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Can you Eat Sheepshead Fish?

Can you Eat Sheepshead Fish?

Sheepshead is one of the more peculiar fish species found along the coastlines of the United States. They are known for their distinct black and white stripes, but their teeth structure is unlike any other game fish species in North America.

Most anglers who encounter these fish and catch them while inshore fishing or bottom-fishing along offshore reefs often ask the question: can you eat sheepshead fish?

We’ve created this article to answer that question, as well as to discuss more about the sheepshead species and ways that you can prepare and cook it.

What is a Sheepshead Fish?

Sheepshead fish get their name from their strange appearance. Their teeth look nothing like most other fish, but instead closely resemble the front teeth of a human in many ways.

Sheepshead have incisors and even molars, which they use to chew and crush various types of prey.


These fish can be found around the Atlantic coastline of both North and South America. They are often caught by anglers who are fishing inshore areas like bays, sound, or around docks and other structures, but it’s also common to catch them further offshore as well.

Sheephead will move into deeper offshore waters in the winter when the water temperature drops. They will spawn in these deeper offshore areas around various structures like reefs or anything else they can gather around.

Also Read: Black Drum vs Sheepshead

After the spawn, they will return to shallow waters around the shore where they look for barnacles on rocks and other solid structures, as well as crabs, mussels and oysters along with other prey.

How Big Do Sheepshead Fish Grow?

Sheepshead don’t typically grow to the massive sizes that other saltwater fish species usually reach. They usually average about 1 to 8 pounds and might measure anywhere from 14 to 18 inches in length.

In the right conditions, a sheepshead might exceed 10 pounds, which anglers who routinely target them will consider to be a trophy fish.

The IGFA world record for sheepshead is a massive 21-pound giant that was caught off the New Orleans coast in 1982. While a sheepshead fish that exceeds 20 pounds is rare, there are a few tales of anglers catching fish that weigh more than 22 pounds.

How to Identify Sheephead

As we’ve already noted, sheepshead are probably one of the most unique types of saltwater fish species native to the North American coastline. They do appear to be somewhat similar to a few other species and some anglers might often confuse them for black drum.

However, there are some distinct characteristics and features that sheepshead have which you can use to confidently identify them.

Their teeth are the most unique part of the fish and often appear to be very ‘human-like’ in many ways. Anglers who are unfamiliar with sheepshead are often startled at their strange dentition, but these teeth allow them to crush and bite crabs shells, oysters, mussels and other creatures that other types of fish are unable to eat.

Sheepshead have a distinct appearance in their coloration as their bodies feature dark vertical stripes on either side that are separated by white scales.

Their dorsal fin extends all the way down their back and has a serrated appearance when fully extended. A sheepshead will also have a small tail that features a very clear V-shaped fork.

Can You Eat Sheepshead Fish?

The answer you’ll get from anglers and anyone who’s tried to eat sheepshead is a resounding “yes.” You absolutely can eat sheepshead fish and they are actually considered to be one of the best-tasting species found along most shoreline areas along the Gulf of Mexico, as well as the Carribean Islands.

Sheepshead have a very sweet flavor and their meat is often described as a lighter-colored filet that is firm and ideal for frying or grilling with a variety of different recipes.

While some fish species tend to lose their meat quality and flavor as they grow larger and older, sheepshead retain much of the good flavor and texture that they have throughout their lives.

It should be noted that smaller sheepshead are often the more ideal choices if you’re looking to keep the ones that will be best for eating.

Most anglers who usually keep sheepshead so they can prepare and cook them will harvest fish that are anywhere from 3 to 5 pounds as sheepshead of this size are typically best in terms of meat quality, texture and flavor.

What Do Sheepshead Fish Taste Like?

Most chefs or anglers who have caught and cooked these peculiar fish often describe their filets as having a distinct taste when compared to most other types of game fish species. The taste is usually described as sweet instead of being overly salty or ‘fishy’ as some other species are usually said to taste.

It’s quite unlike any other fish you’ll find in the Atlantic Ocean and the species that’s said to be closest to tasting like a sheepshead is the triggerfish, which is one of the other more sought-after species that’s known to be a culinary delight.

The sheepshead’s sweet and tasty flavor comes mostly from the fish’s diet, which consists of mussels, barnacles, oysters, crabs and virtually any hard-shelled prey that the average inshore species will pass by.

This flavor is described as being much more desirable than many other species that are commonly caught and harvested for cooking.

Most anglers usually discard the sheepshead fish due to its ugly appearance, but those who are aware of their flavor and meat quality consider the sheepshead to be one of the best-eating fish you can catch in parts of the Atlantic coastline.

Sheepshead Meat Texture

As we’ve noted already, the sheepshead’s meat is usually more firm than most other types of fish that live in the same relative area. This is often believed to be due to the sheepshead’s omnivorous diet in which it consumed both plants and a wide variety of different creatures.

It’s known that most omnivorous fish tend to have a much more firm texture and the filets will maintain much of this texture without being overly soft. When fried or grilled, the sheepshead’s meat is described as having the right amount of flaking.

How to Prepare Sheepshead

There is virtually no wrong way to prepare a sheepshead fish when you’re getting ready to cook them. These fish are fairly small and compact in stature and it’s relatively easy to cut away their skin and scales to produce nicely-portioned filets.

You would cut and filet a sheepshead in the same way you would any other fish by making a deep vertical cut just behind the pectoral fin and cutting down until you reach bone.

Then, you should angle your knife parallel to the fish’s body so that you can cut away as much meat as possible. As you cut, be careful to keep the knife blade on the outside of the meat and cut away the skin, which should leave a nicely-portioned filet.

The sheepshead’s filets maintain their texture and firmness very well, which allows you to cook these fish in pretty much any manner you choose.

Most anglers prefer to put them on a grill and add in any other spices or marinate they want, but the sheepshead’s meat has a taste that doesn’t necessarily need to be ‘covered-up’ in the same way other fish species tend to require.

How to Cook Sheepshead

There are numerous ways you can cook a sheepshead fish and virtually any routine fish recipe will work well. These fish often greatly appeal, in terms of flavor, to anyone who likes oysters and crabs as the meat tends to have a very similar taste.

The old saying of “you are what you eat” certainly comes into play with fish like the sheepshead and this peculiar species’ diet gives it a very desirable taste that isn’t hard to work with in terms of cooking.

Most people who commonly cook sheepshead like to fry them in a light batter that consists of mild spices or citrus-flavored ingredients.

The best overall manner that most people use to cook sheepshead involves baking them since the fish takes most types of spices very well and maintains much of its desirable taste, regardless of how it’s cooked.

It’s common to season the sheepshead filets with lemon juice, salt and pepper as this creates a nice balance which helps to bring out the fish’s flavor without masking it.

Some anglers like to add in some other ingredients like oregano, basil or olives in with the sheepshead filets to help bring out the shellfish taste.


If you’re able to locate and catch sheepshead in an area where they are in season and can be harvested, we encourage you to explore the many different ways you can prepare and cook them.

While many anglers might throw these ‘ugly’ fish back into the water, avid anglers know that the sheepshead are among the best-tasting fish in the ocean.

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Black Drum vs Sheepshead

Black Drum vs Sheepshead – What’s the Difference?

Two of the most popular types of inshore saltwater fish species are black drum and sheepshead. Each of these are found in abundance around the coast of the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico.

If you’re not quite sure how to tell the difference between black drum vs sheepshead, we’ve compiled this article to serve as a handy guide.

Black Drum vs Sheepshead Overview

The black drum and sheepshead fish are two of the most sought-after species around the coastal waters of the eastern United States. Inshore anglers routinely target black drum as they are fairly easy to catch and have a good taste when prepared and cooked properly.

Sheepshead are caught a bit further away from the shore, but sometimes you’ll see them come into coastal waters and gravitate toward dock pilings and other structures.

These types of fish are commonly found in marshy areas and there are many instances where you might catch both species in the same habitat.

Many anglers who might not be very familiar with these types of fish can get confused about whether they have caught a black drum vs sheepshead.

What is a Black Drum?

Black drum are often found in the coastal areas throughout the eastern half of the United States. They are much more prevalent further south and are known to prefer waters that are more shallow, which many anglers consider to be inshore areas.

Black Drum

They are known to be a bottom-feeding variety of fish and often cruise around various waterways using the small barbs on the underside of their mouth to seek out food.

Some of the black drum’s favorite menu items include clams, oysters, mussels and crabs, which they find in abundant numbers along the warmer southern coastal areas.

Black drum have exceptionally strong teeth that allow them to eat such prey, but they also like to feed on just about anything else they manage to find along their prime habitat.

