Eleven Types of Fish You’ll Find in the Gulf of Mexico


Weighing on average around 30 pounds, the cobia is most often found near creeks or bays and can be difficult to catch. Its meat is commonly compared to that of mahi-mahi or swordfish, lean and firm. Serve it with a lemon-caper sauce or a jerk seasoning mix.


One of the region’s best-known catches, grouper can be caught year-round, but there are limits on how many grouper you can bring home. You can fish multiple types of groupers, but they all share a firm, meaty texture perfect for a grilled fish sandwich. Don’t forget the silent puppies.

Mangrove snapper

Also known as the gray snapper, this fish is often found near mangrove roots or man-made structures and has two large canines on its upper jaw. Generally smaller than its more famous cousin, the red snapper, it has an equally mild flavor profile that makes it versatile in the kitchen.


So iconic that Sarasota’s city seal bears its likeness, mullet can be fished year-round and you can catch up to 50 a day. The fish can be fried or grilled, but its dense, oily flesh tastes best when smoked gently and slowly. Makes an ideal base for a spread of smoked fish brushed on a saline.


Pompano can be fished year round and is often found near beaches or oyster beds. Grill them, but be sure to leave the skin on and season the fish with fresh herbs, lemon juice and plenty of good olive oil.

red drum

Also known as rockfish, this species likes to congregate near seagrass or muddy or sandy saltwater bottoms. Like snook, regulations dictate when you can catch them. To serve fish with a Cajun twist, follow New Orleans chef Paul Prudhomme’s famous blackened rockfish recipe.

sheep head

Catch this vertically striped fish year-round near oyster bars and seawalls. Experts say the species’ flesh tastes similar to the shellfish it consumes. Grab it quickly and use it as the main ingredient in tacos.


Living in mangroves and seagrasses, the snook can be recognized by its large protruding lower lip. Prized for their great flavor after being grilled or blackened, the fish are protected by strict state regulations and can only be caught and released at certain times of the year.

Spotted sea trout

Available most of the year, spotted or speckled sea trout approach the shore during the warm months and venture into deeper waters when the weather is cold. For the preparation, brown the fillets in the pan after having coated them with the seasoned flour. Fun fact: sea trout are not part of the trout family.

Triple tail

Easy to identify due to its distinctive fins, which make the fish look like it has three tails, the triple tail has been known to hang around man-made structures in the water. Gently sauté it or bake it to emphasize the excellent flavor of the fish. You can catch tripletail all year round.


This flatfish has two eyes on the left side and lives in sandy, muddy bottoms, where it can change color to blend in. Except at the end of October and all of November, you can catch flounder all year round. Flour the fillets and brown them in a pan or cook them with plenty of butter and garlic.

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