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Fishy Words

Being known to have tossed a few lures into northern Ontario waters, I thought I should be checking out the fishing in Florida. I’ve seen too many bass shows where they haul huge largemouth bass from the swamps not to want to try it here.
Being known to have tossed a few lures into northern Ontario waters, I thought I should be checking out the fishing in Florida. I’ve seen too many bass shows where they haul huge largemouth bass from the swamps not to want to try it here. With the walleye under pressure again in Nipissing, I thought the best fishing this year may be right here.

Before I could apply for a license, I had to learn to identify the fish. License infractions here are in US dollars and in line with the new Ontario fines. I wouldn’t want to catch too many fish of the wrong species, so fish identification is important. The names of the fish are almost as colourful as the fish.

In North Bay we only have to worry about calling a pickerel a walleye or vice versa. With so many new species down here I needed some word association to identify the catch. So I made a chart:

Bay Whiff (piscus majori) similar to fish caught off the sewage (waste water) plant on a day when the east wind blows. Commonly called a yellow whiff because of its prominent throat colouring, this recently introduced species has adapted well after crowding out the Bay Iff (piscus benus).

Bigmouth Sleeper (piscus politi, genus novi) a fish that seems to know it all but doesn’t have the good sense to keep its mouth shut. Similar to a snook but even more annoying because of its unpredictable feeding habits, it matures in about 3 years.

Bonefish (pisci conservi, genus nipissus) all bones and no meat or substance, similar to a small pike cleaned by me before I learned the five-fillet method or knew enough to throw them back.

Bowfin (budgi majori) much planning is needed to land this elusive fish. Caught early in the year but becomes reclusive, hiding in the reeds in late March and April. Much attention is paid to this fish in the fall when the flesh is firm.

Bullhead (piscus boltus) a large fish that gets hooked on a bait and refuses to shake the hook. Takes any presentation and runs and runs with it; can be easily played.

Crappie (piscus minimus, genus publica) small fish that becomes annoying when you have bigger fish to fry. Will boldly tackle any size lure or issue. Can waste a lot of time and resources dealing with them. Often found around docks and public meeting places.

Dog Snapper (macus snappi) makes a lot of noise by constantly opening and closing jaws. Often caught in the spring, they were so plentiful that early settlers buried them under potato plants for fertilizer. A license or tag is needed for this species.

Fat Sleeper (snoosis micus) a member of the body of fish that appears to be snoozing but can be aroused to take a free snack. An evening feeder that can be chummed with pieces of bread coated with peanut butter.

Gar (piscus marou) the shortened name of the Garrulous Fish, a fish that will take almost any bait and play with it. Not to be confused with the Snook, as this one rises to almost all debates and will put up a good fight.

Golden Shiner (servi aurus, genus lincus) not to be confused with the Shriner or clown fish. It keeps the environment healthy by cleaning up after other fish in the pool.

Gray Snapper (pater snappi) while related to the dog snapper, this silvery-grey fish is much more aggressive, often taking expensive baits and destroying them, reducing them to a useless tangle of bent hooks. Likes to swim in cold water. Beware of teeth when handling.

Grouper (uni savius) these large, very edible fish can be found in schools. Caught at all levels, the primary catch is of the older fish that seem to develop poor eye sight and will strike over and over again. Not to be confused with Groupie, small fish used in chumming for bigger fish to fry.

Grunt (piscus daltius) a very expressive fish known for its complaining, grunting noises that make no sense to the fisher but gets acknowledgement from its own species. Prefers warm shallow southern waters.

King Mackerel (magnus martinus) a much sought after catch. Swims with the common mackerel as protection. Takes shelter under large boats. It is easily attracted by bright lights such as those used by media cameramen.

Lesser Amberjack (jackus passus) often blamed for depleting the food chain, this colourful fish is actually very socialable. Frequents the waterfront, carefully looking after its small fry.

Mosquito fish (whitius minimus) a small fish, imported from the Nile to eat larvae and assist in pest control. An alternative to insecticides that poison the water supply. Often used by health units in reducing their budget for mosquito control.

Naked Goby (fannus fanni) found mostly on the outskirts of towns in clear, sweet water. Serious fishers usually avoid trying for this species as catches are mandatory live release and not taken home.

Paradise fish (piscus electorus) Can be confused with the Crappie, although it is a game fish with distinctive spots on all sides. Will swallow almost anything. Similar to the shark remora, it closely follows the Bay Whiff.

Red Drum (pisca judia) similar to a Snapper, a small fish that swims to its own unique sounds and is most often found in unlikely places. Prefers to develop in a pristine environment, sometimes hiding in twigs and grasses.

Redbreast (sarea rubea) this fish flushes red when confronted, but it is a good fighter when caught on light tackle. Very territorial of land / water use.

Redear (mendus commerci) often found beside the Gray Snapper and although a bass, will school with snook. Has fire-truck red spot behind eyes. The Redear will follow the Bay Whiff, like a subsidiary ledger, in hope of getting some feeding scraps.

Sand sea trout (piscus amphibis) a reclusive trout that feeds along the shorelines, often jumping valiantly from the water into the air to catch a fly. Prefers small baits but will rise to larger ones if carefully presented.

Sheepshead (cauci liberi) not a popular fish with many fishers. These large, rather plain looking fish school and mutter a sheep-like baa, baa when trying to decide to bite.

Short nose Sturgeon (servi publius) a long-lived fish with tough hide, able to withstand sudden changes in environment. An often threatened species protected by Fishery agreements, it has survived well.

Snook (pisci poli) found in a variety of locales, this fish will take any bait, making it a favourite of the novice fisher who throw them back. Very bothersome to serious fishers who are trying for a specific fish. It is thought to be named after the loud-mouth snook, an annoying human.

Southern Flounder (unis pirania) a bottom feeder that schools or forms gangs. They feed voraciously and grow to a large size in four years.

Stripers (piscus swampus) similar to the naked goby. The male fish is considerably larger than the female.

Swamp Darter (pisca publica minima) a smaller common fish that resides in little ponds and sloughs. Preyed upon by commercial and industrial fishers, it is an environmentally sensitive species that does not tolerate pesticides and herbicides.

Tailgate Shiner (piscus berrius) often seen at night looking for stray fry. The red and blue stripes along the body of the fish make it easily recognizable. These fish exhibit a strong hierarchical bonding.

I think I’m ready to apply for a fisher license now. If I can land one of these Florida fish I won’t have to eat anymore battered fish nuggets. Now to find some bait…

Bill Walton

About the Author: Bill Walton

Retired from City of North Bay in 2000. Writer, poet, columnist
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