These fish have very tough teeth that line their mouth and allow them to chew and crush hard-shelled prey that most other fish might not consider trying to eat due to the hardness of their external shell.

What is a Sheepshead Fish?

It’s known that sheepshead have a much greater range when it comes to the regions where they are commonly found. Anglers usually catch them anywhere from the southeastern Canadian coast all the way down to the warm, temperate waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

Sheepshead Fish

It’s also common to find sheepshead in and around the Carribean Islands, as well as South America, but they seem to be found in greater numbers in the areas north of the equatorial divide.

One of the major differences between black drum vs sheepshead is that the latter variation don’t confine themselves to waters near the coast. In fact, sheepshead usually venture well away from land and might stay near artificial reefs and shipwrecks that are more than 100 feet deep, especially in the Gulf of Mexico.

Sheepshead have a very similar diet compared to black drum. They often eat crabs, mussels. oysters, as well as many other types of prey that they find along the bottom of the ocean floor or coastal inlets.

A sheepshead has one of the most unique mouths of any fish in the world. To many anglers, it appears to be comical, but the human-like teeth of the sheepshead allows the fish to easily scrape away barnacles from hard surfaces like rocks, stone or concrete pillars and the metal surface of shipwrecks.

Black Drum vs Sheepshead Size

Black drum are capable of reaching much larger sizes than sheepshead, but the average size for a black drum is roughly 40 to 60 inches while they often weigh about 50 to 80 pounds. It’s well known among anglers that these fish can grow to be much larger than sheepshead when they have a healthy diet and ideal conditions.

The IGFA world record black drum tipped the scales at a whopping 146 pounds and was caught in Texas, where these species of fish find abundant prey, as well as the ideal climate and water temperature to reach such sizes.

Sheepshead are markedly different in terms of their size capacity. Most sheepshead only grow to about 14 to 18 inches in length and might weigh anywhere from 1 to 8 pounds on average.

They also tend to grow to much larger sizes around the Texas and Louisiana coastline in the Gulf of Mexico as this region has near-perfect conditions for sheepshead to reach their maximum potential.

The world record sheepshead was a 21 pound whopper that was caught off the coast of Louisiana in 1982, although there have been stories of anglers catching some that were bigger which were not certified on official scales.

Appearance of Black Drum and Sheepshead

The sheepshead fish gets its name from its distinct head shape, as well as its highly unique teeth. Many anglers, long ago, would catch a sheepshead and note that it looked very much like the head of a sheep with its sloping nose and pronounced upper and lower teeth. This is perhaps the most striking difference between a black drum and a sheepshead.

If you catch a small fish that has the distinct black vertical stripes on its body, it can sometimes be hard to know what type of fish you have.

Most anglers are not aware that black drum, when they are juveniles, will have visible black stripes that are strikingly similar to the sheepshead.

However, there are a few characteristics that separate the sheepshead vs black drum which anglers can use to differentiate each type of fish.

Body Shape

Black drum tend to have a more elongated body shape compared to sheepshead. Their body’s widest point will always be at the very beginning of its dorsal fin as it gradually tapers back downward further back toward the tail. Sheepshead have a more rounded shape that is usually described as a ‘football-shaped’ profile.

Face (Eyes and Mouth)

The sheepshead gets its name from the appearance it has with its black eyes and strange-looking teeth. This fish’s eyes and mouth appear to be very similar to a sheep’s head, but the face of the black drum couldn’t be more different.

Black drum have very hard teeth, but they don’t look at all like the sheepshead’s teeth, which have very defined incisors and molars.

Anglers often compare the teeth of the sheepshead to that of a human and their dental structure often startles beginner anglers who are unaware of this fact.


The fins of both the sheepshead vs black drum are also another very distinct difference between the two. In fact, this is one of the best ways to quickly identify the fish without having to peer into its mouth and examine the teeth structure.

The black drum will always have a separate dorsal fin with another, wider fin on its back near the tail.

The black drum’s dorsal fin is also shaped very differently from the sheepshead and will usually be higher and will come to a point. The dorsal fin of the sheepshead has a serrated appearance and runs across the entire length of its back.

The tail fin of the black drum is another identification point as it is much wider and doesn’t feature the same fork as the sheepshead. The sheepshead’s tail is more narrow and has a clear, V-shaped fork.

Taste of Black Drum vs Sheepshead

Black drum are known to be a decent fish when it comes to the quality and flavor of their meat. It’s not the best that the ocean has to offer, but you might certainly consider keeping any black drum you catch that are within the size limits of the state you’re fishing in so that you can cook it later.

Also Read: Can you Eat Sheepshead Fish?

Their meat is often described as having a very similar taste to that of a red drum, or redfish, and it is true that the meat’s taste and texture will greatly decline as the fish grows larger with age.

The best black drum, from a culinary standpoint, tends to be smaller fish as the meat is very white and has a firm texture.

According to anglers who have cooked and eaten both types of fish, sheepshead have a much more desirable taste and texture. Their meat has a very sweet flavor and the overall quality doesn’t really decline as the fish gets larger.


The confusion as to whether an angler has caught a black drum vs sheepshead can easily be solved using the identification points we’ve noted in this article.

Both fish are among the more sought-after species that inshore anglers like to target and you can sharpen your fishing skills by remembering how to tell the difference between black drum vs sheepshead.

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Great White vs Tiger Shark

Great White vs Tiger Shark – What’s the Difference?

Two of the ocean’s apex predators are great white and tiger sharks. Each of these sharks often grow to exceptionally large sizes and both species can be found in virtually any part of the world’s oceans where there is temperate water throughout most of the year.

Many shark fishing anglers sometimes catch a tiger shark and mistakenly believe they have hooked a great white.

It’s sometimes difficult to tell the difference between the two species, so we’ve compiled this article to discuss some of the ways you can tell great whites vs tiger sharks apart.

Sharks Overview

Sharks are one of the ocean’s most feared creatures and there are many shark attacks recorded each year in various parts of the world. They are known to eat virtually anything they can in both shallow and deep waters.

While there are a select few people who are willing to be hoisted down into the water inside a cage to view these creatures up-close, many anglers are also brave enough to try catching one of these massive creatures on a rod and reel.

To the untrained eye, a great white vs tiger shark might appear to be very much the same, but these two species actually couldn’t be more different when it comes to their behavior, habitat, and other areas such as their usual diet. Both great whites and tiger sharks do have quite a lot of similarities, however.

Great white sharks and tiger sharks are two of the largest of the more than 500 different species of sharks that are found throughout the world.

If they manage to reach full maturity and have optimal conditions, both great whites and tiger sharks can grow to be well over 12 feet in length, with some great whites reaching sizes that would make anyone think twice about going for a swim in the open ocean.

Great White Sharks

Great white sharks are, by far, the most famous and feared species of shark in the world. They were the inspiration behind the famous movie Jaws, which was a film based on a true story of a killer great white that attacked multiple people on a section of the New Jersey coastline.

Great white sharks are very often portrayed in movies and popular culture as a mindless killing machine. However, great whites are actually known to be more docile when they are not hunting.

They are known to live in mostly cool waters that are usually between 55 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. The most common regions of the world where great whites are found are around the United States, South Africa, Japan, the Mediterranean, as well as many other parts of the world’s oceans.

They are usually found in deeper water around the outskirts of coastal areas. Great whites might be found in water that’s less than 100 feet deep or even much closer to the shoreline.

They are also known to swim down into much deeper water that’s 1,000 feet deep or more with some tagged and tracked great whites exceeding 3,000 feet in some cases.

Tiger Sharks

Tiger sharks derive their names from the dark, vertical stripes that are found on young tiger shark species. These predators of the sea are known to grow to very large sizes that rival that of the great white, but they are slightly smaller.

The tiger shark does not have the vicious reputation of the great white, but they are known to attack nearly as many people as great whites on a yearly basis.

While a great white might attack and swim away after realizing that a human is not the type of prey it commonly eats, a tiger shark will continue the attack. This is due to the tiger shark’s lack of ability to distinguish tastes and smells the same way a great white will.

Tiger sharks are known to prefer warmer waters than the great white and can usually be found in sections of the ocean with water temperatures ranging from 65 to 88 degrees.

A tiger shark usually stays in water that’s more than 100 feet deep, but they often come up into shallow offshore reefs to hunt. They can also be found in depths as far as 1,000 feet or more.

Size Difference Between Great white and Tiger Sharks

As we’ve already noted, a great white usually tends to be much larger than a tiger shark, but there have been a few cases in which tiger sharks can reach immense sizes. A fully-grown tiger shark usually measures anywhere from 10 to 14 feet, but there have been some reports of them growing to 18 feet long.

