WHAT LURKS BE­HIND BARS

Sport Fishing - - FISH FACTS - — Bob Shipp

An an­gler fish­ing with my busi­ness part­ner, Capt. Matt Tusa, caught this funny-look­ing thing while fish­ing around some struc­ture in Chan­deleur Sound, about 20 miles south of Bay St. Louis, Mis­sis­sippi. The wa­ter depth was 10 to 12 feet, and they were fish­ing with live shrimp on bot­tom rigs. Over the years, we’ve seen some strange crit­ters come out of th­ese wa­ters, but this one takes the cake. We think it might be some sort of grunt or pig­fish. They re­leased the fish un­harmed, not know­ing the species and not want­ing to break any laws. Any ideas?

Capt. Sonny Schindler Shore Thing Fish­ing Char­ters Bay St. Louis, Mis­sis­sippi

Well, Sonny, you had us stumped for a while, and in our de­fense, for good rea­son. The fish you nailed is a barred grunt, Con­odon no­bilis. I didn’t sus­pect this at first be­cause th­ese guys tend to be more trop­i­cal, and aren’t known from the north­ern Gulf. Also, your spec­i­men was un­usu­ally vivid in its mark­ings. But a lit­tle dig­ging, and some pho­tos of sim­i­larly marked spec­i­mens

from Texas, con­firmed the ID. Grunts get their name from the sound they make by grind­ing the teeth on bones lo­cated in the back of the throat called pha­ryn­geal bones. Most grunts are small, top­ping off at about a foot or so, as with your barred grunt. Al­though grunts are ex­tremely abun­dant along most tem­per­ate and trop­i­cal ar­eas, they are not a prized food fish. Barred grunts are known as far north as Texas, but are most com­mon in the Caribbean and south to Brazil.

Barred grunt

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