Saltwater Fish Species Guide Articles
After a long, hot summer, anglers in the northeast welcome the cooling temperatures of the fall. The weather becomes more comfortable and the cooling water temps bring bait and game fish closer to the shorelines. And with these seasonal changes also arrives the false albacore.
When I was nine years old, I discovered fishing and pursued it relentlessly. My uncle took me fishing and taught me all kinds if things about chasing trout and bass in freshwater. Then, the summer I turned twelve, he bought a 17’ center console and took me fishing on the saltwater for the first time.
As springtime arrives in the northeast, the landscape begins to come alive. Trees blossom, flowers bloom and the striped bass return to tidal river systems by the hordes. Warming water temps draw them in for a few reasons depending on the river system. In some rivers they return to spawn. In others, they are simply there to gorge themselves on the buffet of herring, shad and other river species that are so abundant at this time of year.
The Black Grouper (Mycteroperca Bonaci), nicknamed the marbled rockfish, is part of a large group known as the “perciform fish“. They can change skin color slightly, but most of the time has a rectangular pattern across their bodies consisting of dark grey blotches. Their fins fade from the dark grey blotches to dark black. They have anal, dorsal and caudal fins, all of which follow the same color pattern. The top and bottom of the fish are also darker than the center, fading similarly to the fins.
Black Marlin, usually confused with the Blue Marlin because of their similarities in appearance, are members of the billfish family because of the long bills on the front of their faces. They have long, slender bodies with prominent pectoral fins. These fins don’t fold against their bodies like most pectoral fins, so they remain erect at all times. Some Black Marlin are dark blue in color, while others have black upper bodies, but all Black Marlin have a silver/white color on their bellies. They have a distinct face with very small teeth and upper jaws that flow out into a beak or spear-looking nose.
The Bonefish, scientific name Albula Vulpes, is one of the most popular sport fish in the world. They aren’t much for eating because their bodies are full of hundreds of tiny bones as indicated by their name. They are often called silver ghosts or phantoms because of their silvery skin color.
The Pollock, a member of the cod family, is scientifically known as Pollachius Virens. It’s distinguished by several features that set it apart from the rest of the cod family. Possessing a lower jaw that projects beyond the upper jaw, the pollock also has a forked tail that differs from the straight ones on the rest of the species. The lateral line that runs along the sides of their body is straight, unlike the curved lines on other cod. Their bodies are greenish brown or olive green, varying along the top, with yellowish green and gray flanks. They are often called green cod or coalfish because of their coloration.
The swordfish, scientifically known as Xiphias Gladius, and nicknamed “broadbill,” is one of the most recognizable and desired fish in the water. Known and named for the sword on the front of their face, the elongated bill combined with their sleek bodies, allow the Swordfish to glide straight through the water. The sword isn’t actually used to stab like manmade ones, rather they use their long noses to slash at and debilitate their prey, making it easier to catch.
Red Snapper, or Lutjanus Campechanus, are prized fish, and in recent years have become closely protected in US waters. They are considered to be the most valuable snapper in their area, found in regions along the Gulf of Mexico and western Atlantic. They are seen as far north as Massachusetts, but most rarely travel north of the Carolinas. Northern Red Snapper are not found in the Caribbean like their southern brothers are. The younger members of the species are usually found in shallow waters in and around mud floors. The adults are found in deeper water, where they surround themselves in shipwrecks and rough, rocky terrain.
The Pacific Halibut, scientifically known as Hippoglossus Stenolepis, closely resembles the Atlantic Halibut, and is known as the largest flatfish in the Pacific Ocean. It is also known as the northern halibut, right halibut, and alabato. Its body color usually ranges from dark brown or grayish brown with occasional light spots. Being a flatfish, the Pacific Halibut has both eyes on the upward facing side of the body. The bottom side has no eyes, and is light in color.