Gulf Whale Snackin on Kraken

A Great photo of the mantle and fins of a scaied squid, Pholidoteuthis adamii This species occurs throughout the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea and off the southeastern United States. But its greatest abundance is in the Gulf. Scaled squid normally live in depths of 250 to 3,000 feet. Schools tend to aggregate in around 2,000 feet during the day, then disperse upward through the water column at night, presumably for feeding. Interestingly, huge schools occasionally are spotted at the surface at night in the Gulf. I've heard of fishing vessels steaming for hours through massive schools of scaled squid at night. This specimen might have been at the surface after recent spawning activity and then died, as do most squids immediately after spawning. It may have floated to the surface and lost its head to a scavenger somewhere along the way. Or possibly the pilot whale you observed may have caught it and got just the head, while the rest of the body, with neutrally buoyant flesh, broke off. The scaied squid maintains that buoyancy in its flesh, by the way, by concentrating ammonium ions in muscle tissues; this renders it very bitter tasting. It's called scaled squid thanks to much of its surface being covered with small cartilage-like "scales." If any readers come across unusual squid (or parts), send me photos, and I'll try to identify them.

Clyde F. E. Roper, Ph.D. Museum of Natural History

Smithsonian Institution

0 Here's a genuine oddity from the Gulf of Mexico. We were enjoying a great day of fishing some 65 miles offshore southeast of Venice, Louisiana. We'd boated two yellowfin over 140 pounds on live bait as well as released a white mariin and three dolphin in the 25- to 40-pound range. Besides crushing the fish, we had an amazing encounter with a very young pilot whale that decided to call our boat "mom," laying up tight to the hull for more than 40 minutes. It was Jess than 4 feet in length! Shortly after that, 1 spotted something on the surface. When we went over to investigate, I found a very large piece of a big sguid's mantle. The section weighed around 10 pounds and was very fresh. With my general knowledge of squid, I'd say this specimen must have been at feast 6lh to 7 feet long. 1 know that Humboldt squid, in the Sea of Cortez, grow this large, but 1 had no idea that we had squid of this size in the Gulf. Unfortunately, there were no tentacles attached to this piece of carcass, and from what I've learned from cephalopod experts, it's really tough to ID a sguid without tentacles to allow a count of sucker discs and such.

Jeff Pierce Auburn, New York



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Trevally Acting Rashly

Qln this photo, Tony Rizzuto and his daughter, Mariko, hold a tagged 30-inch ulua (GT) with an injury showing in front of the tag. Mariko caught the fish white jigging off Mahukona, Hawaii. We learned that the fish had been at large for 16 days before Mariko recaptured it. It had been tagged at the same spot. Could this "rash"

have been caused by the attempts of the ulua to shed the tag by rubbing it against the rocks? If so, is this a common occurrence?

Jim Rizzuto Kamuela, Hawaii

A Interesting. That rash looks like a skin infection. The location of that infection, radiating out from the tag site, implies that either the tag or the tagging process is to blame. Fish have a mucous coating that helps prevent

Giant treva///

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Kraken Topwater

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P O Box 3B3, OrittwDod, TX 78619 Phone(51!) 394-9384 • Fax[5121857-9387 Email yeticüulers SyinalUont infections, and when that coating is removed through handling, rubbing on rocks or sand, or the insertion of a tag, infections may follow. I have tagged enough fish in my career to put me on PEEA's most-wanted list, and I have only rarely seen infections caused by tags. But it does happen.

We a/so received some additional information from day Tam, who runs the ulna tagging project for the Hawaii Division of Aquatic Resources. Tam says, "This is the first time we've seen that kind of injury." He aiso notes that the catch is unusual in its recovery only 16 days after its release. From a few years of tagging, Tam says the ulua populations seem to be located surprisingly offshore and less along the shoreline than widely supposed.

A Hard Case

Qln early November, whiSe fishing from a pier in Bayahibe, Dominican Republic, I caught a fish I haven't been able to identify. Any help wouid be appreciated. The fish in this photo weighed about 2 pounds and hit a Fish Bites Bloodworm suspended from a bobber in about five feet of water.

