THE Tarpon glides along serene
As though to polish his scales of sheen;
For no silver ever had such glint,
Not even coin fresh from the mint.
This royal, bright, and beauteous thing
Is sometimes called the Silver King.
The Sailfish with his fin so blue,
Jumps from the sea as though he flew,
He flits along from wave to wave
As though it were his life to save,
His dorsal fin with black spots is shot
And it closes neatly in a slot.
The Mackerel tribe is always Spanish,
The common kind they seem to banish,
But others of the breed are not taboo
Such as the Cero and the gay Wahoo.
The Kingfish mated with his striped relation
Has added Cero to the finny nation.
The Bluefish bold and a great fighter
Is found off shore to “Lignumviter.”
A jumper, biter swift is he
That trades about from Key to Key.
They always seem to be in schools
With teeth as sharp as keen-edged tools.
The Jackfish and the Amberjacks
Are wide in girth with narrow backs,
They tug and pull to beat the band,
And when of size are hard to land.
They are poor eating, but not so
Their blood relation the Pompano.
The Barracouta, with teeth on jaws,
Is a pirate fish that breaks all laws;
When hooked he jumps into the air,
And fights by all foul means or fair.
As food he is not of the best
And is only eaten at Key West.
The Kingfish is a hungry thing
And ever ready at the bait to spring.
When once hooked he jumps clean out
And shows his tail and pointed snout.
The west wind is his best for biting,
The northern Kingfish is a Whiting.
The Redfish is the Channel bass
And is not found at reef or pass
From Gilbert’s Bar to Romano,
For him the water must be just so.
His body is bronze, a coat of mail,
And there is a black spot on his tail.
The Sergeantfish is a salt sea pike.
His two stripes on both sides alike
Give him his title and his rank.
They’re found in bayous near the bank,
In rivers and in many brooks;
They also bear the name of Snooks.
The Dolphin in the ocean spray
Is polka-dotted and in bright array;
In the warm waters he loves to roam,
And in the gulf stream makes his home.
When once on board his colours fade
And he becomes a piece of jade.
Bonefish play at seek and hide
Along sandbars on the new flood tide,
They show their tails when hunting fleas
And swim along with grace and ease.
Bonefish are shy and gentle biters,
But when once hooked are champion fighters.
The Ladyfish and the Seatrout
Are to be caught if you hunt about.
In the Indian River they are still found
And in great schools did once abound,
But now they are not often seen,
Are few in number and far between.
The Groupers who on the bottom dwell
Quite undisturbed by the ocean swell
Are of three sorts, gray, brown and red,
Long-jawed with more mouth than head.
No sea cook can be ever prouder
Than when he serves one up as chowder.
The different Snappers which swim in droves
Are found by shore and near mangroves;
They are Muttonfish out on the reef,
At least that is my best belief.
The luscious oyster is their favorite food
But they snap at small fry when in the mood.
The Sawfish with his teeth on snout,
Is a brigand and a roustabout.
With hide as tough as leather skins,
Has on his back two dorsal fins.
He strikes with saw and it never matters,
What he can’t eat he always scatters.
The Jewfish—giant of the fishes—
Is not a gourmet as to his dishes;
When hungry and when in the mood,
He is no stickler as to his food,
Hence the epithet of his funny calling,
For Jewfish is a name appalling.
The Shark is the very greatest thief
That ever swam along the reef;
He loafs along from hour to hour
To see what prey he may devour.
He swims about with dorsal out
And has a Pilot for a scout.