The IGFA world record tiger shark was caught in 2004 by a father-son duo off the coast of Australia. The monster shark weighed 1,785 pounds, which is more than twice the weight of an average tiger shark.

Great whites are known to grow up to about 15 to 16 feet in length, but there are tales from captains and others on the ocean seeing great whites that are roughly 25 feet or more.

Although the 25-foot great whites are more legend than anything else, there are records of anglers landing behemoth great whites on a rod and reel.

The IGFA world record great white is listed as a 2,664-pound giant that was caught in 1959 off the coast of Australia. However, there was a monster 3,450-pound great white caught off of Montauk, New York in 1986 that didn’t make it into the record books.

To qualify as an IGFA world record, a fish must be caught on line that’s no heavier than 130-pound-test and the Montauk monster was caught using 150-pound tackle.

Great White vs Tiger Shark Differences

Some of the major differences between great whites vs tiger sharks are evident, but a tiger shark will lose its distinct stripes once it grows to full maturity. These dark, vertical stripes will remain, but will be less defined as the shark continues to age. The following identification points can be used to tell a great white from a tiger shark.

Color and Skin

A Great white shark gets its name from the color of its snow-white belly. Most other species of sharks will have a somewhat lighter-colored belly that might be gray, but the great white’s belly is unmistakable.

The tiger shark has a grayish-colored belly, which sometimes gets mistaken for a great white. However, once you’ve seen both types of fish, the white belly on a great white shark is a surefire way of knowing what type of species it is.

The obvious dark stripes of a tiger shark are another way you can tell these two large shark species apart. A great white will have a solid gray color on its back and sides white a tiger shark will usually appear to be a bit darker.

These faded stripes are often hard to spot when looking into the water, but from an underwater perspective, divers are often able to distinguish a great white from a tiger shark fairly easily.

Head Shape

Avid shark anglers commonly use a shark’s head shape as one of the main ways of identifying the fish they catch. This is mostly because the more popular species of sharks all have a very unique head shape compared to one another. Tiger sharks and great whites are no different.

Tiger sharks have a very square-shaped nose while the great white has a pointed nose shape. This is often more difficult to notice, but a great white’s nose will come down into a definite point whereas a tiger shark’s nose is more rounded-off and does not form this point.

Tail Shape

The tiger shark’s tail is one of the ways anglers are able to firmly establish which type of fish they’ve caught. Tiger sharks have a very long tail fin that will stretch out higher than its body.

A great white shark’s tail is much more even with the top and bottom tail fin being the same length. This tail shape makes the tiger shark a bit faster than the great white, but both fish species can draw serious power with each thrust of the tail.

Body Profile (Shape)

The overall body profile of a great white is another unmistakable identification point that most avid anglers can use to tell the difference between each species.

Great whites have a much greater girth and will be larger toward the middle section of their bodies. Tiger sharks are more thin compared to great whites and have a sleeker profile.


These two types of shark species are often a thrill to catch on a rod and reel, but it’s often a challenge just to get them to bite.

If you’re one of the few anglers who’s able to hook one of these types of shark, you’ll be able to tell the difference between a tiger shark vs great white using these four main identification points.

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Bluefin vs Yellowfin Tuna

Bluefin vs Yellowfin Tuna – What’s the Difference?

Tuna are one of the most prized sportfish species in the world. They present anglers with an incredible challenge in landing the giant fish, and also have some of the best-tasting meat of any other offshore fish.

There are various types of tuna, but the yellowfin and blue tuna are among the most sought-after by recreational and commercial fishermen.

Many anglers are not aware of the differences between bluefin vs yellowfin tuna. In this article, we’ll examine some of the features and characteristics of each type of fish, as well as some ways you can tell them both apart.

Tuna fishing has been made increasingly popular in the last few decades by sportfishing operations, as well as the popular television series Wicked Tuna.

If you’re a fan of the show and you’re wondering whether or not tuna fishing is really as intense as it’s often portrayed, the answer is a resounding “yes.”

Bluefin vs Yellowfin Tuna

Bluefin vs yellowfin tuna look, in many ways, virtually identical to one another. However, their habitat, feeding patterns and certain appearance characteristics are often what makes them quite different from one another.

Tuna operations are often among the most profitable types of commercial fishing ventures across the world. These fish grow to immense sizes and many commercial fishing companies, as well as professional guides and tournament anglers all use the same methods to catch these monsters that prowl the deep.

Bluefin and Yellowfin Territory

There are sections of the globe where bluefin and yellowfin might live together, but there are certain other portions which have either one or the other instead of a mixture.

The yellowfin tuna is mostly found in the Atlantic ocean around the Carribean Islands all the way over to the western coast of Africa and Madagascar. However, they are also found along the southwestern coast of Africa and the west coast of Australia, as well.

Yellowfins generally prefer the more temperate waters around islands and near the coast and rarely venture out into the sections of ocean where the continental shelf doesn’t reach. They are not found in water that’s as deep as bluefins typically like to roam.

Bluefin are a bit more widely dispersed than their yellowfin cousins. These types of tuna commonly live in the upper Atlantic around the New England coastline all the way out to the coastline of France and Portugal.

They are also found throughout the Indo-Pacific oceans near the coastline of the Indonesian islands, as well as the lower North American and South American Pacific coastline.

Like the yellowfin, the bluefin will usually swim in deeper water that’s still above the thermocline. However, both species sometimes venture down to depths of 3,000 feet or more in some cases.

Most anglers typically fish for both bluefin and yellowfin in the upper portion of the water column using methods like trolling, jigging or chunking.

Major Differences in Bluefin and Yellowfin Tuna

The tuna species is actually closely related to the mackerel species, but they are known for having much more bulk and muscle than most other types of fish. Let’s take a deeper look at the bluefin and yellowfin tuna species in more detail.


If you catch a relatively small tuna and you’re not quite sure whether you’ve landed a yellowfin or a bluefin tuna, there are a few tried-and-true methods you can use to distinguish one from another and be certain of your catch.

Yellowfin tuna have a very distinct yellow line that runs laterally across their body at about the eye-level and stretching back toward the tail above the pectoral fin.

Yellowfin tuna also have the same deep blue coloration on the top of their back, but they also feature light, white-colored vertical stripes that intersect this blue and yellow coloring.

The yellowfin tuna also lives up to its namesake as the fish has vivid yellow-coloration on their second dorsal and anal fins. These yellow fins are likely to be the most prominent means anglers can use to distinguish a bluefin tuna from a yellowfin species. We’ll go into more detail about each fish species’ fins in the following sections.

The bluefin tuna is certainly worthy of its name and reputation as well. These fish have a very dark complexion on their fins that might actually appear more like a black color for some regions of the world.

Bluefins will obviously not have the distinct yellow lateral line that yellowfin feature, but their bellies do have a more noticeable silver sheen.

The bluefin tuna’s belly also has short, uneven vertical lines that run along the area where the fish’s widest point is between the fins. There might also be white-looking spots on the belly of the bluefin tuna that are not clearly noticed on the yellowfin species.

Differences in Fins

Another way that anglers might tell the difference between bluefin vs yellowfin tuna is to examine the fins more closely.

Aside from the fin color on either fish, the bluefin vs yellowfin tuna species’ fins have a few slight differences between them that make it possible to identify one species based on things like length and fin position.

The bluefin tuna’s pectoral fin is a bit shorter and less pointed than the yellowfin. This pectoral fin of the blue will not stretch past the back of the dorsal fin on the bluefin.

However, the yellowfin’s pectoral fin will be noticeably longer and will usually reach past the dorsal fin and is often long enough to stretch back overlapping the second dorsal fin.

A bluefin tuna’s second dorsal fin is a mixture of grayish-yellow. This yellow tinge is sometimes what confuses anglers as to the identity of the fish, leading them to believe that they have caught a yellowfin when it is, in fact, a bluefin.

With any yellowfin tuna, there is no doubt as to whether or not you’ve caught a bluefin vs yellowfin as this particular fin will be bright yellow and will usually match the anal and tail fin.

The tail of the bluefin vs the yellowfin is another point of difference that is easily distinguished from the other. The bluefin’s tail is very often a dark blue color, but might sometimes appear as dark gray in some regions.

This contrasts to the yellowfin’s tail, which is more distinctly yellow in color and might have a slight grayish coloration. The shape and profile of both the yellowfin vs bluefin tuna’s tails are very similar in every other respect besides the color.

Size Differences

Both the bluefin and yellowfin tuna are capable of growing to massive sizes, but it’s the bluefin that is the true heavyweight species of the two. The average bluefin tuna usually grows to be about 4 or 5 feet in length and might weigh anywhere from 100 to 150 pounds.

