Here, the editors of Florida Sportsman magazine have selected the 50 most important species available to anglers inshore, nearshore and offshore, as profiled in Vic Dunaway’s classic fish identification book, Sport Fish of Florida. Fish are grouped according to the zones in which you will most commonly find them. Florida’s Favorite Sport Fish is your online source for all things concerning Florida’s most sought-after gamefish.
- Properly identify the fish species you’re looking for
- How-To articles and videos for each species
- Photo Galleries for each species
- Food Value and Recipes
- Regulations and Conservation Issues
- Find everything you need to know about your favorite species, look no further!
Click on the image of the fish to find out more information, including: How-to-catch articles, photo galleries, tips on where they’re biting & recipes.
Features of the Sport Fish Guide
The presentation for each species is headed by an illustration, along with its most often used common name and its scientific name. Then come the following sub-headed paragraphs:
DESCRIPTION: Color and markings alone aren’t always reliable guides to fish identification, so this paragraph provides the reader with identifiable features that, in combination with the illustration, should serve to make identification positive. It does not go into the counting of scale rows, gill rakers or other anatomic details that very few anglers can muster the patience it takes to stop and investigate. In the majority of cases, however, the fins provide obvious clues and are often referred to in the description.
SIZE: Chief concern here is to give the angler an idea of the size, or range of sizes, that are commonly encountered, but mention is made of approximate maximum sizes as well.The absolute size potential is not known for any species, of course—which is why world records keep rising.
FOOD VALUE: Offers a guide as to how good the fish is to eat. But you should take note that, with only a handful of exceptions, all fish are edible and most of them are more than acceptable. Any relative rating of table quality is bound to be highly subjective.
GAME QUALITIES: Describes—again in the author’s opinion—the merits and characteristics of the fight the species usually puts up on the end of a line.
TACKLE AND BAITS: Lists the most suitable kind and weight of fishing gear for the particular species, along with examples of the best baits and lures.
FISHING SYSTEMS: Lists the best or most used approaches to fishing for the particular fish under the following categories: Still Fishing (fishing with natural bait from an anchored boat, or from bridge, pier or land); Trolling (pulling baits or lures behind a boat under manual or mechanical power); Drift Fishing (trailing baits behind a boat moved only by wind or current); and Casting. You could, of course, cast artificial lures in any of the other listed situations, but as a separate category it denotes moving about and casting lures or flies, either to sighted fish or to selected target areas, whether the moving about is done on foot or from a boat propelled by pole, paddle or slow motor.
OTHER NAMES: Lists any other popular name, or names, known to be in use. The same common or alternate names may, at times, be given for more than one fish.
RANGE: Here, note is made of the usual range of the particular species within the book’s covered area only—not the complete range, which may be far wider. The areas covered are Florida, the Bahamas and the Caribbean Islands. The larger islands of the Caribbean comprise the Greater Antilles—Cuba, Jamaica, Hispaniola (Haiti and the Dominican Republic) and Puerto Rico. All the rest make up the Lesser Antilles. Because they offer considerable freshwater estuarine habitat, the Greater Antilles are home to many coastal fishes that occur in Florida but may not be found to any great extent in the Bahamas or smaller islands of the Caribbean.
HABITAT: Outlines the type or types of environment in which the angler is most likely to hook up with the subject species.
Think you may have caught a record?
Here’s what to do. There’s a few outlets you can reach out to:
1. IGFA World Records
The IGFA recently made this great little video explaining the International Game Fish Association Records. You can also find the list of requirements for a record fish here. Finally, if you believe you qualify, you can fill out the IGFA World Record Application here.
FWC has a ton of resources for all things Florida fishing, including the Catch a Florida Memory Program. Here you can submit significant catches including big fish and various slams. When submitting these memorable catches, you will also be entered in contests and have the possibility of being featured on their social media. See the the Catch a Florida Memory website, the FWC website, and videos below for more information on the program.
Is freshwater fishing more your niche? FWC has the Big Catch and TrophyCatch programs, Trophy Catch being exclusively for bass over eight pounds and Big Catch encompassing 33 Florida freshwater species. On the FWC Freshwater webpage, you can find the links for both programs as well as a list of state record freshwater fish.
Much of the information in Florida’s Favorite Sport Fish is from Sport Fish of Florida, written by Florida Sportsman Founding Editor Vic Dunaway. The complete eBook is available here.