PER­MIT PRETENDER

Sport Fishing - - FISH FACTS -

A friend of mine caught this fish a few days ago, and it has gen­er­ated a de­bate among Face­book an­glers as to its iden­tity as a per­mit or a palometa (Trachino­tus goodei ) or some other species. To me it looks like a palometa, but I’m not sure. Can your Fish Facts expert give us the an­swer? Israel Umpierre San Juan, Puerto Rico

While it’s a dif­fi­cult call, I be­lieve this fish is a ju­ve­nile palometa (aka great pompano), Trachino­tus goodei, rather than a ju­ve­nile per­mit, T. fal­ca­tus. I’m bas­ing this iden­ti­fi­ca­tion mainly on the fish’s eye length rel­a­tive to its head and fork length. Based on mea­sure­ments I took from the pho­to­graph, the rel­a­tive

eye length of this fish is smaller than would be ex­pected for per­mit of this size. It also ap­pears that dark, nar­row bands char­ac­ter­is­tic of adult palometa might be form­ing above this fish’s lat­eral line. The black, lead­ing edges on the up­per and lower lobes of the cau­dal fin, also char­ac­ter­is­tic of palometa, are ap­par­ent at this stage in de­vel­op­ment. Adult palometa and, to a lesser de­gree, per­mit have elon­gated rays on their dor­sal and anal fins, but th­ese have yet to form on this fish. Palometa fre­quent the surf zone along sandy beaches but can be found at depths to 40 feet around reefs. They range from Mas­sachusetts to Ar­gentina, in­clud­ing the Gulf of Mex­ico, Ber­muda, the Ba­hamas and is­lands in the Caribbean Sea. Palometa are re­ported to be ex­cel­lent ta­ble fare but have been known to cause ciguat­era poi­son­ing. They fight hard for their size but reach a max­i­mum length of only around 20 inches. —Ray Wald­ner

We are afraid to clean any­thing now af­ter eat­ing what would have been a world-record Carolina hake. We catch a lot of black­belly rose­fish while fish­ing very deep. This fish ap­pears sim­i­lar, and I’m guess­ing it’s a scorpionfish of some species, of which there seem to be le­gion in that fam­ily. Can you iden­tify the species? Ken Neill York­town, Vir­ginia

Ken, the fish in ques­tion ap­pears to be a spinycheek scorpionfish, Neomerinthe hem­ing­wayi, al­though I’d re­ally like to see a clear pho­to­graph show­ing one of the fish’s pec­toral fins to be ab­so­lutely cer­tain. The spinycheek scorpionfish ranges from New Jer­sey to around Florida and into the north­ern Gulf of Mex­ico, in­clud­ing Cam­peche, Mex­ico. It is known to reach a to­tal length of 16 inches and to in­habit depths be­tween 150 and 750 feet over hard-bot­tom ar­eas. Like many scor­pi­onfishes, it is re­puted to be ex­cel­lent eat­ing. —Ray Wald­ner

Ed. note — The an­gler did get a pos­i­tive ID and did end up weigh­ing the fish — and a good thing: It is now the IGFA all-tackle world record for the species, at 4.39 pounds, the 12th world record set on Neill’s boat, Healthy Grin, and the third for an­gler Roger Burn­ley.

Ju­ve­nile palometa

Long­tailed MDZƓVK

Spinycheek VFRUSLRQƓVK

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