Game Fishing > Porgy family, Sparidae > Jolt-head porgy

Jolt-head porgy

Jolt-head porgyThis is the largest and most abundant of the porgies. It was described by Bloch, in 1801, who named it bajonado, after the Cuban name given by Parra in his "Natural History of Cuba." It is not certain what the name is intended to signify. It may allude to the "bayonet-like," interhaemal bones, or to bajio, meaning a "sand­bank" or "shoal," in allusion to its habitat.

The jolt-head is abundant along the Florida Keys, especially in the vicinity of Key West, where it is one of the commonest market fishes; its range extends to the West Indies. It has a short, deep body, compressed, its depth being half its length; its back is more regularly arched than in the other porgies, or not so hump­backed. The head is large, with a long, pointed snout, and mouth moderate in size; the profile is more regularly curved than in the other porgies.

The predominating color is dusky or bluish, with brassy reflections; the upper fins are pale or bluish, more or less mottled with darker shades; the lower fins are plain; the cheeks are coppery in hue.

The jolt-head resorts to the rocks and reefs, as well as to hard, sandy shoals, feeding on small fishes, crustaceans, and soft-shelled mollusks. It grows usually to eight or ten inches, but often to two feet in length, and six or eight pounds in weight. It is a good food-fish, much in favor with the people of Key West, and is always one of the commonest fishes in the markets.

It spawns in the summer. It is very voracious, taking almost any kind of bait greedily. It is caught in company with the grunts and snappers, and on the same tackle, which should be light. Hooks numbers 1 to 2 are large enough, Sproat-bend preferred on account of its short barb with cutting edges and strong wire. Sinkers adapted to the tide and depth of water must be used.

While catching porgies at a lively rate one day I asked my boatman, a Bahama fisherman, why the big porgy was called "jolt-head." He answered in the cockney dialect peculiar to Bahama fishermen: "Vell, you see, sir, 'e 'as a big 'ed and an 'ump back, and 'e butts the rocks like a billy-goat, a-joltin' off the snail-shells and shrimps, and 'e goes a-blunderin' along like a wessel that 'as a bluff bow and a small 'elm. 'E 'as more happetite than gumption, and swallers anythink that comes 'andy, like the jolt-'ed or numbskull that 'e is. 'E is werry heasy to ketch and werry good to heat."