Naples Saltwater Offshore Gamefish

Groupers (Epinephelus itajara)

  • They are the most widely available of the game fish and also offer a great number of differing varieties.
  • Groupers live close to the bottom and are always associated with some type of submerged structure i.e. reef or wreck
  • The Gag Grouper is common up to a weight of 25lbs.
  • The Red Grouper is common in weight to about 15lbs.
  • The Jewfish can attain weight up to 800lbs and is more common in the south of Florida than the north.
  • Black Grouper common weight up to 40lbs
  • Groupers are caught using traditional bottom tackle rigs. Leaders need be substantial
  • Eating Qualities - All the Groupers are considered to be excellent in eating quality, and grouper is on the menu in most Florida restaurants.

    Red Snapper & Snappers (Lutjanus campechanus)

  • There are 15 species of snappers in Florida waters.
  • The five most common species of snapper are the Gray (Black or Mangrove) Snapper, Lane, Red, Yellowtail and Mutton Snappers.
  • Red Snapper is a standard bottom feeding fish
  • General size is up to 20lbs.
  • Yellowtail snappers are distinguished by a yellow streak on the side of the fishes body running from the head to the tail
  • Another Keys specialty is the Mutton Snapper.
  • Some Snapper spots may be in as little as 25 to 100 feet and light tackle may be used. They are however usually caught in much deeper water requiring heavier tackle and weights.
  • Best baits to use are pilchard or fresh cut fish or squid.
  • Standard bottom fishing tackle is the most effective.
  • Eating Qualities - Excellent food value in all sizes

    TARPON (Megalops atlanticus)

  • The fish is found throughout Florida in the warm months.
  • Major fishing effort for large Tarpons are found by live baiting in the passes, inlets, channels and river mouths.
  • Tarpon are famous for the spectacle of their aerobatic jumps which they do with regularity.
  • The Tarpon is caught by casting, drifting, still fishing and trolling. For large fish tackle of the 30lb variety is necessary. Heavy monofilament leaders are required.
  • The bait for drift fishing is small fish and crabs
  • All Tarpon will take dead baits. They may also be caught using jigs, plugs and perks. Fly fisherman use feather streamers and the similar bucktail streamer.
  • Eating Qualities - Absolutely none. Requires $50 tarpon tag to posses or kill.

    Wahoo (Aanthocybium solandri)

  • The Wahoo is found offshore around all the coast of Florida, especially in the Keys.
  • May strike a surface bait in spectacular fashion, but seldom jumps, instead streaks off at great speed after being hooked.
  • It is one of the fastest of all game fish. Could have been better named perhaps the 'ROCKET".
  • Wahoo are often caught when trolling. Heavier tackle than is necessary.
  • The most productive bait for Wahoo is jigged feathers or similar trolling type lures.
  • The fish is difficult to target specifically. Some skippers are able to target these fish by trolling at very high speeds i.e. 16 knots. which is hard to believe but it works. The theory is that you cover more ground and these fish have no problem swimming at this speed to attack your lures.
  • Eating Qualities - It is a white meat that is considered tasty but rather dry. A good smoking fish.

    King Mackerel (Scomberomorous cavalla)

  • The King Mackerel is found near and offshore and is occasional taken from deepwater piers. Common size is up to 20lbs.
  • This fish can be caught on a variety of baits from artificial's trolled, the Kingspoon being a local favorite.
  • Drifting live baits and chumming or even with fish strips produces "smokers".
  • On light tackle the fight can last for some while. Many fish are lost however if you do not use heavy monofilament or wire leaders.
  • In the boat beware of their teeth which are extremely sharp and can inflict a nasty wound.
  • Always wear gloves when handling when alive.
  • The methods of catching this fish are various. Either drifting with live bait, trolling with lures and spinning.
  • Eating Qualities - Food value is dependant on taste. The fish is rich and oily and is usually smoked or broiled

    Dolphin or Mahi Mahi (Coryphaena hippurus)

  • Dolphins travels in schools and are a quick growing species.
  • They are year round residents of Florida
  • In the Gulf they are found only usually at about 50 miles offshore. Schooling fish range in size from 1lb to 20lbs.
  • As a game fish it comes in the top of its class for weight and speed and aerobatics.
  • Dolphins love to hang around anything that floats. This includes seaweed patches and any type of man made debris.
  • A rigged ballyhoo is the traditional trolling bait, but many are also caught on big game lures.
  • Trolling, drifting and casting are the preferred methods.
  • Eating Qualities - The best, served in many restaurants in Florida.

