FISH FACTS

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Common species caught include: Redfish, Cobia, Pompano, Sheepshead, Flounder, Speckled Trout, Whiting, Spanish Mackerel, Black Drum, Bluefish, Striped Bass, Large Mouth Bass, Jack Crevalle, Tarpon, Grouper, Snapper, King Mackerel, Triple Tail and Amberjack. Most of the following information found on this page comes from wikipedia.com. 

Red Drum: Sciaenops ocellatus
  • Also known as channel bass, redfish, spottail bass or simply reds

​Habitat

  • The red drum uses its senses of sight and touch, and its downturned mouth, to locate forage on the bottom through vacuuming or biting. On the top and middle of the water column, it uses changes in the light that might look like food.

Discription

  • Red drum are a dark red color on the back, which fades into white on the belly. The red drum have a characteristic eyespot near the tail and are somewhat streamlined. Three year-old red drum typically weigh six to eight pounds. When they are near or over twenty-seven inches, they are called “bull reds”.

  • The largest red drum on record weighed just over 94 pounds and was caught in 1984 on Hatteras Island. Red drum are relatives of the black drum and both make a croaking or drumming sound when distressed.

Diet

  • In the summer and fall, adult red drum feed on crabs, shrimp, and sand dollars, in the spring and winter, adults primarily feed on menhaden, mullet, pinfish, sea robin, lizardfish, spot, Atlantic croaker, and flounder

Cobia: Rachycentron canadum
  • Other common names include black kingfish, black salmon, ling, lemonfish, crabeater, prodigal son and aruan tasek.

Habitat

  • The cobia is normally solitary except for annual spawning aggregations, and sometimes it will congregate at reefs, wrecks, harbours, buoys, and other structural oases. It is pelagic, but it may enter estuaries and mangroves in search of prey.

Discription

  • Attaining a maximum length of 2 m (78 in) and maximum weight of 68 kg (150 lb), the cobia has an elongated fusiform (spindle-shaped) body and a broad, flattened head.

  • The eyes are small and the lower jaw projects slightly past the upper.

  • Fibrous villiform teeth line the jaws, the tongue, and the roof of the mouth. The body of the fish is smooth with small scales.

  • It is dark brown in color, grading to white on the belly with two darker brown horizontal bands on the flanks.

  • The stripes are more prominent during spawning, when they darken and the background color lightens.

Diet

  •  Feeds primarily on crabs, squid, and fish. It will follow larger animals such as sharks, turtles, and manta rays to scavenge. It is a very curious fish, showing little fear of boats.

Spotted Seatrout: Cynoscion nebulosus
  • Also known as speckled trout.

Habitat

  • While most of these fish are caught on shallow, grassy flats, spotted seatrout reside in virtually any inshore waters, from the surf of outside islands to far up coastal rivers, where they often come for shelter during cold weather.

  • Contrary to its name, the spotted seatrout is not a member of the trout family, but of the drum family.

  • Spotted seatrout live in the top of the water column and are most numerous along the coasts of the southeastern states, such as Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, and Florida.

Discription

  • The spotted seatrout has prominent canine teeth. In stained water, this fish's background may take on a golden hue.

  • Its shape and coloration is reminiscent of a brown trout.

  • The back has distinct spots scattered on it, including on the dorsal and caudal fins.

  • Unlike some other members of the family Sciaenidae, the spotted seatrout does not have any chin barbels.

Diet

  • Small trout eat large amounts of shrimp and other crustaceans. As they grow larger, their diets shift toward fish, the larger, the better.

  • Studies in Texas and Mississippi show that really big trout strongly prefer to feed on mullet; a large trout will find the largest mullet it can handle and try to swallow it. Often the mullet is half or two-thirds as large as the trout

Flounder:
Paralichthys albigutta
  • The Gulf flounder is a flatfish that swims on its side.

Habitat

  • Flounder ambush their prey, feeding at soft muddy areas of the sea bottom, near bridge piles, docks and coral reefs.

  • As an adult, a flounder changes its habits and camouflages itself by lying on the bottom of the ocean floor as protection against predators. As a result, the eyes are then on the side which faces up.

Discription

  • Their two eyes look upward when swimming.

  • They have sharp teeth, two eyes on one side, and have a white side.

  • In its life cycle, an adult flounder has two eyes situated on one side of its head, while at hatching one eye is located on each side of its brain. One eye migrates to the other side of the body as a process of metamorphosis as it grows from larval to juvenile stage.

Diet

  • They are a common sport fish that can be readily caught with dead fish (such as mullet), live bait, or even artificial or frozen baits such as shrimp or clams.

Hint

  •  A common way of catching this flounder is by spearfishing or gigging.

Mangrove Snapper:
Lutjanus griseus
  • It is also known as the gray snapper, mango snapper, or cabellerote.

Habitat

  • It can be found in many areas from canals to grass flats, as well as in open water.

Discription

  • Its color is typically greyish red, but it can change color from bright red to copper red. It has a dark stripe running through its eye if observed from the top when it is underwater.

  •  It can be found in many areas from canals to grass flats, as well as in open water.

