Fish Files: Barracuda

Throughout the years, I’ve had many people ask why anyone would want to fish for species like pike or muskie. These individuals take one look at the size and tooth-lined mouths of these fish and want nothing to do with them. The truth is, most game fish are predatory, but fish like pike muskie, and today’s File subject, the barracuda, are specifically designed for a higher tier of predator behavior. Let’s take a closer look at the barracuda and learn what makes this powerful fish tick.

At first glance, barracudas are menacingly fierce looking fish. Like pike, they have elongated, muscular bodies designed for slicing through the water with swiftness and sudden power. Their mouths are filled with sharp teeth of varying sizes, and most species of barracuda have an underbite. In most cases, barracudas are dark green, dark blue, or gray, with silvery sides and a chalky-white belly. However, in some species, black spots or a row of darker cross-bars can occur on each side. They’re also known for their large size, sometimes reaching close to six feet in length.

Barracudas are voracious, opportunistic predators, relying on surprise and short bursts of speed to overtake their prey. Barracuda prey primarily on fish, which sometimes includes species as large as themselves. They kill and consume larger prey by violently tearing off chunks of flesh with their teeth. As they reach adulthood, adults of most species are more or less solitary, while young and half-grown barracuda tend to congregate in schools.

Most of the time, you’ll hook barracuda while you’re fishing for something else, but if you set out to catch them, I would recommend starting with a medium weight saltwater setup rated 20-30 lbs or so. You could also use saltwater spinning gear. If you’re using lures, go with a longer rod (seven feet or longer), and if you are fishing with bait you could get away with a slightly shorter rod. If you are trolling you can use a very short rod if you want. I’d also recommend using strong wire leader to hold up against their sharp teeth.

You don’t need a lot of specialized tackle to catch barracuda, as they tend to be very aggressive. Anglers using lures will have great success with trolling plugs or rubber skirts, or casting jerkbaits. When it comes to live bait, silvery bait fish like mackerel, small bonita, or sardines should work. You can either cast them to likely spots or slowly troll them behind the boat to get bites. When using bait, keep in mind that barracuda often bite the tail off first and then come back for the rest later, so don’t pull the bait away too early if they strike without a hook up.

Why do people fish for barracuda? Look at them; they’re powerful, ferocious predators who strike hard and put up a great fight. Why wouldn’t you fish for them? If you still doubt, then take a trip to barracuda waters sometime to see for yourself. Bring strong tackle and durable lures and it won’t be long until you know what it’s like to fight a barracuda.