It’s widely known that the Pacific variety of bluefin typically grow much larger and can reach as much as 8 or 9 feet and sometimes weigh well over 500 pounds.

The IGFA world record bluefin tuna weighed an incredible 1,496 pounds and was caught off the coast of Nova Scotia, Canada in 1979.

Yellowfin tuna are known to grow very fast, but they never reach the monstrous sizes that bluefin are capable of growing to. The average yellowfin tuna might be about 3 or 3’6” in length and they commonly weigh anywhere from 100 to 200 pounds.

The IGFA world record yellowfin tuna is noted as being a 427-pound specimen that was caught off the coast of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico in 2012.

Bluefin vs Yellowfin Taste

There is no dispute that bluefin and yellowfin tuna are considered to be seafood delicacies as their meat offers a very desirable taste and can be prepared a number of different ways.

The size and composition of the bluefin tuna’s meat makes it more sought-after than the yellowfin, mainly because of the healthy levels of fat within the muscle tissue that make it much more flavorful.

Bluefin tuna are also known to have a very bright red-colored meat that tastes salty and rich compared to other types of fish. The brighter a bluefin’s meat is usually means that the fish’s fat content and flavor will be top-notch and will fetch a hefty price from buyers at the docks.

This is the main reason why tuna fishing is as popular with serious anglers who are willing to venture out hundreds of miles in search of these giant fish.

Yellowfin tuna are also tasty, but they offer a more lean type of meat that isn’t quite as high-quality as the bluefin. In either species, wild-caught tuna has an exceptionally better taste than farm-raised fish.


Tuna fishing is an incredibly exciting venture that is often well-worth the time and effort spent. Using these identification points, you should now be able to tell each species apart in the event that you catch one.

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Can You Eat Tarpon

Can You Eat Tarpon?

Tarpon are commonly considered to be one of the most exciting game fish species in the world. They are known to grow to immense sizes and anglers usually target tarpon because of their giant size rather than their contribution to seafood cuisine.

The topic of catching tarpon typically brings novice anglers or those who are not familiar with these monster fish species to ask the same question:

In this article, we’ll discuss this question and more information related to cooking and eating tarpon, as well as other tarpon fishing facts.

Tarpon Overview

Tarpon are a peculiar fish species that live along the coastline of the Atlantic Ocean, but there is another tarpon species that lives in shallow areas of the Indian and Pacific oceans.

Both species are virtually identical in almost every way, but the Atlantic tarpon draws many thousands of anglers to the coast of Florida each year.

They are distinct in both their size and stature, as well as their other appearance characteristics.

Tarpon, sometimes referred to as Silver Sides, Silver King, and other names which indicate their unique appearance, have very large scales that appear to be much like steel armor and each fish’s overall color is a bright, silver sheen that’s unmistakable for avid tarpon anglers.

These fish are usually caught in areas where the water temperature is above 70 degrees Fahrenheit, but tarpon don’t often prefer water that’s more than roughly 88 degrees.

Once hooked, tarpon often display a number of acrobatic and extremely powerful moves on the end of the line.

Can You Eat Tarpon?

Yes, tarpon are just as edible as any other fish, but there are a few major drawbacks in terms of their flesh, the taste and other concerns that make the Silver Kings more of a catch-and-release type of fish.

The main question many people often wonder in relation to these massive fish are whether or not they are edible, as well as to what degree are they edible compared to other saltwater game fish species?

Most of the common concerns related to eating tarpon are that they are an incredibly bony fish, especially in relation to their overall size.

Tarpon are very much like a trout when it comes to their overall body and bone structure. These large fish have numerous small, thin bones that somehow always seem to end up in the fillets no matter how much care you take in removing them.

If you’re hungry enough and willing to deal with the long time periods it usually takes to de-scale tarpon, as well as to filet or try to clean them in a way that makes them easier to cook and eat, then you can absolutely eat tarpon.

What Size Tarpon is Best for Eating?

Tarpon are famous for growing to incredible sizes, especially in parts of southern Florida where the water remains somewhat warm throughout the entire year.

However, there are a few things you need to know in terms of what the best size to eat is when it comes to tarpon.

Like most other fish species, especially those capable of growing to very large sizes of more than 60 pounds, the tarpon’s flesh can take on a very different texture and flavor as the fish gets older and bigger.

It’s widely known that, if you’re going to keep, clean and cook a tarpon, it’s usually best to keep the smaller ones that are not bigger than about 100 pounds or so.

The IGFA world record tarpon is noted as being a 286-pound monster that was caught off the coast of Guinea-Bisseau, Africa in 2003. A fish of this immense size is typically going to have extremely soft meat that makes it difficult to cook in the usual methods like frying or grilling.

The average size tarpon ranges anywhere from roughly 20 to 80 pounds in most parts of the world. However, there are different laws and regulations regarding tarpon and harvesting these fish depending on where you catch them throughout the world.

Follow the Laws and Regulations

It must be noted that every angler who intends to harvest and eat any species of fish should be aware of any laws and regulations pertaining to that particular species in the area where they are fishing.

For instance, tarpon is strictly a catch-and-release only fish in the state of Florida, which means you’re not allowed to put it in a live-well or walk around the beach taking photos of your catch.

In the Sunshine State, every angler who catches a tarpon is allowed to snap a few quick photos, but is encouraged to put the fish back into the water as quickly as possible to maximize its potential for survival.

Just one state over in Georgia, however, anglers are allowed to harvest tarpon as long as they are at least 68-inches-long.

It’s very important to follow any laws in the state you’re fishing in to ensure that you don’t illegally harvest or handle a tarpon.

Thankfully, for most areas, you can simply do a quick online search and find out the specific laws and any other regulations related to virtually any type of species.

What Does Tarpon Taste Like?

This question is one of the most obscure when it comes to catching and eating tarpon. It’s often difficult to be a genuine tarpon connoisseur who really has a deep knowledge and understanding of the best ways to cook these fish unless you’re an avid tarpon angler.

If you cook and prepare it the right way, tarpon can be somewhat edible to those who are capable of dealing with an especially smelly fish.

Tarpon is known to have a very strong fishy smell, which makes most anglers shy away from keeping them. However, if you’re willing to deal with this strong smell, as well as the bony flesh, you can actually cook and eat tarpon if you choose to.

The two main reasons why most anglers don’t generally want to eat tarpon are because of the strong smell and the bony structure of the fish’s meat. Even if you do go to the trouble to clean and cook this fish, you’re likely to spend a great deal of time—as you’re eating—picking out small bones.

Also Read: Are Sheepshead Fish Edible?

This is especially unpleasant and makes most anglers really appreciate the finer delicacies of the ocean that have a desirable taste and can be filleted without any bones ending up on your plate.

As a side note, you can actually consume tarpon raw if you had some reason for wanting to do so (I imagine that this would only pertain to a survival situation). If you’re going to eat raw tarpon, it’s highly important to be sure that you only eat raw tarpon that’s caught in saltwater.

This is because the saltwater is capable of purging certain types of germs and bacteria that live on the outside of the fish’s scales and skin.

How to Cook a Tarpon

There are various methods you can use to cook a tarpon, but it’s especially important that you properly and thoroughly clean the fish before cooking. It’s common to discard the fish’s skin and spend a good deal of time de-scaling them in order to help avoid any harmful bacteria on the exterior ending up in your meat.

There are certain ways you can de-bone the tarpon to get most of the small, pesky bones out of the meat before cooking and eating these fish, but you’re probably going to end up with some bones in the meat anyway.

If you take extra care when filleting the fish, you can usually cut around some portions that have lots of small bones, or you can try to remove them using your hands before preparing the filet to be cooked.

Since these fish have very soft flesh that might not stay together when cooked, it’s sometimes best to make fried cakes or patties out of the meat. When prepared in this manner, tarpon can be surprisingly tasty if you use the right spices and flavors, as well as a skilled cook.

This method involves cooking the tarpon fillets for roughly 10 minutes before removing the meat from the bones and putting it into a food processor or even a blender to get the fish’s meat into finely-cut pieces that will easily mix with the rest of your recipe. It’s a time-consuming process, but worth the effort if you’re determined to eat your catch.


Tarpon might not be the most desirable fish in the ocean, but you can often clean, cook and eat them just like most other species.

You can also store tarpon in the freezer if you need to, which might actually help kill off harmful germs that reside on the skin or meat.

If you’re going to eat tarpon, you’d best roll up your sleeves and get ready to do the work as these fish require a bit more effort to properly enjoy as a culinary dish.

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White Bass vs White Perch

White Bass vs White Perch – What’s the Difference?

White bass and white perch are two of the more prevalent freshwater fish species across North America.

