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Home / Fishing / Fish Species

FISHING
FISH SPECIES

Reef Fish

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Fishing Forum

The Reef Fish

Hogfish
Gray Triggerfish
Queen Triggerfish
Ocean Triggerfish
Puddingwife
Queen Parrotfish
Blue Parrotfish
Rainbow Parrotfish
Blue Angelfish
French Angelfish
Queen Angelfish
Atlantic Spadefish
Bermuda Chub
Squirrelfish
Bigeye
Spotted Scorpionfish
Green Moray
Spotted Moray
Sand Tilefish
Tilefish

Reef fishermen mostly take aim at Snappers and Groupers. Failing those, they take solace in Grunts and Porgies. But there are other fish down there that they often have to take, whether they like it or not! At least a few, including the Hogfish and Triggerfish, are widely prized as table fare.

The Triggerfishes get their name because - as you may have guessed - they are fitted with a "trigger". When the forward dorsal spine stands erect, no amount of pressure the angler can exert will force it down, yet a slight push on the shorter second spine - the trigger - will fold it instantly.

Wrasses and Parrotfishes belong to separate but related families that share many characteristics, prominent among them being protruding teeth and large, heavy scales. However, the teeth of the Parrotfishes - which give them their common name - are much more impressive than those of the Wrasses. Only one fish from either group is of significant interest to anglers, that being the Hogfish - a large and spectacular-looking Wrasse that is ranked among the best of table fishes.

The Angelfishes are beauties of the coral reefs that are sometimes caught on hook and line. The Spadefish is not really an Angelfish but is grouped with them here because of similar appearance.

A few reef fish are downright menacing, such as the various types of Scorpionfishes and Morays, of which only the species most commonly caught by anglers are included here.

Back To The Fish Species Directory Index

Fish Species brought to you in association with Wickstrom Publishers Inc.
Excerpts from the book Sport Fish of Florida a must for every tackle box and boat in and around Florida waters!!! Get your copy now!! Other great titles include Baits, Rigs & Tackle!

HOGFISH (Lachnolaimus maximus)

Hogfish - The Outdoor Lodge Fish Species


OTHER NAMES: Hog Snapper, Hog Wrasse, Captain, Perro Perro, Pargo Gallo
RANGE: Offshore over deep structure in most of Florida also on inshore patches in South Florida and the Bahamas.
HABITAT: Coral reefs and rocky areas.
DESCRIPTION: Deep body; long tapering mouth with protruding teeth. Color varies but is usually a soft red. Very large specimens have a diagonal purple band running from dorsal fin to snout, and the first three rays of the dorsal fin are elongated into streamers. Tail and anal fin also sport more modest streamers.
SIZE: Average catch runs 1-4 pounds; maximum size is over 20 pounds. Fish exceeding about 6 pounds are now unusual in Florida, although still fairly plentiful in some areas of the Bahamas and the Caribbean. World and Florida records 19 pounds, 8 ounces.
FOOD VALUE: Outstanding. With its very fine, white flesh, the Hog Snapper is considered by many anglers, and spear fishermen, as the prize of all reef species for the table.
GAME QUALITIES: They pull fairly well when first hooked, but don't have much stamina, compared to the true Snappers. Most fishermen care less about the battle than the fillets.
TACKLE AND BAITS: Spinning, baitcasting and light ocean tackle. Although Hog Snapper occasionally take pieces of cut fish, crustacean baits are almost a must. Best are pieces of lobster and crab, or live shrimp. Other parts of shellfish, such as shrimp heads and lobster legs, make excellent chum.
FISHING SYSTEMS: Still Fishing.

Gray Triggerfish (Blistes capriscus)

Gray Triggerfish - The Outdoor Lodge Fish Species

OTHER NAMES: Common, Triggerfish, Common Turbot, Cucuyo
RANGE: All Florida, the Bahamas and Caribbean.
HABITAT: Mostly found well offshore in northern half of Florida, but inhabits both inshore areas - patches, holes, bridge and dock pilings - and offshore reefs of South Florida, the Bahamas and the Caribbean Islands.
DESCRIPTION: Uniform dark gray in color, sometimes with darker blotches on the sides, especially in smaller fish.
SIZE: Averages 1-3 pounds; may rarely top 10 pounds. World record 13 pounds, 9 ounces.
FOOD VALUE: Excellent. Many consider Triggerfish fillets to be tastier fare than those from the Yellowtail and small Snapper that are often caught with them in mixed bags. They are, however, more difficult to clean because of their tough skins.
GAME QUALITIES: The small mouth of the Triggerfish makes them difficult to hook, but once they are on a line they put up an outstanding fight against light tackle.
TACKLE AND BAITS: Spinning, baitcasting and light ocean tackle. Small hooks are essential. They bite shrimp and any sort of cut bait and also nip voraciously at artificial lures, especially plastics, although seldom getting hooked on them.
FISHING SYSTEMS: Drifting; Still Fishing.

