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Home / Fishing / Fish Species


Fish Species Directory:

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Fish Species brought to you in association with Wickstrom Publishers Inc.
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crevallejack.gif (32570 bytes)

(Caranx hippos)
OTHER NAMES: Jack Crevalle, Crevally
RANGE: All Florida and the Greater Antilles; rare in the Bahamas and smaller Caribbean Islands.
HABITAT: The Crevalle may show up at any time in virtually all Florida waters, from the deep reefs to well up coastal rivers. Usually runs in schools and the smaller the individual fish, the larger the school. The biggest Jacks often cruise in pairs and are usually found in or near major inlets and around offshore wrecks and reefs of both coasts, but may come into deep bays and canals where they chase Mullet and often herd the prey against seawalls. The Palm Beaches and Key West are particularly well-known areas for trophy Crevalles.
DESCRIPTION: Deep, compressed body. Blunt head with black spot on rear edge of gill cover. Hard scutes forward of sickle-shaped tail. Color usually yellowish with white undersides.
SIZE: Common at 1 pound or less to about 5 or 6 pounds. Plentiful up to 12 pounds in most areas. Sometimes tops 20 pounds and can reach 50 pounds or even more. World and Florida records 57 pounds.
FOOD VALUE: Poor by most tastes. Most of the meat is dark red and of strong flavor.
GAME QUALITIES: Few fish can out-pull a Crevalle of equal size. The fight is unspectacular but dogged, the usual pattern being a long first run. Jacks use their flat sides to good advantage when waging a tug-o-war.
TACKLE AND BAITS: Most Jacks are fairly small and are caught on the full range of light tackle by anglers seeking other game. If you target larger Jacks, say 10 pounds or more, sturdy spinning, baitcasting and fly tackle should be used, with lines no less than 8-pound test. Small Jacks, such as those frequently encountered on shallow flats, will gulp down almost any sort of natural bait, live or dead, as well as all the popular casting and flyrod lures. Big Crevalles, however, generally like their meals moving very fast. To assure hookups, you have to use fresh and frisky live fish, or retrieve your artificial lures rapidly, noisily, or both. Topwater plugs are good, as are fast-whipped jigs. Fly rodders often have to work very hard, stripping their streamers or poppers as fast as their elbows will move.
FISHING SYSTEMS: Casting; Drifting; Still Fishing; Trolling.

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bluerunner.gif (35799 bytes)

(Caranx crysos)
OTHER NAMES: Hardtail Jack, Runner, Blue Jack
RANGE: All Florida, the Bahamas and the Caribbean.
HABITAT: Not choosy; inshore to deep sea.
DESCRIPTION: Similar in shape to the Crevalle, but with a more gently rounded head. Color ranges from steel blue to light green with white underparts. Hard scutes forward of tail.
SIZE: Schooling Blue Runners are about the same size, averaging under a pound and often under a half-pound. Fish weighing 1-2 pounds aren't unusual, and individuals up to 4 pounds or so are sometimes taken offshore. World record 11 pounds, 2 ounces; Florida record 7 pounds.
FOOD VALUE: Pretty good, but seldom eaten.
GAME QUALITIES: Blue Runners fight so well for their size that guides often have trouble tearing their customers away, after stopping to catch some Runners on spinning tackle for use as offshore bait.
TACKLE AND BAITS: Light spinning and fly tackle with live shrimp, cut pieces of fish or small artificial jigs and flies.
FISHING SYSTEMS: Casting; Drifting; Still Fishing; Trolling.

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barjack.gif (30977 bytes)

(Caranx ruber)
OTHER NAMES: Skipjack, Bahamas Runner, Reef Runner, Cibi Mancho
RANGE: Common in the Bahamas and Caribbean; also found in South Florida.
HABITAT: Likes sandy beach areas, clear, grassy flats and coral reefs.
DESCRIPTION: Streamlined shape. Hard scutes forward of tail. Bright blue and black topside with silvery sides and a thin deep-purple stripe extending from behind the head into the lower lobe of the tail.
SIZE: Averages a pound or so. Reaches at least 5 pounds on occasion. Florida record 4 pounds,2 ounces.
FOOD VALUE: Excellent; less red meat than most Jacks.
GAME QUALITIES: Though usually small, fights as if twice or more its size.
TACKLE AND BAITS: Most sport will be obtained with light spinning tackle. Also a good fly fish, again with lighter outfits. Takes live shrimp, live minnows, Bonefish jigs and flies and other small lures.
FISHING SYSTEMS: Casting; Drifting; Still Fishing; Trolling.