Jay Rlnqel Marlton, New Jersey

A You caught a trunkfish, Lactophrys trigonus, also known as the buffalo trunkfish. The body of this species, as well as other members of the boxfish family (Ostraciidae), is covered by s series of bony plates that unite to form a hard

Lactophrys Skin Plate Study

Trunkfish carapace. The trunkfish ranges from Massachusetts to Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico, Bermuda and the Caribbean Sea. Common around tropical sea-grass beds, the trunkfish is prized table fare in the Caribbean islands where it is often called chapin (pronounced "chaupeen") and harvested commercially. Although sometimes cooked in its "shell" after its internal organs have been removed, there's an easier — and safer — way to prepare trunkfish. When the dorsal ridge of a trunk-fish's bony carapace is removed, two long, white bands of muscle will be found underneath. I've eaten trunkfish muscle on numerous occasions and can attest to its excellent flavor and texture. However, trunkfish have been implicated in cases of ciguatera poisoning, so caution is advisable. Trunkfish grow to a maximum length of approximately 18 inches; slow moving but stubborn on light tackle, they're often encountered by anglers pursuing bonefish and permit on tropical fiats. Small individuals are sometimes kept in marine aquariums, but at least some boxfish species can release a toxin that is potent enough to kill any fishes in their tanks, including themselves. — Ray Waldner

Doggone Pony Show

Q While dropping sabiki rigs to catch live bait for sailfish last year over a sandy bottom about 30 feet deep off the east coast of Malaysia, I caught this colorful little fellow. I noted its mouth not unlike that found on the mojarras (family Gerreidae, I believe) that we caught as kids fishing south

Florida inshore waters. I can't figure out what it is and am hoping you can tell me, thus ending my sleepless nights.

Rob Sherman Pacific Palisades, California

Alt appears that a goldstripe ponyfish, Leiognathus daura, has been the cause of your insomnia. Ponyfish (family Leiognathidae, also known as slipmouths) do bear a superficial resemblance to mojarras

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them or convert them to animal feed or fish meal. Goldstripes are found throughout the coastal waters of the Middle East, India and Sri Lanka to Indonesia, Malaysia and as far east as Vietnam and northern Australia. Sleep tight! — Ben Diqgles ©

differences separate the two groups. Many different species of ponyfishes inhabit Southeast Asian waters; this one can be identified by the combination of a distinctive black blotch on the dorsal fin tip, striking yellow margins on the dorsal and anal fins, and complete lack of scales on the cheek and breast. Goidstripe pony-fish grow to around only 6 inches long. They spend most of their time schooling in shallow coastal inshore waters at depths of 30 to 45 feet, over bottoms of muddy sand, where they feed on polychaete worms, bivalves and small crustaceans. They're among the common bycatch of trawlers, who either dump

(family Gerridae), due mainly to the similar appearance of their highly protrusible mouths. However, the scales of mojarras are much larger, and several other morphological

Goidstripe pony fis h


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Send in your question and photo, if relevant, for information or an ID Catch M ini risti 0f any fish or marine creature. If we publish your question, you'll win your choice of a 3-pound spool of Berkley Biq Game monofilament (1,350 to 14,000 yards dependinq on line strength) or a 1,500-yard spool of Berkley FlreLine Original up to 30-pound-test! Send in questions and images via e-mail if possible to fishfacts<i> (include your hometown) or via post to Sporf Fishing Fish Facts, 460 N. Orlando Ave., Suite 200, Winter Park, FL 32789.


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Chasing the Tides

Be in All the Right Places at All the Right Times By Frank Sarqeant

OST OF US HAVE AN UNDYING BELIEF THAT certain of our favorite spots must be fished at a specific phase of the tide. For example, ! know that if I'm standing knee-deep at a particular notch along Tampa Bay an hour before a full-moon low tide pretty much anytime from March through November, I'm going to catch a half-dozen fat reds, a few big trout, a ladyfish or two, and maybe a bonus snook; it's money in the bank. But it took me several years (true,

I'm a slow learner) to figure out that those same fish had to be somewhere nearby when I didn't have that perfect low-tide moment And once I understood that, it morphed into an understanding that tides can be "chased" throughout an estuary, allowing you to be in dozens of spots at prime time, all in the same day.

For example, on any big estuary, the tide rises on flats near the mouth several hours before that same rise will arrive at the head of the bay several miles inland — on big bays like Charlotte Harbor and Tampa Bay on Florida's west coast, it can be half a day. And if you're interested in fishing up the tidal creeks, often a good option, add several hours more.