    Barracuda (Sphyraena barracuda)

  • The Barracuda is found almost anywhere in South Florida
  • This fish is found from the shoreline out to the bluewater.
  • It is common on offshore wrecks and artificial reefs and can be a nuisance when fishing for other species.
  • The Barracuda is a dangerous fish when hooked and brought into a boat. When hooked the fish may leap out of the water and tail walk in a spectacular fashion.
  • When releasing the fish, it is liable to turn and bite, so take care
  • It is best caught using live baits, we used whole Bonito flat lined at about 100 metres
  • You can use tube lures which are popular.
  • Eating Qualities - The fish is excellent to eat up to a size of 5lbs., However the fish is not normal table fare as it is known to cause ciguatera poisoning. Most people avoid eating this specie. as there is no antidote I am told to ciguatera.

    Cobia or Ling (Rachycentron canadum)

  • Cobia are an all year round residents of south Florida
  • They favor natural and man made submerged structures such as reefs and wrecks.
  • They are common in size from 20 to 50lbs and sometimes up to 80lbs and more.
  • They are a strong but unpredictable fighter, long fast runs and fight deep with great stamina.
  • Boated when they proceed to thrash the boat as best they can. So watch your legs as a nasty tail smack can hurt.
  • Surf tackle is best for pier fishing and for boats when long casting with heavy lures
  • Eating Qualities - Excellent smoked or fresh.

    Permit (Trachinotus falcatus)

  • The fish is found both inshore and offshore and is most abundant in the south of Florida.
  • Very similar in looks to the Florida Pompano when in small size.
  • Feeds mainly on bottom-dwelling crabs, shrimp, small clams and small fish.
  • For bait we usually use shrimps but small crabs work well.
  • Difficult to catch using artificial lures. Excellent fighting fish on light tackle.
  • Eating Qualities - Excellent table fare. I am told the fish should be bled immediately after capture.

    Greater Amberjack (Seriola dumerili)

  • The Greater Amberjack is found inshore in waters less than 30 feet deep usually amongst floating objects.
  • Offshore this species is found in rocky reefs and wrecks typically in water from 60 to 240 feet and the most common size is form 30 to 60lbs.
  • The Greater Amberjack is a good tenacious fighter it can power down deep and defies lifting. It can make fairly long runs in the early part of the fight. The fish has a great deal of stamina.
  • Greater Amberjacks are most commonly caught on heavy tackle in the 50lb class. If you are light tackle expert you can expect a long fight.
  • Best bait is a fish either live or dead, however live baits are preferred.
  • Drifting, casting or trolling are the respected methods.
  • Eating Qualities - The food value of the Lesser Amberjack is classified as minimal.

    Sharks (Isurus oxyrinchus)

  • The sharks that inhabit the waters around the coast of Florida are divided into three groups for classification
  • Hammerheads.
  • Requiem sharks. This groups includes those most frequently taken by anglers in the area of Florida such as Atlantic Sharpnose Shark which averages 2 to 4 feet in length and Sandbar Sharks which is much larger.
  • Ocean roaming sharks. Whilst not common the Shortfin Mako & Black Fin is the most common in this group.
  • Most are caught by drift fishing with live or dead baits using reasonably heavy tackle as you cannot target a specie.
  • You need tackle 50 to 80lb class and especially terminal tackle that is specific for the job. Terminal tackle needs to of the wire variety
  • Live or dead baits drift fished with a chum trail are a good pre-requisite for success in catching this species.
  • Eating Qualities - Most Sharks taste ok to eat and the meat is a delicacy


    Return to the Top