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Your Guide to the Fishes of Florida

Listed below are the most common Saltwater species of fish targeted by anglers in the state of Florida. We've provided some basic information about each fish from the "twisted" minds of our fabulous fishing duo! Catch 'em up!!


Common Snook: Centropomus undecimalis

Description: One of the best fighters pound per pound. Known for spectacular leaps and and unerring eye for finding structure.

Capt. Mike: One of the most popular gamefish in Florida.

Capt. Billy: If there was only one fish I could fish for--the rest of my life--this would be it.

Bait: Live bait like Pilchards/Whitebait.

Tactics: Chum and freeline bait with circle hooks and 20#-30# flurocarbon leader.


Red Drum: Sciaenops ocellatus

Description: Red Drum (Redfish) are a favorite target species for coastal and inshore species alike. They live a long time in estuaries, on mud/grass flats and other shallow-water environments and then move to deeper waters as they grow larger.

Capt. Mike: My absolute favorite. The "Money" fish!

Capt. Billy: Tremendous fish! If I could teach them to jump, I'd quit snook fishing!

Bait: Cut Mullet, Pinfish, Pilchards, soft & hard plastic artificial lures.

Fish oysters beds, rocks and look for large schools of mullet.


Tarpon: Megalops atlanticus

Description: The "Silver King" is famous for it's spectacular leaps and is world reknown as the gamefish to catch. The giant Tarpon don't typically match the acrobatics of the smaller fish. Primarily found inshore along beaches and deep pockets in channels.

Capt. Mike: The Silver King. Nuff said!

Capt. Billy: The money fish. What can you say,"Pound for pound, there's not a badder 'kid' on the block."

Bait: Dead Shad, Threadfin Herring and live Blue Crabs.

Tactics: Look for pods on the beach; get ahead of them without letting them know you are there, lay out baits and HOLD ON!


Spotted Seatrout: Cynoscion nebulosus

Description: Spotted Seatrout are opportunistic carnivores whose choice of prey depends on the size of the fish. Look for them Inshore and nearshore in "potholes" and over grass & sandy bottoms.

Capt. Mike: Great fish to put the young one on!

Capt. Billy: One of West Central's big three!

Bait: Hands down, the Berkley Gulp 3" Shrimp, Natural color, under a popping cork.

Tactics: Drift grass flats and fan casting until located.


King Mackerel: Scomberomorus cavalla

Description: The back of the King Makerel is a iridescent bluish green, the sides are a silver, it has a streamlined body with a tapered head, there are no black pigments on front of the dorsal fin, there is a lateral line that starts high and drops sharply below the second dorsal fin, and young fish often have yellow spots, like the Spanish Mackerel.

Capt. Mike: Screaming drag. Great nearshore catch!

Capt. Billy: Large kings will test your drag system! 1st runs of 250-300 yards are common!

Bait: LIve Blue Runners, Threadfin Herring and hard plastic lures.

Tactics: Chum live bait and slow troll.


Jack Crevalle: Caranx hippos

Description: Pound for pound, the Jack Crevalle is one of the strongest fish in the water. Often called the "flats donkey" they're found swimming in schools, cornering baitfish and creating a feeding frenzy.

Capt. Mike: Pound for pound, our best fighter!

Capt. Billy: The junk yard dawg!

Bait: Anything that wiggles, flashes, moves, and or floats

Tactics: Look for boiling water and cast your jig, spoon or live bait directly near thefeeding frenzy. Work artificials quickly and hold on!


Permit: Trachinotus falcatus

Description: Viewed as one of the best battles inshore on grass flats, sand flats and in channels with powerful bursts. Permit can also be found offshore on wrecks and debris. Known to break off long runs when away from the beach. Be prepared for a lengthy battle! They are most abundant in South Florida, with smaller specimens from every coastal county.

Capt. Mike: An inshore and offshore challenge!

Capt. Billy: One of my top five!

Bait: Shrimp work, but small blue crabs rule!

Tactics: Offshore wrecks and calm water. Look for them on top and cast out in front of. Fish to 50 pounds common!


Tripletail: Lobotes surinamensis

Description: Tripletail are found closer to shore, up to depths of 20 feet. They can be found in muddy estuaries, inlets and large bays. Preferring cover, tripletail are often spotted in weeds and alongside debris, buoys and markers.

Capt. Mike: Prehistoric looking. Powerful and changes colors when hooked!

Capt. Billy: Get the grease HOT!

Bait: Cut bait, shrimp or white gulp.

Tactics: Look under markers, crab trap buoys, and floating debris.


Cobia: Rachycentron canadum

Description: Unpredicatable fighters. Can break off long runs and has great stamina. Often found swimming near rays.

Capt. Mike: Great target for sight fishing!

Capt. Billy: Great table fare and a fantastic fighter.  Cooperates most of the time!

Bait: Pinfish & jigs, but topwater lures are the most fun!

Tactics: Look around range markers and keep your eyes open for large eagle rays.


Barracuda: Sphyraena barracuda

Description: Throughout their lives, Barracuda can be found in many different habitats. The ability of juveniles to camouflage themselves makes turtle grass beds and sandy bottoms a prime living area. Older Barracuda take advantage of the variety of food sources foundoffshore and on wrecks & reefs.

Capt. Mike: Just plain nasty. Loves to steal your catch!

Capt. Billy: P.U.--Stinky Fish!

Bait: Tube Lures and a variety of live and artificial baits.

Tactics: Surface cast and retrieve quickly.


