Captain Randy's Deep Sea Charter Fishing, Carrabelle, FL
Deep Sea Charter Fishing

Captain Randy Craft
Courteous & Experienced
U.S.C.G. Licensed

Fish Stories

Not all fish stories are "fibs". 
Our stock fish are both bottom feeders and palegics. They are beautiful specimens. Below you will find information about the target fish located in the beautiful Gulf waters located off the Forgotten Coast. Some even call this area "Grouper Heaven". You will see most of what we catch except, of course, the O.T.O.! That one I will let you ask me about!

Picture of Gag

Gag Grouper

Description: brownish gray in color with dark worm-like markings on sides; strong serrated spur at bottom margin of preopercle, less noticeable in large specimens; fins dark, with anal and caudal having white margin, link. Often confused with black grouper; tail of gag is slightly concave, black is square; gag has white margin on anal and caudal fins, black does not; under 10 pounds, gag's spur on preopercle is distinctive, where black is gently rounded.

Similar Fish: black grouper M. bonaci.

Where found: adults, OFFSHORE, over rocks and reefs; juveniles, INSHORE, occur in sea-grass beds .

Size: common to 25 pounds. *Florida Record: 71 lbs., 3 oz.

Remarks: forms spawning aggregations in water no shallower than 120 feet in Middle Grounds area, January through March; current research to identify similar aggregations off Atlantic coast is ongoing. Young gags are predominantly female, transforming into males as they grow larger; feeds on fish and squid.

Picture of Red Grouper

Red Grouper

Description: color brownish red; lining of mouth scarlet-orange; blotches on sides in unorganized pattern; second spine of dorsal fin longer than others; pectoral fins longer than pelvic fins; squared off tail; margin of soft dorsal black with white at midfin; black dots around the eyes.

Similar Fish: Nassau grouper, E. striatus.

Where found: bottom dwelling fish associated with hard bottom; juveniles OFFSHORE along with adults greater than 6 years old; fish from 1 to 6 years occupy NEARSHORE reefs.

Size: common to 15 pounds. *Florida Record: 39 lbs., 8 oz.

Remarks: spawns in April and May; prefer water temperatures between 66 and 77 degrees F; undergoes sex reversal, young individual females becoming males as they age; lifespan of at least 25 years; feeds on squid, crustaceans, and fish.

Picture of Red Snapper

Red Snapper

Description: color pinkish red over entire body, whitish below; long triangular snout; anal fin sharply pointed; no dark lateral spot.

Similar Fish: vermilion snapper, R. aurorubens.

Where found: OFFSHORE on the continental shelf, more plentiful off the panhandle than in south or middle Florida.

Size: to 20 pounds. *Florida Record: 46 lbs., 8 oz.

Remarks: juveniles occur over sandy or mud bottoms and are often taken in shrimp trawls;  adults may live more than 20 years, and attain 35 pounds or more; sexual maturity attained at age 2; spawns June to October;  feeds on crustaceans and fish.

Picture of Black Grouper

Black Grouper

Description: olive or gray body coloration with black blotches and brassy spots; gently rounded preopercle. 

Similar Fish: gag M. microlepis; yellowfin grouper, M. venenosa.

Where found: OFFSHORE species; adults associated with rocky bottoms, reef, and drop off walls in water over 60 feet deep; young may occur INSHORE in shallow water.

Size: common to 40 pounds, may attain weights exceeding 100 pounds.

*Florida Record: no Florida record because of identity confusion with gag, which are mistakenly called "black grouper."

Remarks: spawns between May and August; protogynous hermaphrodites, young predominantly female, transforming into males as they grow larger; larger individuals generally in greater depths; feeds on fish and squid.

Picture of Cobia

Cobia


Description: long, slim fish with broad depressed head; lower jaw projects past upper jaw; dark lateral stripe extends through eye to tail; first dorsal fin comprised of 7 to 9 free spines; when young, has conspicuous alternating black and white horizontal stripes. 

Similar Fish: remora, Echeneis naucrates.

Where found: both INSHORE and NEARSHORE inhabiting inlets, bays, and among mangroves; frequently seen around buoys, pilings, and wrecks.

Size: common to 30 pounds. *Florida Record: 103 lbs., 12 oz.

Remarks: spawns in spring and early summer; feeds on crabs, squid, and small fish.

Picture of Wahoo

Wahoo

Description: The Wahoo is a long fish with very sharp teeth. The Wahoo is like the Spanish mackerel but its tail is smaller and more upright. The Wahoo is also rounder. They are bluish-black in color and have wavy silver stripes along their sides.

The common weight of Wahoo ranges from 10-50 lbs.

Wahoo is a very good eating fish with sweet, firm, white flesh.

Remarks: diet consists of  tuna, garfish, mackerel, dolphin fish and squid.

Picture of Mahi Mahi or Dolphin-the fish

Mahi Mahi
or Dolphin

Description: bright greenish blue above, yellow on sides, with capability of flashing purple, chartreuse, and a wide range of other colors; body tapers sharply from head to tail; irregular blue or golden blotches scattered over sides; anterior profile of head on adult males is nearly vertical; head of females more sloping; the single dark dorsal fin extends from just behind the head to the tail; anal fin margin concave and extending from anus to tail.

