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Fish Guide

Bluefish

a close up of a fish

Long body is bluish green in coloration, fading to a light colored belly; tail is sharply forked and the mouth features razor sharp teeth. Bluefish are ravenous as both predators and scavengers and will virtually take any bait offered. Best baits are probably cut fish, cut squid and live shrimp. As for artificial’s any fast moving lure will suffice.

  • Size: up to 31 3⁄4 pounds; average size is 1 – 15 pounds

Croaker

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Silvery color overall with a white belly; often has a faint bronze or golden cast, with yellowish fins; back often has small brassy spots, that align into wavy lines down the fish’s sides; underslung jaw features 3 to 5 pairs of barbels under the chin; caudal fin is convex in shape; gill cover is hard and sharp.

  • Size: up to 6 pounds; average size is 6–12 inches (1⁄2 lb. – 2 lbs)
  • Related Fish: Spot

Dolphin Fish (Mahi-mahi)

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The dolphin fish has bright turquoise, green and yellow patterns. Dolphin are fast growing, prolific and have a short life span – an average of 5 years. Dolphin are attracted to Sargassum, a floating brown alga, which serves as a hiding place and source of food. Other sources of food associated with the Sargassum include small fish, crabs, and shrimp. Dolphin may also pursue fast -swimming fish, such as flying fish or mackerels.

  • Size: up to 40 pounds; average size is 3-6 feet long
Flounder

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Rounded, flat body is brown on one side (the left side) and white on the other side; both eyes appear on the brown (left) side of the fish; caudal fin is convex and the mouth features sharp, cone-like teeth; summer flounder feature five ocellated spots on their brown side, three tending to form a triangle just above the base of the tail.

  • Size: length of about 8.7–23.6 in and as large as 37 in
  • Related Fish: southern flounder, summer flounder, gulf flounder
Snowy Grouper

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The most classic bottom fish for most anglers is the grouper. Whether red, gag, black, yellowfin, or Warsaw, a good grouper in the ice chest means a successful day for lots of folks.Grouper and the entire grouper family have become probably the most popular saltwater food fish in the United States. While there are Pacific varieties, the largest fishery is in the Gulf of Mexico and along the Atlantic coast. Grouper are a bottom fishing charter boat captain’s big ticket item.

  • Size: usually over 10 lbs, some over 100 lbs
Northern Puffer

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Blunt, “boxlike” body shape, which can rapidly be altered by swelling of the belly with air or water into a spherical shape; mouth features large, “rabbitlike” incisor teeth; coloration is light brownish on the back and sides with a white belly; several dark vertical bars run down the sides; fins have a yellowish or yellowish orange tinge; skin is tough and coarse, similar to sandpaper.

  • Size: Up to 2 lbs; average size is under a pound
  • Related Fish: southern puffer, smooth puffer, burrfish
Rosefish
Blackbelly

a close up of a fish

Found in soft bottom areas of the continental shelf and upper slope. Feed on crustaceans, fish, cephalopods, and echinoderm. Rosefish breed in March – July and there Larvae and juveniles are pelagic.Rosefish have 12 dorsal spines, about 12-13 dorsal soft rays and 2 Anal spines. They have pinkish, faint dusky bars and Y-shaped dark bar between soft dorsal and anal fins, thus called a Rosefish”.

  • Size: Up to 3 lbs and around 12 - 18 inches
Black Seabass

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Coloration is black to a very dark brown on the back and sides; the belly and fins also tend to be dark in color; females have a uniformly curved slope from the top of the back to the head, while large males have a pronounced hump forward of the dorsal fin; individual fish may exhibit a pronounced iridescent aquamarine to bluish coloration with some highlights of red in the area forward and below the dorsal fin, behind the head and especially on males on and around the hump, which may be associated with spawning activity; a long filament extends from the upper part of the caudal fin.

  • Size: Up to 10 lbs; average size ranges from 1⁄2 – 3 lbs
Spadefish

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Deep bodied fish with pointed second dorsal and anal fins, which give the fish an almost triangular shape; coloration is silvery gray with 4 to 6 prominent black bars running down the sides; juveniles are very dark in color; the mouth is noticeably small relative to the overall size of the fish and lacks teeth.

  • Size: Up to 15 lbs; average size ranges from 1 – 6 lbs
Spiny Dogfish

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Long, slender body with two dorsal fins of nearly equal size; pelvic fin on the underside of the fish is positioned between the two dorsal fins and anal fin is absent; jaw is filled with small teeth with points bent toward rear of the mouth, positioned closely together to form a continuous cutting edge; a spiracle (airhole) is positioned behind the relatively large eye; coloration is gray along the back fading to pale gray with a white belly; young spiny dogfish have numerous white spots along the back.

