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While most species of fish are edible, there are some that just shouldn't be consumed. Most reef species can cause ciguatera, which comes from a neurotoxic, dynoflagellate algae often found on dead and dying coral. Some species of fish, parrot-fish in particular, feed upon the algae, which does not pose a threat to them. Barracuda often predate upon the slow-moving parrot-fish, thus the toxin is passed on to the predator. For some strange reason, though, the barracuda are not effected by the toxin, but if you were to consume either the barracuda or the parrot-fish you would have a good chance of contracting the disease, which can be fatal. Most of the time, those that have contracted the disease experience some nasty stinging sensations, severe gastrointestinal pain, horrendous bouts of diarrhea, vomiting, dehydration, and in more severe cases, CNS paralysis that could lead to death if untreated.

In Chesapeake Bay, the waters are so polluted the state has published consumption advisories which can be found at http://www.mde.state.md.us/programs/Marylander/CitizensInfoCenterHome/Documents/www.mde.state.md.us/assets/document/Maryland%20Fish%20Advisories%202011.pdf

Most tunas are relatively safe to consume, but again, because of the high levels of mercury found in the fatty tissue of the fish, the portion size should be limited to about 8 ounces a week at most. Same holds true with king mackerel (also known as kingfish in tropical waters), bluefish, Atlantic croaker, Spanish mackerel, cero mackerel, and any other oily species of fish.

Tautog, often referred to as poor man's lobster, can be found from Virginia north to Maine, and once you learn how to catch them, you could just about live on them without any fear of contaminants. The taste is absolutely fantastic, and they're available year round at the inshore and offshore wrecks.

In tropical waters, French and Flannel Mouth grunts, some measuring to 15 inches, are a real treat. Again, pretty safe to eat, very tasty when dipped in beer batter and pan fried to a golden brown and served with tartar sauce.

Somewhere in my stacks of books I have a book called Dangerous Marine Animals, and it lists those species that are highly toxic and provides lots of photos. I'll try to dig up a link on the Internet for the book.

Good Luck,

Gary :cool:
 

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Adding to what Dave said, if a fish smells fishy - it' usually not fit to eat and in the process of decomposing. This is true with ALL species of fish. Fresh caught, properly stored and filleted will not have any fishy odor at all. Often, commercially caught fish, those caught in gill nets that have been in the water for a day or two before the fish are removed, have already began to decompose. A gill net slices through the gill, thus the fish quickly bleeds to death. If removed from the net immediately after catching, these fish are quite fresh, but that's rarely the case. Same holds true with shrimp, which I've personally seen harvested in NC and FL on dozens of occasions. The nets are dragged through the water for hours on end, and when the net gets heavy, it's hauled in, the purse string at the bottom of the net is opened and the contents falls on the boat's deck. While most everything is still alive at that point, this is prior to the sorting process, which often takes several hours. By-kill fish are sorted out of the shrimp catch with a short-handled hoe, the fish are tossed overboard, and the shrimp are bagged, then placed in a brine solution that is well below freezing. After a short time in the brine, the shrimp are then flash-frozen and stored in a large reefer. Believe me, those shrimp were dead for a long time prior to entering the brine solution, and just about every fish tossed over the side either sunk to the bottom, or floated away on the surface - dead! There's a reason that the fishing is great when you're downtide of a shrimp boat. There's a lot of food there for the jacks, sharks, cuda, blackfin tuna and other species to consume. It's a smorgasbord drifting with the tide.

Good Luck,

Gary :cool:
 

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Lionfish are excellent table fare, however, handling them can be extremely dangerous. The tip of each spine is a small hypodermic needle filled with toxin. While an adult is unlikely to die from an inflicted wound, the pain can be absolutely excruciating.

Hook and line fishing is the best advice I have. Use strips of cleaned, washed squid, whole shrimp, live or dead, chunks of cut fish, etc..., rigged on a 1/0 wide-gap hook and a top & bottom rig. Fish the open patches of sand between the reefs and you'll find lots of fish.

Outside tropical areas, fish the shallow drop-offs, depths ranging 12 to 10 feet are usually the most productive, locations where baitfish and shrimp are prevalent and dissolved oxygen levels are highest. Schooling species, striped bass, bluefish, croaker, spot, etc..., tend to migrate through these areas during tidal changes. Shallow water areas tend to be best during incoming tide, while the outer edges of shallow drop-offs are often highly productive during the ebb.

Trolling with artificial lures from a moving sailboat is rarely productive for a variety of reasons. More often than not, the boat is traveling much too fast unless you're trying to catch pelagic species, tunas, billfish, some species of sharks. And, anything over 6 knots is often too fast for them as well. Additionally, those species tend to roam the canyon edges and offshore lumps, locations where most boaters do not frequent. Sure, you can luck across a mahi or tuna once in a while, but the odds are not favorable.
Good Luck,

Gary :cool:
 
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