Common Saltwater Fish

earn more about the most common saltwater fish species you can catch in your next fishing day. Get tips on how to catch them, what equipment to use, more.

The variety of saltwater fish that inhabit our oceans, bays and inlets make saltwater fishing trips among the most exciting types of fishing trips you can take. There are types of saltwater fish that can be caught on light tackle from a pier or in backcountry waters, and several other species of popular saltwater fish that can only be landed with an experienced crew and the heaviest of gear in offshore ocean waters.

HABITATS OF SALTWATER FISH

Of all the saltwater fishing tips you may learn over time, try to remember this basic rule. Saltwater fish live in one of three types of marine habitats or environments.

  • Pelagic fish: Species that live in the pelagic zone of the ocean inhabit areas that are neither close to the bottom or near the shore, but usually spend a significant amount of time swimming through the water column on a migratory route. Many popular game fish, such as tuna and wahoo, are pelagic fish.
  • Demersal fish: Fish that live on or near the bottom of the ocean are referred to as demersal fish. Flounder and halibut are two examples of demersal fish.
  • Reef fish: As you may have already guessed, reef fish are species that live either within or in close range of coral reef systems. Red snapper and gag grouper are both examples of reef fish.

FISHING FOR SALTWATER SPECIES

Now that you have an overview of the different types of saltwater fish and the habitats they live in, you can learn more about each specific saltwater species you want to target by using the Fish Species Explorer tool.

If you are a beginning saltwater angler or if you are fishing an area for the first time, it's always a good idea to hire an experienced guide or charter captain that can help educate you about the best strategies and techniques for each species. You can also read through a list of saltwater fishing Q & A before you go in order to make the most of your day on the water.

POPULAR SALTWATER FISH

STRIPED BASS

Striped bass, or rockfish are a favorite migratory species found along the east coast. Read about their habitat and suggested ways to fish for this longer, sleeker relative of the white bass.

KING SALMON

King Salmon or Chinook are one of the most popular saltwater fish species on the west coast. Find tips on hooking this favorite of the Pacific salmon group.

BLUEFISH

A migratory fish that can be found along the East Coast, this fish is known for its sharp teeth. Find suggested baits and lures for this voracious saltwater fish.

REDFISH

Redfish or red drum can be found from the Gulf of Mexico up the east coast of the Atlantic. Learn more about fishing methods for this hard fighter.

PACIFIC HALIBUT

The largest Pacific flathead, halibut are popular saltwater fish species to catch when pier and surf fishing. Find out more about this common saltwater fish and how to catch this coldwater dwelling species.

Just remember, before you plan a saltwater fishing trip, it's important that you check your state fishing regulations to make sure you know the slot limits, bag limits, and seasons for each type of species.