The black drum is the largest member of the drum family. It is also known for longevity – living up to 60 years in some habitats. In the Gulf however the oldest individuals found to date have been under 45. Gulf black drum also don’t grow as big as their relatives on the Atlantic coastline. There are reports of Atlantic drum weighing a whopping 130 pounds but the heaviest yet found in the Gulf has been 50 pounds. Common names for the species are:

  • Pogonias cromis
  • Drum 
  • Drummer 
  • Drumfish
  • Tambour

It is related to the red drum (Sciaenops ocellatus). Captive breeding programs have interbred red and black drum to produce a large and very vigorous but sterile hybrid. Whilst the two types of drums do often live in close proximity, they spawn at different times making it less likely for them to breed naturally. The fish in this family get the name ‘drum’ from the drumming sound males make during spawning by vibrating muscles in their swim bladder.

Identifying Black Drum

Juvenile black drums have different coloration to adults. Their silvery grey body has 4 or 5 broad dark vertical stripes down each side. They are similar to sheepshead and can be easily mistaken for one. Black drum, even juveniles, have a clump of sensitive whiskers or barbels under their chin unlike sheepshead.

Black drum do have teeth but they’re pharyngeal teeth located in the back of their throat. They are in fact great at shell crushing. Characteristics of a mature Black Drum are:

  • Faded juvenile stripes
  • Dark speckled color
  • Light grey/white belly
  • Rectangular body & short head
  • Steep slope
  • Large, suction cup mouth

Finding Black Drum

They are found along the Atlantic coast of the US and in the Gulf of Mexico. They’re most prolific in the Gulf, however, there are significant populations on the Atlantic coast south of Chesapeake Bay. Their favorite habitats:

  • Near their favorite foods, oysters and clams
  • Soft, sandy seafloor
  • Warm weather: shallow, brackish water 
  • Winter weather: deeper water

Fishing For Black Drum

Florida has bag and size limits for black drum. To ensure you don’t inadvertently break the rules, it’s best to book a charter with a company that knows them well. Blue Line Fishing Charters has been operating Cape Coral Florida fishing charters for many years. Contact us to book your bull drum fishing trip today.

Been out on the water around Florida recently and seen what looks like a shark fin gliding towards you? Whilst sharks do abound in our waters, it’s also highly possible you’ve spotted a cobia instead. There are 6-9 short sharp spines on its large pectoral fin. When this fin is upright, which is most of the time, it gives the cobia its ‘sharklike’ appearance in the water! You may know this prolific game fish by one of its various other names including:

  • Black kingfish
  • Lemonfish
  • Ling
  • Black bonito.

Shark Or ‘Just’ Cobia?

The fact that cobia can be mistaken for sharks gives us a few pointers about them. Like sharks, they’re a large and elegantly streamlined fish with a broad flat head. Mature adults can reach 6 feet and weigh up to 150 pounds. Most of the ones you’ll catch around here are between 10 and 50 pounds, still a good size for most anglers.

Here in southeast US, cobia spend the winter months in the Gulf of Mexico. They then head north up the Atlantic coast for summer, often going as far up as Massachusetts. We typically see them passing our Florida coastline during March.

Finding Cobia

The Shark Bay catch on the other side of the world is a clue to cobia’s widely dispersed global habitat. Places you can find them include:

  • The Caribbean, 
  • Along the eastern and western Atlantic and Indian Ocean coastlines 
  • Off Japan’s Pacific coast

They are an inshore and nearshore species with a preference for coastlines that have plenty of bays and inlets. Adult cobia typically live in and around structures like docks, reefs, and wrecks along these coastlines but will venture inland in search of prey.

Identifying Cobia

  • Distinctively colored
  • Dark back 
  • Broad horizontal dark brown lateral stripes. 

Aquaculture Vs Wild Cobia Fishing Trips

Cobia are an excellent and hugely popular meat fish. For this reason they are now extensively farmed in hatcheries, notably in China and Japan. However, that doesn’t detract from the thrill of catching one in the wild. If you’d like to experience this thrill for yourself, contact us at Blue Line to arrange your exciting Cape Coral fishing charter.

It may have had 2 US Navy submarines named in its honor but Trachinotus falcatus nevertheless has a few issues.  

