Current ENSO Phase: La Nina
- Atlantic Croakers range from Cape Cod in the Atlanticto Texas and Mexico in the Gulf. They are one of the most abundant inshore fish species, especially in the Southeast Atlantic and in the Gulf.
- They generally spend spring and summer in estuaries and inshore areas, and move offshore and south along the Atlantic coast in the fall.
- Croakers prefer muddy bottoms and depths less than 120 meters.
- They are also euryhaline, which means they can tolerate a large range of salinities. Adults have also been found in temperatures ranging from 50 to 93 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Croakers are opportunistic bottom feeders, and feed on a large range of invertebrates like mollusks, squids, etc., and eat some small fish occasionally.
- More Information can be found at ChesapeakeBay.net.
- Found in the North Atlantic, Baltic, Mediterranean, and Black Seas. In North America, found from Labrador in Canada to Cape Hatteras, NC.
- Atlantic Mackerel occur seasonally over the continental shelf around Newfoundland and Labrador, the Atlantic coast of Nova Scotia, the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the Gulf of Maine.
- In the winter, they are found in open ocean over the continental shelf where water temperatures are at least 7 degrees Celsius with optimum temperatures between 9 and 12 degrees Celsius.
- In the spring, the fish move inshore with warm water.
- Atlantic Mackerel are typically caught near the surface, but can be up to depths of 100 meters.
- Best caught with artificial baits like feathered hooks, weighted jigs, and a variety of bright spoons. Natural baits such as eels, sea worms, shrimp, and squid also work well.
- More Information can be found at ARKive or at
Nova Scotia Fisheries.
|Black Sea Bass
- Range from Maine to northeast Florida, and some in the eastern Gulf. Most abundant off the coast of New York.
- Inhabit inshore waters such as bays and sounds, and found offshore up to 130 meters depth.
- Sea Bass are bottom-dwellers and congregate around underwater structure like reefs, rocks, shipwrecks and piers.
- They spend winters offshore between 55 and 130 meters in depth and in waters above 8 degrees Celsius.
- In summer, the fish are most abundant in waters less than 37 meters deep.
- Sea Bass feed on mostly anything: blue crab, small lobster, shrimp, mollusks, squid, etc.
- More Information can be found at AbsoluteAstronomy.com.
- Range from Cape Cod to Brazil in the Western Atlantic only, and in Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. Blackfin is the only tuna species with a limited geographical range.
- Migrate to more temperate waters (above 21 degrees Celsius) during summer months.
- Prefer oceanic waters, but stay within close proximity to coastline.
- They are most abundant off the Florida coast in winter, spring and fall.
- Feed mostly on various fish, squid, shrimp, crabs, etc, mostly the same as other tuna species.
- More Information can be found at Offshore Pursuits or at The Florida Museum of Natural History.
- Blue Crabs range from Nova Scotia to northern Argentina, including the Gulf of Mexico and Bermuda. They are rarely found above Cape Cod however.
- They prefer estuarine and near shore environments. Crabs are most abundant in the warmer months, and in winter they congregate in tidal exchange areas within lower estuarine areas, or in slightly deeper near shore areas.
- Blue Crabs are bottom-dwellers and are very opportunistic feeders, feeding on bivalve mollusks like clams, oysters, and mussels, fish, crustaceans, and vegetation. Caught well with dead baitfish or raw meat.
- More Information can be found at Blue-Crab.net or The Department of Natural Resources.
- Range from Canada to Brazil in the Western Atlantic and Norway to Northern Africa in the Eastern Atlantic. Also in the Pacific from Alaska to the Canary Islands. Also found in the Gulf of Mexico.
- Prefer deep oceanic waters, coming nearshore only seasonally. Bluefins migrate northward generally in the summer.
- Tolerate large range of temperatures and have been found up to depths of 3000 feet.
- Feed on smaller fish, namely anchovies, and starfish or small crustaceans.
- More Information can be found at Offshore Pursuits, The Florida Museum of Natural History, or at FloridaSportsman.com.
|Dolphin (Mahi Mahi, Dorado...)
- Found from Atlantic coast to the Keys and Bahamas/Caribbean.
- Migrate northward on Atlantic coast past VA in the spring and down to the Keys and Bahamas/Caribbean and the Gulf in the winter
- Only found in waters at 70 degrees or higher, mostly offshore, where different salinity waters meet because of weed clumps which support shrimp and smaller fish for predators.
