|Florida Fish: Jacks|
(Seriola rivoliana) Similar in appearance to the
greater amberjack, the Almaco Jack is characterized by a football shaped
body a thin forked tail with the body being darker on the top side with
a white underbelly and a dark line extending from the nose, thru the
eye, all the way down its flank. Its dorsal and anal fin it markedly
more curved and longer than that of the rest of his family. Almaco Jack
are common at 10-20 pounds. The Almoco Jack can reach a maximum length
of about 38 inches and maximum weight of 55 pounds. The almaco jack is
found more often in deeper, oceanic waters of the western Atlantic from
Massachusetts to Brazil, though rarely caught north of the Carolinas.
Almaco Jacks are also found through out the Gulf of Mexico. They are
more oceanic than the greater amberjack and occur at greater depths.
They tend to frequent reefs, rocks, wrecks and offshore oil and gas
platforms. Little is known of its life history, although it is expected
that the Almaco Jack would have reproductive, growth and feeding
characteristics similar to the greater amberjack. Other common names for
the Almaco Jack include Blackjack, Bar Jack, Amberjack, Almaco, and
Spanish Jack. When fishing for the Almaco Jack Fish live baitfish are
the best natural bait while, spoons, plugs, poppers and streamers are
the best artificial bait.
Banded Rudderfish (Seriola zonata) The Banded Rudderfish is characterized by a football shaped body that is silvery blue on top fading to silver along its underside, like others in this family a horizontal line begins at the mouth, goes thru the eye, and continues down its flanks. There are vertical stripes extending down the side and continuing up thru its fins. Banded rudderfish that are less than 11 inches long have dark band from eye to first dorsal fin and six prominent bars on body. As the fish grows past 11 inches they lose their bands and turn to a bluish, greenish, or brown color. The average weight of the banded rudderfish is 3-6 pounds and it can reach over a foot in length. The range of the banded rudderfish is the western Atlantic from Nova Scotia, south to Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. The adult fish prefers shallower water than other amberjacks. The banded rudderfish can be found over hard bottom and reefs, in deep inshore channels around structures, and in schools near buoys oil rigs, at all depths. The Banded rudderfish feeds on other smaller fish and shrimp.
Blue Runner (Caranx crysos) The blue runner is extensively distributed throughout the tropical and temperate waters of the Atlantic Ocean, ranging widely along both the eastern American coastline and the western African and European coastlines. From the Gulf of Mexico, the blue runner distribution extends north along the U.S. coast and as far north as Nova Scotia in Canada, also taking in several north-west Atlantic islands. The blue runner is also present on several central Atlantic islands, making its distribution Atlantic-wide. The blue runner is distinguished from similar species by several morphological features, including the extent of the upper jaw, gill raker count and lateral line scale counts. The blue runner is known to reach a maximum length of 70 cm and 5.05 kg in weight, but is much more common below 35 cm. The species inhabits both inshore and offshore environments, predominantly over reefs, however it is known to congregate around large man made offshore structures such as oil platforms. Juveniles tend to inhabit shallower reef and lagoon waters, before moving to deeper waters as adults. The blue runner is a schooling, predatory fish, predominantly taking fish in inshore environments, as well as various crustaceans and other invertebrates. Fish living offshore feed nearly exclusively on zooplankton. The blue runner is a fast swimming predator which primarily takes small benthic fishes as prey in inshore waters.
Crevalle Jack (Caranx hippos) The crevalle jack is found in the Gulf of Mexico and up the coast of Florida including estuaries and rivers. The juveniles and smaller fish are often seen up the shallow parts of rivers with brackish waters and as they get older and larger the fish tend to be more on the continental shelf in the deeper waters inhabiting areas around reefs and other structures. The crevalle jack is fished commercially throughout the year in southwest Florida and also in the Gulf of Mexico through the spring, summer and fall. It is also a very popular sport fish and is the most common large jack caught off the west coast of Florida in the Gulf of Mexico. Crevalle jack’s color varies from a greenish-bluish or bluish-black on top to silvery white or yellowish underneath. This coloration helps this fish blend in with the water hiding it from predators above. The same coloration also helps it blend with the sunlight to hide from predators below. The pectoral fins have oval dark spot on and the juveniles also have 5 dark bars on their bodies which remain present until the juvenile fish reaches a size of 6.46 inches. The maximum size of a crevalle jack is just under 40 inches and 55 pounds. However those commonly seen off the coast of Florida are normally 24 inches. The crevalle jack has large eyes and has a body depth of about three times its very distinctive fork length. The adult crevalle jack will prey upon a whole variety of smaller fish and will also eat crustaceans and shrimps, while the juveniles feed on small fish and any crustaceans they come across.
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