  1. Its common name is more likely to be associated with an official piece of paper than a fish.
  2. It is often mistaken for its commercially popular relative Trachinotus carolinus AKA the Florida pompano. This is the permit, a medium sized popular western Atlantic game fish that likes Florida’s coastal flats, deep channels, and nearshore waters. 

As is the case with most scientific names, permit gets its tongue twister via logical progression. Trachys is Greek for ‘rough’ and noton means ‘back’. Combine the two and it provides a clue about one of the genus’ notable characteristics. Falcatus comes from Latin and roughly translates to ‘armed with scythes’. It refers to the scythe shaped dorsal fin that sometimes sticks up above the water when a school of them is feeding close to the surface.

When Size And Color Matters – Identifying Permit

When it comes to telling the difference between permit and pompano, the biggest clue is size. When mature, permit are a lot bigger than pompano. They can reach 3 foot in length, and weigh 15 to 20 pounds, twice the size of a mature pompano. 

Although almost identical, the main difference is orange colored patches on the underbelly, chin and fins of the permit. Other differences between the two include:

  • The shape of the dorsal find
  • The shape of anal fins (the permit’s are long and angled backwards)
  • Permit have a narrower angle between their tail fin lobes than pompano.
  • The shape of the forehead (permit have a noticeable hump) 
  • Pompano typically have a dark back and silver body 

Apart from the above features, the permit’s body shape is deep and laterally compressed. It has large eyes, a large mouth, and a very blunt, stubby upper jaw. Their primary diet consists of crabs and molluscs.

Permit Status In The Wild

Tagging studies are currently being done to better understand the life of this popular fish and also get an idea of their numbers. Tagged permits are re-caught on a regular basis, indicating that perhaps their numbers are not as great as they could be. There are bag, size and vessel limits in place in Florida for permit fishing. When you book your permit fishing in Cape Coral Florida with us, we take care of this paperwork for you.

Sheepshead (Archosargus probatocephalus) has an impressive set of teeth unlike any other fish species. Whilst they do look remarkably like human ones, they’re also rather similar to sheep’s teeth. Combine that with a somewhat sheep shaped head, and you have found the reasons it’s called sheepshead. 

Identifying Sheepshead

A sheepshead’s body has these characteristics:

  • Deep
  • Stout 
  • Laterally compressed
  • Steeply convex top 
  • Relatively straight & flat underneath 
  • Short head 
  • Large bulging eyes. 

Overall, sheepshead are a silvery grey to greenish yellow color. This provides a perfect background color for their striking lateral vertical black stripes. They have 5 to 7 of these stripes, which get darker as the fish matures.

The average size for adults is between 10 and 20 inches in length, and around 3 to 4 pounds in weight. However, they can get to 3 feet and weigh over 20 pounds.

Finding Sheepshead

Although sheepshead are found all along the eastern US and South American Atlantic coastline, they particularly like the Gulf waters around Florida. The biggest concentrations are found here & along the northern Gulf coastline generally because this coastline provides them with habitats they love which are:

  • Canals 
  • Bayous
  • Bays
  • Other brackish habitats 
  • Offshore where there are hard underwater structures supporting marine life

If you’ve been out and about on our beautiful Cape Coral waters, you may have seen a fish floating around on its side near the surface. This is Lobotes surinamensis, an average sized marine fish that lives in warm tropical waters around the world. However, it is the only member of this family found in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. You may know this floating flotsam-like fish by its more common name tripletail, or Atlantic tripletail.

When A Tripletail Doesn’t Have A Triple Tail

The aptly named tripletail gets its name from the unusual configuration of its:

  • Dorsal fins
  • Caudal fins
  • Anal fins

The rounded dorsal and anal fins are located at the rear of the fish’s body, close to the similarly rounded caudal fin. This gives the appearance of a triple or three-lobed tail.

Identifying Tripletail

Tripletails are a very distinctive fish, not easily confused with other species. 

  • They have distinctive fins
  • Their unusual habit of lying on their sides
  • Very deep & narrow body 
  • Large mouth 
  • Small eyes set forward on the head

Their coloring likewise is unusual. Notably, they can change color to blend in with their surroundings! As juveniles, tripletails are a mottled black, brown and yellow with white edging on the caudal fin and white pectoral fins. At this age, they are usually found living in and under Sargassum algae patches where this coloring provides the perfect camouflage.

