The Redfish or Red Drum is found along the United States East coast and Gulf of Mexico. The Red Drum is an excellent saltwater fish for anglers. Red Drum are a dark red color on the back, that gives way to a white belly. Their streamlined bodies are best distinguished by the eyespots located at their tail. Three year-old red drum typically weigh six to eight pounds, while full grown adults can weigh over 90 pounds. The largest Red Drum on record weighed just over 94 pounds and was caught in 1984 on Hatteras Island.
Red Drums tend to prefer shallow waters near the edges of bays with plenty of vegetation. Although they can be found over all bottom types, they prefer to locations with plenty of submerged vegetation and soft mud. They tend to gravitate toward breaks in the shoreline and prefer the soft mud of jetties and pier pilings. You may find them in water that is so shallow their backs are exposed out of the water. They can actually live in freshwater and have often been found several miles upriver.
Red Drums natural habitat is along the southern Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coast of the United States. Sporting fisherman from Florida to Louisiana enjoy fishing their shores for the “Reds.”
Immature Reds prefer the grassy marsh regions of bays and estuaries, while the young and mature prefer the muddy rocky outcroppings of jetties and man made structures, like docks, rigs and bridges.
Red drum range from Massachusetts to Key West, Florida, and along the Gulf Coast to Tupxan, Mexico.
Barramundi or Asia Sea Bass
The northern red snapper is found in the Gulf of Mexico and the southeastern Atlantic coast of the United States and much less commonly northward as far as Massachusetts.
Barramundi (aboriginal for “large scaled silver fish) are catadromous fish, meaning that they are born in the ocean and live in freshwater — basically the opposite lifestyle of the salmon. However, they also are able to live purely in saltwater. Virtually all Barramundi are born male and turn into females when they are 3-4 years old. Their age can be determined by counting the rings on their scales much like you would a tree. They are Australia’s most iconic sportfish and look and act very much like the Snook of North America but can grow much larger (100lbs+). They like moving water where bait is brought to them. Accurate casts are necessary as they are a bit lazy and won’t chase a fly too far. Much like a Snook, they like cover and are best fished on the edges of snags and mangroves. A well placed, slow retrieved shrimp or baitfish pattern will get their attention.
The Humphead, or Napoleon Wrass have thick fleshy lips and a hump on its forehead which increases in size as it ages (hence the name) they prey primarily on crustaceans mollusks and smaller fish. They are one of the few predators of toxic animals like the sea hare, crown-of- thorns and the boxfish. They are generally found among soft and hard corals as well as seagrass. Males are blue/green, females and juveniles red/orange. One report listed a male at nearly 8’ long and weighing 420 lbs! Females generally do not exceed 36 inches. Being optimist feeders, they will readily eat a well-placed crab or shrimp or baitfish pattern.
Bohar Snapper have two color phases as they mature; dark (orange/reddish-brown ) and light (silvery w/dark fins) and two silvery dots on the back that tend to diminish or disappear at adulthood. Older adults tend to be only red. Generally found on the outer edges of reefs or on sandy patches. They often form large schools (generally when spawning) and feed primarily on smaller fish. They will grab a baitfish fly and #30 or larger fluorocarbon is suggested due to their sharp teeth.
Closely related to Dolly Varden, Bull Trout and Arctic Char and also a member of the Salvelinus genus, Kundzha Char (koon-ja) are native to the eastern regions of Asia including Russia, Japan and Korea. They live a life of ambush, ferociously attacking salmon smolt , other baitfish and have even been known to crush a skated mouse. Anadromous like a steelhead, they journey to the ocean and return to their native rivers to spawn July through September (Kamkatcha). Big, aggressive and unpredictable, they kill their prey with aggression and one can expect the same when they decide to eat a streamer that they mistake for a young dolly, rainbow or salmon smolt. They average 10 lbs but can top 20 lbs!
Amur trout (Brachymystax savinovi) are found nowhere else on the planet other than Mongolia These strikingly beautiful trout have coppery flanks and big shoulders. They fight hard and will take terrestrials, mice, and streamers.
Lenok (Brachymystax lenok) are found throughout Mongolia. They are a wounderful and ancient trout with silvery bodies, bright red bands, and black spots. These Mongolian trout often feed aggressively on the surface throughout the summer and autumn. 14-22 inches is the average size but they can reach lengths of 30”. Generally they are quite willing to take a fly. Skated mice , terrestrials fished along grassy banks will get their attention.
The Wolf Fish is the biggest of the Hoplias family and is endemic of the Amazon Basin. They like poppers and big streamers and will attack a fly viciously, jump and fight hard….like a hungry wolf! They average 10-25 lbs and are found in shallow waters and tributaries which can allow anglers to sight fish for them with a floating line.
Piranhas are indigenous to the Amazon Basin of South America and primarily eat other fish tearing them apart with their razor sharp teeth. While attacks on humans can happen, they generally do not pose a risk. The bites tend to be after commotion or splashing, signs of a struggling fish or if the fish are stressed. Bites are generally on the feet or hands that result in only minor injuries. If targeted, a steel or wire leader is a must and plan on going through many flies due to their sharp teeth. More often, they are caught when targeting other species like Peacock Bass. That is if they are hooked in a manner where the leader is free and clear of any teeth. Many fly lines have been lost to piranhas as any commotion in the water might entice a bite to investigate. Always travel with extra fly lines to any adventure where piranhas might be found. They are delicious as table fare as they have a firm white meat similar to many of the panfish that one might find in the US.
