Are you going on a saltwater fishing trip soon? Here are the different types of saltwater fish you can expect to encounter when out at sea.
It’s estimated that there are around 3.5 trillion fish living in our oceans. With that many fish out there, it makes sense why so many people are turning to saltwater fishing. But before you hop on a boat, you should first know the different types of saltwater fish.
This will make you a better fisherman and help you identify your catches. Interested in learning more? Continue reading and we’ll walk you through the different types of saltwater fish that dwell in our oceans.
The anchovy is a small baitfish. Its color is green but, thanks to its silver stripe, it has blue reflections. You can find these fish in deep water as well as bays. At most, they tend to be around 4 inches long.
Anchovies mainly feed on fish larvae and other microscopic animals, known as zooplankton. Weakfish, bluefish, and striped bass love to eat them.
Anchovies are excellent bait to use when it comes to saltwater fishing for beginners.
A Great Barracuda can grow to be over 6 feet long and 51 pounds heavy. It can mostly be found in warm temperature to tropical waters, and in subtropical parts of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans. Their numbers are decreasing in Florida and catch limits may soon be imposed on them.
A Great Barracuda can found in loose schools or swimming alone. They tend to hang out in reefs, waiting to catch their prey by surprise.
These fish are also very fast, as they can swim up to 30 miles per hour. Their teeth are sharp and quite big, so you want to be wary of that. If you do catch a Great Barracuda, you can cut it up into steaks and grill it, or you can smoke the meat instead.
Bluefish are a very popular game fish. They often swim in schools, usually behind schools of baitfish. A bluefish can grow to be 40 inches in length and 20 pounds.
These fish have teeth that are very sharp. They use their teeth to eat schooling fish and squids. If you’re looking to catch a bluefish, consider using Mullet, Spot, Mackerel, Menhaden, Herring, or Ballyhoo, to draw it over to your line.
You can prevent bluefish from your lines with their sharp teeth by using wire leaders. Sand Eels, Macherel, and Porgies are great bait. The flesh of the bluefish has a very strong flavor.
It’s recommended that you eat these fillets with fresh garlic and butter.
Bonefish feed on crabs, shellfish, shrimp, and fish from mangrove roots and the from bottom of the ocean floor. They live among mangroves in shallow backwaters and move onto shallow mudflats to eat as the tide comes in. As the tide goes out, the bonefish will go back into deeper waters.
Bonefish tend to go into deeper channels next to flats during the hotter months. If the temperature is very cold or hot, it’s suggested to chum up current with bits of shrimp. Because bonefish have a very powerful sense of smell, a great way to attract them is to crush up live shrimp in order to better release the scent.
The best conditions for catching a bonefish is during a rising tide, when the sky is overcast, the water temperature is hotter than 75 degrees, and the water is than 3 feet deep. 10-pound bonefish are very common.
Bonito (Little Tunny, False Albacore)
Bonito move about in large schools, sometimes ones that are half a mile big! Most fishermen end up catching Bonito while they’re trying to catch Kingfish. If a Bonito is in the area, they’ll hit any bait they can.
The Bonito is a lot of fun to catch because they put on a big fight once they’re hooked.
Part of the Tuna family, the Bonito isn’t commonly eaten due to its size, which is about 7 pounds. You can identify this type of fish by the spots on its belly. And they have a wavy silver and blue pattern on their tops instead of stripes.
The Little Tunny Bonito shouldn’t be confused with the Atlantic Bonito. The Atlantic Bonito isn’t edible and comes from the Mackerel family. False Albacore, on the other hand, is delicious since it’s part of the Tuna family.
Before eating, the bloody red meat needs to be bled into ice water for a long time. The bloodline also needs to be taken out before cooking. You would have to do this with any kind of tuna.
Bonito feed on Menhaden, Macherels, Shrimp, Herrings, Hake, Squid, and Anchovies. The most popular bait for Bonito are Sharks, Kingfish, and Billfish.
Redfish (Red Drum)
Redfish are mainly an inshore fish. They can grow up to be 51 pounds and 45 inches in length. Red Drums eat in schools in shallow waters and munch on all kinds of fish, including Pinfish, Menhaden, crabs, Atlantic Croaker, Mullet, Shrimp, and Flounder.
Red Drums have a variety of feeding patterns. For example, they enjoy sucking prey off the bottom as well as hiding behind structures and sneaking up on their prey.
You’ll often find these fish near mangroves, eating small shrimp and crabs. In most areas, it’s illegal to snatch, spear, and gig Redfish.
It’s also worth pointing out that it’s fairly easy to catch Red Drums when they’re actively feeding. First, you have to approach the school very quietly. Then, cast very gently into the school and pull in your bait quickly.
Red Drums get scared easily so you need to cast very softly.
Groupers are great fish for eating. You can find them at all levels of water. They like to eat young sea turtles, octopi, other fish, and crustaceans.
You can catch Groupers on fresh cut bait, like Pinfish, Mackerel, or Mullet. Live bait is going to be your best bet for catching them. The top draws for most Groupers are live cigar minnows, lane or small gray snapper, and live pinfish.
Spanish Sardines, Pilchard, and Ballyhoo also make for a good bait. Groupers are quite large and they’re very strong. To reel them in, you’re going to need powerful fishing gear.
Some species of Grouper are illegal to catch because they’re endangered.
You will usually find Permit in tropical, shallow waters. These include muddy bottoms, channels, and flats. They love to feed on small fish, Shrimp, and Crab. Permit usually weight 30 pounds but some can get be as much as 50 pounds.
You can catch Permit by following them on shallow flats and casting directly to them. You want to use fresh crushed Lobster and Crab in a dispenser. On your hook, use small live Crab.
Large Permit love to swim around offshore wrecks, and they usually hang out at the bottom. Permit are known to dive for cover once they get hooked, so you want to make sure that you’re unhooked from your anchor.
You can weigh the Crab on your hook down by using a split shot. Because Permit have great eyesight, you don’t want to use swivels and make sure that you have dark-colored hooks.
The African Pompano is also known as Cuban Jack, Pennantfish, Trevally, Threadfin Mirrorfish, and Threadfin Trevally. Adult African Pompanos travel alone both offshore and inshore in tropical waters. They tend to swim deep over sandy bottoms, next to rocky structures.
Younger African Pompanos have long dorsal and anal fin tips. These fish can grow to weigh 50 pounds and 5 feet long. With that said, most usually only get up to 2 feet long and 30 pounds heavy.
This fish feeds on small fish, small Crabs, and slow-moving crustaceans.
Spanish Sardines travel in big schools close to shore. They’re loved all around the world as bait as well as food. Sardines are mainly caught at night when they come up to the surface to eat plankton. Using a cast net, you can catch thousands of Sardines.
To use them as bait, hook the Spanish Sardine through its head or through its eyes. For catching big fish, utilize a double hook system.
The Importance of Knowing About the Different Types of Saltwater Fish
As we can see, there are all different types of saltwater fish in our big blue ocean. And by educating ourselves about them, we can better know how to catch them, and also which ones we should avoid. Make sure that you understand the fish in your area before going out to cast.
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