They are not as popular as some of the more sought-after freshwater species like crappie or largemouth bass, but there’s a good chance that if you’re fishing in lakes and reservoirs throughout the United States, either a white bass or white perch could end up on your hook at some point.

It’s difficult to be certain whether a fish is a white bass vs white perch in many cases, especially if it’s a smaller fish. We’ve compiled this article to help anglers differentiate between white bass vs white perch using a few specific identification points.

Temperate Bass Family

Both the white bass and white perch are part of the same family, which is known as Temperate bass. This family includes sea bass and striped bass, as well as a few other types of fish that share some distinct traits and features with white bass and white perch.

Both of these species are actually part of the same genus within the Temperature bass family.

The fact that they are tied together in the same biological family means that white bass and white perch have many of the same feeding and behavior patterns, as well as spawning rituals and other characteristics that are similar.

What is a White Bass?

White bass are found throughout most of the United States’ freshwater river systems that feed into many of the most well-known lakes and reservoirs that are visited by millions of anglers each year.

They are dispersed throughout the southeastern part of America, as well as the Midwest along the Mississippi River system and other waterways that stretch upward into southern Canada.

The color of white bass is not actually what most anglers would refer to as ‘white.’ It’s actually known to have a greenish tint on the top part of their bodies along the back and dorsal fins, but their sides are silver-toned.

The scales on the sides of the white bass’ body have very defined, somewhat bold horizontal black stripes.

This silver coloration to the scales along the sides of white bass are quite similar to crappie in the way that their scales create a silvery sheen underwater.

It’s often easy for seasoned anglers to be able to tell what a white bass looks like in comparison to a white perch and this silver tone is often the most common way of identifying the fish.

What is a White Perch?

The white perch is often found throughout the Great Lakes regions and the rivers and tributaries that feed into them. They are found in most freshwater lakes where anglers like to fish for panfish species like crappie, perch, bream and others.

In fact, many anglers like to target white perch specifically when ice fishing in certain parts of the Great Lakes region because they are one of the better-tasting freshwater fish in this part of the continent.

The white perch certainly lives up to its name in terms of the fish’s color. Many anglers recognize white perch by their distinct white-colored bellies and the fact that they lack the type of defined, black horizontal scales along their sides.

It’s white perch is known to have the same type of greenish tint on top of the fish’s back that’s very similar to white bass and other bass species.

Size Difference Between White Bass and White Perch

Both white bass and white perch are not known to grow to enormous sizes, even in optimal conditions. White bass are known to share many similarities with striped bass, but they are not capable of reaching the massive sizes that stipers will at full maturity.

In most cases, white bass are known to grow to a length of roughly 10 to 12 inches and might weigh up to 2 pounds in the best conditions and with the right diet.

White bass only live to be roughly 5 or 6 years old, but some are capable of living a few years past that and reaching a size that any angler familiar with them would consider a trophy fish.

The world record white bass was caught in North Dakota in 2017 and tipped the scales at 4.3 pounds. Any white bass over the 2-pound mark is considered to be a trophy-sized catch.

The white perch is so similar in terms of their size, profile and shape to the white bass that many anglers have trouble distinguishing them from one another.

White perch typically grow to roughly the same size white bass are known for reaching. They often can grow to the same 10 or 12-inch length that white bass might be, as well as the same weight of roughly 2 pounds.

Most of the largest white perch are caught by ice anglers during the frigid winter months when the lakes and reservoirs are frozen-thick with multiple feet of ice covering them.

Mature white perch that are considered trophy-size species might be as long as 16 to 18 inches and can be 2 to 3 pounds. The world record white perch was caught in 2016 by an angler in Massachusetts. The fish weighed 3.8 pounds, which is a monster-size for a white perch.

Behavior and Habitat

White bass are well-known for traveling in large schools in the many rivers and lakes that are connected by the Mississippi River system, as well as other sections of the United States.

These large schools of fish will chase after shad, minnows and other types of bait fish throughout the year.

When white bass are schooling and chasing after small bait fish in this manner, it’s quite easy to catch them with any type of bait or lure resembling a shad. In the cold winter months, white bass are usually found in deeper water as far down as 50’ in some cases.

They like to stay close to structure in deep water and will emerge when the water begins to warm up, which is when they will school together and chase after bait fish.

White perch, on the other hand, are a very interesting fish as they are known to be a semi-anadromous species. This means that white perch are capable of living most of their lives in either saltwater or freshwater, or a combination of both. Traditionally, white perch will behave in the same way a striped bass will as a matter of instinct.

They are described more than 100 years ago as living most of their lives in the ocean only to swim up into the rivers and tributaries during their yearly spawning phase.

Many white perch numbers have been landlocked for decades after the construction of large dams along some of America’s biggest rivers many years ago.

These fish have not displayed any negative effects from having to spend their entire lives in freshwater and there are known to be many white perch that still live much of their lives in the ocean.

White Bass vs White Perch

There are five basic points of identification that anglers can look to in order to distinguish between these two types of fish.

These identification factors might take some practice to key in on these differences before you’ll be able to tell whether the fish you’ve caught is a white bass or a white perch.

  • Size – White perch are known to be quite a bit smaller in most cases than white bass. We’ve noted that each species can grow to roughly the same size, but white perch generally take longer to reach the 10 or 12 inch length that white bass can grow to within a year or two.
  • Dorsal Fins – The dorsal fins of a white perch are connected, unlike the two dorsal fins of a white bass. If you pull up and stretch out a white perch’s front dorsal fin, the back dorsal fin will also stand erect.
  • Body Profile – A white bass’ body is thicker in the middle underneath its dorsal fins while a white perch is much thicker in the section in front of the dorsal fin at the head.
  • Stripes – One of the most evident differences between each species is the horizontal black stripes on a white bass. A white perch does not have stripes, but their sides do feature irregular, broken horizontal markings.
  • Color – The white bass are known to be more silver in color while the white perch have a more pronounced white coloration.


White bass are not as sought after as white perch, mostly because the white bass don’t have a desirable taste.

The white perch species are widely known as one of the finer delicacies when it comes to freshwater fish.

Although these two species might appear to be very similar, each of these identification points can be used by anglers to differentiate them with certainty.

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Jack Crevalle vs Pompano

Jack Crevalle vs Pompano – What’s the Difference?

Most avid saltwater anglers will agree that there are few more exciting and challenging fish to catch than Jack Crevalle and pompano. These two fish have a similar, distinct body shape and overall appearance and, very often, one is mistaken for the other.

If you’re one of the many anglers who gets confused when it comes to telling whether a fish is a Jack Crevalle vs pompano, we’ve compiled this article to help identify both species using certain features and characteristics.

Carangidae Family

Both the Jack Crevalle and pompano belong to the same family of fish species that’s known as Carangidae. This family also includes jack mackerels, blue runners and scads and is one of the more peculiar fish families that anglers target with a rod and reel.

The fish in the Carangidae family are well-known for being very tough, strong and incredibly smart compared to other species that live in the same relative habitat range.

There’s no mistaking the particular times each year when the pompano or Jack Crevalle species are making their migratory ‘runs’ along the coastline.

Anglers from all over the country, and even the world, will flock to parts of the coast along the Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic Ocean when either one of these species are moving through the region.

In order to be able to better identify each type of fish, it’s important that we first begin with a solid understanding of each species.

Jack Crevalle Overview

Jack Crevalle are found along temperate waters in the Atlantic Ocean ranging from the southeastern coast of Brazil to the Mediterranean Sea and into North America. They are known to grow quite large when compared to other fish within the Carangidae family and can reach sizes of 60 pounds in some cases.

Anglers routinely catch Jack Crevalle throughout the shallows around the coast, but these fish can also be found in deeper offshore waters around reefs at certain times of the year.

They are usually found around grass beds, flats, shallow reefs and sandy-bottom bays throughout their known range. In many cases, Jack Crevalle are known to swim up into brackish rivers and freshwater streams that empty into the ocean.

It’s much more common to catch Jack Crevalle in shallow water, but they have been studied by biologists swimming at depths of more than 1,000 feet.

Mature Jack Crevalle typically prefer deeper water than young, juvenile fish of the same species. Jacks often use any structure they can find to hunt for prey, including oil rigs, sunken ships and other areas.

Pompano Overview

Few fish are as sought-after as Florida pompano around the coastline of the southern United States and parts of the Caribbean. They are known for being one of the more fierce fighters in the sea and trying to land one on a light rod and reel is exhilarating, to say the least.

There are multiple variations of pompano throughout the world, many of them live in the Atlantic Ocean. There are a sizable number of Pacific pompano that live along the coast of Mexico and California.

