A PORTRAIT OF THE TAMPA BAY ESTUARY
Pinfish - Lagodon rhomboides
Florida anglers and snorkelers see them all the time swimming in seagrass beds, or around bridges, piers, jetties, and natural and artificial reefs. The common pinfish is a very abundant saltwater fish that inhabits the coastal waters and estuaries throughout the Gulf of Mexico and parts of the Caribbean. In fact, it is one of the most frequently caught species in fisheries-independent surveys of Tampa Bay, often second in number only to the bay anchovy.
Recognized by its horizontal blue and yellow stripes intersected by five or six dark vertical bars, the pinfish is only about 5-8 inches long at maturity. A distinctive black spot can be seen behind the gill cover. The top dorsal fin has rigid, spiny points, giving the species its common name, pinfish. Yes, these sharp points can puncture your fingers!
Pinfish are generally considered too small and bony for eating. They are notorious for stealing bait, but anglers targeting tarpon, red drum, spotted sea trout, and flounder often use them for bait. They are also food for bottlenose dolphins.
Mature pinfish feed on shrimp, fish eggs, insect larvae and seagrasses; they move to offshore waters during the late fall and spawn there from late fall through early spring.