Diet

  • The mangrove snapper feeds mostly on small fishes and crustaceans.

  • It can be caught on a variety of baits, but is typically caught with live or frozen shrimp, squid, minnows and occasionally on artificial lures or baits.

Hint

  • They can be spearfished, as well, but are sometimes a tough target, as they tend to be more wary of divers, rather than curious.

  • Mangrove snapper are typically wary fish, and their wariness of baits tends to increase as the fish grow larger.

  • Most mangrove snapper are caught on light to medium tackle, and typical catches range from eight to 14 inches in shallow or in-shore waters, to up to 20" in deeper waters.

Habitat

  • The black sea bass  is an exclusively marine fish. It is a type of Grouper.

  • They can be found in inshore waters (bays and sounds) and offshore in waters up to a depth of 130 m (425 ft).

  • They spend most of their time close to the sea floor and are often congregated around bottom formations such as rocks, man-made reefs, wrecks, jetties, piers, and bridge pilings.

  • It often rests stationary or cruises slowly around structures. It occasionally rests on the bottom or other structures, staying either head-down or head-up.

  • It enters the smallest corners and caves with a body angle above ground often about 40° down.

Discription

  • Rounded caudal fin and pectoral fins, short but high anal fins.

  • It is stout-bodied, three times taller than long (without caudal fin), and has a high back, flat topped head, moderately pointed snout, large oblique mouth, eye set up high, and one sharp flat spine near the caudal end of the operculum.

  • Scales are very large, but it is naked at the head, with adult males developing fatty bumps in front of the dorsal fin.

  • The dorsal fin is normally folded close to the body, and it is only spread out as an aggressive posture reaction to other sea bass.

Diet

  • Black sea bass often eat whatever prey is available, but they especially like crabs, shrimp, worms, small fish, and clams.

Black Sea Bass: Centropristis striata
Red Grouper: Epinephelus morio

Habitat

  •  Its natural habitats are open seas, shallow seas, subtidal aquatic beds, coral reefs, rocky shores, sandy shores, estuarine waters, intertidal flats, intertidal marshes, coastal saline lagoons, coastal freshwater lagoons, and karsts.

  • Juveniles are found offshore along with adults greater than 6 years old.  Fish from 1 to 6 years occupy nearshore reefs.  

  • Red grouper prefer water temperatures between 66 and 77 degrees F.  

Discription

  • The Red grouper is of moderate size, about 125 cm and weighs 23 kg or more Body coloration is typically reddish-brown color. White spots are commonly found on the body of the red grouper.

  •  Red grouper are unique in the fact that they are protogynous hermaphrodites, beginning life as females, with some later transforming into males. 

  • Color brownish red. Lining of mouth scarlet-orange.Blotches on sides in unorganized pattern. Second spine of dorsal fin longer than others. Pectoral fins longer than pelvic fins; squared off tail. Margin of soft dorsal black with white at midfin. Black dots around the eyes

  • Red grouper are a bottom dwelling fish associated with hard bottoms.  

Diet

  • The Red Grouper is an opportunistic feeder and a top predator in the reef community. The diet is varied but commonly includes lutjanid and sparid fishes, xanthid and portunid crabs, spiny lobster, and snapping shrimp.

Crevalle Jack:
Caranx hippos
  • Also known as the common jack, black-tailed trevally, couvalli jack, black cavalli and yellow cavalli.

Habitat

  • In the inshore environment, crevalle jack inhabit shallow flats, sandy bays, beaches, seagrass beds, shallow reef complexes and lagoons, which may be open or landocked, and may be composites of the aforementioned environments.

  • The species is also known to enter brackish waters, with some individuals known to penetrate far upstream; however, like most euryhaline species, they generally do not penetrate very far upriver.

Discription

  • The chest is devoid of scales with the exception of a small patch of scales in front of the pelvic fins.The upper jaw contains a series of strong outer canines with an inner band of smaller teeth, while the lower jaw contains a single row of teeth.

  • The crevalle jack's colour ranges from brassy green to blue or bluish-black dorsally, becoming silvery white or golden ventrally. A dark spot is present on the pectoral fin, with a similar dark to dusky spot present on the upper margin of the operculum.

  • Juveniles have around five dark vertical bands on their sides, with these fading at adulthood. The first dorsal fin, pectoral and pelvic fins range from white to dusky, occasionally with golden tinges throughout. The anal fin lobe is bright yellow, with the remainder of the fin ranging from golden to dusky, while the underside of the caudal peduncle often being yellow in adults. The caudal fin itself is also golden to dusky, with the lower lobe often brighter yellow than the upper, with both the lobes often having a black trailing edge. 

Diet

  • The crevalle jack is a powerful, predatory fish, with extensive studies showing the species consumes a variety of small fish, with invertebrates such as prawns, shrimps, crabs, molluscs and cephalopods also of minor importance.

  • Dietary shifts with both age, location and season have been demonstrated, which led some researchers to postulate the species is indiscriminant in its feeding habits.

Hint

  • It is taken by a variety of netting methods, including purse nets, seines and gill nets, as well as hook-and-line methods. The crevalle jack is also a revered gamefish, taken both by lures and bait.

