Lady Fish

LADYFISH (Elops saurus) OTHER NAMES: Ten-Pounder, Skipjack, Chiro

RANGE: All Florida coasts, the Bahamas and Caribbean.

HABITAT: Ladyfish occur the full length of both coasts, ranging from the open sea off beaches and shorelines, to inlets and bays, and for up coastal streams. They seem to have no preferred surroundings, but follow wherever good feeding conditions take themÐwhether over shallow flats or in deep holes and channels. They love to feed at night and are common around lighted areas of piers and docks. They often gather in large schools.

DESCRIPTION: A slender, silvery fish with deeply forked tail and large, scoop-shaped lower jaw. Said to be mistaken at times for the Bonefish, but the error is difficult to conceive of, given the big mouth and jumping ability of the Ladyfish.

SIZE: Usually 1-2 pounds; 3-4 pound. Ladyfish are whoppers. Reported to reach even more, but very rarely. World record 5 pounds, 14 ounces; Florida record 4 pounds, 10 ounces.

FOOD VALUE: Edible but not very appetizing; many bones and flesh is mushy.

GAME QUALITIES: One of the wildest acrobats, always getting off spectacular and frequent jumps. Larger ones are strong pullers and can uncork surprisingly long runs.

TACKLE AND BAITS: Scrappy on any light casting tackle, including fly. Great sport with ultra light gear. Most are caught on cut strips, small live fish or live shrimp by anglers fishing for something else, particularly for Trout on the flats, but Ladyfish are ready strikers on most artificial lures of appropriate size. Jigs and small topwater plugs rate high, as do popping bugs and small white streamer flies.

FISHING SYSTEMS: Casting; Drifting; Still Fishing.

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