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Big Bend Florida Sportsman Guide

Fishing Tactics



Spadefish, How to Catch Them. by Capt Ken Roy

After reading the blurb put out by the State, I can certainly change the "may nibble on Jellyfish tentacle
" to feed heavily in Jellyfish of various species, including the Portugese Man-of-War.

Spadefish swarm to the Chum Churn but even when they are swarming on top, they are not easy to catch. Small, light wire hooks work best because they are easily hidden in the bait and do not affect the bait's sink rate like heavy hooks do.

Light Fluorocarbon leaders work best. I get far more bites on 8# test Fluorocarbon than on 8# mono. Most days, Mangrove Snapper swarm to the top with the Spadefish.

All most any cut bait works but as mentioned earlier, Spadefish are as wary as Mangrove Snapper and will shy away from a bait that is hanging on a tight line or sinking faster than your chum.

Cannonball Jellyfish are supposed to be primo bait. Unfortunately, they are not readily available here. I have watched Spadefish mobbing several species of Jellyfish as they drift on the tide.

Spadefish are easier to catch on slow and even slack tide than on fast tides.

Any spot that has a large number of Spadefish on it generally attracts Cobia also. Spadefish are also primo Jewfish bait. Be prepared to loose a Spadefish to a Jewfish from time to time.

The really is not a lot of meat on a Spadefish but they are mighty fine eating. The meat has sort of a greenish tint when raw but cooks up nice and white.

Prepare to be amazed by their fight. They are tough customers on light tackle. If you haven't caught a Spadefish, by all means, catch a few.



Atlantic Spadefish


Family Ephippidae, SPADEFISHES
Chaetodipterus faber

Description: silvery with 4 to 6 black vertical bands on each side which sometimes become obscure in larger fish; deep, flattened body; separated first and second dorsal fins; concave caudal fin; anterior rays of second dorsal fin and anal fin elongated.


Similar Fish: no close resemblances, but frequently and mistakenly called angelfish.

Where found: INSHORE and NEARSHORE, around natural and artificial reefs, and especially near navigation markers in 15 to 20 feet of water.

Size: most catches less than 2 pounds, known to reach 15 pounds.

*Florida Record: n/a

Remarks: spawns in spring and summer; travels in large schools; small juveniles almost totally black, known to drift on their sides and mimic floating debris; feeds on crustaceans, small encrusting invertebrates, and may nibble on tentacles of jellyfish.

* The Florida records quoted are from the Department of Environmental Protection's printed publication, Fishing Lines and are not necessarily the most current ones. The records are provided as only as a benchmark.