Red Snapper

Red Snapper

Color pinkish red over entire body, whitish below; long triangular snout; anal fin sharply pointed; no dark lateral spot; red eye. Similar fish: silk snapper, L. vivanus. Normally found: OFFSHORE on the continental shelf, more plentiful off the Panhandle than in south or middle Florida. Size: to 20 pounds Remarks: juveniles occur over sandy or mud bottoms and are often taken in shrimp trawls; adults may live more than 20 years, and attain 35 pounds or more; sexual maturity attained at age 2; spawns June to October; feeds on crustaceans and fish.

Round Scad

Round Scad (Cigar Minnow)

Long, fusiform; greenish-blue fading to silver on sides, belly white; narrow, yellowish stripe from head to caudal peduncle. Normally found: mid water or bottom from shallow water to about 50 fathoms, juveniles sometimes at surface. Size: to 12" Remarks: 2 small papillae on shoulder distinguish scads from other carangids.

Sailfish

Sailfish

Color dark blue on top, brown-blue laterally, silvery white underbelly; upper jaw elongated in form of spear; first dorsal greatly enlarged in the form of a sail, with many black spots, its front squared off, highest at its mid point; pelvic fins very narrow, reaching almost to the anus; body covered with imbedded scales, blunt at end; lateral line curved over pectoral, then straight to base of tail. Similar fish: white marlin, T. albidus, young blue marlin, M. nigricans (spectacular sail-like dorsal of sailfish is most notable difference). Normally found: OFFSHORE species, in south Florida associated with waters near the Gulfstream; off the Panhandle near the 100 fathom line. Size: common to 7 feet. Remarks: rapid growing species, reaching 4 to 5 feet in a single year; swims at speeds up to 50 knots; feeds on the surface or at mid depths on smaller pelagic fishes and squid.

Sand Perch

Sand Perch

Body and dorsal fins with many dark brown bars and alternating orange and blue horizontal lines; head with many blue lines; preopercular spines very well developed; grouped in 2 radiating clusters with a deep notch between them; upper lobe of caudal fin prolonged in adults. Size: to 30 cm (1 ft.). Normally found: bays, coastal grassy areas, and shallow banks. Remarks: popular as a pan fish despite its small size.

Sand Seatrout

Sand Seatrout

Body and dorsal fins with many dark brown bars and alternating orange and blue horizontal lines; head with many blue lines; preopercular spines very well developed; grouped in 2 radiating clusters with a deep notch between them; upper lobe of caudal fin prolonged in adults. Size: to 30 cm (1 ft.). Normally found: bays, coastal grassy areas, and shallow banks. Remarks: popular as a pan fish despite its small size.

Sandbar Shark

Sandbar Shark

Snout broadly rounded and short; first dorsal fin triangular and very high; poorly developed dermal ridge between dorsal fins; brown or gray in color with white underside; upper and lower teeth finely serrated. Similar fish: dusky shark, Carcharhinus obscurus; bull shark, Carcharhinus leucas. Normally found: NEARSHORE fish typically found at depths ranging from 60 to 200 feet. Remarks: both predator and scavenger, feeding chiefly near the bottom on fish and shellfish; migrates long distances; matures at about 6 feet in length.

Scamp

Scamp

Color light gray or brown; large adults with elongated caudal-fin rays; reddish-brown spots on sides that tend to be grouped into lines; some yellow around corners of mouth. Similar fish: yellowmouth grouper, M. interstitalis. Normally found: NEARSHORE reefs off the northeastern coast, and on OFFSHORE reefs in the Gulf. Size: generally smaller than gags or blacks. Remarks: spawns in late spring; feed on small fish, squid, and crustaceans; undergoes sex transformation from female to male as it becomes older.

Sheepshead

Sheepshead

Basic silvery color, with 5 or 6 distinct vertical black bars on sides, not always the same on both sides; prominent teeth, including incisors, molars, and rounded grinders; no barbels on lower jaw; strong and sharp spines on dorsal and anal fins. Similar fish: black drum, Pogonias cromis; Atlantic spadefish, Chaetodipterus faber (black drum have barbels on lower jaw, sheepshead do not; vertical barring on sides of black drum and spadefish disappear as fish mature; spadefish have small, brush-like teeth). Normally found: INSHORE around oyster bars, seawalls and in tidal creeks; moves NEARSHORE in late winter and early spring for spawning, gathering over rocks, artificial reefs, and around navigation markers. Size: INSHORE, 1 to 2 pounds; OFFSHORE, common to 8 pounds. Remarks: feeds on mollusks and crustaceans such as fiddler crabs and barnacles; famed nibblers, prompting the saying that "anglers must strike just before they bite.

