Micro Fishing Species You Don’t Want to Leave Florida Without Catching!

• Minnow Family (Leucicidae):

Coastal Shiner (Notropis petersoni): One of the most common Notropis Shiners in Florida. Small black wedge at caudal fin base, some populations appear blue in coloration.

coastal shiner

Weed Shiner (Notropis texanus): A variable looking species, the Weed Shiner tends to start looking like other Notropis Shiners in certain populations and can be difficult to identify. Abundant. Black wedge at caudal fin base. Large eye. Black edging on anal fin rays.

Weed Shiner

Ironcolor Shiner (Notropis chalybaeus): A smaller Notropis with black pigment on the inside of the mouth. Dark to blue stripe along flanks. Locally common.

Ironcolor Shiner

Golden Shiner (Notemigonus crysoleucas): Widely introduced via bait bucket release, Golden Shiners are not true micros, as they can reach over a foot in length. Golden, large scales. Strongly decurved lateral line.

Golden Shiner

Blacktail Shiner (Cyprinella venusta): A Cyprinella species with a large black spot on the base of the caudal fin. Common and aggressive, will readily take a worm bit. Like all Cyprinellas, Blacktail Shiners have scales that appear diamond shaped, Notropis species have scales that are more rounded in appearance.

Blacktail Shiner

Metallic Shiner (Pteronotropis metallicus): A tiny Minnow in the Pternotropis Genus, Metallic Shiners are beautiful and aggressive. Locally common. Often found in springs with current near shorelines.

Metallic Shiner

 

Western Flagfin Shiner (Pteronotropis signipinnis): A beautiful Pteronotropis, Western Flagfin Shiners are common in the Panhandle region and west to Mississippi. Red coloration on the fins. There is also an undescribed “Eastern” Flagfin Shiner (Pternotropis species) which is also found in Florida, but further east.

Western Flagfin Shiner

Redeye Chub (Pteronotropis harperi): A Pteronotropis Shiner with small barbels on the corners of the mouth. Small yellow arcs on top of the head. Thin yellow line above black streak on side. Common.

Redeye Chub

 

• Silversides (Atherinopsidae), Livebearers (Poeciliidae) and Anchovies (Engraulidae):

Atlantic Silverside (Menidia menidia): Usually caught off piers or in the ocean. Yellowfish, translucent and thin body. Abundant near the sea. Less common inland.

Atlantic Silverside

Southern Brook Silverside also known as Golden Silverside (Labidesthes vanhyningi): Common in Florida in ponds, swamps, and canals. Yellow body with red “beak”. Normally around 3 inches.

Golden Silversides

Inland Silverside (Menidia beryllina): Usually found in marinas or a little further inland than Atlantic Silversides. Usually more silvery or clear in appearance. Get good photos of the dorsal/anal fin relation.

Inland Silverside

Hardhead Silverside (Atherinomorus stipes): One of the Florida Keys Silversides, generally small and in large schools in saltwater flats. Large eye, silvery. Common.

Hardhead Silverside

Tidewater Silverside (Menidia peninsulae): Found in the Florida Everglades and along coastal regions, usually dark yellow with a thin body. Uncommon and localized. Often mistaken for the Inland Silverside.

Tidewater Silverside

Eastern Mosquitofish (Gambusia holbrooki): Can tolerate brackish water and even large amounts of salinity, common fish stocked to help with insect control. Overpopulates quickly. Some populations are melanistic.

Dalmatian Gambusia

Mangrove Gambusia (Gambusia rhizophorae): Found in the Florida Mangroves, root clusters, shallow water, blue tint in eye. Small, localized.

Mangrove Gambusia

 

Pirate Perch (Aphredoderidae):

Pirate Perch (Aphredoderus sayanus): Common yet elusive during daylight hours, Pirate Perch can easily be targeted at night in some locations. The only living member of its Family, the Pirate Perch is an interesting design. The anus on the Pirate Perch migrates towards the throat as the fish ages. Appearance is brown to black, and adults may have a purplish sheen. Large mouth.

