- 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.
Great barracuda (Sphyraena)
A distinctive and fierce-looking fish, the Great Barracuda grows much larger than the related Pacific barracuda. These fish are distinguished by the long, slender body, large eyes, pointed snout, and impressive set of teeth, similar to the freshwater northern pike. They are bluish-gray in color with silver bellies and black spots towards the tail. It has a large, protruding lower jaw, which is effective in displaying a number of the barracudas lower teeth. The barracuda has two dorsal fins, the front characterized by sharp spines. The tail is moderately forked.
The great barracuda can be found in all tropical waters of the Atlantic, from Brazil to Africa. They are found in abundance around the Florida coast and Keys, the Bahamas, Central and northern South America.
Great barracuda will venture far out to sea (especially during fall and winter), but are more likely to be spotted in more shallow waters. They prefer to congregate around coral reefs, estuary inlets, bays, shallows around islands, sand and mud flats, piers, and wrecks.
Due to their large range, there is little definitive research about the spawning behavior of the barracuda. However, it is widely believed that an annual rise in water temperature induces the barracuda to mate in late spring or early summer, depending on latitude. Externally fertilized eggs go unprotected and drift in the ocean current as they develop into larvae.
Great barracuda feed on a large variety of fish, but appear to be most attracted to shiny, silvery species. This includes mullet, needlefish, mackerel, snappers, groupers, jacks, tuna, and even dolphins. Next to the shark, barracuda are top predators in most of their habitats. They are fast swimmers and voracious feeders that use their many teeth to pulverize prey prior to swallowing.
Great barracuda are notorious strikers and put up a good fight on relatively light tackle. Its not difficult to lure a barracuda into following a bait or lure to the boat; getting one to strike anywhere near the boat can be challenging. Therefore, anglers often cast at long distances in hopes to get an early strike. Dead or live baitfish work well, but barracuda can also be caught on a number of artificial lures, such as plugs, spoons, or trolling feathers.
Casters and fly anglers can catch juvenile barracuda in shallow, grassy waters using floating plugs, shallow diving plugs, and a number of flies. Adult fish are generally found inshore during spring and summer; offshore in fall and winter. Casting is the preferred approach when the fish are near shore; trolling is often employed when barracuda migrate offshore.
- Great barracuda are curious fish and will follow swimmers, divers and waders. They are often drawn to anything silvery or flashy that moves through the water, even motor propellers.