Lookdowns One Of The Freaky Tropical Fish We See In Delaware

Tropical Fish Arrive In Delaware With The Gulf Stream Every Summer

Various summer tropical fish move up the east coast with the Gulf Stream. Lookdowns, often mistaken for moonfish, have been showing up for a long time in our waters, especially in August. Over the weekend Mellyne Herrera caught this lookdown in her cast net near the Pot Nets Community. This is a very pretty specimen. These are the typical size when we find in the crab pots, and spot traps. Not sure why they go into the crab pots except maybe to use as structure to hide. Normally they school, feed on and around sandy bottoms, and avoid structure.

lookdwon, tropical fish in Delaware, sussex county, gulf stream fish,
Mellyne Herrera caught this Lookdown in a cast net and released it

Lookdowns are good to eat but filleting them is a challenge only for the skilled with a filet knife.  An electric filet knife will just make a mushy mess out of them.   The largest on record (IGFA) is a little over four pounds caught in 2004 in Florida.

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Our estuaries in the inland bays and Delaware Bay are full of all kinds of tropical fish. I know people who make a living off seine netting tropical fish for the aquarium industry. Especially in the Virginia beach and Chincoteague area. The amount of marshes down there supports a huge amount of these fish that hide and feed. There used to be a video you could purchase in the nineties, that showed you how to catch these fish in those areas. You had to live four states away for the videographer to even send it to you. He didn’t want anyone in his spots.

Juvenile Lookdown fish found in the surf in 2018 at 3Rs

All of these tropical fish will die once the water changes to winter temperatures. They do not have a biological clock telling them it is time to go back to the gulf area. They will feed and move to warmer water areas until they can no longer find warm water. This has been occurring forever. In the last decade we have seen a much larger variety of tropical fish species in Delaware.

Fish On!
Rich King

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