December Is the Season for Pelagic Fish: What Are They?

December 11, 2019

In other spots in the country, the weather is chilly, and some places even have snow. Right now, it’s pelagic fish season in Sarasota, FL, and there are charters available to help you catch them. This means you still have opportunities to fish, and since it is warmer here, you also get to enjoy a holiday away from the cold conditions occurring elsewhere. Here is what you need to know about pelagic fish in Florida.

Where to find them

Pelagic fish get their name from where they come from: the pelagic zone. This is the part of the open sea that includes the water column, which is the sea that is not near the coast or the sea floor. Comprising 330 million cubic miles, it is the largest habitat on Earth.

The pelagic zone is deep water with a mean depth of 2.29 miles and a maximum depth of 6.8 miles. Like the Earth’s atmosphere, it is divided in layers which are distinguished by oxygen concentration, light, pressure and nutrients. These differences define the types of fish that live in the pelagic zone.

Most fishing occurs in the top layer, the epipelagic zone, which covers the first 200 meters. This area has the most light. Fishing can also occur in the twilight layer, the mesopelagic zone, which covers up to 1,000 meters deep. Lower than that, no more light penetrates the surfaces and you are truly in the murky depths.

Species of pelagic fish

Species living in this zone are diverse and include everything from the smallest feeder fish up to the most aggressive predators. There are coastal pelagic fish that migrate closer to the shore, but also larger fish that remain in waters below the continental shelf. The coastal varieties prefer the sunlit waters above 655 feet.

Forage fish include sardines, anchovies, shad and the predators that feed on them. Larger fish, including tuna, sharks, mackerel and swordfish, are also pelagic fish that will feed on the forage fish. These latter species tend to stay near the continental shelf and dive deep, which is why we frequently fish for them with weights to ensure the bait sinks deep enough into the water.

There are few distinct boundaries between coastal and open ocean water, so many of these fish migrate back and forth. Some species spawn near the coast, so the young fish stay in these shallow waters until they grow larger and then move into the pelagic zone. Other true oceanic species remain in the open ocean through all life cycles.

To access these species, you need to travel far from shore, and in seasons with rougher waters, that requires someone with sailing experience and the ability to handle emergencies. Many people hire charters to reach these fish and stay safe during this season’s conditions.

If you would like to enjoy the experience of catching pelagic fish in Florida, Charter Boat Shark is here to help you. We offer charters all year long, with many opportunities to enjoy the warmer weather and find that big catch. Contact us today to arrange for a charter.

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