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SCIENTIFIC NAME : Harengula jaguana

OTHER NAMES: Whitebait, Sardines.

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.


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.



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