- Prefer higher salinity waters.
- Bait/Tackle: Trolling rigged natural baits with conventional or heavy spinning tackle. Or, floating objects with live baitfish such as pinfish, dead cutbait, jigs, streamer flies or poppers.
- More Information can be found at Gamefish Profiles or at Florida Sportsman.
|Gray Snapper (Mangrove Snapper)
- Range from Massachusetts to Brazil in the Atlantic and to Texas in the Gulf of Mexico. Most commonly found on both coasts of Florida.
- Found in marine and estuarine environments: mangrove swamps, coastal marshes, inshore as far as freshwater rivers in the coastal plain and offshore out to 32 km and depths up to 180 m.
- Usually congregate around underwater structures like reefs, ledges, or oil rigs.
- Tolerate temperatures from 12.8-36 degrees Celsius.
- Found in salinities from 0-66 ppt.
- Best fished with small live baitfish like shrimp or squid and near the bottom as they are bottom dwellers.
- More Information can be found at NOAA, Florida Sportsman, or The Charter Company.
- Found from lower New England to Florida, the Bahamas, the Caribbean and into the Gulf of Mexico.
- Grouper frequent inshore holes, crevices and ledges, usually on deep grass flats. Can be found often around structure and offshore up to depths of 100 m.
- Prefer water at or above 23-25 degrees Celsius.
- Grouper are euryhaline, which means they tolerate a large range of salinities.
- Bait/Tackle: Just about anything…..spinners, plugs, leadhead jigs. Live baitfilike Pilchards,
Pinfish, and Sand Perch. Large dead cuts will work as well. Best fishing at dawn and dusk.
- More Information can be found at the Smithsonian Marine Station or at Florida Sportsman.
- Oysters range from the Gulf of St. Lawrence to the Gulf of Mexico. They have been introduced to Hawaii, the west coast of North America, and places in Europe and North Africa.
- Oysters inhabit estuaries, sounds and bays. They are found from brackish water to very salty lagoons.
- They can withstand large variations in temperature and salinity. In bays, they are typically above 5 ppt salinity.
- Oysters feed on plankton by filtration. They are most active in feeding in temperatures above 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
- More Information can be found at the Maryland Sea Grant.
- Range from Massachusetts to Brazil in the Atlantic and in the Gulf of Mexico.
- Found mostly on the offshore continental shelf around underwater structures like reefs, shipwrecks, oil rigs.
- Mostly found in depths of 10-190 meters, most abundant from 40-110 meters.
- Prefer temperatures of 10-30 degrees Celsius.
- Tolerate salinities between 33 and 37 ppt.
- Best fished near the bottom with heavy weights and small live baitfish like crabs, shrimp, live or dead squid, tuna pieces, mackerel or sardines. Some say squid is the best.
- More Information can be found at NOAA, The Charter Company, Thai Fishing Guide, or The Florida Museum of Natural History.
- Summer Flounder range from the southern Gulf of Maine to Florida in the Atlantic.
- They inhabit inshore and estuarine areas during the warmer months, preferring eel grass beds and sandy or muddy bottoms in baysand harbors. Larger fish are found a little deeper around 50-60 feet.
- In the fall, Summer Flounder migrate offshore to depths between 150 and 500 feet.
- They are most commonly found in temperatures between 65 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Flounder feed during the day on shrimp, crustaceans, crabs, squid, mollusks, and small fish like winter flounder, sand lance,red hake, and bluefish.
- Best fished on the bottom, dragging the bait. Light tackle like jigs work well with pieces of squid, shrimp, or cut bluefish.
- More Information can be found at LandBigFish.com or at Cpt. Dave's.
- Range worldwide in tropical and subtropical waters, from about 40 degrees North to about 35 degrees South. In the Western Atlantic, from Canada to Brazil and into the Gulf of Mexico.
- Yellowfin are the most tropical of the tuna species. They are oceanic, found in temperatures between 18 and 31 degrees Celsius, and generally not deeper than 100 meters.
- Yellowfin tuna feed on dolphinfish, pilchard, anchovy, mackerel, squid, octopus, shrimp and other small fish and cephalopods.
- More Information can be found at The
Florida Museum of Natural History or at Offshore Pursuits.
Illustrations and Copyright by Diane Rome Peebles.
Illustrations are for viewing purposes only.