Black Striped Marlin
The Payara or Vampire Fish is a real challenge on the fly. Hard fighters qualities that match their menacing look they pull hard are and acrobatic jumpers once hooked. They have a hard mouth and it’s normal to lose a few on the jump. They like streamers, are usually fished with sink tip lines. They average in size between 5-20 lbs. It goes without saying to watch out for their teeth!
Smaller than their larger cousins (there are about 10 species) and generally not exceeding 275 lbs makes the Black Striped Marlin the desired species for the fly rod. They prefer to hunt in the top 100’ of water and can be teased to the surface to investigate what could be their next meal. Generally a trolled teaser is the way to draw their interest. They will often sun themselves between meals or when resting which can provide sight fishing opportunities that promise to be memorable. Big rods (12 wt +) big flies and heavy shock tippet are all in order when fishing for these jewels of the ocean. Be sure your skills match that of your quarry!
Pacu is a common name used to refer to several species of omnivorous South American freshwater serrasalmid fish that are related to the piranha. They eat primarily fruits and berries along the rivers edge. They love structure and will head for it when hooked. A variety of floating berry and small fruit flies placed well among the structure will often get a take. Pacu and piranha do not have similar teeth, the main difference being jaw alignment; piranha have pointed, razor-sharp teeth in a pronounced underbite, whereas pacu have squarer, straighter teeth, which are uncannily similar to human teeth, and a less severe underbite. Based on their size, they are great fighters. Pacus are native to tropical and subtropical South America. They inhabit rivers, lakes, floodplains and flooded forests in the Amazon, Orinoco, São Francisco, and Río de la Plata Basins, as well as rivers in the Guianas.
Sea Run Brown Trout
A close relative to the Golden Dorado with similar characteristics. They usually move in schools feeding on small baitfish, insects and fruits. They will eagerly take a well placed dry fly and are pound for pound one of the strongest fish you can encounter. A 5 wt rod with a floating line would be just right.
The salmon that isn’t a salmon. Sea-Run Brown Trout (Salmo trutta) are one of the most widely distributed non-native fish introduced to Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego. They were first stocked in Tierra del Fuego by John Goodall in 1935. Shipped from Puerto Montt in Chile, 60,000 eggs survived the arduous journey and went on to be planted on the Candelaria and McLennan rivers, both tributaries of the Rio Grande. These fish eventually found their way to the sea, attracted by the rich food supply.
Today, sea-run brown trout complete a yearly migratory cycle just like Atlantic salmon and other salmonids that also spawn in freshwater. Sea-run browns remain in the river for a period of time that ranges from 1 to 4 years until their first ocean migration, where they will feed and grow for about 6 months before their first return to freshwater, weighing approximately 6 pounds. Researchers have found trout that have spawned as many as six or seven times. A sea-run brown that has completed 4 cycles of returning to freshwater can weigh more than 20 pounds. The regularity with which these trout return to freshwater indicates that the fish face few threats. Regardless, catch-and-release fishing still rules the day.
Under rated and overshadowed by its bigger cousin the Giant Trevally, many say the Bluefin Trevally pulls just as hard pound for pound. Actively roaming the flats, many times in packs, they will often compete for their prey making them more forgiving for the angler. They will at times, compete to eat your fly with the meanest, baddest fish usually winning out. They are lighting fast appearing and disappearing from a flat in a flash. Like other trevally, they have big eyes and can spot prey (or your fly) from a great distance. Strip as fast as you can, then go faster and don’t stop! 10-12 wt rods and large baitfish flies
Indo-Pacific Permit are the blond cousins to the Pacific Permit boasting beautiful golden yellow fins and yellow shading on theirs bellies and backs, They are just as skittish as their pacific cousins, just as difficult to catch and pull just as hard when hooked. They range from the Indian Ocean and the Seychelles and Australia. They love turtle grass and coral reefs with crabs and shrimp being their prey of choice.
Bump Head Parrotfish or “Bumpies” are the largest Parrotfish in the world and can exceed 100lbs. They are found in the Indian Ocean, more specifically in the Seychelles. They are large powerful fish with a broad tail providing enormous thrust. They feed primarily on coral and algae but will occasionally eat crabs and shrimp. They are usually found in groups of 6-12 lead by a dominant male. In shallow water, they are exceptionally keen on their surroundings and can spook easily with a misplaced cast. They have a razor sharp “beak” and should they “choose” to eat your fly you must be lucky enough to hook them in one of the few soft spots on their mouth. If your leader should cross their beak, it’s game over. The take is often very soft for a fish of such size.
With eyes on top of their head, the Arawana is designed to look up for their food. They have earned the nick name monkey- fish due to their penchant for leaping out of the water to grab unsuspecting insects and even small birds. They will eat dry flies, streamers and poppers equally well. They can be great fun on a 5 or 6 weight rod. They have small teeth but usually don’t require any type of shock leader. Your generally find them in the cover of overhanging trees and bushes searching for their next meal.
Without question, the Arapaima is one of the most unique species one can catch on a fly. They can be enormous in size and are capable of exceeding 650lbs! Long and snakey, they are obligatory air breathers and surface periodically to take a gulp of air which is absorbed by a vascularized air bladder while expelling CO2 via their gills. They are the largest scaled freshwater fish in the world. When fishing for these beasts of the amazon, there are generally two guides present to subdue them when landed. Their head is as hard and thick as a cinder block and should one get hit when the fish is thrashing about it could be dreadful. They like big , slow stripped flies and put on reel busting runs when hooked with many acrobatic jumps the norm. They can go up to 20 minutes between breaths and like to eat smaller fish (what isn’t?) often closer to the water’s surface.