Shortfin Mako

Shortfin Mako

Lunate tail with similarly sized lobes; lateral keel at the base of the tail; deep blue back and white underside; underside of sharply pointed snout white; origin of first dorsal entirely behind base of pectoral fins; second dorsal fin slightly in front of anal fin; slender, recurved teeth with smooth edges. Similar fish: white shark, Carcharodon carcharias; longfin mako, Isurus paucus. Normally found: OFFSHORE fish often seen near the surface. Size: commonly 6 to 8 feet (200 to 300 pounds). Remarks: active, strong swimming fish known for leaping out of the water when hooked; feeds on mackerel, tuna, sardines, and some much larger fish.

PROTECTED SPECIES ACT: *Must remain in whole condition until landed ashore (heads & tails intact) # Measured as total length. + Harvest prohibited by or with the use of any multiple hook in conjunction with live or dead natural bait.

Silk Snapper

Silk Snapper

Back and upper sides pinkish red, shading to silvery sides with undulating yellow lines; pectoral fins pale yellow; back edge of caudal fin blackish; anal fin pointed; no dark lateral spot; yellow eye. Similar fish: red snapper, L. campechanus. Normally found: OFFSHORE over rocky ledges in very deep water; most common in south Florida. Size: usually less than 5 pounds. Remarks: little is known.

Silver Perch

Silver Perch

Color silvery with yellowish fins; no spots; no chin barbels; no prominent canine teeth at tip of upper jaw; preopercle finely serrated; 5 to 6 chin pores; mouth terminal. Similar fish: sand seatrout, Cynoscion arenarius (the seatrouts usually have 1 or 2 prominent canine teeth at tip of upper jaw and do not have chin pores). Normally found: INSHORE in seagrass beds, tidal creeks and rivers, and marshes. Size: small, not exceeding 9 inches. Remarks: spawning takes place in shallow, saline portions of bays and other INSHORE areas, peaking between May and September; matures by second or third year (about 6 inches); adults eat crustaceans and small fishes; may live to 6 years.

Southern Kingfish

Southern Kingfish

Grayish brown above, with silvery sides: 7 to 8 diagonal dusky bars or blotches on each side, but these marks are obscure and never form V-shaped marks on side; scales on chest about same size as those on body. Size: to 38 cm (15 in.) and 1 kg (2 lbs.). Normally found: shallow coastal waters; common along beaches.

Spanish Mackerel

Spanish Mackerel

Season: March, April, May, June

Color of back green, shading to silver on sides, golden yellow irregular spots above and below lateral line; front of dorsal fin black; lateral line curves gently to base of tail. Similar fish: cero, S. regalis; king mackerel, S. cavalla. Normally found: INSHORE, NEARSHORE, and OFFSHORE, especially over deep grass beds and reefs; absent from north Florida waters in winter. Size: average catch less than 2 pounds (20 inches). Remarks: schooling fish that migrates northward in spring, returning to southerly waters when water temperatures drop below about 70 degrees F; spawns OFFSHORE, spring through summer; feeds on small fish and squid.

Spot

Spot

The only drum in our region with a distinctly forked caudal fin; bluish to brownish above; brassy on side; silvery to white below; distinct brownish spot on shoulder; 12 to 15 narrow, diagonal dark lines on upper body. Size: to 36 cm (14 in.) Remarks: a popular pan fish.

Spottail Pinfish

Spottail Pinfish

Dark saddle on caudal peduncle sometimes forms a complete ring around peduncle in adults; eight faint bars on body, alternately long and short; more prominent in young; edge of opercular membrane blackish; pelvic and anal fins dusky brown, dorsal fin less dark. Size: to 46 cm (18 in.). Normally found: inshore seagrass beds, offshore rocks and reefs.

Spotted Seatrout

Spotted Seatrout

Dark gray or green above, with sky-blue tinges shading to silvery and white below; numerous distinct round black spots on back, extending to the dorsal fins and tail; no barbels; no scales on the soft dorsal fin; one or two prominent canine teeth usually present at tip of upper jaw. Similar fish: other seatrout. Normally found: INSHORE and/or NEARSHORE over grass, sand, and sandy mud bottoms; move into slow-moving or still, deep waters in cold weather. Size: common to 4 pounds on west coast, larger on east coast. Remarks: matures during first or second year and spawns INSHORE from March through November, often in association with seagrass beds; lives mainly in estuaries and moves only short distances; adults feed mainly on shrimp and small fish; prefers water temperatures between 58 and 81 degrees F, may be killed if trapped in shallow water during cold weather; longevity 8 to 10 years.