QUEEN TRIGGERFISH (Balistes vetula)

Queen Triggerfish - The Outdoor Lodge Fish Species

OTHER NAMES: Painted, Triggerfish, Queen Turbot, Nassau Turbot, Old Wife, Cochino
RANGE: Very common on Bahamas and Caribbean reefs. Fairly common on South Florida reefs and can be encountered offshore in most of Florida.
HABITAT: Coral reefs.
DESCRIPTION: Variably marked but always garish. The overall color ranges from blue to greenish. The mouth is circled in bright blue and two or more blue lines run from snout to pectoral fin. Gold markings around eyes and, often, other lines and marks on rear of body. Blue band around caudal peduncle. Long trailing edges on dorsal and caudal fins.
SIZE: From a couple of pounds to more than 5 pounds and, rarely, to 10 or 12 pounds. World record 12 pounds.
FOOD VALUE: Excellent
GAME QUALITIES: Tough battler on light tackle.
TACKLE AND BAITS: Spinning, baitcasting and light ocean tackle. Small hooks are essential. Will bite any sort of cut bait and also nip voraciously at artificial lures, especially plastics.
FISHING SYSTEMS: Drifting; Still Fishing.

OCEAN TRIGGERFISH (Canthidermis sufflamen)

Ocean Triggerfish - The Outdoor Lodge Fish Species

OTHER NAMES: Ocean Tally, Great Trigger, Turbot
RANGE: Mostly encountered well offshore, but often ventures to reef areas, and sometimes to shallow flats in the Keys and islands.
HABITAT: Inshore flats and channels; coral reefs.
DESCRIPTION: Overall dark gray or black. Black blotch at base of pectoral fin.
SIZE: On average, the largest of the Triggers, commonly weighing 4-6 pounds; sometimes tops 10 pounds. World record 13 pounds, 8 ounces.
FOOD VALUE: Good but tends to be coarser than other Triggers.
GAME QUALITIES: A very strong and stubborn fighter.
TACKLE AND BAITS: Spinning, baitcasting and light ocean tackle. Small hooks and baits are essential. Will bite any sort of cut bait. Also takes jigs, and even flies.
FISHING SYSTEMS: Drifting; Still Fishing.

PUDDINGWIFE "GREEN WRASSE" (Halichoeres radiatus)

Puddingwife - The Outdoor Lodge Fish Species

OTHER NAMES: Doncella
RANGE: South Florida and the Bahamas; sometimes caught in temperate waters of Florida.
HABITAT: Coral reefs and rocks.
DESCRIPTION: Color varies from light to brilliant green, with yellow and pinkish highlights and numerous blue lines.
SIZE: Usually around 1 pound; runs to at least 3.
FOOD VALUE: Not often eaten, but quite good.
GAME QUALITIES: Not much.
TACKLE AND BAITS: Spinning tackle with small hooks and bits of shrimp or cut fish.
FISHING SYSTEMS: Still Fishing.

QUEEN PARROTFISH (Scarus vetula)

Queen Parrotfish - The Outdoor Lodge Fish Species


OTHER NAMES: Vieja
RANGE: South Florida and the Bahamas.
HABITAT: Coral reefs.
DESCRIPTION: Adult male are deep green with yellow highlights on their scales and fins. Black, wavy lines around mouth. Female is a dull brown with a yellowish stripe on side.
SIZE: Up to 2 feet or so.
FOOD VALUE: Not usually eaten.
GAME QUALITIES: Rarely hooked, but strong.
TACKLE AND BAITS: Occasionally takes a crustacean bait fished by reef fishermen.
FISHING SYSTEMS: Not targeted.

BLUE PARROTFISH (Scarus coeruleus)

Blue Parrotfish - The Outdoor Lodge Fish Species

DESCRIPTION: Adult males deep blue all over; young and females lighter blue, with some yellow on head and dorsal fin.
SIZE: Up to 2 feet or so.
FOOD VALUE: Not usually eaten.
GAME QUALITIES: Rarely hooked, but strong.
TACKLE AND BAITS: Occasionally takes a crustacean bait fished by reef fishermen.
FISHING SYSTEMS: Not targeted.