Spanish Mackerel: Scomberomorous
maculatus

Habitat

  • They are a shallow water species, preferring sand bottom in depths of 10 to 40 feet (3 to 12 m), occasionally found as deep as 80 feet (24 m).

Discription

  • The fish exhibits a green back; its sides are silvery marked with about three rows of round to elliptical yellow spots. Lateral line gradually curving down from the upper end of the gill cover toward caudal peduncle.

  • The first (spiny) dorsal fin is black at the front. Posterior membranes are white with a black edge.

  • Its single row of cutting edged teeth in each jaw (around sixty-four teeth in all) are large, uniform, closely spaced and flattened from side to side.

Diet

  • Spanish mackerel are voracious, opportunistic, carnivores. As with other members of the genus, food consists mainly of small fishes with lesser quantities of shrimp and squid. Striped anchovies and clupeoids such as menhaden, alewives and thread herring.

Hints 

  • Recreational anglers catch Spanish mackerel from boats while trolling or drifting and from boats, piers, jetties, and beaches by casting spoons and jigs and live-bait fishing.

  • Fast lure retrieves are key to catching these quick fish.

Ladyfish:
Elops saurus
  • They are commonly known as  skipjacks, jack-rashes, or tenpounders.

Habitat

  • The ladyfish are a coastal-dwelling fish found throughout the tropical and subtropical regions.

  • This species is typically found in brackish water lagoons and bays, as well as mangroves, tolerating a wide range of salinities. Occasionally this fish is found several miles offshore.

  • The ladyfish prefers open water areas in channels with moderate currents, and shallow bars and eddies at bends in rivers.

Discription

  • It is an elongate, slender, and robust fish with a large, deeply forked caudal fin. The body is rough with small, thin, silvery scales. The lateral line runs straight down the length of the fish. The head of the ladyfish is small and pointed with a large terminal mouth. The caudal lobes of the ladyfish are long and slender.

  • Dorsally, the ladyfish is silvery blue to greenish while ventrally and laterally they appear silver in color. The dorsal and caudal fins are dusky yellowish to silvery and the pectoral and pelvic fins are speckled and pale.

Diet

  • Larvae do not forage, but instead absorb nutrients directly from the water. 

  • Adult ladyfish prey on small bony fishes including species of mullet

  • Adult ladyfish are strictly carnivorous, feeding on small bony fish, including members of its own species, menhaden, and silversides, as well as invertebrates including crustaceans.

  • This fish swallows its prey whole. 

Hints

  • This family is fished, but the body is bony and therefore this fish is not marketed widely for consumption.

  • They are caught and used as bait or may be ground down for fish meal.

 Sheepshead:
 Archosargus probatocephalus
  • Other Names - Convict Fish

Habitat

  • Primarily occurring inshore around rock pilings, jetties, mangrove roots, and piers as well as in tidal creeks, the euryhaline sheepshead prefers brackish waters. It seeks out warmer spots near spring outlets and river discharges and sometimes enters freshwater during the winter months.

  • This fish moves to offshore areas in later winter and early spring for spawning, which sometimes occurs over artificial reefs and navigation markers.

  • Juveniles live in seagrass flats and over mud bottoms. Recorded among those species that perish during periodic low oxygen fish kills, the sheepshead is not particularly tolerant of low levels of dissolved oxygen.

Discription

  •  The adult sheepshead is silvery to greenish-yellow with an olive back. There are five or six dark vertical crossbars along each side, which are most distinct in young individuals. The caudal and pectoral fins are greenish while the dorsal, anal, and ventral fins are dusky or black.

  •  Large sharp spines and a razor-edge gill cover make handling and cleaning difficult. another key feature is the jutting teath, slighly like a human's.

Diet

  • The sheepshead is an omnivorous fish, feeding on invertebrates, small vertebrates and occasional plant material. Large juveniles and adults prey on blue crab, oysters, clams, crustaceans, and small fish including young Atlantic croakers (Micropogonias undulatus, Sciaenidae).

  • The sheepshead uses its impressive dentition to crush heavily armored and shelled prey and to scrape barnacles from rocks and pilings.

  • The diet of juveniles includes zooplankton, polychaetes, and chironomid (midges) larvae.

Hint

  • Experienced fishermen use small fiddler and hermit crabs to catch sheepshead. Alertness is essential, for the fish is an adept bait stealer.
     

 Sand Whiting:
Sillago ciliata
  • Other names - summer whiting, yellowfin whiting or blue-nose whiting.

Habitat

  • The sand whiting commonly inhabits shallow sandy substrates in bays, estuaries and surf zones.

  • The sand whiting is an inshore species, inhabiting exposed coastal areas such as beaches, sandbars and surf zones as well as quieter bays, estuaries and coastal lakes.

  • The sand whiting is a schooling species.

Discription

  • The body is a pale brown or silvery brown colour, transitioning to white below, with green, mauve and rosy reflections when the fish is first removed from the water. An indistinct silver-yellow mid-lateral band extends across some specimens.

  • The sand whiting's distinctive body shape and mouth placement is an adaptation to bottom feeding, which is the predominant method of feeding for all whiting species.