Swordfish

Swordfish

Color of back variable, black, grayish blue, brown, metallic purple, or bronze; sides dusky; underbelly dirty white; long flat, sword-like upper jaw; lacks scales, teeth, and pelvic fins; single keel on each side of body in front of tail; first dorsal fin high, rigid and short; large eyes. Similar fish: no close resemblance to other billfishes. Normally found: OFFHSORE species worldwide in temperate and tropic waters; known to frequent depths of 400 to 500 fathoms; also has been seen basking at the surface. Size: once averaged 200 pounds, but over-harvest has reduced size of commercially caught swordfish to average of 48 pounds. Remarks: large swordfish are all females, males seldom exceed 200 pounds; except when spawning, females believed to prefer water cooler than that favored by males; feeds on squid, octopus, and pelagic fishes of all kinds.

Tarpon

Tarpon

Last ray of dorsal fin extended into long filament; one dorsal fin; back dark blue to green or greenish black, shading into bright silver on the sides; may be brownish gold in estuarine waters; huge scales; mouth large and points upward. Similar species: (as juveniles) ladyfish, Elops saurus. Normally found: primarily INSHORE fish, although adult fish spawn OFFSHORE where the ribbon-like larval stage of the fish can be found. Size: most angler catches 40 to 150 pounds. Remarks: slow grower, matures at 7 to 13 years of age; spawning occurs between May and September; female may lay more than 12 million eggs; can tolerate wide range of salinity; juveniles commonly found in fresh water; can breathe air at the surface; feeds mainly on fish and large crustaceans.

Tomtate

Tomtate (Silver Grunt)

Bright orange mouth lining;light colored; gray to tan on back; yellow to brown stripe from head to base of tail fin;black blotch at base of tail fin fades away in larger specimens. Normally found: bottom fish found around reefs and hard bottom areas. Size: can reach 10 to 11 inches, weighs less than 1 lb. Commonly used to catch: larger fish Remarks: not usually eaten due to small size.

Tripletail

Tripletail

Head and body variously mottled, tan to dark brown; fins (except spinous dorsal and pectoral fins) almost black; pale olive band across base of caudal fin; broad, dark brown bar from eye across cheek below corner of preopercle, and another from upper corner of eye to beginning of dorsal fin; two dark streaks on top of head, behind nostrils; upper profile concave at nape; edge of preopercle strongly serrated. Size: to 1.1 m (42 in.)

Vermillion Snapper

Vermilion Snapper

Seasons: All Year

Color of entire body reddish, with a series of short, irregular lines on its sides, diagonal blue lines formed by spots on the scales above the lateral line; sometimes with yellow streaks below the lateral line; large canine teeth absent; orientation of mouth and eye give it the appearance of looking upward; no dark lateral spot. Normally found: suspends at mid-depths over rocky reefs OFFSHORE. Size: usually less than 2 pounds. Remarks: spawns April to September, females maturing at 3 to 4 years of age; grows slowly; attains a weight of 6 pounds and length of 24 inches; feeds on small, swimming crustaceans and mollusks.

Wahoo

Wahoo

Body slender; elongate jaws form a pointed beak; dark bluish above, with about 30 dark wavy bars; whitish below 1st dorsal fin long and low, with 21 to 27 spines; no gill rakers. Size: to 2.1 m (83 in.) and 83 kg (183 lbs.). Normally found: offshore Gulfstream; bluewater Remarks: an important game fish, renowned for its tremendous runs and shifts of direction; usually not in schools; caught by trolling bait and artificial lures on flatlines.

Warsaw Grouper

Warsaw Grouper

Uniformly dark brown, with no distinctive markings; dorsal fin with 10 spines; second spine very long (much longer than third); caudal fin squared-off; rear nostril larger than front nostril. Young: caudal fin yellow; dark saddle on caudal peduncle; some whitish spots on body. Size: to 1.8 m (6 ft.) and 263 kg (580 lbs.). Habitat: deep rocky ledges and sea mounts, in 90-300 m (300-1000 ft.); young are sometimes caught in inshore waters.