  • Size: Up to 30 lbs, average size 5 – 15 lbs
  • Related Fish: smooth dogfish, atlantic sharpnose sharks
Spot

a close up of a fish

Silvery color overall with a white belly; a prominent black spot is present behind the gill cover and above the base of the pectoral fin; several wavy lines, brassy in color, extend down the back; caudal fin is slightly concave; larger individuals in the late summer often exhibit a distinct yellow coloration on their bellies.

  • Size: Up to 2.5 lbs; average size is 5 – 10 inches (under)
  • Related Fish: atlantic croaker
Swordfish

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Swordfish have the widest temperature range of any billfish and migrate seasonally to warmer waters in winter and cooler waters in summer. This highly migratory species can often be found where ocean currents meet and productivity is high. Although the swordfish is typically found in shallow waters, they are thought to swim as deep as 650 m. They are uniquely adapted to cold, deep waters by the presence of specialized tissue near the eyes that heats the brain through the tissue’s blood supply, which is a vascular system similar to that used to heat and cool the bodies of other large pelagic fish species such as tuna. These adaptations help the fish move quickly through rapid temperature changes in the water column.

  • Size: Max 14 ft & 1400lbs, Atlantic- 700lbs, Mediterranean- less than 500lbs
Tautog

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A thick-bodied fish characterized by thick lips, blunt snout, and large, irregular teeth (incisors in front, molars in the rear); coloration is varied from a chocolate brown, to gray or a blackish olive on the back and sides with a white belly; some fish have irregular blotches on the side, but this mottling pattern, often associated with spawning activity, is not present in all individuals; males have a more blunt head, a more pronounced white chin, and a distinct white spot on their side.

  • Size: Up to 25 lbs; average 1-3 lbs
  • Related Fish: cunner
Tilefish

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Tilefish (Golden and Blueline) are bottom dwellers found in water ranging from 240-780 feet deep, from Virginia to the Campeche Banks of Mexico. They are frequently found in the same habitat as groupers and snappers, preferring irregular bottom with sand, mud and shell hash. They usually are found in bottom water temperatures of 59°F to 73° F. They have been found to burrow head first in cone-shaped sand piles. Tilefish feed on bottom creatures, such as crabs, shrimp, snails, worms, sea urchins and small fish.

  • Size: They may grow to be 32 inches
Triggerfish

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Deep bodied fish with a large first spine in the first dorsal fin; grayish overall in color, some individuals may show some darker mottling; mouth features pronounced lips and large teeth; body is covered with tough skin.

  • Size: Up to 12 lbs; average size 1 – 5 lbs
Trout

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Grayish silver back (often with a bluish, iridescent tint) fading to silver sides with a white belly; distinct round black dots are present on back and sides, and they extend onto second part of the dorsal fin and the caudal fin; body is long and slender; upper jaw possesses two large canine teeth.

  • Size: Up to 17 lbs; average size is 11⁄2 – 4 lbs
  • Related Fish: weakfish, gray trout
Tuna

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Found in open waters of tropical and subtropical seas worldwide. It is an epipelagic fish ranging in the top 330 feet of the water column. Also known as ahi tuna, from its Hawaiian name ʻahi, yellowfin is becoming a popular replacement for the severely depleted supplies of bluefin tuna.The second dorsal fin and the anal fin are both bright yellow, thus the common name, and can be very long in mature specimens, as are the pectoral fins. The main body is very dark metallic blue, changing to silver on the belly, which has about 20 vertical lines.

  • Size: Up to 94 inches / 440 lbs; Average of 5 – 15 lbs
  • Related Fish: little tunny, atlantic bonito
Wreckfish

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The combination of a sea-bass-like body with a very rough head having a prominent ridge and strong spines on each gill cover, and a bony protuberance over the eye and on the nape, give the wreck fish an aspect so different from that of similar fish like its close relative, the sea bass. It is strongly flattened sidewise, about 2½ to 3 times as long as deep (to origin of tail fin), with large mouth. And the lower jaw projects considerably beyond the upper. The color is Grayish or blackish brown, the caudal fin edged with white. Young fish are mottled above with gray and cream on head and body. Small wreck fish are most likely to be found under floating logs or wreckage, as the common name implies.

  • Size: Up 4½ to 5 ft at least, weight of more than 100 lbs
  • Related Fish: seabass