light as 20 lb test line and we will use up to 50 lb test on the Deep troll for bigger fish to keep them out of the bottom.
There have been many days
That catching Barracudas have meant the difference between a boring boat ride and a fun and exciting fishing experience. They are just one of the many awesome fish we get to catch here in the waters of Key West. I’m glad we have them as an option most days.