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yellowjack.gif (28185 bytes)

(Caranx bartholomaei)
OTHER NAMES: Bar Jack, Cibi Amarillo
RANGE: Common in southern Florida, the Bahamas and the Caribbean.
HABITAT: Inshore flats and channels; coral reefs.
DESCRIPTION: More streamlined in appearance than the Crevalle, and more colorful. Hard scutes forward of tail. Color is bluish above, yellowish on sides. Small Yellow Jacks have fins and tails of bright yellow, giving them the appearance of yellowtail snapper when seen from above the surface.
SIZE: Averages 1-6 pounds; not uncommon at 12-15 pounds; grows to about 20 pounds. World record 19 pounds, 7 ounces.
FOOD VALUE: Excellent. Red meat along the centerline is easily trimmed away, leaving white, flavorful fillets.
GAME QUALITIES: Like other Jacks, a rugged and persevering fighter.
TACKLE AND BAITS: Spinning, baitcasting and light saltwater outfits, will give good sport. Small live fish, particularly Ballyhoo and Pilchards are the best natural baits. Biggest Bar Jack have been caught on topwater plugs over channels and shallow reefs, and on deep jigs in up to about 120 feet of water. On the flats, the bigger Bar Jack are moody but smaller ones eagerly hit live shrimp. Bonefish jigs and other small lures.
FISHING SYSTEMS: Casting; Drifting; Still Fishing; Trolling.

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horseeyejack.gif (37556 bytes)

(Caranx latus)
OTHER NAMES: Bigeye Jack, Ojo Gordo
RANGE: All Florida, especially South Florida–but more common in the Bahamas and Caribbean.
HABITAT: More of an openwater species than the Crevalle, it is found over the reefs and near the beaches; also in channels and harbors.
DESCRIPTION: Similar in body shape to the Crevalle, but the head is not quite so blunt. The color is also different, being usually silvery on the sides and below; dark gray or blackish above. The fins are blackish as opposed to the yellow tinge of the Crevalle. Hard scutes forward of tail. As the name indicates, the eyes are very large.
SIZE: Commonly caught in similar sizes to the Crevalle, but does not grow so large, topping out at 20 pounds or so. World and Florida records 24 pounds, 8 ounces.
FOOD VALUE: Poor by most tastes, and has been implicated in Ciguatera poisoning (see Introduction).
GAME QUALITIES: Like the Crevalle, a tough brawler.
TACKLE AND BAITS: See Jack Crevalle.
FISHING SYSTEMS: Casting; Drifting; Trolling.

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rainbowrunner.gif (27602 bytes)

(Elagatis bipinnulata)
OTHER NAMES: Spanish Jack, Rainbow Jack
RANGE: Not a staple species off Florida, but often encountered by offshore anglers of both coasts, particularly Dolphin
fishermen. More common in Bahama waters, particularly around the Cay Sal Bank; also widespread through the Caribbean.
HABITAT: Deep ocean waters.
DESCRIPTION: Un-jack streamlined shape with slender, pointed head. No hard scutes forward of tail. Brilliantly colored, with blue and yellow full-length stripes on a blue background.
SIZE: Varies from a couple of pounds to 15 or 20 pounds, with individuals of roughly the same size forming large schools. World record 37 pounds, 9 ounces; Florida record 17 pounds.
FOOD VALUE: Excellent.
GAME QUALITIES: A spirited fighter on light tackle. Makes faster runs than other Jacks, and sometimes jumps, too.
TACKLE AND BAITS: Spinning, baitcasting and light ocean rigs. Small live fish and small rigged baits, such as Ballyhoo and strips. Difficult to take by casting, but can be coaxed.
FISHING SYSTEMS: Casting; Trolling.

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leatherjack.gif (27304 bytes)

(Oligoplites saurus)
OTHER NAMES: Leatherjacket, Skipjack, Zapetero
RANGE: All Florida and the Greater Antilles.
HABITAT: Open water of Gulf and Atlantic; also in bays and up coastal rivers. A schooling species, it's often found in company with schools of Spanish Mackerel or Jacks, feeding on the same small fry as the larger fish.
DESCRIPTION: Slender, compressed shape with pointed head and large jaws for its size. Leather skin is green above and silvery on the sides. Sharp spines on dorsal and anal fins can administer very painful puncture wounds.
SIZE: A few inches, rarely as much as a foot.
TACKLE AND BAITS: The Leatherjack will take many different small baits and lures offered for Mackerel and other desirable species.
FISHING SYSTEMS: Not fished for deliberately.

