Barracuda, Great Barracuda
When you catch a barracuda, there’s always a great story to tell. The best thing is the picture says it all with those gnarly teeth! Cocoa Beach deep sea fishing charters offer a tremendous fishery for barracuda during the summer. Wrecks, reefs and nearshore structure will almost always keep a good number of cudas (short for barracuda) around. Resident fish get educated and don’t often bite unless they are excited. The best way to get barracuda lit up is to chum with live bait.
While fishing cocoa beach we often lose other game fish to barracuda. They can easily bite a large fish in half. Because barracuda are numerous in our area, it can be challenging to fish without losing your intended target fish to the hungry predator (locals call this paying the tax man). None-the-less, the barracuda is a fun fish and are edible for those that insist on bringing one home. Bear in mind that larger fish can be toxic to eat.
Juvenile great barracuda usually live among seagrasses and mangroves where they hide from predators. In their second year, they typically move to coral reefs. Sometimes found in the open sea, they often remain near the surface, though they may be as deep as 325 feet.
Attacks on humans by great barracuda are rare. Inquisitive, sight-oriented fish, barracudas sometimes exhibit the unnerving habit of trailing snorkelers and divers. When attacks occur more often than not it is because a barracuda attempts to steal a fish from spearfishers or mistakenly interprets a shiny object, such as a diving knife, for the glint of a bright fish. Such incidents usually consist of one swift strike, the result of which may be a laceration and some loss of tissue. Fatalities from barracuda attacks are rare. In 1947, a death off Key West was attributed to a barracuda, followed by another case off the coast of North Carolina in 1957. A well-documented barracuda attack occurred on a free diver off Pompano Beach, Florida in 1960. Bitten twice the resulting injuries required 31 stitches. However, such attacks are uncommon and more often than not easily preventable with a few simple precautions.
While Barracuda are edible, this massive predator fish is susceptible to ciguatera poisoning. Smaller specimens are the best eating while the larger ones, not so much. Keep in mind the larger the fish, the more chance of toxins. Barracuda has a peculiar odor and slime that turn away anglers from keeping them, but the meat is firm and white.
In general, barracudas are elongated fish with powerful jaws. The lower jaw of the large mouth juts out beyond the upper. Barracudas possess strong, fang-like teeth that are unequal in size and set in sockets in the jaws and on the roof of the mouth. The head is quite large and is pointed and pike-like in appearance. The gill covers did not have spines and covered with small scales. The two dorsal fins are widely separated, with the first having five spines and the second having one spine and nine soft rays. The second dorsal fin equals the anal fin in size and is situated more or less above it. The lateral line is prominent and extends straight from head to tail. The spinous dorsal fin located above the pelvis. The hind end of the caudal fin is forked or concave and set at the end of a stout peduncle. The pectoral fins are placed low down on the sides. The Barracuda has a large swim bladder.
Great barracudas are large fish. Mature specimens are usually around 60?100 cm (24?39 in) in length and weigh 2.5?9.0 kg (5.5?19.8 lb). Enormous samples can exceed 1.5 m (4.9 ft) and weigh over 23 kg (51 lb). The record-sized specimen caught on rod-and-reel weighed 46.72 kilograms (103.0 lb) and measured 1.7 m (5.6 ft), while an even more prominent example measured 2 m (6.6 ft).
The FWC approved creating a slot limit of 15 to 36 inches allowing for one fish greater than 36 inches per person or per vessel, whichever is less in some S. Florida counties at the Nov. meeting in St. Petersburg. These changes will go into effect Jan. 1, 2017. [Florida Barracuda Regulations]