So, for instance, if you've found that reds in your area like to push into the spartina grass or mangrove edges as the water hits the last hour of rise, it's possible to find this terrain near the mouth of (he bay at the start of flood tide, work it for an hour during the peak time, then fire up and fun perhaps eight or 10 miles up the bay and find similar terrain where that same title is now ¡tist beginning to flood. Fish that out, and move inland again to yet another spot where the rise is just beginning — thus staying on the cusp of the bite all the way. It's run-and-gun fishing — not a lazy man's sport, but it w:orks.

And because you're chasing rising water, you can push into some very gnarly places without fear of getting stuck — as long as that water is going tip on a given spot, the fish will keep plowing farther into the cover, and you can go after them. (Just keep a careful eye out for the title's turn, however, because it's easy to get caught in a bottleneck, an area that's shallower than you need it to be, on the way back out.)

When the tide turns in earnest, you can work back toward the bay mouth, again hitting prime time in three or four spots. Now, however, the best spots are going to be the outer edges of the grass or mangroves, runouts, creek mouths, sloughs, cuts through the sandbars, and points around oyster bars ant I mangrove islands. Fish each of them while they're hot —- with lots of current flow, loads of bait flowing through and frequent explosions telling you the predators are there — but be ready to haul up tile PowerPoie antl motor on as

Shallows barely ankle-deep can provide great hunting grounds for red fish on low water. Seek flats with plenty of grass and hard bottom for ideal wading.

Shallows barely ankle-deep can provide great hunting grounds for red fish on low water. Seek flats with plenty of grass and hard bottom for ideal wading.

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'Like every CABO ever built, the design for this boat began in the cockpit, to make sure that it meets the demands of serious anglers."

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soon as the peak period slows. (Also watch out for getting snick: The water will go out from under your hull at an amazing rate, sometimes making it better to anchor off the edge and wade in under iffy circumstances.)

You'll find reds tailing on the last hour or so of a strong falling tide such as those that occur on the new and full moons in areas with just the right terrain — basically live bottom with depths no more than knee-deep in order to spot tailing fish. If you get tltat on Pelican Hat at noon, odds are good that you'll find similar conditions on Heron Flat, 10 miles down the bay, a couple of hours later. The trick is in knowing when you've had the best of it at the first Hat and getting down to the second in time to enjoy prime action.

Of course, there are other factors that can have a significant impact on tide flow, with wind being No. 1: a steady 15-knot (or stronger) wind blowing with a falling tide will make that tide

Reds somet/mes plow into amazingly shallow water seeking crabs, snails and mussels on low tides. A jig or fly presented with care does the job on them.

go low sooner and will also make it go much lower than it would on a calm day. The difference can easily be a foot or more, which can totally change the fishable habitat at given points in the daily tidal movement.

Conversely, a similarly strong wind blowing against a coming tide may pretty much stop it all together or make it come in several hours later at a given spot. In general. I've found that winds that block tide movement to 'est our saltbuard " six-layer corrosion protection, we dunk our reels |!m saltwater for weeks.


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tide, snook were stacked in amazing numbers, and tossing a topwater in there was like dropping a cherry bomb into a bathtub. 1 went back to tlie same spots a day later when the wind had subsided and never drew a hit.

In short, run and-gun fishing can be highly productive inshore, but it takes a good knowledge of lots of terrain and a willingness to pull up and move quickly to stay on top of the bite. ©

About the Author;■ Former fishing guide Frank Sargecint is tbe author of 10 books on fishing and boating and founder of the Frank Sargeant Outdoors Expo in Tampa, Florida, the Sunshine State s largest outdoors show. He has been tbe outdoors columnist at The Tampa Tribtfor 25 years and has written thousands of magazine articles. His work has iron some 60 national awards.


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Sea trout are also on the menu when you chase the tides. They often stack up in the deeper holes as the tide pours out Beware of lingering too long before leaving.

result in poorer fishing, but winds tliat increase the tidai velocity can be a big help in the right place. A few years back 1 got caught in an absolute gale at Pine Island Sound on Florida's lower west coast, "the wind was so strong, I knew I'd take a beating if I tried to cross open water arid get back to the marina, so I simply hid among the islands and kept fishing. On every island where the mangrove shore was exposed to die wind-pushed

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