Featured Ads In Services

Get Your Ad Here!

Common Snook

Southwest Florida Saltwater Fish - Common Snook

Distict black lateral line; high, divided dorsal fin; sloping forehead; large mouth, protruding lower jaw; grows much larger than other snooks; pelvic fin yellow.

Where Found:

From central Florida south, usually INSHORE in coastal and brackish waters, along mangrove shorelines, seawalls, and bridges; also on reefs and pilings NEARSHORE.

Size:

Most catches 5 to 8 pounds.

Remarks:

Spawns primarily in summer; cannot tolerate water temperatures below 60° F; can tolerate wholly fresh or saltwater; schools along shore and in passes during spawning season; feeds on fish and larger crustaceans.

Crevalle Jack

Southwest Florida Saltwater Fish - Crevalle Jack

Color bluish-green to greenish-gold back and silvery or yellowish belly; soft dorsal and anal fins almost identical in size; prominent black spot on operculum (gill cover); black spot at the base of each pectoral fin; no scales on throat.

Where Found:

Common in both INSHORE waters and the open sea.

Size:

Usually 3 to 5 pounds.

Remarks:

Tolerates a wide range of salinities; schools corner a school of baitfish at the surface and feed with commotion that can be seen for great distances; feeds mainly on small fish; peak spawning occurs OFFSHORE from March through September.

Cubera Snapper

Southwest Florida Saltwater Fish - Cubera Snapper

Color dark brown or gray, may have a reddish tinge; broad-based triangular tooth patch on roof of mouth without posterior extension; despite its specific name, which translates to “blue-fin”, the fin have only a slight tinge of blue; canine teeth on both jaws very strong; one pair of canines enlarged and visible even when mouth is closed.

Where Found:

Juveniles INSHORE in grassbeds; adults OFFSHORE or NEARSHORE over wrecks, reefs, and ledges.

Size:

Common to 40 pounds.

Remarks:

The largest of the snappers, ranging to 125 pounds; not common anywhere in its range; feeds on fish and larger crustaceans; in the Keys, spawns during later summer.

Dog Snapper

Southwest Florida Saltwater Fish - Dog Snapper

Color brown with a bronze tinge, lighter on sides; canine teeth very sharp, one pair notable enlarged, visible even when mouth is closed; in adults, pale triangle and a light blue interruped line below the eye; no dark spot on body under dorsal fin.

Where Found:

Large adults OFFSHORE over coral and rocky reefs; juveniles associated with estuaries.

Size:

Large snapper; attaing 30 pounds.

Remarks:

Spawns from spring through fall; known as night feeder; taking fish, mollusks, and crustaceans.

Dolphin

Southwest Florida Saltwater Fish - Dolphin

Color brown with a bronze tinge, lighter on sides; canine teeth very sharp, one pair notable enlarged, visible even when mouth is closed; in adults, pale triangle and a light blue interruped line below the eye; no dark spot on body under dorsal fin.

Where Found:

OFFSHORE in warm waters.

Size:

Common to 30 pounds.

Remarks:

One of the fastest-growing fish, thought to live no more than 5 years; swimming speed estimated at 50 knots; spawns in warm oceanic currents throughout much of the year; young found in sargassum weed; feeds on flying fish and squid.

Fantail Mullet

Southwest Florida Saltwater Fish - Fantail Mullet

Color olive green with blue tints on back, shading to silvery sides, white below; anal and pelvic fins yellowish; dark blotch at base of pectoral fin; inverted V-shaped mouth; insertion of second dorsal fin over that of the anal fin.

Where Found:

INSHORE, occurring along beaches in the fall.

Size:

Small mullet, less than 1 pound.

Remarks:

Spawns in NEARSHORE or possibly INSHORE waters during spring and summer; juveniles occur INSHORE; feeds on algae, small crustaceans, detritus.

