The Tripletail, Lobotes surinamensis
Deep, somewhat rounded shape gives it the appearance of an oversize panfish. Color varies but is usually brownish and mottled. Head is concave above the mouth. Name derives from similarity and near juxtaposition of the dorsal, caudal and anal fins, resembling three tails.
SIZE: Most run 2-12 pounds; but rare catches reach 30 or more. World record 42 pounds, 5 ounces; Florida record 40 pounds, 13 ounces.
FOOD VALUE: One of the best.
GAME QUALITIES: Despite its clumsy looks, the Tripletail is a good gamefish in all respects. It willingly strikes artificial lures and its fight is characterized by short, frantic runs and startling jumps. Big ones in deep water are also good at bulldogging. Like Cobia— with which they frequently share the shade of a navigation structure—Tripletail are adept at fouling lines.
TACKLE AND BAITS: Casting tackle—fly, plug or spinning—provides the best and most spectacular sport with Tripletails, but saltwater outfits with lines up to 30-pound test are not out of place for big fish in tight places. Streamer flies, plastic and bucktail jigs and mir- ror plugs are among the pet lures. Best natural baits are live shrimp and small live fish. Strip baits and dead shrimp are also taken.
FISHING SYSTEMS: Still Fishing; Drifting; Casting.
RANGE: Both coastal and pelagic in Florida; mostly pelagic in the Bahamas and Caribbean.
HABITAT: The Tripletail is a true world traveler, drifting with ocean currents and often spotted by dolphin fishermen in weedlines or alongside floating debris. Many are found closer to shore in most coastal areas of Florida during warm months, and also in larger bays—usually hanging around markers or trap floats.