With adults there is a range of colorations due to that ability to change color. Typically though they’re much darker than juveniles with black or dark brown mottling and a hint of grey. 

Adult tripletails can reach 35 inches in length, at which point they’ll usually weigh around 41 pounds. They are excellent jumpers; many have escaped an uncertain fate by jumping out of boats after capture! Unfortunately, their habit of lying on their sides close to the surface makes them easy pickings for sight-fishing. For this reason most Gulf states now have strict bag limits for recreational fishing.

Finding Crevalle Jack

This is a temperate and tropical coastal species found on both eastern and western shores of the Atlantic. It’s also prolific throughout the Caribbean, not surprising given the origins of the name ‘Caranx’. There are distinct species:

  • Caranx caninus is the Pacific crevalle jack. 
  • Caranx heberi (blacktip trevally) 
  • The massive Caranx ignoblis (giant trevally) 

Crevalle jack is a very fast moving pelagic fish. ‘Pelagic’ means it lives in the middle of the water column. In fact, jack of all ages have been found comfortably living in fresh water river systems. Generally though most juveniles and smaller adults live in :

  • Large schools in shallow inshore water
  • The estuaries
  • Mud 
  • Sand flats
  • Lagoons
  • Shallow reefs 
  • Seagrass beds 

Identifying Crevalle Jack

Crevalle jack are an attractively colored fish with a unique characteristic not found in any other western Atlantic jack species. Namely, it has a small scaly patch just in front of the pelvic fins whilst the rest of its chest is scaleless. There is also a dark spot on the upper part of the gill cover and another one at the base of their pectoral fin. The pectoral spot and the scaly patch clearly distinguish this species from other similarly sized, shaped, colored fish.

Adult jacks have a greenish bluey black back with a creamy silvery yellow belly. The anal and tailfin lobes are noticeably yellow and the latter often have a black edge. Juveniles are similarly colored but have broad dark lateral vertical stripes that fade as they mature.

The head is blunt and steep with large eyes and a large mouth whilst the body is deep with moderate lateral compression. Adults can grow to around 3 feet but they’re more commonly around 1 – 2 ½ feet. Average weight is 15 – 30 pounds although adults weighing up to 50 pounds have occasionally been caught.

Centropomus undecimalis or the common snook, also known as robalo, is a large carnivorous marine fish that abounds in the warm tropical coastal waters of the Gulf of Mexico. It has a yellowish grey body with a distinctive dark line down the side and a protruding lower jaw. They are hugely popular with recreational anglers due to their fighting ability. 

About The Common Snook

The common snook is the largest member of the 12 species snook family. Adults grow to between 20 and 55 inches in length. They are also protandric hermaphrodites. ‘Protandric’ means the fish begin life as males but become female as they get older. 

Their Environment

They are a very adaptive fish. Although technically they’re a marine, or salt-water fish, they do well in both low and high salinity environments, and can also tolerate fresh water. Juvenile common snooks will generally stay in lower salinity areas like the Cape Coral canals whilst adults live out in the saltier bays and beaches.

They are highly sensitive to even small environmental changes. A change in water salinity or slight drop in temperature for example can cause them to stop spawning. If the water gets too cold, they will stop feeding and even die. This can decimate local common snook populations.

Common Snook Fishing Charters In Cape Coral

If you’re interested in common snook fishing in Cape Coral, Blue Line Fishing Charters LLC, is your source for the best snook fishing in Southwest Florida. We can target your trophy common snook year round using many different techniques and locations depending on the time of year. For the ultimate light tackle battle the common snook never disappoints.

Tarpon are one of the most fascinating marine game fish we deal with at Blue Line Fishing Charters. The species found here in the Gulf of Mexico and western Atlantic is Megalops atlanticus. The other species, Megalops cyprinoids, is native to the Indo-Pacific region. Atlanticus and cyprinoids are the only members of the Megalopidae family that have survived to the present day. ‘Megalops’ incidentally means ‘large eyed’; eyes are a prominent feature in both species.

Megalops atlanticus is most correctly referred to as the Atlantic tarpon to distinguish it from the Indo-Pacific tarpon but is commonly called ‘tarpon’. It has a dark blue or green back with distinctive large shiny silver scales along its sides. These scales are the reason for its other common name ‘silver king’.

