Florida Fish Identification

Greater Amberjack

Description A combination of silver and black skin with a distinct yellowish stripe running down the middle section. Amberjacks have a dark stripe running from their nose to their front dorsal fin, which “lights up” when in feeding mode.

Location: Offshore, around rocky reefs and debris and wrecks; usually in 60-240 feet of water; juveniles may be associated with floating objects, and may be found in water less than 30 feet.

Feeding Habits Eats live bait such as pinfish, cigar minnows, and croakers. Grunts, Spadefish, Grunts, and Grunts are all good choices. It also eats dead bait (Spanish, threadfin, finger mullet), squid, and crustaceans.

Size Range Between 20 and 100 lbs. The current Florida state record is 142 lbs.

Food Value Delicious table food if prepared properly. Thin, white fillets with a strong fish flavor. This fish can be served as a main course in restaurants or as a key ingredient in fish spreads.

Great Barracuda

Description A fierce and furious-looking fish. Its razor-sharp teeth are displayed in the lower jaw. With silver sides, and bluish-colored backs. There are distinct black spots on the lower body that can be distinguished. Hooked, this fish is a fierce fighter and can run fast around the boat.

Location: Found in large quantities offshore and inshore, along the Florida coast, Keys, Bahamas, Central, and South America. You will find them near wrecks, reefs, hard bottoms, mud flats and inshore estuaries.

Food Habits: The barracuda is a top-level predator that can move at high speeds and eat a variety of fish. They prefer shiny or silvery fish. You can eat Sardines, snapper, groupers and jacks as well as tuna.

Size Range Starting at 5-35 lbs.

Food Value None Not recommended for human consumption.

Blackfin Tuna

Description Blackfin Tuna is the most common species of tuna. Their head and tail are the same lengths, so they look like a football. The stomach is white, while the sides are silver. From the second dorsal to the anal fin, small gray finlets run. Large eyes are common.

Location: Found offshore, in warmer waters during the summer months, near or on the surface, usually near offshore coral reefs. Also, along current lines, over banks and reefs. Prefers water at or above 67 F.

Feeding Habits Feeds in schools by “corralling up” bait schools or surrounding prey. Through straining, it also eats small crustaceans and squid.

Size Range Between 10-35 lbs. Current Florida state record 45 lbs. 9 oz

Excellent table fare. Many restaurants offer this dish. You can enjoy it raw, as Sushi, and cooked to perfection. The filet mignon of fish.

Blacktip Shark

Description This species is named for its conspicuously dark-tipped fins. It can be dark gray, bluish, or blacktip shark dusky Bronze above, and white or yellowish below.

Where to find: Offshore, inshore. It is abundant in the Gulf of Mexico. Many times found in over reefs, humps, and ledges or sharp dropoffs where sudden changes of current are possible. It usually stays within 100 feet. Usually stays in the 100ft.

Food habits: The blacktip eats small schooling fish such as sardines and threadfin. The blacktip is also known to eat young dusky sharks and dogfish.

The size Range starts at 15-90 lbs.

Food Value: Fair table fare. When cooked, steaks/fillets are pale grey and flaky. Strong fish flavor.


Description A strong fish with a broad, depressed head. The lower jaw extends past the upper jaw. Sometimes mistakenly mistaken for a shark. A conspicuous horizontal stripe of alternating black/white is visible when it’s young.

Where to find: Near wrecks, pilings, and channel markers, both offshore and inshore inhabiting bays, inlets, or buoys.

Feeding Habits Eats live bait such as pinfish, cigar minnows, and croakers. It also eats dead bait (Spanish, threadfin, finger mullet), squid, and crustaceans.

Size Range Between 15 and 70 lbs. Current Florida state record 103 lbs.

Food Value Delicious table food. Thin white fillets with mild to light fish flavor.

The article was written by a professional charter captain at Salty Knots Fishing Charters with 15+ years of experience in the Gulf of Mexico. Salty Knots Fishing Charters is a local fishing charter service based out of St. Pete Beach, Florida. “We know what it takes to catch a giant trophy fish!” Salty Knots Is the best when it comes to St Petersburg Fishing Charters.

Post Author: Jayda Felix