Pirate Perch

 

Madtoms (Ictaluridae):

Tadpole Madtom (Noturus gyrinus): A common Madtom that reaches around five inches of length. Tadpole-like appearance. Easier to target at night when Madtoms come out of hiding to feed. Be aware of the extremely sharp and pointed pectoral spines and dorsal spines as they can harm you, the 8 barbels or whiskers that all North American Catfish have are harmless sensory organs.

Tadpole Madtom

Speckled Madtom (Noturus leptacanthus): A smaller Madtom species found in tannic and blackwater creeks, this fish reaches around 3-4 inches of length and has speckles on the sides. Common in rocky riffles at night. Madtoms rely on scent to locate prey.

Speckled Madtom

 

Pupfish (Cyprinodontidae):

Sheepshead Minnow (Cyprinodon variegatus): Common among grassy bays and flats. Will readily take shrimp or worms. Commonly found with schools of Mummichog or Gulf Killifish.

Sheepshead Minnow

Goldspotted Killifish (Floridichthys carpio): Like the Sheepshead Minnow but has gold speckles on the body. Found in various salinities. Aggressive, locally common. Normally to around 2 ½ inches.

Goldspotted Killifish

 

Topminnows (Fundulidae):

Banded Topminnow (Fundulus cingulatus): Found in shallow roadside ditches, swamps, ponds, extremely shallow water. Common but localized. Females may appear bland, but males are exceptional beautiful. Be aware of the similar Redface Topminnow (Fundulus rubrifrons) that may be in the same range and habitat as the Banded Topminnow. Redface Topminnows normally will be more reddish in coloration, especially on the head.

Banded Topminnow

Marsh Killifish (Fundulus confluentus): Not particularly common, dark brown with vertical lines. Males can be brilliantly colored with blue and gold. Found in tidal creeks, usually at mid-high tide. Ranges poorly understood, but it appears that Marsh Killifish are farther east on the Panhandle and then east around the state of Florida and along the east coast.

Marsh Killifish

Bayou Killifish (Fundulus pulverous): Remarkably like the Marsh Killifish, but ranges are not completely understood. Bayou Killifish tend to occupy the western portion of the Panhandle and west to Texas along the gulf. Females are brown in appearance, males more brilliantly colored with hints of blue along the flanks. Locally common.

Bayou Killifish

Blackspotted Topminnow (Fundulus olivaceus): Found in the Florida panhandle, common. Large, black spots along flanks above and below large blue-black stripe. May exceed 3 inches.

Blackspotted Topminnow

Russetfin Topminnow (Fundulus escambiae): A common Topminnow found in Florida’s creeks, streams, and rivers. Males more brilliantly colored and striped.

Russetfin Topminnow

Golden Topminnow (Fundulus chrysotus): Great numbers in Florida, red specks on gold body on adult male. Aggressive and often mixed in with schools of Eastern Mosquitofish. Abundant.

Golden Topminnow

Seminole Killifish (Fundulus seminolis): Large, aggressive, found in Springs, swamps, lakes. One of the larger members of the Topminnow Family. Common to abundant. Large mouth.

Seminole Killifish

Lowland Topminnow (Fundulus blairae): Found far west in the panhandle and close to Alabama. Likely introduced into some ponds and waterways in the panhandle region.

Lowland Topminnow

Mummichog (Fundulus heteroclitus): Abundant Topminnow, commonly sold as bait and called “Mudminnows”. May be bland in appearance or colored yellow and blue with vertical stripes. Found north of Jacksonville, Florida, while the nearly identical Gulf Killifish is further south and throughout the Gulf.

Mummichog

Gulf Killifish (Fundulus grandis): One of the larger members of the Topminnow Family. Abundant. Robust body, large mouth. Found south of Jacksonville, Florida and throughout the the Gulf, usually close to sea and in tidal estuaries.

Gulf Killifish

Striped Killifish (Fundulus majalis): Found in Northeastern Florida and north along the eastern United States. Usually in smaller schools with Mummichog. Common at high tides. Often confused for the Longnose Killifish, however, Striped Killifish will have a much shorter snout.

