Nov 13, 2022

A Slippery What?

Just a lizard, doing lizard stuff, on the trail to the fishing pier.

      After basking in the afterglow of my new personal record of 17 new species in a day on day one of our south Florida adventure, I wasn't quite sure what to expect for day two. We headed out to a few shore-based spots, with a few specific targets in mind, but hoping for more interesting random stuff as well. One fish that I had my hopes set on in particular was a small unassuming wrasse with one of the funniest names in the fish world - the Slippery Dick. Yes, it's really called that.

Close enough to Miami Beach to be able to say I've seen it.

      We started the day casting to some long skinny fish that we could see schooling near the surface. We first thought they were some sort of needlefish, but couldn't quite tell. I started casting to them with some small jigs, and promptly caught something interesting and random that I wasn't targeting.

The first new species of the day! This Silver Porgy became my 168th species.  These are VERY similar to another species, the Spotfin Pinfish. But I'm told that those have a slightly more prominent black spot. I'm pretty sure this is a Silver Porgy, but it still makes me a tad uneasy.

     The next fish up, after a couple quick gear adjustments was the target "long skinny" fish that we could see. It turned out to be a Ballyhoo Halfbeak. 
The mighty Ballyhoo with its distinctive weird mouth, like an upside-down swordfish. These are well known among fishermen as they make fantastic bait for many large pelagic offshore species.

This Night Sergeant came up next. Abudefduf taurus is their scientific name. I challenge you to say Abudefduf 5 times fast.  I couldn't help but notice how it looked exactly like an oddly colored bluegill.

      And then it happened. I had my first encounter with a Slippery Dick. Then I learned that they come in a range of sizes and colors!

     Sorry, I'll try to control myself here and not make too many bad jokes about the name. But in all seriousness, I was glad to finally add that one to the list, and it was interesting to see the different color morphs.

A handful of the Slippery Dicks I encountered! Of course the photo had to turn out blurry on the prettiest one on the bottom here.

     We moved around between the pier and the adjacent rocks, catching new species as we went. Shrimp on small hooks was my main tactic, but I also got a few on jigs and lures as well. 

My first lizardfish! A feisty little critter with a big mouth, sharp teeth, and oddly enough, an adipose fin.
This Sailor's Choice Grunt (another weird name, if you ask me) became species 173.

This Stoplight Parrotfish is another favorite species of mine on the trip. This is the initial color phase. They change color completely as they get older and transition to the terminal phase.

This mighty beast is called a Masquerader Hairy Blenny, a name longer than the fish itself. This is another one with a closely related look-alike species, but I'm reasonably sure I've got it right.

This adorable little guy is a Redtail Parrotfish, species 176 if you're counting along at home. Also, I know you're wondering, so I'll tell you. It's called that because of the red on the tail.


Of course they couldn't all be new, like this Pinfish. Still a pretty fish though.


I stared at this photo long and hard trying to determine if this is just a Tomtate Grunt without their usual spot on the caudal peduncle, or if it's something else. I think it's just wishful thinking though. If anyone out there reads this who happens to be a south Florida grunt expert though, I'd be interested to hear your thoughts.

      In the evening, we tried a local canal for some freshwater species. It took a while to figure things out, but once it got dark a few fish started coming in. My first was a cool new species that I hadn't really expected, the Walking Catfish. These bit hard and put up a great fight on light tackle. The last new species of the day was an African Jewel Cichlid, (which also make great bait), which could be seen patrolling the shallows. It became my 11th new species of the day, and 28th new species of the trip!

Walking catfish. This one "walked" itself down the grassy bank and back into the water. It was pretty interesting to see.
For a fish with a flashy name like jewel cichlid, this particular one is disappointingly bland. These get quite a bit bigger and prettier, but hey it still counts.

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