Family Albulidae, BONEFISHES
Description: silvery color with bluish or greenish back; slender, round body; snout long, conical, aiming downward and overhanging lower jaw; dark streaks between scales on upper half of body and faint crossbands extending down to lateral line; extremities of dorsal and caudal fins shaded with black.
Similar Fish: ladyfish, Elops saurus
Where found: primarily INSHORE fish found in shallows often less than 1 foot deep, usually over lush grass flats, occasionally over white sand.
Size: 3 to 5 pounds.
Remarks: travels in loose schools; roots out shrimp, shellfish, crabs, and fish from the bottom; spawns offshore, eggs hatching into ribbon-like larvae that metamorphose into fish-like form at about 2 inches and move inshore.
Family Carangidae, JACKS and POMPANOS
Description: color gray, dark or iridescent blue above, shading to silvery sides, in dark waters showing golden tints around breast; small permit have teeth on tongue (none on pompano); no scutes; dorsal fin insertion directly above that of the anal fin; 17 to 21 soft anal rays.
Similar Fish: pompano, T. carolinus. The permit is deeper bodied; dorsal body profile forms angle at insertion of second dorsal fin; pompano rarely grow larger than 6 pounds, permit common to 40 pounds.
Where found: OFFSHORE on wrecks and debris, INSHORE on grass flats, sand flats, and in channels; with smaller specimens from every coastal county.
Size: common to 25 pounds.
Remarks: feeds mainly on bottom-dwelling crabs, shrimp, small clams, and small fish.
Family Elopidae, TARPONS
Description: 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 estuarien waters; huge scales; mouth large and points upward.
Similar Fish: (as juveniles) ladyfish, Elops saurus.
Where found: primarily INSHORE fish, although adult fish spawn OFFSHORE where the ribbon-like larval stage of the fish can be found.
Size: most angler catchs 40 to 50 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 surface; feeds mainly on fish and large crustaceans.
Family Centropomidae, SNOOKS
Description: distinct lateral line; high, divided dorsal fin; sloping forehead; large mouth, protruding lower jaw; grows much larger than other snooks; pelvic fin yellow.
Similar Fish: other Centropomus.
Where found: from central Florida south, usually INSHORE in coastal and brackish waters, along mangrove shorelines, seawalls, and bridges; also on reefs and pilings NEARSHORE.
Size: most catches 5 to 8 pounds.
Remarks: spawns primarily in summer; cannot tolerate water temperatures below 60 degrees F; can tolerate wholly fresh or saltwater; schools along shore and in passes during spawning season; feeds on fish and large crustaceans.
Family Sphyraenidae, BARRACUDAS
Description: gray, with a greenish cast above, whitish below; many irregular, small black blotches on lower side; 18 to 22 diagonal dark bars on upper side (not always evident); caudal fin dark with white tips; 75 to 87 lateral line scales; no fleshy tip on jaw
Young: dark stripe on side; stripe breaks into dark squarish blotches as fish grows
Size: to 2 meters (6 feet) and 48 kilograms (106 pounds); reports of larger fish unverified
Where found: young live in inshore seagrass beds; adults range from inshore channels to open ocean
Remarks: most attacks on people have occurred when they were wading or swimming in turbid water while wearing bright objects, attempting to spear a barracuda, or carrying speared fish; flesh of smaller fish apparently not poisonous, but larger fish sometimes very toxic due to ciguatera; no safe, reliable way of recognizing toxic fish
Family Lutjanidae, SNAPPERS
Description: color olive green on back and upper sides, all fins below the lateral line having reddish tinge; bright blue line below eye, following contour of operculum; anal fin pointed; small black spot below dorsal fin; V-shaped tooth patch on
Similar Fish: lane snapper, L. synagris (anal fin pointed in mutton snapper, rounded in lane).
Where found: an INSHORE species associated with grassbeds, mangroves, and canals; larger adults occasionally found on OFFSHORE reefs.
Size: common to 15 pounds.
Remarks: spawns in July and August; feeds on fish, crustaceans, and snails.