Game Fishing > Bottom Saltwater Fish types > Lafayette fish

Lafayette fish

Lafayette fishThe name Lafayette was given this fish by the New York fishermen in consequence of its reappearance in large numbers in that region having been coincident with the arrival of Lafayette in the U.S. in 1824. It had been known before that time, but only in scattering numbers. Dr. Tarleton Bean says that the name "spot" is derived from the presence of a dark blotch, about as big as the eye, near the root of the pectoral fin.

Other names of this species are: goody, old wife, roach, and chub. The spot swarms on the Eastern coast during the hot months
of July and August, and is caught as late as September. It is a small fish, rarely exceeding ten inches in length or a pound in weight; but for its size it is game to the last, and puts up a fight to shame much larger fish. It is one of the best pan fish caught in the sea. In both these qualities it resembles the porgy, though as a fighter it is much superior. It ascends small streams in rather blackish water, and is a common associate with the white perch.

Immediately the Lafayettes are running, it is a signal for hundreds of men and boys to crowd the North River piers so thick that on some occasions there is little elbow room for comfort, and when these fish come in with the new flood tide in large numbers, catches of a hundred or more are not remarkable. They may also be caught in great numbers at Rock­away, on the Jersey shore, Cape May, Atlantic City, and as far down as Mayport in Florida. The most successful baits are small pieces of clam or small-sized sand worms.

At certain times they are erratic and will only take shrimp or the leg of a shedder crab, so that the angler will do well to supply himself with a variety of bait. All bottom feeders are good biters at night, and the Lafayette is no exception to this rule. They take the hook with a sly, tentative nibble, sometimes hardly felt by the angler; but on feeling the barb, away they go, darting off, back and forth, with remarkably bold breaks similar to those made by brook trout.

The main point in catching Lafayettes is to have small, very sharp hooks attached to the leader about six inches from the sinker, which should be heavy enough to hold on the bottom. In such places as the docks and piers the tide does not affect the water, but when the tide runs heavy the sinker can be changed. The bait should be small, just enough to cover the barb. A large bait tempts them to nibble away small pieces without being caught. Hand lines are more frequently used, but a short light rod is more handy and easier to handle, and lands the fish more quickly, either in fishing from a boat or dock.

Some anglers use a heavy sinker and swing it over­head fifty feet away. After getting the line taut, wait for the bite of a large fish. As the fish swims near the bottom in great schools, three or four hooks can be used and more fish caught. From late in August till the end of September there is hardly a place where Lafayettes may not be found, and if the right bait is given them, good sport, and what is more, a good mess can be caught.