Naples Saltwater Gamefish
The snook is a great fish to go after. Snook cannot survive water temperatures much below 60 F, They will either head out into deeper holes or passes or will go way up into the creeks and mangroves.
- Through a significant part of the year they are in and around the mangroves
further you can cast into the cover without getting hung up, the more often you will be successful.
- Snook love good cover and they will therefore often be found adjacent to pilings, rock piles, bridge abutments and seawalls.
- Snook spawn off the beach in the spring and early summer; this is an ideal time to walk the beach or the sand bars in pusuit of this worthy adversary.
- The snook is one of the best for all round fighting capabilities. The fight usually features long runs and several jumps.
- Snook are relatively easy to handle during landing; you just have to make sure to avoid their super-sharp gill covers.
- Fillets are mild but full of flavor. This fish rates at the top as table fare.
Redfish (Sciaenops ocellatus)
More correctly called the Red Drum, the Redfish or "Red" is one of our most popular gamefish for fly fishing.
- Their propensity for seeking crabs, shrimp and baitfish on shallow flats makes them very available to the fly fisher.
- They are most vulnerable when they are actively rooting in shallow water for crabs and clams.
- Although redfish will sometimes lay up near structure, they are usually caught while near oyster bars or on shallow flats.
- Although redfish are more tolerant of cold water than snook, they will often go deep in the passes or holes when water temperature drops.
- Redfish of up to 10lbs are excellent to eat. Some people avoid the red meat parts.
Groupers (Epinephelus itajara)
From inshore estuaries out to the deepest waters offshore Groupers are found. They are the most widely available of the game fish and also offer a great number of differing varieties. Twenty one different types in all.
- They are the most widely available of the game fish
- The Gag, Black Grouper, Red Groupers are the most widely distributed.
- Most of the other species, Nassau, Red Hind, Black, Yellowfin and Scamp live in and around the coral reefs of the extreme south of Florida.
- Groupers live close to the bottom and are always associated with some type of submerged structure i.e. reef or wreck.
- Groupers are caught using traditional bottom tackle rigs. Leaders need be substantial.
- All the Groupers are considered to be excellent in eating quality, and grouper is on the menu in most Florida restaurants.
Tarpon (Megalops atlanticus) Also called the "Silver King", You shouldn't embark on a tarpon adventure however unless you have a good guide, heavy-duty equipment and are generally ready for a physical challenge.
- The adult tarpon is migratory and during the spring and summer they move from South Florida and the Keys up the western Florida Coast.
- Starting around April they begin showing up in the 10,000 Islands area, pausing along their migration route to rest and feed in the warmer waters of the shallow bays and creeks
- Like snook, baby tarpon are very happy in near-100% fresh water and they will often move way up into the back country.
- Tarpon are famous for the spectacle of their aerobatic jumps which they do with regularity.
- Absolutely none. Tarpon have essentially no food value and thus their status as a plentiful gamefish seems secure.
Spotted Seatrout (Cynoscion nebulosis) is found inshore and near shore over grass, sand, mud bottoms and move into slow moving deep waters in cold weather.
- As a fighting fish it is not exceedingly strong or active, but a hard striker.
- On light gear tends to thrash about but it is not a long runner.
- Spotted seatrout seem to prefer the grassier flats for feeding, although they are also often found on mud flats, adjacent to oyster bars, and along the edges of tidal currents.
- Like redfish, they will move into deeper holes during extreme cold spells.
- Spinning, bait casting and fly tackle are all effective methods of catching Spotted Seatrout.
- A table favorite with everyone.
Jack Crevalle (Caranx hippos) The jack crevalle is perhaps the salvation of those days when the snook are sullen, the redfish are resting and the tarpon are travelling.
- Pound-for-pound, the jack crevalle or "jack" is one of the strongest fighting fish in salt water.
- This relative of the pompano and permit feed primarily on baitfish and shrimp.
- Jacks are usually caught throughout the backwaters, but sometimes off the beach as well
- A school of jacks will typically follow the tide up into the estuaries and canals, trapping schools of baitfish against mangroves, banks or seawalls and gorging themselves on their hapless prey.
- Poor by most standards. Meat is dark red and strong to taste.
Mangrove Snapper (Lutjanus griseus) The mangrove or gray snapper is quite prevalent in the backwater as well as offshore. The Gray (Black or Mangrove) Snapper are found from the mangrove and salt marsh fringes to the bays and offshore hard bottoms areas, wrecks and coral reefs.
- They are a very agressive fish and will readily take a properly presented bait.
- They tend to cluster in small groups and their main food is small baitfish and shrimp.
- As their name implies, they are often found adjacent to and up in the mangroves.
- Very good, lean white flesh and can be prepared in any fashion you like.
- Excellent food value in all sizes and is sold in most supermarket outlets. A great eating fish and is one of my favorites.
Spanish Mackerel (Scomberomorous maculatus) Spanish mackerel usually travel in rather large schools, following the schools of baitfish upon which they feed. Found inshore, near shore and offshore especially over deep grass beds and reefs. Absent from north Florida waters.
- They are usually available to the fly fisherman and inshore angler when they are near the beach or in the passes.
- They can be a lot of fun on a flyrod; especially if you happen upon a large school in a feeding frenzy.
- Wire leaders or at least very heavy shock tippets are required because of their sharp teeth.
- Fileting the fish, leaving the skin on, and cutting the bones out of the front end of the filet. Placing the filet, skin down on some foil, he dabbed it with butter and sprinkled it paprica. End of prep. Put it under the broiler for a short time and served it with more butter, melted, in a small pitcher to pour on the fish. Boy is it good. Pan fried Spanish Mackerel and scrambled eggs....mmmmm good
Sheepshead (Archosargus probatocephalus) is found all around the coast of Florida from coastal creeks to well offshore. Loves any structures that bear barnacles or houses crabs or other crustacean.
- Not an aggressive fish when caught on light tackle but gives a good account of itself.
- Sheephead love good cover and they will therefore often be found adjacent to pilings, rock piles, bridge abutments and seawalls.
- No special tackle is required for catching the Sheepshead. A general bottom rig will suffice with a 20lb test leader.
- Sheepshead is the perfect bait stealer
- Crabs are the best bait for catching this specie, but live shrimps are just as good.
- Great eating quality - Difficult to filet
Ladyfish (Elops saurus) This diminutive cousin of the tarpon usually weighs in at 1 to 3 pounds and, like the tarpon, ladyfish like to jump when hooked.
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- They spawn offshore, but spend most of their lives in the inshore bays and estuaries.
- Their primary food is small baitfish and shrimp
- Like the tarpon and the jack crevalle, the ladyfish has little food value but is a lot of fun to catch and release.
- Great cut-up bait for the monsters out there.
- They made great fishcakes.