Fat Snook

Southwest Florida Saltwater Fish - Fat Snook

Deeper body than other snooks; color yellow-brown to green-brown above, silvery on sides; black lateral line extends onto tail; mouth reaches to or beyond center of eye; usually no dusky outer edge on pelvic fin, as in other snooks; smallest scales of all snook.

Where Found:

INSHORE species found in mangrove habitiat; found commonly in fresh water; occurs more in interior waters ( as opposed to estuarine waters ) than other snook.

Size:

A small species, rarely more than 20 inches.

Remarks:

Usually found in fresh water; mangrove shorelines serve as nursery grounds for young.

Florida Pompano

Southwest Florida Saltwater Fish - Pompano

Greenish gray on back, shading to silvery sides; fish in dark waters showing gold on throat, pelvic, and anal fins; deep flattened body with small mouth; no scutes; 22 to 27 soft dorsal rays; 20 to 23 soft anal rays; origin of anal fin slightly behind origin of second dorsal.

Where Found:

INSHORE and NEARSHORE waters, especially along sandy beaches, along oyster bars, and over grassbeds, often in turbid water; may be found in water as deep as 130 feet.

Size:

Usually less than 3 pounds.

Remarks:

Spawns OFFSHORE between March and September; feeds on mollusks and crustaceans, especially sand fleas; local movements are influenced by the tide, and seasonal movements are influenced by temperature.

Gag Grouper

Southwest Florida Saltwater Fish - Gag Grouper

Brownish gray in color with dark worm-like markings on sides; strong serrated spur at bottom margin of preopercle, less noticeable in large specimens; fins dark, with anal and caudal having white margin. Often confused with Black Grouper; most noticeable differences are brassy spots on Black Grouper; tail of Gag is slightly concave, black is square; Gag has white margin on anal and caudal fins, black does not; under 10 pounds, Gag’s spur on preopercle is distincive, where black is gently rounded.

Where Found:

Adults OFFSHORE over rocks and reefs; juveniles occur in seagrass beds INSHORE.

Size:

Common to 25 pounds.

Remarks:

Forms spawning aggregations in water no shallower than 120 feet in Middle Grounds area. January through March; current research to identify similar aggregations off the Atlantic coast is on going. Young Gags are predominantly female, transforming into males as they grow larger; feeds on fish and squid.

Goliath Grouper

Southwest Florida Saltwater Fish - Goliath Grouper

Head and fins covered with small black spots; irregular dark vertical bars present on the sides of body; pectoral and caudal fins rounded; first dorsal fin shorted than and not separated from second dorsal; adults hugh, upto 800 pounds; eyes small.

Where Found:

NEARSHORE around docks, in deep holes, and on ledges; young often occur in estuaries, especially around oyster bars; more abundant in southern Florida than in northern waters.

Size:

Largest of the groupers.

Remarks:

Spawns over summer months; lifespan of 30 to 50 years; feeds on crustaceans and fish. NOTE: Jewfish are totally protected from harvest in Florida waters.

Gray Snapper

Southwest Florida Saltwater Fish - Gray Snapper

Color dark brown or gray with reddish or orange spots in rows along the sides; dark horizontal band from snout through eye (young only); two conspicuous canine teeth at front of upper jaw; dorsal fins have dark or reddish borders; no dark spot on side underneath dorsal fin.

Where Found:

Juveniles INSHORE in tidal creeks, mangroves, and grass beds; adults generally NEARSHORE or OFFSHORE on coral or rocky reefs.

Size:

OFFSHORE catches common 8 to 10 pounds.

Remarks:

Spawns June through August; feeds on crustaceans and small fish. Also known as “Mangrove Snapper”.

Greater Amberjack

Southwest Florida Saltwater Fish - Greater Amberjack

Dark stripe (variably present) extends from nose to in front of dorsal fin and “lights up” when fish is in feeding mode; no scutes; soft dorsal base less than twice the length of the anal fin base.