Striped Killifish

Longnose Killifish (Fundulus similis): Like the Striped Killifish but has a much longer snout and grows slightly larger and more robust. Locally common.

Longnose Killifish

Lined Topminnow (Fundulus lineolatus): Abundant along much of the southeastern United States. Males and females look like completely different species, with males having vertical lines while females have horizontal lines. Females may also retain a bright red snout.

Lined Topminnow

Diamond Killifish (Fundulus xenica): Uncommon, diamond shaped with vertical bars, found in tidal creeks at certain tides along the gulf coast.

Diamond Killifish

Rainwater Killifish (Lucania parva): Small, common around coastlines and in some springs, usually closer to sea. Small with hints of cream-colored drip marks along the flanks.

Rainwater Killifish

Bluefin Killifish (Lucania goodei): Small, to about 2 inches, males are golden yellow with red and some blue. Locally common. May appear to be Gambusia, but Bluefin Killifish tend to congregate deeper in the water column. Gamakatsu Ultimate hooks are advised as Owner Smallest are just a little too large to effectively catch Bluefin Killifish.

Bluefin Killifish

 

Sunfish (Centrarchidae):

• Dollar Sunfish (Lepomis marginatus): A smaller member of the Genus Lepomis, the Dollar Sunfish only reaches around 4 inches in length and is typically found in swampy habitat most often near the coast. Males can be brilliantly colored and can be hard to differentiate from smaller Longear Sunfish (Lepomis megalotis). When this becomes an issue, note habitat that the fish was caught in, if swampy, thick vegetated coastal streams, lean towards Dollar Sunfish. If the fish was caught in a faster moving stream, clearer water, lean towards Longear Sunfish.

Eastern Dollar Sunfish Lepomis marginatus

 

Exotics/Invasives:

African Jewelfish (Hemichromis bimaculatus): A common to abundant invasive Cichlid species found throughout Southern Florida. The Everglades boasts good numbers of these. Three dark spots on body, one at operculum, one on flanks posterior to anal fin and one smaller caudal spot. These vary greatly and this appears to be from genetic swarms of hybrids being released into native Florida waterways. Can grow to 8 inches in length.

African Jewel Cichlid

Blood-Red Jewel Cichlid (Hemichromis lifalili): Normally lumped into the same species as the African Jewelfish but there appears to be some pure populations in Florida. Blood-Red’s lack a spot at the caudal fin base. Red overall may have bluish spots. No larger than 4 inches normally. Popular in aquaria.

Blood-Red Jewel Cichlid

Convict Cichlid (Amatitlania nigrofaciata): A smaller Cichlid, no larger than 4 inches, that is found in some parks and creeks in Florida. May be black or dark in appearance with large vertical bars on the flanks. Often confused with Black Acara (Cichlasoma Bimaculatum) but the latter grows to a larger size and lacks the bars on the flanks.

Convict Cichlid

Salvini Cichlid (Cichlasoma salvini): A smaller, colorful Cichlid species found on rocky shorelines in South Florida in some canals. This Cichlid tends to hide and spends much of its time under cover. Dropping baits in and out of rock crevices is a good technique for this Cichlid.

Nandopsis salvini

Pike Killifish (Belonesox belizanus): A Livebearer species with needlelike teeth, widespread in Southern Florida including the Everglades. Pickerel like appearance, but smaller and with visible teeth. Sometimes difficult to target and spook easily, but when they do strike on micro gear it is a lot of fun.

Pike Killifish

Brown Hoplo (Hoplosternum littorale): An invasive “armored catfish” that is widespread in Southern Florida. The scales of the Hoplo are akin to armor. Will readily take worms.

Brown Hoplo

by Time Aldridge
Photos by Tim Aldridge

About Edward Johnson

Edward Johnson created The Art of Micro Fishing in 2019. The platform was created to provide a place for beginners and seasoned micro anglers to come together to learn and share. You can also join the group on Facebook.

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