We recently fished eastern Panama, where we caught this small barracuda. We catch lots of baby ’cudas back home. Those are all great barracuda, I believe, but I have no clue what species this might be, where it’s generally found or how large it gets. Can you enlighten me? Myron Bumbleschmetter Englewood, Florida
Although I can’t clearly see the relative positions of the fish’s dorsal and pelvic fins in the photograph, I’m fairly certain that it’s a guaguanche (also called guachanche), Sphyraena guachancho, Myron. In the western Atlantic, this small barracuda (growing to 2 feet long) ranges from Massachusetts through Brazil, including the Caribbean Sea. Small barracuda species such as the guaguanche and southern sennet, S. picudilla, can be excellent table fare but have also been known to cause ciguatera poisoning. The guaguanche prefers somewhat turbid inshore areas with muddy bottoms, but has been reported from depths of over 300 feet.