They have a distinct silvery skin that usually appears to be a somewhat translucent blue when the sunlight reflects off of it. The different types of pompano have slight variations when compared to one another, but they all share much of the same main features and characteristics.

Unlike the Jack Crevalle, Florida pompano do not typically grow to be much more than a few pounds with even the most favorable conditions and the best diet.

Despite their small stature, they have an improbable amount of power and will certainly make the drag of any angler’s reel scream when initially hooked. However, some pompano can grow to more than 7 pounds in optimal conditions.

Pompano often swim in huge schools of hundreds, or even thousands of fish at a time. They usually begin their annual migration during the early spring of each year when the water temperatures begin to warm up along the northern Caribbean.

Pompano will venture as far north as the New England coastline during the heat of the summer and will make their way back down the coast, headed toward the Caribbean once the cool fall weather sets in.


The Jack Crevalle are generally around 12 to 24 inches in length and might weigh anywhere from 3 to 5 pounds on average.

However, in the right conditions and if they are capable of living long enough, some Jack Crevalle are known to grow to more than 50 pounds and as long as 4 feet.

As with most other fish species, the female Jack Crevalle are often much larger than the males. The largest jack on record was recently caught in 2021 by a 12-year-old boy off the coast of Palm City, Florida. The monster Jack Crevalle weighed a whopping 58 pounds.


In most areas, pompano only grow to around 1 or 2 pounds at the most, but there are cases of single fish that live to be a few years older than the others in their habitat. These fish might grow to more than 5 pounds and are considered, by all accounts, to be once-in-a-lifetime trophy fish.

Also Read: Can You Eat Pompano?

The average pompano is typically 12 inches in length and will weigh anywhere from 1 to 3 pounds. The IGFA world record pompano is a 8.4-pound whopper that was landed in 1999, but there actually have been some reports of larger fish—weighing as much as 10 pounds—being caught that weren’t officially certified.


Jack Crevalle typically have a gold-colored greenish hue, or sometimes a bluish tint along their backs with golden scales on their sides. Their fins are usually bright yellow or almost gold in color. Their heads have a very round shape that gives them a distinct look compared to other types of fish in the same family.

Pompano are more silvery in color and often have a shimmering blue tint, especially underwater. Their yellow-colored fins are mostly why so many anglers confuse them as Jack Crevalles, or vice versa.

Also Read: Difference Between Permit and Pompano

Pompano have a head shape that slopes downward at a more gradual angle, which gives them a ‘football-like’ body profile when laid on one side.

If you catch a smaller fish that has similarities between what you know to be a Jack Crevalle or a pompano, there are a few things you should look for to distinguish which one it actually is.

Jack Crevalle vs Pompano

1. The pectoral fin of a Jack Crevalle is much longer than a pompano’s and it will lengthen into a sharp point, whereas the pompano’s pectoral fin is shorter and rounded at the tip.

2. A Jack Crevalle’s dorsal fin has two-parts, which actually makes it look more like two fins with the front one being much shorter than the rear fin. This two-part dorsal fin is likely the easiest way to tell a Jack Crevalle from a pompano, but if it’s a juvenile jack, the fins might not be fully-developed.

3. All of the Jack Crevalle’s fins taper down into a sharp point, but the fins of a pompano are often more rounded. Another major identifying factor is the tail. A pompano has a tail that makes a uniform V-shape while the Jack Crevalle’s tail is very deeply-forked and a bit more thin.


Most anglers consider Jack Crevalle to be a poor-tasting game fish compared to most others that roam the coastline. Their flesh is very dark red in color and often has a strong, fishy taste.

When cooking them, most people will use lemon or lime, as well as strong spices to help dampen the strong flavor.

Pompano, on the other hand, is considered to be one of the more delicious fish in the ocean. It is said to have a very rich taste that some describe as either sweet or salty depending on the fish’s diet.

The flesh of the pompano is very flaky and can be prepared in a number of different ways to please those who enjoy a true seafood delicacy.


Most anglers who catch a Jack Crevalle will agree that they are among the hardest-pulling species in the world, on a pound-for-pound basis. They will make one incredibly-hard pull initially, but will usually tire out more quickly than a pompano.

Also Read: Sheepshead Fish vs Black Drum

Pompano are generally caught close to the shoreline out to about 100 feet from shore when they are in their migratory patterns. They are known to be fierce fighters and will pull hard, using their wide body profile to help leverage themselves against your rod.


Both the Jack Crevalle and pompano are two fish that any avid angler should have on their bucket-list as species they want to catch. Each one is distinct in its own right and catching a Jack Crevalle or pompano is one of the biggest thrills in the sportfishing world.

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Types of Marlin

5 Different Types of Marlin

There are several types of marlin that are fished for regularly and they are easily some of the most exciting fish that you can catch on a rod and reel.

Due to the size and strength of the four marlin species (plus the Spearfish variations) and their relative rarity, some game fisherman consider marlin (also known as billfish) to be the pinnacle of offshore game fishing.

Fishing for marlin captivated the interest of certain sport anglers in the 1930s, when Ernest Hemingway, who fished for Atlantic blue marlin and white marlin in the Florida Keys, Bahamas, and Cuba, wrote extensively about the hunt and thrilled about the sports characteristics of these huge targets.

A lot of money is being poured into the building of private and charter billfishing boats to compete in the billfishing competition circuit these days. These are high-priced offshore boats with strongly propelled deep sea hulls.

They are often constructed to luxury standards and outfitted with several technology to make the life of the deep sea recreational angler easier, such as outriggers, flying bridges, and fighting seats, as well as cutting-edge fishfinders and navigation devices.

Marlin are members of the billfish family, which includes the following ten different species:

  • Atlantic and Pacific Blue Marlin
  • Black Marlin
  • White Marlin
  • Striped Marlin
  • Atlantic Sailfish
  • Indo-Pacific Sailfish
  • Longbill Spearfish
  • Shortbill Spearfish
  • Swordfish

Types of Marlin Fish

1. Black Marlin

Black Marlin

The black marlin (Istiompax indica) is a species of marlin found in the Indian and Pacific Oceans’ tropical and subtropical zones.

It is one of the biggest marlins and one of the largest bony fish, with a maximum documented length of 4.65 m (15.3 ft) and weight of 750 kg (1,650 lb).

Marlin are among the fastest fish, however their speeds are sometimes inflated in popular media, such as tales of speeds of more than 80mph.

According to recent study, a burst speed of 22 mph is close to the maximum rate. Black marlin is a commercially fished game fish as well as a highly sought game fish.

Also Read: Swordfish vs Marlin

When compared to striped or white marlins and sailfish, black marlins are more substantial. They have a shorter beak as well as a rounder, lower dorsal fin.

Black marlin may be differentiated from all other marlin species by their inflexible pectoral fins, which are unable to be forced flat against their sides, even at a weight of roughly 68 kilograms (150 lb), but can be angled farther backwards for less drag.

Tuna, mackerel, snake mackerel, flying fish, squid, crabs, octopus, and other sea creatures form the majority of their diet.

2. Blue Marlin

Blue Marlin

The Atlantic blue marlin (Makaira nigricans) is a marlin species found only in the Atlantic Ocean.

It is closely related fish and sometimes regarded conspecific with the Indo-Pacific blue marlin, which is often simply referred to as blue marlin. Both species are still considered separate by some experts.

The Atlantic blue marlin (hereinafter, blue marlin) feeds on a diverse range of creatures near the water’s surface. It uses its bill to shock, wound, or kill fish or other prey while knifing through a school, then returns to consume the injured or stunned fish.

The marlin is a popular sport fish. Its flesh is economically attractive in particular areas because to its comparatively high fat content.

Blue marlin may be found in the Atlantic Ocean’s tropical and subtropical seas. The blue marlin is a bluewater fish that spends the most of its life in the open sea, far from shore.

It preys on a broad range of marine creatures, typically near the surface, and often uses its bill to shock or harm its prey. Females may weigh up to four times as much as males. The greatest reported weight is 818 kg (1,803 lb), while the maximum length is 5 m. (16.4 ft).

Anglers appreciate them as a desirable game fish, and commercial fishers capture them both as a directed catch and as bycatch in huge industrial tuna fisheries.

The IUCN lists blue marlin as an endangered species owing to overfishing, notably in international seas off the coast of Portugal, where they migrate to reproduce in June/July.

3. Longbill/Mediterranean/Roundscale/Shortbill Spearfish

Short-bill Spearfish

Spearfish (Tetrapturus) is a genus of marlins found worldwide in tropical and subtropical waters.

The Longbill Spearfish (Tetrapturus pfluegeri) is a marlin species found in the Atlantic Ocean above the thermocline in open areas between 40°N and 35°S.

