June 13 2016
You wouldn’t know it by reading some articles about fishing in the Atlantic off Cocoa Beach, but there are in fact a great diversity of fish species living in those waters. Most anglers and fishing charters tend to zero in on a select few species like Grouper, Snapper and so on.
While catching a healthy Grouper, Snapper or popular gamefish is certainly the best outcome for your fishing day, there’s a big possibility you will come up with a variety of other fish that may not be familiar to you.
That’s not to say these species are bad, they’re just not as thoroughly discussed as popular gamefish like the Redfish, Tarpon, Grouper, Snapper and so on. Many of the following species will also make for a delicious meal, so don’t be discouraged just because you’re not pulling in the heavy hitters.
We invite to learn more about 7 lesser known fish species you may encounter aboard your next fishing trip in Cocoa Beach.
Grunts – These fish look similar to a Snapper and get their name from a sound they make when grinding their teeth in the back part of their throat. Grunts are found in the mangroves, coral reefs and wrecks around Cocoa Beach and throughout Florida. The White Grunt actually feeds at night on crustaceans, mollusks, small fish and more.
Bonefish – As you can probably tell by the name, Bonefish are not really eaten, but are popular among fly fishermen. Unless it’s the peak of summer, Bonefish will be hanging around mangroves in the Indian River Lagoon around Cocoa Beach, but will move to deeper water when it’s hot. They will feed on shrimp, crabs, shellfish and any small fish around the roots of a mangrove.
Permit – This elusive creature will always try and sneak back undercover if they’re hooked. They are most often found in shallow flats and muddy bottoms, but also around piers, wrecks and other structures. Anglers will generally look for Permit in shallow water then cast directly to one. This species primarily feeds on shrimp, crabs and small fish.
Porgy – There are in fact several different types of Porgy living everywhere from the shallow grass beds near Cocoa Beach to the edge of the Continental Shelf around wrecks, reef and underwater debris. For all of you freshwater anglers, the Red Porgy is also known as the “Seabream.” Porgy will feed on a variety of things depending on their environment. Examples include the staples like shrimp and crabs, but also clams, snails, mollusks and more.
Sea Bass – The Black Sea Bass is in fact a protected species, which is why you have to throw them back if you catch one. They live along the bottom and are quite small but very energetic. They are often found around rock jetties, reefs, wrecks and pilings. Sea Bass love crustaceans like shrimp and crabs, but also feed on small fish, mollusks and even worms.
Triggerfish – These fish are only found offshore around reefs, wrecks, rocks or any structures, and are notorious for stealing bait. Exceptionally sharp teeth allow them to gnaw your bait away without you knowing. Despite their reputation for larceny, Triggerfish are excellent for eating and are often caught while pursuing Grouper or Snapper. They feed on shrimp and crabs, but also sea urchins, sand dollars, sea cucumbers and mollusks.
Tripletail – Due to their sharp teeth, razor-like fins and gills, handling a Tripletail is very dangerous without gloves. They typically live near the surface around weedlines , floating debris and buoys. Like other lesser-known species, they make for an excellent meal. Tripletails like to feed on small fish, shrimp and crabs.
Many of the species listed above are simply by-catches for more well-known gamefish that fishing charters around Cocoa Beach prefer to go after. It’s important to remember that if you catch a Porgy or Triggerfish, it doesn’t mean you’re not having a good day. Many of these species provide a spirited fight in their own right.
Captain Jim Ross of Fineline Fishing Charters of Cocoa Beach has extensive experience pursuing both common and not so common gamefish along Florida’s Space Coast. We invite you to visit http://www.captainjimross.com/ for more information.