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pilotfish.gif (34576 bytes)

(Naucrates ductor)
RANGE: All Florida, the Bahamas and Caribbean.
HABITAT: Offshore waters. Name comes from accompanying sharks and other large animals seemingly as pilots.
DESCRIPTION: Slender shape with tapering head. Body marked by wide, dark bands. Fins also banded.
SIZE: Usually a foot or so; grows to 2 feet.
FOOD VALUE: Good, if fish is large enough.
GAME QUALITIES: Good on light tackle; gives the fight of a typical small Jack.
TACKLE AND BAITS: Readily takes small jigs and streamer flies. Only very light outfits provide much sport.
FISHING SYSTEMS: Offshore drifting.

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greateramberjack.gif (31595 bytes)

(Seriola dumerili)
OTHER NAMES: Amberfish, AJ, Coronado, Cavilia
RANGE: All Florida, the Bahamas and Caribbean.
HABITAT: Adults are common at
various depths, ranging from reefs several hundred feet deep to fairly shallow wrecks and reefs. Big ones also come close to shore at times, particularly in the Keys and the Islands. Artificial reefs and wrecks all along the Gulf Coast often harbor huge schools of smaller Amberjack, and many Gulf wrecks are home to big ones as well.
DESCRIPTION: Overall brownish or goldish. Heavy body. No scutes forward of tail fin. Dark oblique line through the eye that ends at the dorsal fin.
SIZE: Schools of young fish are common at 5-20 pounds. Average size over deep wrecks and reefs is 30-60 pounds, but 100-pounders are not too rare and the potential maximum exceeds 150 pounds. World record 155 pounds, 10 ounces; Florida record 142 pounds.
FOOD VALUE: Excellent, smoked or fresh.
GAME QUALITIES: A strong, punishing fighter that powers deep and defies lifting. Fairly long runs can also occur early in the fight. A great deal of stamina matches their strength. Novices may fight Amberjack of average size for an hour or longer.
TACKLE AND BAITS: Amberjack are most often caught aboard charterboats and partyboats on heavy rods and reels with lines testing 50 pounds or more and are no patsies, even then. Experienced light-tackle anglers can successfully battle them with spinning and baitcasting rigs, and even fly rods. Around wrecks, they frequently follow hooked fish to boatside, and also may rise to the top voluntarily. Then they can be cast to with surface plugs, spoons, jigs, or big flyrod streamers and poppers. Live chum will also draw Amberjack from the depths. Best bait with heavy tackle is any sort of live fish, the friskier the better.
FISHING SYSTEMS: Casting; Drifting; Trolling.

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lesseramberjack.gif (32694 bytes)

(Seriola fasciata)
RANGE: All Florida, the Bahamas and Caribbean.
HABITAT: The Lesser Amberjack is not common. Most that have been definitely identified came from well offshore,
usually around weedlines and flotsam. May occur inshore as well, although the huge majority of very small Amberjack caught around Gulf wrecks in Florida are simply juveniles of the Great Amberjack, Seriola dumerili.
DESCRIPTION: Almost a dead ringer for the Greater Amberjack, except for size, but only the very smallest of the big species would be confused. The most obvious difference is that the band through the eye of the Lesser Amberjack stops noticeably forward of the dorsal fin.
SIZE: Seldom, perhaps never, exceeds 12 inches.
FOOD VALUE: Minimal.
GAME QUALITIES: At least as good as other Jacks.
TACKLE AND BAITS: Ultralight spinning and fly tackle. Small jigs, plugs and flies.
FISHING SYSTEMS: Drifting; Still Fishing.

