Time For Tripletail!
The name tripletail comes from the rather unusual appearance of this species. Tripletail almost look as if they have three “tails” since the large rounded dorsal and anal fins are positioned back towards the rear of the body, near the tail fin. Juvenile tripletail usually appear somewhat mottled in various shades of black, brown and gold. As the fish mature, they often change to a dark gray or brownish color.
Tripletail top our list as one of the best tasting fish…that is if you can actually get a keeper to the filet station and don’t totally suck at sight-casting. 3 to 8 pound fish are fairly common with the Florida state record at 40.8 pounds. According to FWC regulations, Florida tripletail must be 15 inches to keep and there is a limit of two fish per person per day. We use light spinning gear with 20 to 30-pound test braided line, mono leader and a live shrimp (tripletail like to feed on crustaceans and small baitfish).
Since the shy tripletail are surface fish, most often seen and caught near structure, it’s important to keep a sharp eye out for dark spots lingering near the top of the water close to floating crab-pot buoys, platforms or flotsam. Eventually you’ll get the hang of spotting them, even though they don’t look like much more than an over-sized mangrove leaf from a distance.
Casting to tripletail involves some degree of practice. Our expert guide had to remind us on several occasions to cast past the crab-pot buoys so that the shrimp could be retrieved slowly in front of the fish. Once the shrimp is in front of the fish, then stop and let the bait sink a bit so the fish can hit it. As soon as he’s hooked, it becomes a matter of keeping just the right amount of pressure on the line and letting him run when he decides he wants to take out drag.
Needless to say, we learned rather quickly that the proper placement of the bait makes the difference between coming home with a tasty tripletail filet or making a stop at Lee Roy Selmon’s for dinner instead.