RAINBOW PARROTFISH (Scarus guacamaia)

Rainbow Parrotfish - The Outdoor Lodge Fish Species

OTHER NAMES: Guacamaya
RANGE: South Florida and the Bahamas.
HABITAT: Coral reefs.
DESCRIPTION: On large males, head and shoulders are gold, as are the fins. Scales on rest of body are deep green or aqua, ringed in gold. Red streaks or spots around pectoral fins. Blue mouth. Females and small males are mostly green with small patches of gold on the head and fins.
SIZE: The largest of our Parrotfishes, it often exceeds three feet in length.
FOOD VALUE: Not usually eaten.
GAME QUALITIES: Rarely hooked, but strong.
TACKLE AND BAITS: Occasionally takes a crustacean, bait fished by reef fishermen.
FISHING SYSTEMS: Not targeted.

BLUE ANGELFISH (Holacanthus bermudensis)

Blue Angelfish - The Outdoor Lodge Fish Species

RANGE: Mostly South Florida and Bahamas; some off both coasts of North Florida.
HABITAT: Prefers coral reefs and areas with sponges.
DESCRIPTION: Body is yellowish with blue highlights and blue-tipped dorsal and anal spines. Tail is yellow. Very similar to the Queen Angelfish, but lacks the blue spots on forehead and pectoral. May hybridize with the Queen Angel.
SIZE: Up to about 18 inches.
FOOD VALUE: Seldom eaten; said to be okay.
GAME QUALITIES: Rarely hooked.
TACKLE AND BAITS: Caught once in a while by reef fishermen on shrimp and cut baits, but feeds mostly on sponges and other tropical marine growth.
FISHING SYSTEMS: Still Fishing but not targeted. Offshore drifting.

FRENCH ANGELFISH (Pomacanthus paru)

French Angelfish - The Outdoor Lodge Fish Species

OTHER NAMES: Black Angelfish, Cachama Negra, Chirivita
RANGE: Prefers coral reefs and areas with sponges.
HABITAT: Prefers coral reefs and areas with sponges.
DESCRIPTION: Body is black with yellow-edged scales. Yellow edge on dorsal fin and gill cover. Yellow spot at base of pectoral fin.
SIZE: Up to about 15 inches.
FOOD VALUE: Seldom eaten; said to be okay.
GAME QUALITIES: Seldom hooked; spirited fighter on light gear.
TACKLE AND BAITS: Caught once in a while by reef fishermen, but feeds mostly on sponges and other marine growth.
FISHING SYSTEMS: Still Fishing but not targeted.

QUEEN ANGELFISH (Holacanthus ciliaris)

Queen Angelfish - The Outdoor Lodge Fish Species

OTHER NAMES: Isabellita, Cachama De, Piedra
RANGE: Mostly South Florida, the Bahamas and Caribbean; some off both coasts of North Florida.
HABITAT: Prefers coral reefs and areas with plenty of sponges.
DESCRIPTION: Mostly yellow but bright blue markings on the head, and blue edges on dorsal and anal fins. Black spot, ringed with blue, on forehead. Dark blue spot at base of pectoral.
SIZE: Most run 12-18 inches.
FOOD VALUE: Seldom eaten; said to be okay.
GAME QUALITIES: Rarely hooked.
TACKLE AND BAITS: Caught once in a while by reef fishermen on shrimp and cut baits, but feeds mostly on sponges and other tropical marine growth.
FISHING SYSTEMS: Still Fishing but not targeted.

ATLANTIC SPADEFISH (Chaetodipterus faber)

Atlantic Spadefish - The Outdoor Lodge Fish Species

OTHER NAMES: Striped Angelfish, Chrivita Chiva
RANGE: All Florida coasts, the Bahamas and Caribbean.
HABITAT: Likes a variety of structure, from mangroves to corals. Common around navigation markers and pilings in deep channels and sometimes well offshore.
DESCRIPTION: Deep, rounded body. First rays of posterior, dorsal and anal fin are long and pointed. Color: black vertical bands on a grayish white background. Bands may be vague or almost missing in large specimens.
SIZE: Averages 2-3 pounds; occasionally tops 10. World record 14 pounds.
FOOD VALUE: Good.
GAME QUALITIES: Difficult to hook, but a strong, Jack-like fighter.
TACKLE AND BAITS: Spinning and plug casting tackle. Though Spadefish are taken on shrimp, and sometimes on cut fish, they are usually picky biters. Their natural diet is heavy on jellyfish.
FISHING SYSTEMS: Still Fishing.