Silver Kings are particularly noted for their: 

  • acrobatic aerial displays during which those silver scales flash and sparkle in the sun
  • Ability to put up a good fight, which is why they’re one of our most popular game fish. 

Adaptability And The Atlantic Tarpon

Atlantic tarpon prefer shallow temperate coastal environments like we have here in the Gulf of Mexico. However, they can tolerate a wide range of pH and saline levels, including fresh water, which makes them very adaptable. They also have a remarkable ability to utilize atmospheric oxygen courtesy of their modified swim bladder. This lets them survive in low aqueous oxygen environments. They just come to the surface and take in air through a connecting duct between their swim bladder and esophagus. However, they do this in well-oxygenated water too. Research has found that tarpon of all ages, not just juveniles, require access to atmospheric oxygen.

Although adaptable, they need warm water and can’t tolerate temperature drops very well. A sudden cold snap can, and has decimated tarpon numbers. So, when it gets too cold they head for deeper warmer water.

Tarpon are also noted for their size, and longevity. On average, mature adults are between 4 and 8 feet long and weigh 60 to 280 pounds. However – females can grow to 8 feet or more, tip the scales at around 350 pounds, and live for 50+ years! Males are slightly smaller but can still be impressively large, and live for 30+ years. They do take many years to get this big though because they’re very slow growing

Cynoscion nebulosus, common name Speckled or Spotted Sea Trout (or ‘seatrout’), lives in the warm coastal and estuarine waters around the Gulf of Mexico and along the western Atlantic coast. It has a number of other names including:

  • spotted weakfish
  • spotted sea teague
  • simon trout
  • salmon trout
  • winter trout
  • spec trout etc.

Spotted seatrouts are very popular with anglers. According to information from sources such as the Cape Coral fishing guide, they’re one of the top 10 recreational fishing species in the US. Blue Line Fishing Charters LLC runs customized Cape Coral fishing charters for anglers keen to do a spot of spotted seatrout fishing.

About The Spotted Sea Trout

Despite their name, spotted seatrout are not trouts. Rather they belong to the Sciaenidae or drum family, which gets its name from the ‘drumming’ sound males make during breeding season to attract females. Their green or greyish back, and dorsal and ventral fins are covered in small dark spots or speckles, hence the name. The underbelly is silvery white and they have a couple of canine teeth on the tip of their upper jaw.

The Spotted Seatrout’s Favorite Environment

Cape Coral’s waterways are a particularly inviting habitat and spawning ground for spotted seatrout. The shallow waters and seagrass beds of these estuarine systems are home to their preferred prey, particularly over spring and summer. During fall and winter, seatrout generally move out into deeper waters where temperatures remain more consistent.

The young fish will continue to grow as they age. They reach 12 inches around 2 years of age, and by 3 years most have hit 16 inches. By this time, they’re exclusively eating other fish, preferably greenbacks. As they get bigger the size of their prey will likewise get bigger. As with other fish species, female spotted sea trout are bigger than males. Mature females max out around 25 inches in length while males are about 19 inches.

Redfish is a common name for several different species of ‘red fish’ depending on where you are. In our part of the world though we’re talking about the majestic red drum Sciaenops ocellatus, sole surviving member of the genus Sciaenops. Other popular names for red drum are:

  • spottail bass
  • red
  • redfish

About Redfish

Sciaenops ocellatus belongs to the drum family. The males in this family, which includes the spotted trout and black drum, make a drumming noise during breeding season to attract females. Red and black drum often live in close proximity and, according to some sources, can interbreed. However, their spawning seasons don’t run concurrently so this is likely an exception rather than the norm in the wild. The cross has been done in captivity to produce a sterile but large and vigorous hybrid.

Red drum are easily identifiable by their:

  • red back 
  • distinctive spot just in front of their dorsal fin
  • white underbelly

Younger fish may have several of these spots but the extra ones disappear with maturity. Adult redfish can live for up to 60 years, grow to a staggering 45 inches, and weigh in at 51 pounds! The average for males though is around 28 inches whilst females are slightly larger at 33 inches. Redfish over 27 inches are often called Bull Reds.

Fancy a tussle with a bull red? Blue Line Fishing Charters runs custom Cape Coral charter fishing trips for redfish and other exciting game fish.