Diet

  • It preys on polychaete worms, small crustaceans and bivalve molluscs.

Hints

  • Light lines with minimal weight added are employed to avoid spooking the fish, with a small running bean or ball sinker commonly rigged above a size 4 or 6 hook

  • Baits used resemble the species natural prey, with prawns, nippers, a variety of bivalves and beach worms most often used, with more successful catches obtained using live bait.

 

Nurse Shark:
Ginglymostoma cirratum

Habitat

  • The nurse shark is a common inshore bottom-dwelling shark, found in tropical and subtropical waters on the continental and insular shelves.

  • Its common habitats are reefs, channels between mangrove islands and sand flats.

  • Nurse sharks are nocturnal animals, spending the day in large inactive groups of up to 40 individuals.

  • Hidden under submerged ledges or in crevices within the reef, the nurse sharks seem to prefer specific resting sites and will return to them each day after the night's hunting.

  • By night, the sharks are largely solitary; they spend most of their time rifling through the bottom sediments in search of food.

Discription

  •  Its long, flexible body is yellowish-brown to grey-brown, with two spineless, rounded dorsal fins and a long tail fin that can be over a quarter of the whole body length.

  • The large, rounded pectoral fins are flexible and muscular, and can be used as limbs to clamber along the sea bottom.

  • The head is broad and flat, with small jaws housing small teeth  and fleshy, sensory projections (barbels) hang down by its mouth.

Diet

  • Their diet consists primarily of crustaceans, molluscs, tunicates, sea snakes, and other fish, particularly stingrays. Nurse sharks are also known to graze algae and coral.

  • Nurse sharks have been observed resting on the bottom with their bodies supported on their fins, possibly providing a false shelter for crustaceans which they then ambush and eat.

  • Nurse sharks are able to respire while stationary by pumping water through their mouths and out gills.

Bull Shark:
Carcharhinus leucas
  • Also known as the Zambezi shark.

Behavior

  • The bull shark is known for its aggressive nature, predilection for warm shallow water, and presence in brackish and freshwater systems including estuaries and rivers.

  • They hunt in murky waters because it is harder for the prey to see the shark coming.

  • Bull sharks have been known to use the bump-and-bite technique to attack their prey.

  • The bull shark is known to be a solitary hunter, although there are brief moments in which the bull sharks will team up with another bull shark in order to make it easier to hunt and to trick prey

Habitat

  • The bull shark can thrive in both saltwater and freshwater and can travel far up rivers.

  • The bull shark is commonly found worldwide in coastal areas of warm oceans, in rivers and lakes, and occasionally salt and freshwater streams if they are deep enough.

Discription

  • Bull sharks are large and stout, with females being larger than males.  

  • Bull sharks are wider and heavier than other requiem sharks of comparable length, and are grey on top and white below.

Diet

  • The bull shark's diet consists mainly of bony fish and sharks, including other bull sharks, but can also include turtles, birds, dolphins, terrestrial mammals, crustaceans, echinoderms, and stingrays.

Tiger Shark:
Galeocerdo cuvier
  • Commonly known as sea tiger.

Habitat

  • The tiger shark is often found close to the coast, mainly in tropical and subtropical waters throughout the world. Its behavior is primarily nomadic, but is guided by warmer currents, and it stays closer to the equator throughout the colder months.

  • It tends to stay in deep waters that line reefs, but it does move into channels to pursue prey in shallower waters

Discription

  • The skin of a tiger shark can typically range from blue to light green with a white or light yellow underbelly. The advantage of this is that when it is hunting for its prey, when prey looks at the shark from above, the shark will be camouflaged since the water below is darker. And when prey is below the shark and looks up, of course because of the sun, it is lighter so that the light underbelly will also camouflage the shark.

  • Dark spots and stripes are most visible in young sharks and fade as the shark matures.

  • Its head is somewhat wedge-shaped, which makes it easy to turn quickly to one side.

Diet

  •  Due to its tendency to swallow virtually anything it encounters, including non-edible manmade objects that linger in its stomach, the tiger shark has been nicknamed "the garbage can of the sea"

  • The tiger shark is a solitary, mostly nocturnal hunter. Its diet includes a wide variety of prey, ranging from crustaceans, fish, seals, birds, squid, turtles, and sea snakes to dolphins and even other smaller sharks.

Blacktip Shark:
Carcharhinus limbatus

Habitat

  • Favored habitats are muddy bays, island lagoons, and the drop-offs near coral reefs; they are also tolerant of low salinity and enter estuaries and mangrove swamps.

  • Although an individual may be found some distance offshore, blacktip sharks do not inhabit oceanic waters.

Discription

  • The blacktip shark has a robust, streamlined body with a long, pointed snout and relatively small eyes.

  • The five pairs of gill slits are longer than those of similar requiem shark species.  

  • The coloration is gray to brown above and white below, with a conspicuous white stripe running along the sides.

  • The pectoral fins, second dorsal fin, and the lower lobe of the caudal fin usually have black tips. The pelvic fins and rarely the anal fin may also be black-tipped.