BERMUDA CHUB (kyphosus sectarix)

Bermuda Chub - The Outdoor Lodge Fish Species

OTHER NAMES: Sea Chub, Butter Bream, Chopa
RANGE: Clear reefs and grass patches form near shore to deep reefs. Also encountered sometimes in the open seas, around sargassum weeds.
HABITAT: The Bermuda Chub shown here, and the Yellow Chub, Kyphosus incisor, are so nearly identical in appearance and habits that it would be a rare angler who could tell them apart - or wish to. Both are oval-shaped with forked tails. Color of both is gray or blue with many narrow, full-length yellow stripes on the sides. These stripes are somewhat more obvious and lustrous in the Yellow Chub than in the Bermuda.
DESCRIPTION: Averages 2-3 pounds; often exceeds 5 pounds and can reach 10 or more. World records: Bermuda Chub 13 pounds, 4 ounces; Yellow Chub 8 pounds, 8 ounces.
SIZE: Edible but mushy and strong-flavored.
FOOD VALUE: A very strong fighter.
GAME QUALITIES: Spinning, baitcasting and light ocean outfits provide the best sport. Chubs are vegetarians, but take cut baits at times. If they are hanging around and you wish to target them, the best baits are bread balls or scraps of lettuce and cabbage.
TACKLE AND BAITS: Readily takes small jigs and streamer flies. Only very light outfits provide much sport.
FISHING SYSTEMS: Drifting; Still Fishing

SQUIRRELFISH (Holocentrus adscensionis)

Squirrelfish - The Outdoor Lodge Fish Species

OTHER NAMES: Soldierfish, Candil
RANGE: South Florida, the Bahamas and the Caribbean.
HABITAT: Coral reefs; also inshore patches.
DESCRIPTION: A colorful little fish, mostly light red or pink with streaks of white or silver. Fins are spiny and prominent; tail deeply forked. Eye large. Several other species occur in the tropics.
SIZE: Less than a foot.
FOOD VALUE: Edible but hardly worth the effort. Care must be taken in handling because of razor-sharp gill coves and sharp spines on dorsal and anal fins.
GAME QUALITIES: Virtually none. Mainly of interest only as another of the many small species that a reef fisherman sometimes brings up.
TACKLE AND BAITS: Would offer any sport at all only on the lightest of spinning tackle. Hits many cut baits.

BIGEYE "TORO" (Priacanthus arenatus)

Bigeye Toro - The Outdoor Lodge Fish Species

OTHER NAMES: Comico
RANGE: South Florida, the Bahamas and the Caribbean.
HABITAT: Coral reefs and rocky areas, usually from 30 feet or so to very deep ledges.
DESCRIPTION: Compressed body of solid brick red. Large eye. Very large mouth.
SIZE: Less than a foot long. World record 2 pounds, 8 ounces.
FOOD VALUE: Pretty good; not much meat.
GAME QUALITIES: Minor.
TACKLE AND BAITS: All sorts of bottom-fishing tackle; small cut baits.
FISHING SYSTEMS: Still Fishing

SPOTTED SCORPION FISH (Scorpaena plumieri)

Spotted Scorpion - The Outdoor Lodge Fish Species

OTHER NAMES: Lionfish, Rascacio
RANGE: One or more species may be encountered nearly anywhere in Florida waters, but most are tropical fish inhabiting South Florida, the Bahamas and the Caribbean.
HABITAT: Coral reefs and patches; rocky areas.
DESCRIPTION: Several species occur in Florida and the Tropics, of which the one most familiar to anglers is the rather large Spotted Scorpionfish, shown here. Scorpions have many spikes dotted over the head and gill covers, but their main defensive weapons are the dorsal spines, which carry venom that can be painful and debilitating to a careless angler, but not fatal. Color is usually a mottled red or brown. Pectoral fins large and fanlike.
SIZE: Up to a foot; usually less. World record 3 pounds, 7 ounces.
FOOD VALUE: Fishermen wisely avoid handling them, but if large enough to bother with, they make very good eating.
GAME QUALITIES: None.
TACKLE AND BAITS: Reef-fishing outfits with cut baits.
FISHING SYSTEMS: Still Fishing.

