Common Lee County Fish Species
This long, slim sport fish exhibits a broad, depressed head and jutting lower jaw and dark lateral stripes extend eye to tail. Cobia grow to an average of 30 pounds and are found in inlets, bays, among mangroves and around buoys, pilings, and wrecks.
A black lateral line marks the Common Snook. Its silvery body displays a high, divided dorsal fin, sloping forehead, large mouth, protruding lower jaw and yellow pelvic fin. Found along inshore coastal areas, mangrove shorelines, seawalls and bridges, and on reefs and pilings, catches range from five to eight pounds.
Brownish-gray with dark markings on sides, the Gag Grouper displays a serrated spur at the bottom of its preopercle. Its dark anal and caudal fins have a white margin. Like the Black Grouper, young are predominantly female, transforming into males as they grow, commonly up to 25 pounds.
Weighing in at 800 pounds, the Goliath is the largest of the Grouper family and is protected from harvest by law. The fish has unusually small eyes, its head and fins are covered with small black spots, and dark bars are prominent on its sides. These fish dwell nearshore around docks, in deep holes, and on ledges.
Gray (Mangrove) Snapper
Dark brown or gray with reddish-orange spots along the sides, Mangrove Snapper feature two conspicuous canine teeth in the upper jaw and dark or reddish Dorsal fin borders. A dark horizontal band from snout through eye is prominent when they are young. Adults, which normally grow to 10 pounds, occupy coral or rocky reefs.
The Barracuda is a sleek, silvery predator fish. Small black blotches can be found on its lower side, and diagonal dark bars on its green-hued upper side. Barracuda grow up to 6’ and 100 pounds. This lightning-fast swimmer should be treated with caution. Attacks on people have occurred, and the flesh of larger fish can be toxic.
Hogfish (Hog Snapper)
The Hogfish’s deep, strongly compressed body grows to 3’ and usually displays as reddish hues. A large dark spot sits at the base of its soft dorsal and its mouth is protrusible. The entire head nape is purplish-brown in large males, and a dark crescent marks the base of the caudal fin.
The Permit is gray with blue blending into silvery sides, and sometimes reflects golden tints around the breast. It features more than two dozen soft dorsal and anal rays. A small Permit has teeth on its tongue, and adults are common to 40 pounds. Permit are found around wrecks and debris, on grass or sand flats and in channels.
Brownish-red with a scarlet-orange mouth, the Red Grouper is a bottom-dwelling fish that commonly grows to15 pounds. Blotches on its sides appear, and the fish has a second spine of dorsal fin longer than its others. Its squared-off tail features a margin of soft dorsal black with white at its midfin, and black dots around the eyes.
Famed nibblers, Sheepshead grow up to eight pounds, feeding on mollusks and crustaceans. They are identified by five or six distinct vertical black bars on silvery sides, with prominent teeth and sharp spines on dorsal and anal fins. Smaller Sheepshead are found around oyster bars, seawalls and tidal creeks, gathering in spring to spawn over rocks, reefs and navigation markers.
The Tomtate is an important food source for larger reef fishes. A commonly used baitfish, it reaches 10-11” and a pound in weight. Featuring light coloring overall and a yellow to brown stripe from head to tail fin, the Tomtate touts a bright orange mouth. A black blotch at the base of its tail fin fades away in larger specimens.
The White Grunt is known for its audible “grunt,” produced by grinding the pharyngeal teeth, with its air bladder acting as amplifier. This species is bluish-gray with a head of horizontal blue stripes, white underbelly and black blotch on its preopercle. Like the Tomtate, the White Grunt has a large bright orange mouth. Catches average 1.5 pounds.
To report your Lionfish catch, please fill out an online report, or call 1-877-STOPANS.