Diet

  • A wide variety of fish have been recorded as prey for this species:  sardines, herring, anchovies, ladyfish, sea catfish, cornetfish, flatfish,threadfins, mullet, mackerel, jacks, groupers, snook, porgies, mojarras, emperors, grunts, butterfish, tilapia, triggerfish, boxfish, and porcupinefish.

  • They also feed on rays and skates, as well as smaller sharks such as smoothhounds and sharpnosesharks. 

  • Crustaceans and cephalopods are occasionally taken.

 

  • Tarpon are the largest species of herring.  

Habitat

  • Characteristically warm, shallow, dark bodies of water with sandy mud bottoms.

  • Tarpons commonly ascend rivers into freshwater. As they progress from the juvenile stage to adulthood, they move back to the open waters of the ocean, though many remain in freshwater habitats.

Discription

  • Tarpons grow to about 4–8 ft long and weigh 60–280 lbs. They have dorsal and anal soft rays and have bluish or greenish backs.

  • Tarpons possess distinctive lateral lines and have shiny, silvery scales that cover most of their bodies, excluding the head. They have large eyes with adipose eyelids and broad mouths with prominent lower jaws that jut out farther than the rest of the face. 

Diet

  • Adults are strictly carnivorous and feed on midwater prey; they swallow their food whole and hunt nocturnally.

  • Megalops is considered one of the great saltwater game fishes. They are prized not only because of their great size, but also because of the fight they put up and their spectacular leaping ability. 
     

Tarpon: Megalops atlanticus

Habitat

  • Its habitat is surf flats, and it likes to stay away from clear water regions.

Discription

  •  It has a compressed body and short snout; coloration varies from blue-greenish silver on the dorsal areas and silver to yellow on the body and fins.

  • It has a deeply forked tail and is blue-greenish silver with yellow on the throat, belly, and pelvic and anal fins.Its habitat is surf flats, and it likes to stay away from clear water regions, such as the Bahamas. 

Diet

  • Pompanos are very fast swimmers and live in schools. They are bottom feeders. They have very short teeth and feed on zoobenthos and small clams.

Hint

  • Florida pompano are caught on light jigs and popping corks. They are very active on the line, testing light tackle beyond what their weight would suggest.

Florida Pompano: Trachinotus carolinus
Tripletail : 
Lobotes surinamensis
  • It is also known by fishermen by names like flasher or steamboat.

Habitat

  • Atlantic tripletails are found coastally in most, but not all, tropical and subtropical seas.

  • Normally solitary, they have been known to form schools. They can be found in bays, sounds, and estuaries during the summer.  

  • In the Gulf of Mexico, adults are usually found in open water, but can also be found in passes, inlets, and bays near river mouths.

  • Large adults are sometimes found near the surface over deep, open water, although always associated with floating objects.

  • Young fishes are also often found in or near shipwrecks, beams or supports, jetties, flotsam and sea buoys.The Atlantic tripletail has scales that extend onto its dorsal, anal, and caudal fins and a head profile that concaves as the fish ages.

Discription

  • It has a compressed but deep body with a triangle-shaped head. The eyes are small, but the mouth is large. The bases of the dorsal and anal fins are scaled and the pectoral fins are shorter than the pelvic fins

  • The name "tripletail" is given because of the fish's three rounded fins: dorsal, caudal, and anal.

  • Juvenile Atlantic tripletails are colored a mottled yellow, brown, and black.

  • Adults are jet black.

  • When it lies on its side at the surface, the tripletail is sometimes confused for a floating mangrove leaf.

Diet

  • Atlantic tripletails are opportunistic eaters; they feed on a variety of foods, mostly small finfish such as gulf menhaden, Atlantic bumpers, and anchovies.

  • They also feed on invertebrates such as blue crabs and brown shrimp, as well as other benthic crustaceans.

Red Snapper:
Lutjanus campechanus

Habitat

  • The red snapper commonly inhabits waters 30 to 200 feet deep, but some are reported to be caught at 300 feet deep.

  • They stay relatively close to the bottom, and inhabit rocky bottoms, ledges, ridges, and artificial reefs, including offshore oil rigs and shipwrecks.

Discription

  • They feature a sloped profile, medium-to-large scales, a spiny dorsal fin and a laterally compressed body.

  • Coloration of the red snapper is light red, with more intense pigment on the back.

  • Red snappers have short, sharp, needle-like teeth, but they lack the prominent upper canine teeth found on the mutton, dog, and mangrove snappers.

  • Like most other snappers, red snappers are gregarious and will form large schools around wrecks and reefs. These schools are usually made up of fish of very similar size.

Diet

  • Red snapper feed on fish, shrimp, crab, worms, cephalopods (for example, octopus, squid, etc.), and some plankton (tiny floating plants and animals).

Vermilion Snapper: Rhomboplites aurorubens
  • Local and common names for the fish include savonetje, chub-head snapper, plump head, sabernechi (Barbados), b-liner, plumhead, redfish, piram (Trinidad and Tobago), bastard snapper, mingo snapper (United States), golden-red snapper

Habitat

  • An abundant species of fish found along the North American coast of the Atlantic Ocean from North Carolina to Bermuda and throughout the Gulf of Mexico to Brazil.

