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Family Sciaenidae, DRUMS Sciaenops ocellatus

Description: chin without barbels; copper bronze body, lighter shade in clear waters; one to many spots at base of tail (rarely no spots); mouth horizontal and opening downward; scales large.

Similar Fish: black drum, Pogonias cromis.

Where found: juveniles are an INSHORE fish, migrating out of the estuaries at about 30 inches (4 years) and joining the spawning population OFFSHORE.

Size: one of 27 inches weighs about 8 pounds.  Florida Record: 51 lbs., 8 ozs.

Remarks: Red drum are an INSHORE species until they attain roughly 30 inches, then they migrate to join the NEARSHORE population; spawning occurs from August to November in NEAR-SHORE waters; feeds on crustaceans, fish and mollusks; longevity to 20 years or more.


Family Sciaenidae, DRUMS Cynoscion nebulosus

Description: dark gray or green above, with sky blue tinges shading to silvery and white below; numerous distinct round black spots on back, extending to the dorsal fins and tail; black margin on posterior of tail; no barbels; no scales on the soft dorsal fin; one or two prominent canine teeth usually present at tip of upper jaw.

Similar Fish: other seatrouts.

Where found: INSHORE and/or NEARSHORE over grass, sand and sandy bottoms; move into slow-moving or still, deep waters in cold weather.

Size: common to 4 pounds on west coast, larger on east coast.  Florida Record: 15 lbs., 6 ozs.

Remarks: Trout matures during first or second year and spawns INSHORE from March through November; often in association with seagrass beds; lives mainly in estuaries and moves only short distances; adults feed mainly on shrimp and small fish; prefers water temperatures between 58 and 81 degrees F; longevity 8 to 10 years.


Family Sparidae, PORGIES Archosargus probatocephalus

Description: basic silvery color; with 5 or 6 distinct vertical black bands on sides, not always the same on both sides; prominent teeth, including incisors, molars, and rounded grinders; no barbels on lower jaw; strong and sharp spines on dorsal and anal fins.

Similar Fish: black drum, Pogonias cromis; Atlantic spadefish, Chaetodipterus (black drum have barbels on lower jaw, sheepshead do not; vertical barring on sides of black drum and spadefish disappear as fish mature; spadefish have small, brush-like teeth).

Where found: INSHORE species around oyster bars, seawalls and in tidal creeks; moves NEARSHORE in late winter and early spring for spawning, gathering over debris, artificial reefs and around navigation markers.

Size: INSHORE, 1 to 2 pounds; OFFSHORE, common to 8 pounds.  Florida Record: 12 lbs., 2 ozs.

Remarks: Sheepshead feed on mollusks and crustaceans such as fiddler crabs and barnacles; famed nibblers, prompting the saying that "anglers must strike just before they bite."

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(352) 796-5874 or 1-800-779-9968

"Fishing Experiences Of A Lifetime" with Captain Bill Hope is located 2 minutes off
US-19 in Chassahowitzka.  We're less than an hour drive from the Tampa Bay area.
Immediate access to the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge means more time for fishing fun!

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Capt. Bill Hope
"Fishing Experiences Of A Lifetime"
Phone: (352) 796.5874 or 1.800.779.9968
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