When we hear the words fly-fishing-florida our thoughts naturally turn to those exotic species of fish, the tarpon, blue marlin et al. But what do we know of these fish? What do they eat? How can we recognize them? Below is a brief outline of some of these fish.

Fish of the Florida Keys & Key West

BLUE MARLIN (Makaira nigricans)

Description: The blue marlin is the largest of the Atlantic marlins. The males, which are considerably smaller than the females average 11 feet in length and weigh anything from 90 to 180 Kgs, though they can be much larger. Some have been known to weigh in excess of 2000 lbs. Their name reflects their colouring which is cobalt blue on top and silvery white on bottom; upper jaw is elongated in form of spear; they have two dorsal fins; a blade-like pectoral fin and pointed anal fin.

A blue water fish found offshore, in the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic oceans. They feed mostly on tuna and crustaceans or the occaisional squid.

TARPON (Megalops atlanticus)

Fly-fishing-florida, as a pastime is hard to beat. The sun, the scenery and of course those enormous Tarpon. But what do we know about them?

Megalops atlanticus and Megalops cyprinoides are the two species of Tarpon, the atlantic & Indo-Pacific respectively. Description: Last ray of dorsal fin extended into long filament; one dorsal fin; the Tarpon's back varies in colour from dark blue to green or greenish black shading. Their most distinctive feature is their silvery sides made up of large scales, they are sometimes known as 'silver king' because of this. Mouth is large and points upward. It contains a large number of very small densely packed teeth and a bony plate along their lower jaw which they use to crush crustaceans and other prey.

The male can live for up to 30 years and the female for 50.

When they reach maturity they feed on other smaller fish such as poeclids and shrimps which they usually swallow whole as their small teeth are not very efficient. Because of their size they do not have many natural predators, the main ones being bull and hammerhead sharks, porpoises & alligators.

Found primarily in coastal waters, bays, estuaries and mangrove lined lagoons, although adult fish spawn offshore where the ribbon-like larval stage of the fish is to be found.

Size; most catches are approx 40 to 50 pounds though Tarpon can weigh up to 160kg and measure around two metres in length.

SAILFISH (Istiophorus platypterus)

SAILFISH (Istiophorus platypterus)

Easily recognizable due to its huge sail-like dorsal fin. Coloured dark blue-black on top, brown-blue laterally and silvery white on its underside. Its upper jaw is extended in the form of a spear. With many black spots, its front squared off, highest at its midpoint. It also has long and narrow pelvic fins; body is covered with imbedded scales.

An offshore species. Found in temperate and tropical coastal waters. Frequents - Atlantic,Indian and Pacific oceans. Methods used to catch them are trolling with baits and lures,and fly-fishing(hence the name of this site; fly-fishing-florida).

Size: Those found in the Atlantic grow to approx 60kg whereas those in the Pacific tend to be much larger.


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