This species may grow to a maximum length of 254 cm (100 in) FL and a maximum weight of 58 kg (128 lb). It eats pelagic species including needlefish, tuna, and jack, as well as squids. They reproduce once a year.

From above, the longbill spearfish has a blueish black hue, with silvery-white and brown stripes on the flanks. The pectorals are dark blue, while the dorsal fins are blackish-brown.

The Mediterranean Spearfish (Tetrapturus belone) is a marlin species unique to the Mediterranean Sea, where it is most frequent in Italy, however there is a possible record of one collected off Madeira.

It is an open-water fish that may be found within 200 meters (660 feet) of the surface. This species may grow to be 240 cm long (94 in). The largest specimen ever documented weighed 70 kilos (150 lb).

The Soundscale Spearfish (Tetrapturus georgii) is a type of marlin found in the eastern Atlantic Ocean, from Portugal to Madeira, the Canary Islands to northern Africa, and the western Mediterranean Sea to Sicily.

It’s possible that it’s more prevalent than previously thought. It is said to live in open seas. This species may grow to be 184 centimetres (72 in) long FL, with the biggest known fish weighing 21.5 kilograms (47 lb).

The Shortbill Spearfish (Tetrapturus angustirostris), also known as the short-nosed spearfish, is a species of marlin endemic to the Indian and Pacific oceans, with sporadic occurrences from the Atlantic.

This species is found in open waters near the surface. This species may grow to be 230 cm (91 in) long, although most do not surpass 190 cm (75 in). This species’ largest reported weight is 52 kg (115 lb). It is of limited commercial value and is also a game fish.

Short bill spearfish have a thin frame and a blue body that is silver below. Shortbills have a very short bill that extends from their upper jaw.

4. Striped Marlin

Striped Marlin

The striped marlin (Kajikia audax) is a species of marlin found near the surface in tropical to temperate Indo-Pacific waters. It is a popular commercial and game fish, with a record weight of over 200 kg (440 lb) and a maximum length of 4.2 m (in 1982). (13.8 ft).

The striped marlin is a predator that hunts throughout the day in the top 100 meters or more of the water column, frequently close to the surface. Sardines are one of their main prey.

5. White Marlin

White Marlin

The White Marlin (Kajikia albida), commonly known as the Atlantic white marlin, marlin, or skilligalee, is a species of billfish found in the tropical and subtropical Atlantic Ocean’s epipelagic zone.

They may be found in seas deeper than 100 meters between the latitudes of 45° N and 45° S.

Even while white marlin may be found in areas of water more than 100 meters deep, they prefer to remain near the surface.

White marlin have been seen along banks, shoals, and canyons, although they are not restricted to those areas. They like warm surface temperatures of more than 22 degrees Celsius.

White marlin are often mistaken for roundscale spearfish (Tetrapturus georgii). This most likely resulted in an overestimation of the population size of white marlin and roundscale spearfish before they were discovered to be genetically distinct in 2001.

Close external inspection may be used to distinguish between the two species. Roundscale spearfish having a large, round front end to their scales, as the name implies. On the posterior portion of the scale, white marlin scales are more stiff and rounded.


The above types of marlin are the most common caught in the USA and surrounding waters. They are arguably the most spectacular fish that can be caught, requiring specialized gear and great knowledge just to get one on the hook.

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Sailfish vs Marlin

Sailfish vs Marlin – What’s the Difference?

There are two particular fish species that sit atop the world of sportfishing as the ultimate challenge when it comes to fishing with a rod and reel—sailfish and marlin.

These fish are incredible predators that are built for speed and power and anyone who catches one will certainly never forget the experience.

There are a number of similarities between sailfish and marlin and it might be somewhat difficult for novice anglers or even seasoned fishermen to tell the difference.

We’ve compiled this article to list these differences and answer some questions about the sailfish vs marlin debate.

What is a Billfish?

Both sailfish and marlin are part of the Billfish family, which includes other species like swordfish. These fish are especially fast and capable of reaching extremely fast speeds in the water.

Anglers target them for this outstanding physical ability and billfish have a reputation among the sportfishing community as the most exciting fish in the world to catch.

It’s not uncommon to see a sailfish or a marlin burst out of the water and perform a number of acrobatic maneuvers above the surface in an effort to free itself of the lure.

Watching a sailfish or a marlin breach while trying to land it on a rod and reel is one of the most sought-after experiences among fishermen the world over and many anglers travel thousands of miles to fish for them.

Billfish are fierce predators that roam most of the world’s oceans feeding on smaller species of fish in the open water. These fish are named after their long, pronounced bills that might extend out to half their body length in some cases.

Before we begin comparing sailfish vs marlin in a head-to-head style matchup, it’s important to note that there are different kinds of both sailfish and marlin species throughout the world’s oceans.

What is a Marlin?

There are multiple species of marlin within the Billfish family. Many of these share a large amount of similarities, but some of them have their own distinct traits and appearance characteristics that make them unique.

There are four main types of marlin that each have their own specific distinguishing features which separate them from the other fish within the Billfish family.

The most common type of marlin, and the variation that anglers often pursue the most, is the blue marlin. It’s widely known throughout the sportfishing community that blue marlin are the largest of all Billfish species and are known to reach well over 1,000 pounds.

The IGFA world record blue tipped the scales at an astounding 1,376 lbs in 1982 off the coast of Hawaii, but there are photos and records of a behemoth blue caught in the same area in 1970 that weighed a whopping 1,805 lbs.

White marlin are more known for their peculiar appearance and only grow to be about 60 pounds at full maturity. These fish have a reputation for being extremely agile and can change directions in an instant with ferocity and power that few other fish are capable of matching.

White marlins live only in the Atlantic oceans and are not found in the Indo-Pacific oceans.

Black marlin are known for their speed and are the fastest of all marlin species. They are not small fish, by any means, and the largest-ever black marlin on record is a massive 1,560-lb monster that was landed off the coast of Peru in 1953.

Striped marlin are one of the more rare and visually-fascinating varieties of these fish. They are known to live in the waters of the Indo-Pacific oceans.

What is a Sailfish?

There is debate among anglers and even biologists as to the differences between sailfish species. Sailfish that live in the Indo-Pacific oceans are said to be a great deal larger than those caught in the Atlantic Ocean.

Both sailfish and marlin have a distinct body profile and shape that gives them astonishing amounts of speed and power compared to other fish. Sailfish are notably smaller than most marlin species throughout the world.

At full maturity, sailfish only grow to a length of about 9 feet on average and typically weigh up to about 200 pounds in even the best conditions.

This smaller size makes a notable difference in the speed at which a sailfish is capable of swimming.

Also Read: Sailfish vs Swordfish

A full-grown sailfish is capable of swimming as fast as 65 to 70 miles per hour. They are actually the fastest fish in the ocean and have an incredible amount of agility when it comes to chasing down prey in the open ocean.

The common size of most blue or black marlin far exceeds that of a trophy-sized sailfish. While both fish have a body profile and shape that’s similar, marlin species can grow up to well over 1,000 lbs in favorable conditions and with the right diet.

Marlin are also longer by a few feet with some of the larger ones reaching 14 to 16 feet in length.


One of the main differences between sailfish vs marlin is also something that remains mostly unseen by anglers who target them. The average sailfish is believed to spend the vast majority of its life in the upper portion of the water column, near the surface.

Many of the sailfish that biologists have tagged display a propensity to hunt and navigate in the upper part of the ocean, which is about 60 feet below the surface.

There have been some rare instances in which a tagged sailfish was tracked diving down to more than 1,500 feet, but sailfish mostly spend their lives in the warm, upper portion of the ocean.

Marlin are much larger, but they are fish that also live above the thermocline. Most marlin species generally spend a great deal of time in deeper water compared to sailfish.

However, they do have the capability to swim down into extreme depths if they choose. One tagged marlin was tracked swimming nearly half-a-mile beneath the ocean’s surface on multiple occasions.

Anglers who regularly fish for marlin stick to a rule of thumb known as the “110 Fathom Curve.” This refers to the ocean’s initial 600 feet below the surface and it’s said that marlin are often found in the upper half of the 100 Fathoms.

The theory behind the 100 Fathom Curve is that you’re more likely to catch a marlin around the middle of this 600-foot section of water.

Fin Shape and Size

One of the most obvious differences between sailfish and marlin is their fins. Sailfish get their name from the very large, tall dorsal fin that extends all the way down their back almost to the tail.

When fully extended, this fin is actually wider than the fish’s body and gives sailfish the ability to swim with incredible agility.

When a sailfish is attempting to swim as fast as possible, it will usually fold all of its fins back into its body, which makes it look more like a torpedo than a fish.