Where Found:

OFFSHORE species associated with rocky reefs, debris, and wrecks, typically in 60-240 feet of water; sometimes caught NEARSHORE in south Florida; juveniles associate with floating objects and may occur in water less than 30 feet deep.

Size:

Common to 40 pounds.

Remarks:

Largest of the jacks; thought to spawn OFFSHORE throughout much of the year; feeds on squid, fish, and crustaceans.

Gulf Flounder

Southwest Florida Saltwater Fish - Flounder

Body color brown, its shade depending on color bottom, with numerous spots and blotches; 3 prominent eye-like spots forming a triangle; one spot on lateral line, one above, one below; numerous white spots scattered over body and fins; strong canine-like teeth; caudal fin in shape of wedge, its tip in the middle.

Where Found:

INSHORE on sandy or mud bottoms, often ranging into title creeks; occasionally caught on NEARSHORE rocky reefs.

Size:

Common to 2 pounds, generally smaller than southern flounder.

Remarks:

Hatches into usual fish form, but right eye migrates over to left side early in life; a bottom dweller; thought to spawn offshore; feeds on crustaceans and small fish.

King Mackerel

Southwest Florida Saltwater Fish - King Mackerel

Color of black iridescent bluish green, sides silvery; streamlined body with tapered head; no black pigment on front of the first dorsal fin; lateral line starts high and drops sharply below the second dorsal; young fish often have yellowish spots like those of Spanish mackerel.

Where Found:

Size:

Common to 20 pounds.

Remarks:

Schooling fish that migrates from south Florida waters in winter to more northerly waters in spring; Gulf population thought to be separate from Atlantic population, with considerable mixing in winter from Cape Canaveral past Key West; spawns in midsummer OFFSHORE; feeds on fish and squid.

LadyFish

Southwest Florida Saltwater Fish - LadyFish

Terminal mouth; slender body; small scales; last dorsal ray not elongated; head small and pointed.

Where Found:

Size:

2 to 3 pounds.

Remarks:

Known to spawn OFFSHORE; ribbon-like larvae very similar to Albula and Egalops, peaking in fall; adults feed predominantly on fish and crustaceans; leaps when hooked.

Lane Snapper

Southwest Florida Saltwater Fish - Lane Snapper

Color silvery-pink to reddish with short, irregular pink and yellow lines on its sides; diffuse black spot, about as large as the eye; the dorsal fin centered above the lateral line; outer margin of caudal fin blackish.

Where Found:

Juveniles INSHORE over grass beds or shallow reefs; adults OFFSHORE; most common in south Florida.

Size:

Usually less than 1 pound.

Remarks:

Spawns March to September, sexually mature at 6 inches; feeds on the bottom, taking crustaceans, mollusks, and fish.

Lesser Amberjack

Southwest Florida Saltwater Fish - Lesser Amberjack

Olive green or brownish back and silver sides; dark band (variably present) extends backward and upward from eye; juveniles have split or wavy bars on sides; proportionately larger eye and deeper body than Greater Amberjack.

Where Found:

NEARSHORE and OFFSHORE, apparently living deeper than other Seriola (commonly 180-410 feet deep).

Size:

Usually under 10 pounds.

Remarks:

Smallest of the Amberjacks; believed to spawn offshore; adults eat fish, and squid.

Longbill Spearfish

Southwest Florida Saltwater Fish - Longbill Spearfish

Color of body dark blue, shading to silvery, white underneath; dorsal fin bluish, others brown-black; two dorsal fins, the first lengthy, its front forming a peak; two anal fins, the anus well in front of the first; upper jaw prolonged into spear, its cross section round.

Where Found:

OFFSHORE in deep water.

Size:

Relatively small species. Largest caught approximately 61 pounds.

Remarks:

Uncommon; available data indicate that the spearfish matures at 2 years of age, and rarely lives past 4 to 5 years; they are pelagic, and feed at or near the surface, mainly on fish and squid.