  • Vermilion snapper prefer flat areas on the tops and around the bases of the snapper banks to the banks' steeply sloping sides. They are often found in concert with red and other snappers around structures in the Gulf.

Discription

  • Vermilion snapper have streamlined bodies, are pale to silver white below and vermilion above.

  • Narrow yellow-gold streaks, some horozontal and others oblique, occur below the lateral line.

  • The dorsal fin is rosy colored with a yellow margin. The caudal fin is red, but has a faint black margin.  

  • Vermilion snappers look a lot like their relatives the red snappers, but they are smaller and have yellow lines on their sides and a pale belly.

  • The dorsal fin is tipped, and the tails and iris of the eye are vermilion.  

Diet

  • Best bait is fresh squid, although they will also eat crab, shrimp, or other small fish.

Hint

  •  Fish close to the bottom offshore near rigs and artificial reefs and around the tops and bottoms of snapper banks.

Habitat

  • A large saltwater fish of the grouper family found primarily in shallow tropical waters among coral and artificial reefs at depths from 5 to 50 m (16 to 160 ft)

  • Young Atlantic goliath grouper may live in brackish estuaries, canals, and mangrove swamps, which is unusual behavior among groupers.

Discription

  • They may reach extremely large sizes, growing to lengths of up to 3 m and can weigh as much as 360 kg (790 lb). The world record for a hook and line-captured specimen is 309 kg (681 lb), caught off Fernandina Beach, Florida, in 1961.

  • They are usually around 180 kg when mature. Considered of fine food quality, Atlantic goliath grouper were a highly sought-after quarry for fishermen.

Diet

  • Goliath grouper feed largely on crustaceans (in particular spiny lobsters, shrimps and crabs), fishes (including stingrays and parrotfishes), octopus, and young sea turtles.

  • Prey is ambushed, caught with a quick rush and snap of the jaws. The sharp teeth are adapted for seizing prey and preventing escape although most prey is simply engulfed and swallowed whole. 

Hints

  • The grouper's inquisitive and generally fearless nature makes it a relatively easy prey for spear fishermen.

  • They also tend to spawn in large aggregations, returning like clockwork to the same locations, making them particularly vulnerable to mass harvesting.

Goliath Grouper: Epinephelus itajara
Scamp:
Mycteroperca
phenax
  • The scamp grouper  also known as the brown grouper, Broomtail Grouper,or abadejo.

Habitat

  • Scamp are found around nearshore reefs off the northeastern coast, and on around offshore reefs in the Gulf.

  • Gulfwide, but more common in the central and northern Gulf of Mexico waters.

  •  It seems to prefer low-profile reef bottoms, or bottoms encrusted with living organisms (live bottom), although they are occasionally caught at high-profile structure such as offshore oil and gas platforms. It is most common at depths of 75 to 250 feet.

DIscription

  • The fish's overall coloration is a deep tan or chocolate brown, with numerous darker markings that form dots, or lines, or groups of lines.

  • Large adults with elongated caudal-fin rays.

  • Reddish brown spots are on sides that tend to be grouped into lines.

  • Some yellow around the corners of the mouth.

  • These fish spawn in the late spring.  

  • They are most easily identified by the lyre-shaped tail having its fin rays extended into streamers. It very closely resembles the yellowmouth grouper, but has less yellow pigment in and near the mouth. 

  • Scamp can live up to 25 years and at least some begin spawning at age 3 and 16 inches in length.

  • Spawning takes place in April and May, with eggs and larvae being free-floating, until the young settle out to the bottom on reef-type habitats.

Diet

  • Scamp feed on small fish, squid, and crustaceans.

  • Scamp feed day and night, targeting crabs, shrimp and fish. 

King Mackerel :
Scomberomorus cavalla

Habitat

  • This group migrates to southeast Florida, where it spawns from May through August, and slowly returns through summer. Apparently, this group winters in deep water off the Carolinas, as tagging studies have shown they are never found off Florida in winter.

Discription

  • The king mackerel is a medium-sized fish, typically encountered from five to 30 pounds, but is known to exceed 90 pounds.

  • The entire body is covered with very small, hardly visible, loosely attached scales.

  • Coloration is olive on the back, fading to silver with a rosy iridescence on the sides, fading to white on the belly.

  • The king mackerel is a subtropical species of the Atlantic Coast of the AmericasAn Atlantic group is abundant off North Carolina in spring and fall.

Diet

  • King mackerel are voracious, opportunistic carnivores. Their prey depends on their size. Depending on area and season, they favor squid, menhaden and other sardine-like fish, jacks , cutlassfish , weakfish , grunts  ,striped anchovies , cigar minnows, threadfin, northern mackerel and blue runners.

Hint

  • They are taken mostly by trolling, using various live and dead baitfish, spoons, jigs and other artificial lures. 

Black Drum: 
Pogonias cromis

Habitat

  • Larger, older fish are more commonly found in the saltier areas of an estuary (closer to the ocean) near oyster beds or other plentiful food sources.

  • Juvenile fish are more commonly found in less salty areas and relate more strongly to structure and cover

Discription

  • They are often black and/or gray in color with juvenile fish having distinctive dark stripes over a gray body.