White Grunt

White Grunt

Body color light bluish-gray, head with horizontal blue stripes, white underbelly; black blotch on preopercle; margin of each scale bronze; large bright orange mouth; scales above lateral line larger than scales below lateral line. Similar fish: other grunts. Normally found: from SHORE to the outer reef edge or on OFFSHORE hard bottom to 115 feet; most abundant in water less than 80 feet deep; juveniles INSHORE. Size: most catches 1.5 pounds (15 inches). Remarks: audible grunting is produced by grinding of the pharyngeal teeth, with air bladder acting as amplifier; spawning occurs on OFFSHORE hard bottoms or reefs from May through June; feeds on crustaceans, mollusks, and small fishes.

White Marlin

White Marlin

Color of body dark blue to chocolate brown, shading to slivery white underbelly; noticeable spots on dorsal fin; upper jaw elongated in shape of a spear; body covered with imbedded scales with a single sharp point; tips of first dorsal, pectoral, and first anal fins rounded; lateral line curved above pectoral fin then going in straight line to base of tail. Similar fish: blue marlin, M. nigricans. Normally found: OFFSHORE, a bluewater fish. Size: common to 8 feet. Remarks: uses its bill to stun fast-moving fishes, then turns to consume them; spawning procedures unknown; ranges throughout the Atlantic and Caribbean; feeds on squid and pelagic fishes.

Yellowfin Tuna

Yellowfin Tuna

Pectoral fin moderately long, reaching point below beginning of 2nd dorsal fin; 2nd dorsal fin and all finlets yellow; no white rear edge on caudal fin; golden stripe on side; 2nd dorsal and anal fins become much longer with age (to about 1/5 of total length); eye small; 26 to 35 gill rakers. Size: to 2.1 m (82 in.) and 176 kg (367 lbs.) Normally found: offshore mostly bluewater; in or near the Gulfstream.

Yellowfin Grouper

Yellowfin Grouper

Seasons: Jan, Feb, March, April

Color highly greenish olive or bright red with longitudinal rows or darker black blotches over entire fish; outer one-third of pectoral fins bright yellow; lower parts of larger fish with small bright red spots. Similar fish: black grouper, M. bonaci; other grouper. Normally found: OFFSHORE on reefs off southern portions of Florida. Size: common to 20 pounds. Remarks: undergoes sex change from female to male in latter part of life; specific name translates to “venomous,” alluding to the fact that this fish, perhaps more frequently than other groupers, is associated with ciguatera poisoning; feeds on fish and squid.

Illustrations by: Diane Rome Peebles Data From Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

For additional information on Saltwater Fishing Regulations... click here.

PROTECTED SPECIES ACT: It is unlawful to harvest, possess, land, purchase, sell, or exchange the following species: Nassau Grouper, Goliath Grouper (Jewfish), Sawfish, Basking Shark, Whale Shark, Spotted Eagle Ray, Sturgeon, White Shark, Sand Tiger Shark, Bigeye Sand Tiger Shark, Manta Ray, Spiny Dogfish, Longspine Urchin, Stony, Hard and Fire Corals, Sea Fans, Florida Queen Conch and Bahama Starfish. Harvest of live rock in state waters is prohibited. SEATROUT REGIONS “Northeast Region” means all state waters lying north of the Flagler-Volusia County Line to the Florida-Georgia border, and adjacent federal Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) waters. “Northwest Region” means all state waters north and west of a line running due west from the westernmost point of Fred Howard Park Causeway (28E9.350’N 82E48.398’W.), which is approximately 1.17 nautical miles south of the Pasco-Pinellas County Line to the Florida-Alabama border, and adjacent federal EEZ waters. “South Region” means state waters lying between the Flagler-Volusia County Line on the Atlantic Ocean and the southern boundary of the Northwest Region on the Gulf of Mexico in Pinellas County and adjacent federal EEZ waters. ORNAMENTAL TROPICAL FISH AND PLANTS MINIMUM SIZE LIMIT (Total length) Spanish Hogfish 2” Spotfin Hogfish 3” Porkfish 11/2” MAXIMUM SIZE LIMIT (Total length) Angelfish (except Rock Beauty) 8” Butterflyfish, Jawfish 4” Rock Beauty 5” Gobies 2” Spanish Hogfish 8” Spotfin Hogfish 8” BAG LIMIT Fishes / Invertebrates: 20 per person per day. No more than 5 Angelfish and no more than 6 Octocoral colonies PLANTS: 1 gallon per person per day. Live landing and live well requirements. Harvest in Biscayne National Park & John Pennekamp State Park prohibited.



Emerald Coast TDC