Snapper (Yellowtail)

The Yellowtail Snapper (Ocyurus chiruru) is a species of snapper from the family Lutjanidae, known for its vibrant yellow and silver color and its prized mild, sweet-tasting flesh.

Conservation Status

The Yellowtail Snapper is currently not an endangered species. It has the conservation status of “Least Concern” owing to its wide distribution and population abundance. Conservation efforts specific to the Yellowtail Snapper include management of fishing pressure and habitat preservation.


Length14 inchesUp to 30 inches
Weight3 lbsUp to 5 lbs
Average LifespanUp to 14 years


The Yellowtail Snapper is widely distributed in the Atlantic Ocean, particularly along the North American coast from Massachusetts to Bermuda, and throughout the Caribbean Sea. The species does not typically migrate, preferring to establish a home range in reef environments.


Yellowtail Snapper inhabit marine, tropical, and saltwater environments. They are often found at depths of 10 – 70 meters, though they can be found as deep as 180 meters. They prefer water temperatures between 20 – 28 degrees Celsius.

When and Where to See

Yellowtail Snapper are active year-round but are more commonly seen in summer and fall. They are most active during dusk and dawn.

Best Fishing Locations

Some of the top locations to fish Yellowtail Snapper include:

  1. Florida Keys, USA
  2. Bahamas
  3. Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula
  4. Cuba
  5. Belize Barrier Reef, Belize

A general tip for finding Yellowtail Snapper is to look for coral reefs and areas near the coast with clear, warm water.

How to Catch

Yellowtail Snapper respond well to chopped bait, especially squid or shrimp. They are most commonly caught using bottom fishing techniques. Fishing for Yellowtail Snapper is recommended from dusk till dawn, especially during the summer and fall.

Identification Guide

Yellowtail Snapper can easily be identified by the yellow stripe running from its nose to its fully yellow tail. Its body is a silver hue with bluish reflections. The Yellowtail Snapper is often mistaken with the similar-looking Mangrove Snapper but can be differentiated through the fully yellow tail and the lack of prominent teeth.


Yellowtail Snapper’s sweet, mild flesh makes it a popular choice for many recipes. It can be grilled, baked, fried, or steamed. Its flavor is typically enhanced with mild spices and citrus juices.

Additional Information

The Yellowtail Snapper is an opportunistic feeder, consuming a diet of shrimp, crabs, worms, and smaller fishes. Predators include larger fish, sharks, and humans. The Yellowtail Snapper’s vibrant color and delicious meat have made it an iconic fish in coastal regions, particularly in Caribbean cuisine.

References and Further Reading

For more in-depth information on the Yellowtail Snapper, see the following sources:

  1. FishBase