Florida Sportfishing Species
Description: Color generally red, with yellowish caudal, anal, and pelvic fins; distinctive and prominent dark comma-shaped blotch at the base of the pectoral fins, which gives the fish its common name; anal fin rounded; no black spot on side underneath dorsal fin.
Similar Fish: Other snappers.
Where found: adults OFFSHORE near continental shelf.
Size: Common to 20 inches, larger adults seeking deeper waters.
Remarks: Sometimes marketed as red snapper; feeds on smaller fishes.
Description: Color dark brown or gray, may have a reddish tinge; broad-based triangular tooth patch on roof of mouth with a posterior extension; despite its specific name, which translates to "blue-fin," the fins have only a slight tinge of blue; canine teeth in both jaws very strong; one pair of canines enlarged and visible even when mouth is closed.
Similar Fish: Gray snapper.
Where found: Juveniles INSHORE in grass beds; adults OFFSHORE or NEARSHORE over wrecks, reefs, and ledges.
Size: Common to 40 pounds.
Remarks: The largest of the snappers, ranging to 125 pounds; not common anywhere in its range; feeds on fishes and larger crustaceans; in the Keys, spawns during later summer.
Description: Color brown with a bronze tinge, lighter on sides; canine teeth very sharp, one pair notably enlarged, visible even when mouth is closed; in adults, pale triangle and a light blue interrupted line below the eye; no dark spot on body underneath dorsal fin.
Similar Fish: Schoolmaster, L. apodus (no white triangle under eye and fins are more yellow); other snappers.
Where found: Large adults OFFSHORE over coral and rocky reefs; juveniles associated with estuaries.
Size: Large snapper, attaining 30 pounds.
Remarks: Spawns from spring through fall; known as night feeder; taking fishes, mollusks, and crustaceans.
GRAY SNAPPER (mangrove snapper)
Description: Color dark brown or gray with reddish or orange spots in rows along the sides; dark horizontal band from snout through eye (young only); two conspicuous canine teeth at front of upper jaw; dorsal fins have dark or reddish borders; no dark spot on side underneath dorsal fin.
Similar Fish: Cubera snapper, L. cyanopterus.
Where found: Juveniles INSHORE in tidal creeks, mangroves, and grass beds; adults generally NEARSHORE or OFFSHORE on coral or rocky reefs.
Size: Offshore catches common 8 to 10 pounds.
Remarks: Spawns June through August; feeds on crustaceans and small fish.
Description: color silvery-pink to reddish with short, irregular pink and yellow lines on its sides; diffuse black spot, about as large as the eye; the dorsal fin centered above the lateral line; outer margin of caudal fin blackish.
Similar Fish: mutton snapper, L. analis (anal fin rounded in lane snapper, pointed in mutton).
Where found: juveniles INSHORE over grass beds or shallow reefs; adults OFFSHORE; most common in south Florida.
Size: usually less than 1 pound.
Remarks: spawns March through September; sexually mature at 6 inches; feeds on bottom, taking crustaceans, mollusks, and fish.
Description: Color graysh-olive with a reddish tinge; conspicuous dark spot, about the size of the eye, below the soft dorsal fin, 1/4 to 1/2 of it below the lateral line; the large eye and caudal fin are bright red; lower margin of the preopercle has prominent spur with strong and sharp serrations.
Similar Fish: Lane snapper, L. synagris (also with dark spot below soft dorsal, the blotch placed higher in relation to the lateral line).
Where found: NEARSHORE or OFFSHORE in clear, highly saline water, usually over reefs.
Size: Relatively small snapper, common to 15 inches.
Remarks: The Spanish name, ojanco, refers to its large eyes; a night feeder, with diet of smaller fishes.
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.
Description: Color of back and upper sides red; silvery body long and slender; dorsal fin distinctly notched; large eyes; caudal fin deeply forked; no dark lateral spot.
Similar Fish: Other snappers.
Where found: OFFSHORE over rocky reefs of the continental shelf to 450 feet; young suspend at mid-depths.
Size: Small species, usually less than 20 inches.
Remarks: Little is known, but it is reported that adults live at depths greater than 400 feet.
Description: Color pinkish red over entire body, whitish below; long triangular snout; anal fin sharply pointed; no dark lateral spot.
Similar Fish: Vermilion snapper, R. aurorubens.
Where 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.
Description: Color olive gray on upper sides with yellow tinge, sometimes with reddish tinge around head; long triangular snout; eight pale vertical bars on the side of the body; yellow fins; blue stripe below eye, becoming interrupted in adults; no dark lateral spot.
Similar Fish: Dog snapper, L. jocu.
Where found: Juveniles in grassy flats; adults NEARSHORE especially around elkhorn coral reefs; large adults sometimes found on continental shelf.
Size: Usually less than 1 pound.
Remarks: Spawns in July and August; attain sizes of 8 pounds and 24 inches; slow grower; feeds on crustaceans, small fishes, and gastropods.
Description: Back and upper sides pinkish red, shading to silvery sides with undulating yellow lines; pectorals pale yellow; back edge of caudal fin blackish; anal fin pointed; no dark lateral spot.
Similar Fish: Red snapper, L. campechanus.
Where found: OFFSHORE over rocky ledges in very deep water; most common in south Florida.
Size: Usually less than 5 pounds.
Remarks:Little is known.
Description: 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.
Similar Fish: Red snapper, L. campechanus (anal fin of red snapper has midpoint like a triangle).
Where found: Suspends at mid-depths over rocky reefs OFFSHORE.
Size: Usually less than 1 pound.
Remarks: Spawns April to September, females maturing at 3 to 4 years of age; grows slowly; attains weight of 6 pounds and length of 24 inches; feeds on small, swimming crustaceans and mollusks.
Description: back and upper sides olive to bluish with yellow spots; lower sides and belly with alternating narrow, longitudinal pink and yellow stripes; prominent midlateral yellow stripe begins at mouth and runs to tail, broadening as it passes the dorsal fins; caudal fin yellow and deeply forked; no dark lateral spot.
Similar Fish: none.
Where found: juveniles INSHORE on grassbeds and back reefs; adults NEARSHORE or OFFSHORE over sandy areas near reefs.
Size: common to 3 pounds.
Remarks: found mainly in tropical waters; spawns in midsummer; rarely exceeds 30 inches and 5 pounds in size; feeds on small fish and invertebrates.
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