Bluefish: Pomatomus saltatrix

Description: Bluefish inhabit both inshore and offshore areas of coastal regions, with the young fish often called "snappers". They also frequent estuaries and river mouths.

Capt. Mike: Another favorite with the kids. Likes to hang in big schools.

Capt. Billy: Tough fighter with big chompers!

Bait: Cutbait works great!

Tactics: Anchor up, chum and feed out live baits in your chum slick.

spanish mack

Spanish Mackerel: Scomberomorus maculatus

Description: Spanish Mackerel are largely coastal, but do roam offshore at times. They prefer open water, but can be found over grass flats and reefs.

Capt. Mike: When you find them, you'll know it!

Capt. Billy: Great Kid Fish!

Bait: 00 Clark Spoon or live bait on a long shank hook.

Tactics: Troll spoon on #1 Planner or 3oz trolling weight. Anchor up, chum and feed out live baits in your chum slick.


Sheepshead: Archosargus probatocephalus

Description: Sheepshead are found in areas of rocky bottom, from far up coastal creeks and rivers, to well offshore. They love docks and bridge pilings, artificial reefs and any other structure that wears barnacles and/or harbors crabs.

Capt. Mike: Great winter catch!

Capt. Billy: A thief in jailbird pajamas!

Bait: Scrape the barnacles and use for chum! Shrimp work best!

Tactics: Find near the bridges and use a small hook.


Hardhead Catfish: Ariopsis felis

Description: Hardhead Catfish have three pairs of barbels, lack scales, and can vary in color, from dark brown to dark blue. Found in muddy & sandy bays and shallow coastal waters.

Capt. Mike: Billy's old reliable. Saves some days on the water when nothing's biting.

Capt. Billy: Hey, just another Snook with a different body. Part of the" trash can slam".

Bait: It'll eat anything!

Tactics: Try to avoid at all costs, but fun for kids to catch.


Dolphin [Mahi]: Coryphaena hippurus

Description: Dolphin are a warm-water fish, usually found in deep waters, close to the surface. While sometimes found in coastal waters, they often concentrate in the open ocean around floating objects such as buoys, driftwood and sargassum weed clusters.

Capt. Mike: Wonderful colors and one of my favorite offshore species!

Capt. Billy: Another great fish for the grill!

Bait: Squid is the best bet! Rigged Ballyhoo & Billy Baits.

Tactics: Find the grass lines or floating structure. Keep one hooked in the water and typically other fish will show.


Ladyfish: Elops Saurus

Description: Ladyfish are usually found inshore in bays and estuaries. Occasionally they will enters freshwater in tidal pools and canals. They will often form large schools and harasses bait at the surface.

Capt. Mike: Lots of flash and splash!

Capt. Billy: Don't get "slimed"!

Bait: Loves to steal live baits. Soft plastics work well, also.

Tactics: Just throw the bait in the water. If they're around, they'll find it!


Wahoo: Acanthocybium solanderi

Description: A member of the mackerel family, long and streamlined with about 30 dark wavy bars for camouflage. Found offshore; generally not in schools. Known for their tremendous runs and shifts of direction.

Capt. Mike: Great reel stripper and a must for the photo album - if you can catch it!

Capt. Billy: YOO HOO...WAHOO!!!!! One of the best tasting fish that swims!

Bait: Dark color Islander Lures

Tactics: High-speed troll weedlines, rip currents and debris.


Flounder: Paralichthys albigutta

Description: Most of the year, this fish is found in relatively shallow areas, preferring soft bottom near such cover as bars or rubble. Also inhabits holes in grass beds and edges of channels.

Capt. Mike: Big fish caught regularly in North Florida.

Capt. Billy: Can you say Doormat? When flounder are present, water quality is GOOD!

Bait: Gulp or cut finger mullet.

Tactics: Sandy bottom with good water flow with deepwater within escape distance.


Florida Pompano: Trachinotus carolinus

Description: The Florida Pompano can be found inshore and nearshore, especially along sandy beaches, along oyster banks, and over grass beds. They are often in turbid water and may be found in water as deep as 130 feet.

Capt. Mike: Lots of fight from such a little fella!

Capt. Billy: Stuffed with Stone Crab meat, covered with brown sauce. YUMMY!!

Bait: Doc's Goofy Jig.

Tactics: Around bay area bridges and edges of flats.


Sailfish: Istiophorus platypterus

Description: Atlantic Sailfish migrate extensively throughout the tropical and temperate waters of the Atlantic Ocean; throughout the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. They inhabit tropical and subtropical waters near land masses, usually in depths over 6 fathoms, but occasionally they are caught in lesser depths and from ocean piers.

Capt. Mike: Loads of Show and Go!

Capt. Billy: Can you say, OH MY GOD!

Bait: Pink and White Islander Lures & rigged Ballyhoo.

Tactics: Troll grass lines and ledges.


Goliath Grouper [JewFish]: Epinephelus itajara

Description: Goliath Grouper can grow to 8 feet and 700 pounds. Most Goliath Grouper catches are in the 20-pound range. Over fishing became such an issue in Florida that the state put Goliath Grouper on the endangered species list. It is now illegal to posess a Goliath.

Capt. Mike: Man vs. Machine (You'll lose--before you win!)

Capt. Billy: Holy Hemmoroids - the Gut Buster!

Bait: Any BIG live or dead bait

Tactics: Drop down on Offshore wrecks with HEAVY, HEAVY GEAR,and promptly make appointment with doctor for hernia!

Fish Illustrations are for viewing purposes only.

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