The Barracuda makes a perfect gamefish. It is a large, aggressive, dangerous-looking apex predator that is capable of speeds up to 27 miles per hour, makes explosive strikes, and leaps spectacularly when hooked.
Great Barracuda (Sphyraena barracuda)
(Florida Record 67lbs.) Barracudas are long, slim fish with silvery torpedo-shaped bodies, large, pointed heads and mouths full of sharp, canine-like teeth. Large specimens have irregular dark blotches along their sides, while juveniles may have a tiger-striped appearance. The largest specimens of Great Barracuda reach lengths of 6 feet and can weigh over 100 pounds.
Barracuda Habitat and Behavior
Barracudas are found in tropical and subtropical waters around the world. They are ambush predators and like open water around reefs, wrecks, and other structure. In Key West, every wreck will hold large schools of Barracuda, and they also frequent the Flats.
Young barracuda frequent the edges of Mangrove islands. They feed primarily by sight and rely on their speed to capture the smaller fish that make up their entire diet. They will eat anything, but around Key West they prefer Needle Fish, Mullet, and small Jacks.
Fishing for Barracuda
Barracuda will hit many types of artificial baits including flies, plugs, and tube baits. Anything that shines and can be retrieved quickly or skipped across the top of the water to imitate the movements of an injured baitfish will get a strike. When that happens, expect the line to be stripped from your reel as the fish makes several high-speed runs.
Barracuda are especially exciting on the Flats as they are willing to attack anything that flashes, and their dramatic strike is often visible to the fisherman. On the Flats, they can easily be found near the mouths of channels, along channel edges and drop offs, and anywhere that holds baitfish and offers the Great Barracuda a set up for an ambush.