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A trawl dragged for bait before daylight will often yield large catches of spot, shown here mixed with pinfish and croakers.

It’s easy to overlook spots

Spot are easy to overlook, even though they are a member of the drum family — the same family that gives us speckled trout and redfish.

The most remarkable thing about this unremarkable fish is that they likely have the shortest name of any fish that swims in the Gulf.

May 01 at 7:00am
Thumbprint-like white spots on the sides of the body clearly identify the Atlantic sharpnose.

Take this guy to dinner - Atlantic sharpnose shark ID is easy

Sharks have never been real popular with Louisiana fishermen — even in the days before shark harvest was regulated.

Most people simply got them off their hook as quickly as possible and went back to fishing for more-glamorous species.

April 01 at 7:00am
Spotted gar, here identifiable by the spots on the snout, are Louisiana’s most common gar species. <br />

We got gar - Louisiana has four species

In a state laced with streams, rivers, bayous, lakes and marshes, pretty well anyone who spends time outdoors knows that Louisiana has a lot of gars.

March 03 at 2:20pm
More anglers today value croakers as a bait species for speckled trout, redfish and mangrove snapper than as a target species.<br />

Why are croakers croaking?

The story of the Atlantic croaker is the story of a fish that has somehow never managed to fulfill its predicted potential. They are truly one of the most abundant fish in the sea. 

February 03 at 6:47pm
The bright-yellow fin margins on yellowedge groupers (bottom) make them easy to distinguish from snowy groupers, even when the latter’s white spots have faded or disappear with age.

Grouper fishing: It’s hard to beat a brownie

Everybody, and I mean everybody who fishes, offshore loves groupers. They are attractive fish, resembling overgrown and (usually) more colorful largemouth bass. They are brutal fighters when hooked on tackle that isn’t too heavy.

Best of all they are great to eat.

January 01 at 7:00am
Swamp and marsh bass fishing can be hot when fish are not stressed by low-oxygen conditions.

Stressed bass: Run or hide

Largemouth bass can be finicky, temperamental creatures under the best of circumstances. When the effects of environmental stressors are added, catching them can seem nearly impossible.

December 04, 2015 at 9:00am
These young gulf pipefish have hatched within the male’s pouch but have not yet absorbed their orange yolk sacs.

Put that in your pipe! Gulf pipefish are just plain different

Some fish just can’t seem to get their romantic life straight. For most fish it’s enough for females and males to discharge eggs and sperm into the water. Sometimes they do it in a constructed nest, but most of the time it’s in open water.

November 03, 2015 at 9:13pm
Most Louisiana anglers throw knobbed porgies back or use them for cut bait. But Stephen Griffin knows they make great table fare.

Keep the funny face: Knobbed porgies are great for the table

The knobbed porgy, an offshore species in the Gulf of Mexico, is named for the bony bumps located just in front of its eyes.

October 01, 2015 at 7:00am
The subterminal location of a gizzard shad’s mouth, under the snout rather than at its end, is clearly visible here.

We like gizzard shad

Gizzard shad are under-appreciated fish in most places where they are found. That covers a lot of territory — virtually all lakes and rivers in the eastern United States.

September 02, 2015 at 6:43pm
The arms and tentacles of this brief squid have been folded back to show the ball of powerful muscles that make the beak such a formidable tool.

The brief squid is our littlest sea monster

Every time I think of squid, two things pass into my mind. First is the monstrous squid that attacked Capt. Nemo’s submarine, the Nautilus, in the wonderful 1954 movie classic Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, which is based on the Jules Verne novel by the same name. 

August 01, 2015 at 7:00am
One study indicates snapper don’t feed between 7 p.m. and 3 a.m., but then the fish go on a binge for about an hour.

The secret lives of red snappers revealed

Red snappers are easily the most-studied fish in the Gulf of Mexico, so a lot is known about their biology.

July 02, 2015 at 5:00pm
The small eardrums, only about the size of the frog’s eye, mark this bullfrog as a female.

Bullfrogs are greedy

There really isn’t any other way to put it: Bullfrogs are aggressive and greedy predators.

They have huge mouths and will try to eat any living thing smaller than themselves. If a bullfrog can’t get the whole critter in its mouth in one bite, it uses both hands to stuff it into their maw.

June 01, 2015 at 7:00am
The ability to identify blackfin snapper can put more fish in your box — year round.

Hambones are a treat

Biologists need to be humbled sometimes.

When I was working at LSU in the 1980s, I spent a lot of time on commercial snapper boats documenting catches of reef fish and looking for new species that could be of interest to seafood consumers.

May 04, 2015 at 9:00am
Bebe McElroy caught this 185.8-pound southern stingray, which stands as Louisiana’s state record.

Looking for the big sting

Stingrays are some of the very few truly venomous animals in Louisiana waters. I say “some” rather than “one” because four species of rays with spines on top of their tails occur off of and in Louisiana. 

April 01, 2015 at 7:00am
Gaspergou are common catches for freshwater commercial and recreational fishermen. At the fish counter they are a real bargain, as these 2010 prices show.

If you knew the gou as I do

The freshwater drum, Aplodinotus grunniens, has to be the most disrespected large freshwater fish in Louisiana and probably the whole United States.

March 01, 2015 at 7:00am
Catching barracuda is a matter of reeling as fast as you can. And, despite it’s reputation, ciguatera poisoning from eating ’cudas caught in the northern Gulf of Mexico is very rare.

This guy has teeth

The great barracuda, Sphyraena barracuda, is a common fish in the blue waters offshore of Louisiana. Yet one never sees a fishing story about anyone fishing for them off of our coast. 

February 04, 2015 at 9:00am