OTHER NAMES: Whitebait,
RANGE: Florida and Bahamas.
HABITAT: Roams widely in both
shallow and deep water of both coasts. Bait-seekers look for them
inshore on grassy flats and around bridges. Offshore, they frequently
congregate near navigation markers, wrecks and reefs.
DESCRIPTION: Again, we have several
similar species that most anglers make little or no attempt to
differentiate, and which are known by various common names, mostly
regional. Actually, it would be a surprise to find a listing under the
name "Pilchard" in scientific books. The Scaled Sardine is the one most
widely called "Pilchard," at least on the East Coast. The same fish
(with some others) is usually called "Whitebait" in the Gulf. Color is
usually brassy above and solid silver on sides. Small black spot may be
present on the gill cover. The similar Red ear Sardine, and False
Pilchard, occur in South Florida but are less common. Both have an
orange spot on the gill cover, but the False Pilchard is solid, whereas
the Red ear Sardine shows dark broken streaks on the upper sides.
SIZE: Averages 3-6 inches.
FOOD VALUE: Insignificant.
GAME QUALITIES: None.
TACKLE AND BAITS: Most are cast
netted, but they can also be caught with either multi-hook bait rigs, or
with "Pilchard rings", a series of small, interlocking rings fashioned
of leader wire. Both rigs are sold in bait shops in areas where they are
popular. If the Pilchards are present but not densely packed, they are
first chummed up with grain, such as oatmeal, and then the bait rigs or
Pilchard rings are lowered into the school. The Pilchards either strike
the hooks or swim into the rings, which trap them.
FISHING TECHNIQUES: Still Fishing.