  • Their teeth are rounded and they have powerful jaws capable of crushing oysters and other shellfishThe black drum is usually found in or near brackish waters.

  • Juvenile fish have 4 to 6 bold vertical black bars on a light background and can be mistaken for Sheepshead at first glance, but are distinguished on closer inspection because sheepshead have teeth and black drum have chin barbells. These stripes usually fade to dull grey as the fish grow from 12" to 24" in length.

Diet

  • Black drum larvae eat mostly zooplankton, and young black drum (less than 20 cm long) eat worms and small fish.

  • Black drum are mostly bottom feeders, with adults eating mostly mollusks and crabs.

  • In shallow water, they have been reported to feed with their heads down so that their tails show above the water surface. Their sensitive chin barbels help locate food, and strong pharyngeal teeth crush the shells of these preferred foods.

Hints

  • They are most commonly caught with bait either on the bottom or suspended within a couple feet of the bottom. Bottom fishing methods are used both in surf fishing and inshore fishing.

  • Shrimp is a typical bait that works well; squid can also be used and is less subject to bait stealing by hardhead catfish and Atlantic croakers which often frequent the same waters.

  • There are times when the older, larger fish are more readily caught on a half or a quarter of a blue crab with the top shell removed and cut or broken to fit on a 4/0 to 9/0 hook. This type of fishing is often combined with chumming, a baiting practice that involves scattering bits of fish parts and blood into the water as an attractant.

  • Sometimes black drum are caught on spoons and jigs.

  • Also called angelfish, white angelfish, threetailed porgy, ocean cobbler, and moonfish.

Habitat

  • They are commonly found in shallow waters off the coast of the southeastern United States and in the Caribbean.

Discription

  • The Atlantic spadefish has a very deep, compressed, disk-shaped body and a blunt snout. The second dorsal and anal fins of adults have long, trailing anterior lobes, giving an "angelfish-like" appearance. The body is silver in color with irregular black vertical bands that fade gradually with age. The mouth is small, with the maxilla of adults ending beneath the nostrils.

Diet

  • Benthic invertebrates including crustaceans, mollusks, annelids, sponges, and cnidarians are preyed upon by the bottom feeding Atlantic spadefish. This fish may also feed occasionally on plankton as well as nibble on jellyfish tentacles. Feeding occurs throughout the day with a peak around midday.

Hints

  • The Atlantic spadefish has become a popular target species for sportfishermen due to their abundance and the strong fight they have for their size.

  • They are good table fare, especially if smoked or grilled.

  • A common method of catching involves using small pieces of clam on a small circle hook.

Atlantic Spadefish: Chaetodipterus faber

Bluefish

Habitat

  • Bluefish are widely distributed around the world in tropical and subtropical waters.

  • They are found in pelagic waters on much of the continental shelves along eastern AmericaThey are found in a variety of coastal habitats: above the continental shelf, in energetic waters near surf beaches, or by rock headlands.

  •  They also enter estuaries and inhabit brackish waters

  • Periodically, they leave the coasts and migrate in schools through open waters.

  • Adult bluefish are strong and aggressive, and live in loose groups.

Discription

  • Bluefish are greenish blue on their back, with silvery sides and a large mouth filled with prominent, sharp teeth.

  • They are fast swimmers which prey on schools of forage fish, and continue attacking them in feeding frenzies even after they appear to have eaten their fill.

  • Depending on area and season, they favor menhaden and other sardine-like fish, jacks , weakfish, grunts, striped anchovies , shrimp, and squid. They are cannibalistic and can destroy their own young.

  • Bluefish sometimes chase bait through the surf zone, attacking schools in very shallow water, churning the water like a washing machine. This behavior is sometimes referred to as a "bluefish blitz".

Hints

  • Bluefish may be caught from boat or shore. Chumming is a helpful, and a wire leader is a must to prevent fish from biting through the line.

  • Anglers use a variety of plugs, sand eel type jigs, and squid- or mackerel-like lures. Pogies, mackerel or eels are good live baits and cut bait works too. Average size is 3-5 pounds.

  • These fish are a bit oily for some people, so gut them and clean them as soon as you legally can.

 Greater Amberjack: 
Seriola dumerili
  • Other Names -   Amber, AJ, Greater Amberjack

Habitat

  •  Greater amberjack are found Gulfwide, from nearshore waters out to depths of 300 feet and occasionally deeper. They come nearer to land in the southern part of the Gulf.

  • Greater amberjacks are usually found near reefs, wrecks, artificial reefs, and in the northern Gulf of Mexico, offshore oil and gas platforms.

  • Greater amberjacks are aggressive predator fish that prowl the water column near obstructions from the surface to the bottom, although they spend much of their time in the upper water column.

Discription

  • The greater amberjack has a bluish-brown back, and a wide amber-brown stripe down the length of each side. A dark bar extends diagonally from the dorsal fin through each eye. Unless it is a very large specimen, it is easily confused with several other species. They may be distinguished from each other by the number of gill rakers, the length of the anal fin base, and the numbers of spines and rays in the dorsal fin. 