GREEN MORAY (Gymnothorax funebris)

Green Moray - The Outdoor Lodge Fish Species

OTHER NAMES: Green Eel, Morena Verde
RANGE: All Florida coasts, but most common in South Florida, the Bahamas and the Caribbean.
HABITAT: At home wherever there are holes or crevices - typically, coral reefs, but also jetties, pilings and near shore rubble.
DESCRIPTION: Largest of the Morays. Green overall.
SIZE: Common at 4-5 feet; exceeds 7 feet. World record 33 pounds, 8 ounces.
FOOD VALUE: Unappetizing at best, and also implicated in Ciguatera poisoning (see Introduction).
GAME QUALITIES: Tough to pull out of its hole, but its biggest fight comes after landing, when it likes to tie itself - and the fishing line - into knots.
TACKLE AND BAITS: Never targeted, it's usually caught on bottom-fishing tackle of various sorts.
FISHING SYSTEMS: Still Fishing.

SPOTTED MORAY (Gymnothorax moringa)

Spotted Moray - The Outdoor Lodge Fish Species

OTHER NAMES: Morena Pintada
RANGE: South Florida, the Bahamas and the Caribbean.
HABITAT: Seems to prefer clear water, but found from shoreline to deep coral reefs.
DESCRIPTION: White or yellowish with many dark brown spots that vary in size.
SIZE: Common at 1-2 feet; seldom longer than 3 feet.
FOOD VALUE: Unappetizing at best, and also implicated in Ciguatera poisoning (see Introduction).
GAME QUALITIES: Tough to pull out of its hole, but its biggest fight comes after landing, when it likes to tie itself - and the fishing line - into knots.
TACKLE AND BAITS: Never targeted, it's usually caught on bottom-fishing tackle of various sorts.
FISHING SYSTEMS: Still Fishing.

SAND TILEFISH (Malacanthus plumieri)

Sand Tilefish - The Outdoor Lodge Fish Species

OTHER NAMES: Sand Eel, Blanquillo
RANGE: Both Florida coasts, but more common in Atlantic. Also Bahamas.
HABITAT: Sandy bottom, often around edges of coral reefs, mostly from 40 to 150 feet of water.
DESCRIPTION: A slender, smooth-skinned fish with crescent tail. Color is cream or tan, sometimes with blue highlights. Anal fin extends nearly the length of the underside between ventral fin and tail.
SIZE: Usually 2 pounds or less. World record 2 pounds, 4 ounces.
FOOD VALUE: Pretty good, but seldom eaten; considered a throwback by most fishermen.
GAME QUALITIES: Poor.
TACKLE AND BAITS: Nobody fishes for Sand Eels. Most are unwelcome catches of reef fishermen seeking Snapper and Grouper. If you catch a Sand Eel it should be taken as sign of poor (meaning sandy) bottom. Hits any kind of cut bait.
FISHING SYSTEMS: Drifting; Still Fishing.

TILEFISH (Lophlatilus chamaeleonticeps)

Tilefish - The Outdoor Lodge Fish Species

OTHER NAMES: Blue Tilefish, Common Tilefish
RANGE: All Florida coasts, but this fish varies greatly in abundance, evidently because of cycles that may be tied to vagaries of ocean currents. Tilefish also occur off the Bahamas, but are seldom caught there, due to lack of fishing effort.
HABITAT: Likes soft bottom with scattered rocks or growth. Most Florida fish are taken from depths of 400 feet or more.
DESCRIPTION: Color is gray or bluish, with numerous yellow dots. Head is blunt. A fleshy protuberance forward of the dorsal fin, and entirely separate from it, is a sure identifier. A similar species, the Goldface Tilefish, Caulolatilus Chrysops, has no fleshy protuberance but has a gold band on its head from eye to mouth.
SIZE: Common at 5-10 pounds; sometimes exceeds 20
FOOD VALUE: Good. During periods of abundance, the Tilefish is popular commercially, but rated as less desirable for the table than deepwater Snappers and Groupers.
GAME QUALITIES: Largely irrelevant because Tilefish are nearly always caught on very heavy tackle or commercial electric rigs.
TACKLE AND BAITS: Charterboat anglers sometimes fish for Tilefish with wire lines and powered reels. It's exhausting work to crank them up with heavy manual tackle. Chunks of cut fish make good bait.
FISHING SYSTEMS: Drifting.

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