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almacojack.gif (38059 bytes)

(Seriola rivoliana)
RANGE: All Florida, the Bahamas and Caribbean.
HABITAT: Largely the same as the Great Amberjack reefs and wrecks. Curiously, a particular wreck often seems to hold one species or the other, but both are present in many spots.
DESCRIPTION: Similar at a glance to the Great Amberjack, due to coloring and the presence of the band through the eye, but there are glaring differences upon closer inspection. The body of the Almaco is deep and more compressed; also, the dorsal and anal fins are longer and sickle-shaped.
SIZE: Common to 15 pounds; sometimes exceeds 30 pounds. World record 78 pounds.
FOOD VALUE: Excellent. Best prepared by skinning, filleting and trimming away the dark portions.
GAME QUALITIES: As tough as the Great Amberjack.
TACKLE AND BAITS: Spinning, baitcasting and light ocean tackle with lines up to 20 pound test are ideal; however, since most Almacos are caught in Amberjack habitat, heavier gear often is used. Small live baits are seldom refused. Jigs work too, provided they are given fast action by the fisherman.
FISHING SYSTEMS: Drifting; Still Fishing.

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bandedrudderfish.gif (39528 bytes)

(Seriola zonata)
OTHER NAMES: Slender Amberjack
RANGE: All Florida, the Bahamas and Caribbean.
HABITAT: Unlike the pelogic Pilotfish, the Banded Rudderfish is more coastal and prefers reef habitat. May also be found around navigation aids and in deep
DESCRIPTION: Easily confused with the Pilotfish because both have dark vertical bands, but the Banded Rudderfish is a small type of Amberjack as evidenced by the dark line through the eye, which the Pilotfish does not have.
SIZE: Usually a foot or less; grows to perhaps 2 feet.
FOOD VALUE: Excellent, particularly if large enough to render small fillets.
GAME QUALITIES: Typical of its family, the Banded Rudderfish is aggressive and will strike with abandon. Its battle is much like that of a Blue Runner tough for its size.
TACKLE AND BAITS: Seldom targeted, but if action is slow and a school presents itself, the angler can try very light spinning, baitcasting or fly outfits, with small jigs, spoons or streamer flies. Rudderfish will also take any live baitfish of suitable size, as well as live shrimp and small strips of squid or cut fish.
FISHING SYSTEMS: Drifting; Still Fishing.

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floridapompino.gif (40708 bytes)

(Trachinotus carolinus)
OTHER NAMES: Pompano, Carolina Pompano
RANGE: All Florida coasts.
HABITAT: Florida anglers on both coasts catch most of their Pompano from the surf, or from ocean piers; however, many are caught outside the beaches and also from bays, mostly in or near channels that run through flats.
DESCRIPTION: Silvery overall with yellow on underside. Dorsal fin dark; other fins yellow. Head gently rounded. No scutes forward of tail. Pompano are often confused with small Permit of similar size, but Permit usually show a black blotch under the pectoral fin, and their bodies are deeper.
SIZE: Averages 1 pound; fairly common at 2 pounds and can grow to 8 pounds. World and Florida records 8 pounds, 1 ounce.
FOOD VALUE: Reputed to be the best.
GAME QUALITIES: Tops. Will outrace and outpull a Jack Crevalle of equivalent size.
TACKLE AND BAITS: If fishing the surf or piers, use the lightest surf spinning tackle that will get your bait where you want it. In other situations, spinning or light baitcasting tackle with 6-8 pound-test line gives maximum sport. By far the best natural bait is a live sand flea (sand crab), but Pompano also will bite live shrimp or fiddler crabs and with varying dependability dead sand fleas, dead shrimp, clams and cut squid. Pompano are ready strikers of artificial jigs, the Florida favorite being quarter-ounce or half-ounce models with short nylon skirts. Fly fishermen catch Pompano with Bonefish-type flies that sink well those with epoxy heads or lead eyes.
FISHING SYSTEMS: Casting; Drifting; Still Fishing.

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permit.gif (36983 bytes)