Diet

  • They may occur singly or in small groups, feeding on a wide variety of fish, including herring, scads and little tunny. Crabs and squid are taken as well. 

Hints

  • Amberjacks are powerful fighters. A large one will test an angler’s endurance. 

  • Very good, especially when grilled or broiled.

  • Amberjacks occasionally have infestations of tapeworms encysted in the muscles ahead of the tail. Although the worms are harmless to humans, these areas may be cut away and discarded.

Mullet:
Mugil cephalus
  • Other names -  Striped Mullet, Ground Mullet

Habitat

  • They generally inhabit salt water or brackish water and frequent shallow, inshore areas.

  •  Mullets are tireless benthic feeders, using a pair of longchemosensory barbels ("whiskers") protruding from their chins to rifle through the sediments in search of a meal.

Discription

  • They are silvery fishes 1–3 feet long, with large scales; relatively stocky, cigar-shaped bodies; forked tails; and two distinct dorsal fins, the first containing four stiff spines.

Diet

  • The striped mullet's diet includes zooplankton, benthic (bottom-dwelling) organisms and detritus (dead plants and animals), and small invertebrates.

  • Many have strong, gizzard-like stomachs and long intestines capable of handling a largely vegetarian diet.

Hints

  • The best way to catch these fish is with a cast net.

Sandbar Shark: Carcharhinus plumbeus
  • The sandbar shark is also called the thickskin shark or brown shark. It is one of the biggest coastal sharks in the world.

Habitat

  • The sandbar shark, true to its nickname, is commonly found over muddy or sandy bottoms in shallow coastal waters such as bays, estuaries, harbors, or the mouths of rivers, but it also swims in deeper waters (200 m or more) as well as intertidal zones.

Discription

  • Sandbar sharks usually have heavy-set bodies and rounded snouts that are shorter than the average shark's snout.

  • Their upper teeth have broadly uneven cusps with sharp edges. Its second dorsal fin and anal fin are close to the same height.

  • Its body color can vary from a bluish to a brownish grey to a bronze, with a white or pale underside.

  • Sandbar sharks swim alone or gather in sex-segregated schools that vary in size.

Diet

  • The sandbar sharks prey on fish, rays, and crabs.

Bonnethead Shark:
Sphyrna tiburo
  • Also known as shovelhead.

​Behavior

  • Their feeding behavior involves swimming across the seafloor, moving its head in arc patterns like a metal detector, looking for minute electro-magnetic disturbances produced by crabs and other creatures hiding in the sediment.

  • It is a timid and a harmless shark.

Habitat

  • The bonnethead shark is an active tropical shark that swims in small groups of 5 to 15 individuals.

  • Curiously however, schools of hundreds or even thousands have been reported.

  • Bonnethead sharks move constantly following changes in water temperature and to maintain respiration.

Discription

  • Characterized by a broad, smooth, spade-like head, they have the smallest cephalofoil (hammerhead) of all Sphyrna. Grey-brown above and lighter on the underside.

Diet

  • It feeds primarily on crustaceans, consisting mostly of blue crabs, but also shrimp, mollusks and small fish. Seagrasses have been found in its stomach contents.

 

Great Hammerhead:
Sphyrna mokarran

Habitat

  • It is found in tropical and warm temperate waters worldwide, inhabiting coastal areas and the continental shelf.

Discription

  • The great hammerhead can be distinguished from other hammerheads by the shape of its "hammer" (called the "cephalofoil"), which is wide with an almost straight front margin, and by its tall, sickle-shaped first dorsal fin.

Diet

  • A solitary, strong-swimming apex predator, the great hammerhead feeds on a wide variety of prey ranging from crustaceans and cephalopods, to bony fishes, to smaller sharks.

  • Observations of this species in the wild suggest that the cephalofoil functions to immobilize stingrays, a favored prey.

  • They favor coral reefs, but also inhabit continental shelves, island terraces, lagoons, and deep water near land.

 

Lemon Shark:
Negaprion brevirostris

Habitat

  • They inhabit mostly tropical waters, stay at moderate depths, and are often accompanied by remoras.

  • It is known as the lemon shark because of its unique yellow coloration.

Discription

  • The lemon shark has pale yellow-brown to grey skin, which lacks any distinctive markings. This provides perfect camouflage when swimming over the sandy seafloor in its coastal habitat.

  •  It has a flattened head with a short, broad snout, and the second dorsal fin is almost as large as the first.

Diet

  • The lemon shark is commonly found over sandy or muddy bottoms and eats a diet consisting mainly of bony fish and crustaceans. Catfish, mullet, jacks, croakers, porcupine fish, cowfish, guitarfish, stingrays, eagle rays, crabs and crayfish make up the majority of their diet.

  • In addition, this species will eat sea birds and smaller sharks.

  • Lemon sharks will eat until full with the rate of digestion is dependent on the amount of food consumed at a single time. Lemon sharks are bottom dwellers.

  • They have very poor eyesight and cannot see well to find their food, but are equipped with extremely sensitive and accurate electroreceptors in the nose.

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Apalachicola Bay Chamber of Commerce
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