Fish Species

There are two types of flounder on our coast; Southern Flounder and Summer Flounder (sometimes called Fluke). Southern Flounder are more gentle in nature and must be fished with great patience. Summer Flounder are more aggressive in nature and will strike and hold a hook with much greater abandon. Either must be fished with patience. Novice's will sometimes set hooks too early and too hard and lose fish.

Flounder can be a finicky weather-wise. They like temperatures from around 50 degrees to around 80 degrees. I would not expect them in very cold or very hot times. This would include the dog days of summer and the colder times of winter. Often times a storm can effect them for the good and for the bad. Flounder actively follow baitfish. They will feed in the shallows at night and move off to deeper water where the baitfish go to hide with the sun out. Flounder will also go to deeper water in warmer temperature but seldom deeper than around 20 feet. Tides do not stimulate Flounder as much as they would some fish species but fishing with current will definitely improve your odds.

There are two types of drum: Red Drum and Black Drum. Red Drum is the more popular and common fish. Red Drum obviously get their name from their color and the fact that during spawning time, males produce a drum-like noise with their swim bladder. nearly silver. Red drum are are not actually bass but are related to black drum, spotted seatrout, weakfish, sea mullets, croaker and spot, most of which also make drum sounds. Juvenile Red Drum, called puppy drum are usually aged 1 to 4 years and are a great fish. Breeders are usually 4 years or older and range from approximately 30 to 37 inches. They will have one or two spots on the tail to fake off predators.

Spotted Sea Trout dark gray above with bluish reflections. Numerous round black spots irregularly scattered on back and sides, extend to soft parts of dorsal and caudal fins. Two large canine-like teeth at tip of upper jaw, all remaining teeth small, gradually increasing in size posteriorly on lower jaw. First dorsal fin with 9 – 10 spines, second dorsal fin with one spine and 25 – 28 rays. Soft portion of dorsal fin without scales.

The tarpon is a large thick-bodied fish generally silver in color other than its back, which can range from a dark green to gray. It has a large scoop shaped mouth and the last ray of its dorsal fin is greatly elongated. Its scales are large and thick like a coat of armor. The Tarpon is a large, hard fighting fish and is judged by many to be the worlds most exciting gamefish. Once it feels the hook being set it begins the spectacular display of frequent, twisting, acrobatic leaps into the air to free itself from the hook.

Most Tarpon landed are between 25 to 80 pounds on average but can range from a few inches in length to about 300 pounds. The world all tackle record is 283 pounds 4ounces. Tarpon are found in the western Atlantic, the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean, the west coast of Central America and the coast of northwest Africa. They prefer water temperatures in the 74 – 88° F range.

Tarpon can be found through out the coastal areas of Florida. On the Atlantic coast they are most prevalent in the southeast areas. They can be found from in large inlets such as Port Everglades, Government Cut and south to Biscayne Bay from January to June and along coastal beaches and inlets during late summer. They are caught all the way up to Amelia Island but the fishing in south Florida is the best. On the West Coast of Florida Tarpon can be caught from the Everglades up to the Panhandle. The most renowned area for Tarpon is Boca Grande where during May and June hundreds, if not thousands of fish are caught. Also in this area is Homasassa Bay has great shallow water flats fishing for Tarpon during May and June. Apalachicola Bay and St George Sound also offer good fishing during the summer.

The Everglades National Park and Ten Thousand Islands area has Tarpon fishing year round with the largest fish being caught from mid-spring to mid-summer. The Keys also offer year round Tarpon fishing. The best times to fish are mid-March starting on the Florida Bay side through mid-July on both the Bay side and Atlantic side.

Sheepshead (Archosargus probatocephalus)

TPWD ©

Other Names
Convict Fish
Description
Vivid black and white bars make the sheepshead or "convict fish" distinctive among fishes of the Texas coast. large sharp spines and a razor-edge gill cover make handling and cleaning difficult. another key feature is the jutting teath, slighly like a human's.
Life History
Spawning occurs in February and March in the Gulf near jetties, rock piles and reefs. The young fish live in shallow, grassy areas where food and shelter are abundant.
Habitat
Young live in shallow, grassy areas. Adults live near pilings and rocks where their strong incisor teeth are used to good advantage to graze barnacles and small shellfish.
Distribution
Coastwide
How To Catch
Experienced fishermen use small fiddler and hermit crabs to catch sheepshead. Alertness is essential, for the fish is an adept bait stealer.
Where To Catch
Near hard substrate such as jetties, rock piles and reefs.
How To Eat
Although sheepshead are difficult to clean, the flesh is excellent