- Black sea bass have dangerously sharp spines on their dorsal fin that can puncture human skin.
- The all-tackle world record for black sea bass is 9 pounds, 8 ounces.
- When hooked in deep water and brought quickly to the surface, a black sea bass will often regurgitate its stomach contents.
White grunt (Haemulon)
The white grunt is tapered at both ends, and the body is somewhat deeper toward the front, with a sloped forehead and a forked tail. The coloration is variable; overall, they can be light gray, almost white, with shades of light yellow or blue, or they can be a darker gray. The head has narrow, horizontal blue and yellow stripes that become broken lines on the rest of the body. On the sides, each scale is tipped with bronze, producing a checkered pattern. The underbelly is white, and the inside of the mouth is red. The scales above the lateral line are larger than those below.
The two dorsal fins are connected. The first has 12 spines; the second has 15 to 17 rays, usually 16. The anal fin has three spines and eight to nine rays, usually nine. The pectoral fin has 16-17 rays.
The white grunt is an abundant fish and has a wider range than other species of grunt. It occurs in the western Atlantic from 39 degrees north latitude to 23 degrees south, or from Chesapeake Bay in Maryland through the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean, the Bahamas and the Florida Keys southward to Brazil.
Although found both inshore and offshore, the white grunt usually stays within the outer reef areas. They live in depths of 10 to 130 feet, though they are most abundant in water less than 80 feet deep. Like other grunts, they are drawn to structure, congregating on patch reefs, around coral formations or rock piles, but they also inhabit sandy and hard bottoms. Schools travel in the shadows during the day, staying along the edges of reefs and at the base of coral formations. Juveniles are common inshore in grass beds.
They live in subtropical waters with an average annual temperature of 81 F and are said to be more tolerant of cool water than most other grunt species.
Spawning for the white grunt in the southeastern U.S. occurs from October through July; the peak is April through June. They spawn offshore on hard bottoms or reefs. Eggs are deposited and fertilized in the open water or sea floor, and are not guarded.
White grunt are carnivorous predators that feed on shrimp, crabs, mollusks, worms and small fish. They are bottom feeders, rooting in the sand and bottom matter near reefs.
Because of the white grunt's small size, anglers do not target them specifically but catch them while fishing for larger species. However, they put up a good fight if very light tackle is used, and their meat is of good quality. Because of their abundance and readiness to bite, as well as their manageable size, they're a good species for beginning anglers.
The best methods for catching white grunt are drifting or still fishing over good bottom structure in 20 to 80 feet of water. Use very light spinning or casting tackle equipped with 8- to 12-pound mono line and a number 8 hook. Effective baits are cut fish or squid, dead shrimp or small jigs, and these should be sent to the bottom with a sinker. Jerking the bait slightly will attract the fish.
The flesh of the white grunt is underrated. They are very good to eat, and are used in the traditional Florida dish grits and grunts. They are usually served whole, but some are large enough to provide small fillets. The meat is white, slightly sweet and somewhat bony, but quite delicious.
- The name grunt is derived from the grunting noises these fish make. They do this by grinding their pharyngeal teeth, and the sound is amplified by their swim bladder.
- Like many grunts, white grunt engage in territorial kissing behavior, during which two contenders come face-to-face, press their open mouths together and push on each other.
- White grunt may be the most common species of grunt.
- There have been reports of ciguatera poisoning from eating white grunt. Ciguatera is a toxin originating in a specific kind of algae that colonizes coral reefs. The toxin moves up the food chain, accumulating in the heaviest concentrations in the flesh of the largest predators.
- White grunt are often seen in saltwater aquariums.