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.