Similar Fish: pompano dolphin, C. equisetis. The pompano dolphin has square-ish tooth patch on tongue (oval tooth patch on dolphin) and fewer dorsal rays (48 to 55 versus 55 to 65 on dolphin).

Where found: OFFSHORE in warm waters.

Size: common to 30 pounds. *Florida Record: 77 lbs, 12 oz.

Remarks: one of the fastest-growing fish, thought to live no more than 5 years; swimming speed is estimated at 50 knots; spawns in warm ocean currents throughout much of the year; young found in sargassum weed; feeds on flying fish and squid.

Picture of King Mackerel

King Mackerel

Description: color of back iridescent bluish green; sides silvery, streamlined body with tapered head; no black pigment on front of dorsal fin; lateral line starts high and drops sharply below the second dorsal fin; young fish often have yellow spots like those of the Spanish mackerel.

Similar Fish: cero, S. regalis; Spanish mackerel, S. maculatus.

Where found: NEARSHORE and OFFSHORE, occasionally taken from piers running into deep water.

Size: common to 20 pounds. *Florida Record: 90 lbs.

Remarks: schooling fish that migrates fom south Florida waters in winter to more northerly waters in spring; Gulf population thought to be separate from Atlantic population, with considerable mixing in winter from Cape Canaveral past Key West; spawns in midsummer OFFSHORE; feeds on small fish and squid.

Picture of Spanish Mackerel

Spanish Mackerel

Description: color of back green, shading to silver on sides, golden yellow irregular spots above and below lateral line; front of dorsal fin black; lateral line curves gently to base of tail.

Similar Fish: cero, S. regalis; king mackerel, S. cavalla.

Where found: INSHORE, NEARSHORE and OFFSHORE, especially over grass beds and reefs; absent from north Florida waters in winter.

Size: average catch less than 2 pounds (20 inches). *Florida Record: 12 lbs.

Remarks: schooling fish that migrates northward in spring, returning to southerly waters when water temperature drops below 70 degrees F; spawns OFFSHORE, spring through summer; feeds on small fish and squid.

Picture of Great Amberjack

Amberjack

Description: dark stripe (variably present) extends from nose to in front of dorsal fin and "lights up" when fish is in feeding mode; no scutes; soft dorsal base less than twice the length of the anal fin base.

Similar Fish: other Seriola.

Where found: OFFSHORE species associated with rocky reefs, debris, and wrecks, typically in 60 - 240 feet of water; sometimes caught NEARSHORE in south Florida; juveniles associated with floating objects and may occur in water less than 30 feet deep.

Size: common to 40 pounds. *Florida Record: 142 lbs.

Remarks: largest of the jacks; thought to spawn OFFSHORE throughout most of the year; feeds on squid, fish, and crustaceans.

Picture of Gulf Flounder

Gulf Flounder

Description: body color brown, its shade depending on color of bottom, with numerous spots and blotches; 3 prominent eye-like spots forming a triangle; one spot on lateral line, one above, one below; numerous white spots scattered over body and fins (albigutta, white-spotted); strong canine-like teeth; caudal fin in shape of wedge, its tip in the middle.

Similar Fish: southern flounder, P. lethostigma (no eye-like spots; color pattern is key to distinguishing the two species).

Where found: INSHORE on sandy or mud bottoms, often ranging into tidal creeks; occasionally caught on NEARSHORE rocky reefs.

Size: common to 2 pounds, generally smaller than southern flounder. *Florida Record: n/a

Remarks: hatches into usual fish form, but right eye migrates over to left side early in life; a bottom dweller; thought to spawn OFFSHORE; feeds on crustaceans and small fishes.

Picture of Gray Triggerfish

Gray Triggerfish

Description: They get their name from the dorsal fins. Unlike most fish, the trigger has only three stiff dorsal spines and they can lock them in an upright position. The only way to get them down is to push down on the third spine. It acts as a "trigger" and the other two spines will flatten into a groove in the fishes back. Their teeth can crack open a crab shell. Their eyes are set far back from the mouth. The skin of a trigger fish is just like that of the file fish. I�ve been told that it was used as sandpaper in colonial days.

Where Found: Trigger fish are abundant in the Gulf of Mexico. They can be found year round in our area and they live on just about any rocky or coral encrusted bottom.

Remarks: Their diet consists of crabs, shrimp, sea urchins, and mollusks



Picture of Black Sea Bass

Black Sea Bass

Description: basic color dark brown or black; dorsal fin has rows and stripes of white on black; large males have iridescent blue and ebony markings, and fatty hump in front of dorsal fin; females may have indistinct vertical barring; topmost ray of caudal fin much elongated in adults; caudal may be tri-lobed; sharp spine near posterior margin of gill cover.

Similar Fish: bank sea bass C. ocyurus; other Centropristis.

Where found: structure-loving fish, associated with reefs and rubble OFFSHORE; smaller specimens often found INSHORE finger channels.

Size: common to 1.5 pounds (13 inches). *Florida Record: 5 lbs., 1 oz.

Remarks: spawns January through March; protogynous hermaphrodites, older females becoming breeding males; omnivorous bottom feeders, diet including small fish, crustaceans, and shellfish.

*Does not represent any current records, or catches not officially recorded or documented.

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