Unlike the sailfish, marlin have a crescent-shaped dorsal fin that curves upward into a sharp point. This fin very closely resembles the dorsal fin of many shark species.

Some mature marlin often have a dorsal fin that extends back as far as the fin of a sailfish, but the marlin’s fin is not very wide and tapers down to a much greater degree.

Feeding Behavior

One of the more interesting differences in the characteristics of sailfish vs marlin behavior is how each species of fish hunt their prey. Marlin are largely considered to be solitary for most of their lives.

Sailfish, on the other hand, display much more of a “schooling” behavior, especially when hunting their prey.

Sailfish have often been spotted herding large schools of fish up toward the surface and they will continually take turns delving into the school of fish, picking them off bit-by-bit.


One of the other more prominent differences between sailfish and marlin are how each species of fish fights when hooked on a rod and reel.

Any expert angler who has caught multiple numbers of both species will attest to the fact that the marlin is second-to-none in terms of sheer power and fight.

A fully-grown marlin is much harder to bring in than a sailfish, but both types of fish are extremely tough and physically fit.

If you hook one, you’re likely to be in for an hours-long battle to land it. Marlin often take much longer to land than sailfish and they won’t tire easily.

If you get the chance to catch either a marlin or sailfish, you’re one of the fortunate few anglers who gets to experience the fight and struggle with a chance to land one of the most prized sportfishing species in the world.

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Sailfish vs Swordfish

Sailfish vs Swordfish – What’s the Difference?

Sailfish vs Swordfish what’s the difference and how do you tell these spectacular giant fish apart?

Many anglers consider sailfish and swordfish to be among the pinnacle of sportfishing species for a number of reasons.

They are two incredible species that both belong to the Billfish family and are distinctively different from most other game fish species in ways that make them prime targets for sportfishermen.

Their appearance shares the same torpedo-like body that’s lean and muscular—built for speed and power, as well as a translucent-blue coloration and a notably-long bill.

These similarities cause a lot of anglers to ask the same question:

How do you tell them apart?

In this article, we’ll discuss these differences and how you can be certain in identifying both species of fish.

Differences Between Sailfish and Swordfish

The main differences between sailfish and swordfish is that swordfish grow to a mush larger size as adults, have pointed dorsal fin and have a bill that is a large as half a body length.

Sailfish and swordfish share so many similarities between one another that even the casual angler might not be able to fully tell them apart.

They both have bodies that are remarkably similar in shape and build, as well as other things about these fish that make it evident that they have a lot more in common than they do in contrast to one another.

The Billfish family includes swordfish, sailfish and marlin species, which all have a long, pronounced bill. There are, however, a few distinct features that any angler with a keen eye for detail should be able to spot if they are carefully looking for them.

Sailfish Size

First, the size difference is the most common way anyone can tell a sailfish from a swordfish. Due to their massive size, a full-grown swordfish is going to be much larger than a mature sailfish. That’s not to say that sailfish are a small fish species, by any stretch.


A full-grown sailfish is known to be capable of growing up to 200 pounds and can measure roughly 10’ in length.

There is a marked difference in the sailfish that inhabit the Atlantic ocean and those that are found in the Pacific and Indian oceans.

The world record weight for Atlantic sailfish is 142 lbs while the largest-known Pacific variety is 221 lbs. In either part of the world, the average size of a sailfish is typically 50 pounds and a number of specific factors must be present for them to grow past the 100-lb mark.

Swordfish Size

It’s quite common for swordfish (sometimes referred to as “broadbills”) to reach 200 lbs in both the Indo-Pacific ocean, or the Atlantic waterways. With a healthy diet and the right conditions, swordfish have been known to exceed 1,000 lbs in different locations throughout the world.


In fact, the IGFA world record swordfish catch tipped the scales at an astounding 1,182 lbs in 1953 off the coast of Chile. Swordfish are also much longer as well, with many trophy specimens stretching up to 14’ in length.

While it’s fairly simple to tell the difference between a mature swordfish and an adult sailfish, what if you catch one that’s around the 50-lb mark?

There are some telltale features that both swordfish and sailfish have that allow anglers to easily tell them apart from one another.

Fin Size and Length

The most obvious difference in both sailfish and swordfish are the fins on each species. Swordfish have a dorsal fin that very closely resembles the distinct dorsal fin of a shark. It has a tall, upward-pointing shape that is in contrast to the uniquely large fin of the sailfish.

Sailfish have a very long, wide dorsal fin that, when stretched out underwater, looks almost like a feather compared to the sharp, crescent-shaped fin of the swordfish.

When the sailfish’s dorsal fin is fully-outstretched, it’s actually greater in width than its body. Suffice to say that there is often no mistaking a mature sailfish compared to an adult swordfish simply based on the dorsal fin size and shape.

Bill Length

The bill of the swordfish and sailfish are also another point of difference. The sailfish’s bill is long and distinct, but it’s only about a quarter of the length of its entire body for the majority of mature sailfish.

A swordfish, on the other hand, has a much longer and more broad bill that it actually uses to slash at prey and even attack predators like sharks.

Swordfish bills are often half as long as the fish’s body and can be dangerous to anglers who aren’t well-versed in handling them. A fishing boat captain was reportedly killed in 2015 after being stabbed by a swordfish when he jumped into the water.

Eye Size

One of the most common things avid anglers use to distinguish a swordfish from a sailfish is to look at its eyes relative to the size of its body.

A swordfish’s eyes are usually much larger than the eyes of a sailfish, which goes along with nearly everything else about swordfish being bigger than sailfish.

Swordfish are larger and often have to hunt prey that live in deeper waters than the sailfish. This means their eyes must be larger and capable of taking in more light when swimming at extreme depths in search of a potential meal.

Other Appearance Differences

The average angler might not be able to tell the other differences between the appearance of a swordfish vs a sailfish, but dedicated fishing guides and avid offshore anglers are likely well-aware of such differences.

One of the main contrasts swordfish have compared to sailfish is in their scales. A swordfish will eventually lose its scales as it grows into maturity, leaving it covered with a smooth, silvery-colored skin.

A sailfish will have large, V-shaped scales across its body that remain intact throughout its entire lifetime.

Sailfish and Swordfish and Populations

Both sailfish and swordfish can be found throughout much of the world’s oceans in temperate waters where there is an abundance of other fish species for them to prey upon.

As mentioned above, swordfish are larger and typically swim down to greater depths than sailfish, but both species are pelagic fish, meaning they are capable of swimming and thriving in virtually every section of the water column, except the extreme depths near the bottom.

Also Read: Sailfish vs Marlin

It’s known that sailfish are usually found in warmer waters that are generally above 70 degrees Fahrenheit. They mostly don’t venture into the exceedingly warm waters around the equatorial regions and sailfish tend to avoid waters that are hotter than 85 degrees in most cases.

Since swordfish are larger and built to handle deeper water, they are often known to thrive in water that’s anywhere from about 40 degrees to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

It’s actually quite common for swordfish to hunt prey in very deep waters that are more than 2,000 feet deep. Scientists have extensively studied how swordfish are capable of hunting and existing at such depths for long periods of time.

It’s known that they have an organ in their head that actually maintains heat in their eyes and brain, which allows them to swim and hunt at such depths.

Sailfish are known to swim down to about 600 feet in most areas of the ocean. Their smaller size and features are simply not well-adapted to the cold waters, but they avoid the deep, mostly, because they are less of a predator and more like prey at depths beyond 500 feet.

Fishing for Swordfish and Sailfish

Many dedicated offshore fishing enthusiasts spend large sums of money and travel many miles to catch swordfish and sailfish in various parts of the world.

Both fish species are said to be among the most incredible when it comes to breaching the water’s surface and performing a number of aerial stunts in an effort to free themselves from the hook.

Anglers typically catch sailfish by trolling with a variety of different types of lures at or near the surface. Since these fish live most of their lives in the upper portion of the water column, it’s somewhat rare to catch them when fishing with deep rigs.

Swordfish are caught mostly using deepwater techniques that involve drifting with weighted rigs. These fish are virtually built for power and speed and are said to be second to only blue marlin when it comes to the most challenging fish in the world to land with a rod and reel.

Taste of Both Species

Both of these Billfish species are common among sportfishing anglers, as well as seafood menus throughout the world.

Swordfish and billfish are said to be better-eating species than marlin, but they both have what some might refer to as a “fishy” taste compared to other saltwater species.

Sailfish are known to be more mild in most cases, but can have a strong taste depending on the fish’s diet. Swordfish have a less delicate texture and often require a specialized preparation and grilling to avoid the fish having a strong taste.


The main differences between sailfish vs swordfish is that swordfish grow much bigger, have a shark like pointed dorsal fin and have a much longer and wider bill.

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