PERMIT (Trachinotus falcatus)
OTHER NAMES: Round Pompano, Great Pompano
RANGE: All Florida, the Bahamas and Caribbean.
HABITAT: Permit are found in the surf, inlets and passes of both coasts, but are more numerous in the southern half of the state. In warm weather, they roam South Atlantic reefs and many Gulf wrecks. "Classic" Permit stalking on the flats is largely confined to Dade County and the Florida Keys, as well as the Bahamas and Caribbean.
DESCRIPTION: Deeper body and blunter head than the Pompano. Large, sickle-shaped tail. Scutes absent Silver overall; sometimes has a black blotch on side under the pectoral fin. Like Pompano, small Permit may also show some yellow on the underside.
SIZE: Can run as high as 40 or 50 pounds, with 20-30, pounders fairly common. World and Florida records 56 pounds, 2 ounces.
FOOD VALUE: When small enough to be confused with Pompano, the confusion extends to the table. Both are excellent.
GAME QUALITIES: Rates as one of the very best gamefish a long runner on the flats and a strong, stubborn deep fighter offshore. Also one of the most challenging to fool, especially with artificial lures.
TACKLE AND BAITS: Although offshore Permit are large enough to provide sport with light and medium saltwater tackle, the epitome of Permit fishing is to stalk them by sight on shallow flats, and cast directly to them. Light spinning, baitcasting and fly tackle can be used in the shallows provided the angler has a good supply of line and a means (a guide with a pushpole, preferably) of chasing the fish. Best natural bait is any sort of small live crab. Dead pieces of crab and lobster also work well. Live shrimp are often accepted, especially if skittered across the surface, and then allowed to sink. If using small skimmer (Bonefish-style) jigs, try to get the Permit to follow the lure then stop it dead and let it sink into the grass or mud. Best flies are those with weighted or epoxy heads that will sink in the manner of a leadhead jig.
FISHING SYSTEMS: Casting; Still Fishing.

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africanpompano.gif (40896 bytes)

AFRICAN POMPANO (Alectis ciliaris)
OTHER NAMES: Threadfish, Cuban Jack, Flechudo
RANGE: Most African Pompano are encountered on the lower half of the Atlantic Coast and in the Keys. They also are found throughout the Bahamas and Caribbean.
HABITAT: The young prefer shallow reefs. Adults may be found over shallow reefs as well, but tend to work deeper as they grow. Best fishing grounds are
usually around deep wrecks.
DESCRIPTION: A large, flattened fish with silvery or pearlescent sides and a distinctive blunt, steeply sloped head. Forward rays of the dorsal and anal fins are very long and threadlike in young fish, and these "streamers" sometimes hang on until adulthood, although they usually are lost as the fish grows.
SIZE: The smallest specimens have the longest fins, and young "Threadfish" of a couple pounds and less were once thought to be a different species. Adults are common at 15-30 pounds and grow to at least 50 pounds. World and Florida records 50 pounds, 8 ounces.
FOOD VALUE: Excellent.
GAME QUALITIES: One of the toughest light-tackle customers around, the African fights much like other big Jacks, but uses its flat side to even greater advantage, and exhibits a peculiar, circling tactic that puts the angler to a thorough test.
TACKLE AND BAITS: As one of the pets of the light-tackle fraternity, most African Pompano are caught by jigging deep in the vicinity of wrecks or offshore dropoffs with spinning and baitcasting tackler; or by fishing deep with light ocean tackle and live bait. They generally hang too deep to interest fly fishermen, although a few have been caught by blind-fishing over wrecks with sinking lines, or by chumming them to the surface with live chum. A variety of heavy jigs and large streamers will work especially if trimmed with silvery Mylar. Pinfish, Pilchards and similar small fish are the live baits of choice. Africans are occasionally caught by trolling over the reefs with feathers or rigged baits.
FISHING SYSTEMS: Drifting; Still Fishing; Trolling.

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lookdown.gif (55669 bytes)

(Selene vomer)
OTHER NAMES: Jorobado, Horse-head
RANGE: All Florida, the Bahamas and Caribbean.
HABITAT: Lookdown and Moonfish may be found nearly anywhere in shallow coastal waters, but are most common around bridge and dock pilings,
navigation markers, and in channels and canals, where they frequently gather under shoreside lights at night.
DESCRIPTION: Both the Lookdown and the Atlantic Moonfish, Selene setapinnis, are flat, silvery fish of similar size, appearance and habits. Moreover, they are often found in company with each other, which adds to the angler's confusion. The Lookdown has a sloping, concave head and long streamers, running off the dorsal and anal fins. These streamers, however, are not nearly so long and flowing as those of the juvenile African Pompano. The head of the Moonfish is less blunted than that of the Lookdown, and all its fins are short.
SIZE: Both run from hand size to more than 1 pound. World record 4 pounds, 10 ounces.
FOOD VALUE: Excellent panfish.
GAME QUALITIES: Both are aggressive strikers and spirited fighters for their size.
TACKLE AND BAITS: When a good spot has been identified, ultralight or very light spinning and fly tackle provides the most sport. Both fish are good strikers on small jigs and tiny plugs. They also take live minnows and shrimp, but don't much care for dead baits.
FISHING SYSTEMS: Casting; Still Fishing.

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