Common Finfish in Mississippi Waters

Saltwater Marine Fishing Regulations Mississippi Saltwater Fishing

Red Snapper

Lutjanus campechanus

Abounding around the offshore artificial reefs and other bottom obstructions, the Red Snapper is a coveted foodfish along the Gulf Coast. These brilliantly colored fish are distinguished by their red coloration and reef-dwelling habits. Snapper are typically caught on heavy tackle, using cut fish for bait. Please be aware, juveniles will have a dark spot below the dorsal fin.

Lane Snapper

Lutjanus synagris

The color pattern of this snapper makes it easy to distinguish from the other snappers that occur along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. They are a red color with 8 to 10 yellow/gold horizontal stripes along the sides and a black spot beneath the dorsal fin. This species is less abundant than either the Red or Vermilion snappers.

Gray Snapper (Mangrove)

Lutjanus griseus

This small snapper is commonly found inshore congregating around seagrass beds, rocky areas and piers. This species is often found in mixed schools with Pinfish and Pigfish. As they grow larger they move offshore over hard bottoms and can be caught around artificial reefs.

King Mackerel

Scomberomorus cavalla

Kings are constantly on the move and migrate along the entire northern Gulf of Mexico, where they may congregate around oil rigs, offshore wrecks and shoalwater. King Mackerel in excess of 60 pounds are taken each year by fishermen who troll and cast for them as far south as the mouth of the Mississippi River.

Striped Mullet

Mugil cephalus

Both Striped and White mullet are called “Biloxi Bacon” along the Mississippi Gulf Coast as this species is a staple for subsistence fishermen and a principal prey species for larger fish. Mullet are most commonly taken using cast nets. Hook-and-line fishermen can catch these fish with very small hooks and doughball baits.

Red Drum

Sciaenops ocellatus

Redfish are another favorite species of local anglers. These bruisers can get upwards of 30 pounds. Feeding habits are intermediate between their cousins, the bottom-feeding Black Drum and the more surface-feeding Spotted Seatrout. Blue crabs and gold spoons are among the best bait to use for catching Redfish.

Vermilion Snapper (Beeliner)

Rhomboplites aurorubens

This snapper is bright red in color and its body shape is narrower than that of the Red Snapper. Vermillion Snapper are small snapper which are found in the same habitat as Red Snapper and caught on the same type of baits.


Mycteroperca microlepis

During the summer months when the water temperatures increase along the coast, juvenile Gag are often caught by fishermen around rock piles and pilings. The larger adults occur offshore in deeper water, usually over hard bottoms and around some kind of structure.

Spanish Mackerel

Scomberomorus maculatus

Spanish Mackerel are abundant in the Mississippi Sound from early summer through mid fall. Caught best on fast-moving, silvery lures, they form the summer staple of the charter fishery. Care should be taken when removing these toothsome critters from the hook.


Rachycentron canadum

Called Lemonfish locally, the Cobia is truly a big-game species. Lemonfish up to 100 pounds are caught annually during the spring run. Lemonfish have a decided preference for congregating around buoys, anchored vessels, etc. Live catfish or Croaker are preferred bait, though a jigor feather might also entice a big lemon into striking.

Spotted Seatrout

Cynoscion nebulosus

Locally called Speckled Trout or simply “Speck,” this fish is widely sought in coastal waters Gulfwide. Specks upwards of 5 pounds are not uncommon, but the average school trout will be around a pound or so. Trout can be caught year-round, but spring and fall are peak fishing times.

Greater Amberjack

Seriola dumerili

This fish is generally found around deepwater oil rigs or artificial reefs. Greater Amberjack can reach weights in excess of 100 pounds and can put up an excellent fight when hooked. The Greater Amberjack is the largest of the four amberjack species that occur in the Gulf of Mexico.

Illustrations © 1992, Diane Rome Peebles