Onshore, Nearshore, Reef, Wreck
5 - 103 pounds
24" - 79"
The Great Barracuda (Sphyraena barracuda) is one of the well-known apex predators in the ocean. In fact, because of their large size, blinding speed, and tenacious behavior, this fish doesn’t have that many predators except for sharks and dolphins. There were also some documented attacks on humans, including a couple of deaths that happened a few decades back off the coast of Key West and North Carolina. But even though it happens quite rarely, the mere fact that there have been deaths attributed to them makes the Great Barracuda one of the most feared fishes in the ocean.
The Great Barracuda, as the name implies, is quite big, often reaching five to six feet in length. Aside from its size, it’s also a well-known speedster of the sea thanks to their long, tubular body and pointed snout that allows it to swim fast with top speeds reaching thirty-five miles per hour in short bursts. With its size, strength, and speed—not to mention it’s equipped with a large mouth containing two sets of razor sharp teeth—the Great Barracuda is an extremely successful predator. It also swims in groups during a hunt, often circling and trapping preys swimming in schools. It mostly feeds on herrings, sardines, and small tunas; but can also eat shrimps, octopi, and other marine animals given the opportunity. A mature barracuda also can blend well with the shimmery open waters because of its gray, silvery color, which they use to either ambush prey or to protect themselves from other predators.
Because of their slender, streamline body, the Great Barracuda can swim fast, with some recorded to swim as fast as thirty-five miles per hour. They can also grow huge, with some reaching up to six feet long; although average size tends to be between two to four feet.
The Great Barracuda can pretty much be found anywhere in the world, with most occurring near shore in tropical and subtropical seas, but rarely in the eastern Pacific Ocean. In the US, you can find it along the coasts of our eastern seaboard—from as far up north as Massachusetts down to the Gulf of Mexico and the Keys.
Great Barracudas are also found near the surface of the water, especially the mature ones. Although they mostly tend to swim nearshore in coral reefs, seagrasses, and mangroves, they can sometimes wander to the deeper parts of the open ocean, often in search of food. They are also mostly found swimming alone, except when aggregate during spawning season (which is said to happen during the spring) or when they form a hunting group.
Finding and hooking a Great Barracuda are not that hard given their widespread distribution as well as their veracious eating behavior. The fun begins when you hook one as it’s known to be a rather tenacious fighter, although it’s known to have a very limited stamina. If you’re lucky enough to hook a large one, you should also watch out for its last attempt to fight for survival as huge ones are known to jump and would even attempt to bite, which, as you could imagine, can do serious damage if those razor sharp teeth come in contact to your bare skin. So we highly suggest using a landing net and gloves.