Game Fishing > Snapper family, Lutianidae > Schoolmaster snapper

Schoolmaster snapper

Schoolmaster snapperThe schoolmaster snapper was named by Walbaum, in 1792, based on Catesby's description and figure of the schoolmaster in his "History of Carolina," but in his figure he omitted the pectoral fins, for which reason Walbaum named it apoda, meaning "without a foot." Its range extends from the Florida Keys to Brazil, and is abundant in the vicinity of Key West, where it is seen daily in the markets.

The schoolmaster is very similar to the dog snapper in its general form, but differs greatly in coloration. Its body is rather deep and compressed, its depth being more than a third of its length, and the back is more elevated than in the dog snapper. The head is large, as long as the depth of the body, with a large mouth; the profile is straight from snout to the nape, thence regularly arched to the tail; the snout is long and pointed.

The predominating color is orange, olivaceous on the back and top of the head, with eight or nine vertical bars across the body, equidistant, of a pale or bluish white color, the wider interspaces being red; the cheeks and gill-covers are red, with a row of small blue spots from the snout across the cheeks, just below the eye; all of the fins are yellow, more or less shaded with red.

The schoolmaster grows to about the same size as the dog snapper, usually from eight to ten inches, sometimes to a foot in length, and a pound or two in weight. It feeds on small fishes, crabs, and other crustaceans, and is a good food-fish. It is a fairly good game-fish, and on light tackle fights with vigor and considerable resistance.

Sproat hooks numbers 1-0 and 2-0 are quite suitable, and should be tied on gut snells. A sinker adapted to the strength of the tide must be used in the deep-water channels. Sea-crawfish, anchovies, or whirligig mullets are good baits.

The mangrove snapper (Lutianus griseus) and the mutton-fish (Lutianus analis) are larger snappers and better game-fishes. They are described in another volume of this series.