Game Fishing > Grouper Family, Serranidae > Scamp


ScampThe scamp is a grouper that resembles very much the gag. It was first described by the Cuban ichthyologist Poey, in 1860, from Cuban waters. He named it falcala, or "scythe-shaped," from the curving of the caudal fin. The form common to Florida is a variety or subspecies, that differs principally in the angle of the canine teeth and to some extent in coloration. The variety was first described by Jordan and Swain, in 1884, who named it phenax, meaning "deceptive," and equivalent to "scamp." It is abundant along the Florida Keys and the offshore "snapper banks," from Key West to Pensacola; those of smaller size frequent inshore waters.

It resembles the gag very much in its general appearance and in the shape of its body, with a somewhat larger mouth and more projecting lower jaw, also a larger caudal fin, which is more crescentic or scythe-shaped. The depth of its body is about a third of its length. The teeth are in narrow bands, with two canines in each jaw, but these are not so strong as in the Cuban form, and those in the upper jaw are not directed so much forward, nor the lower ones so much backward. The caudal fin is concave or cres­centic, and the scales are larger than those of the gag.

The color is pinkish gray above, paler purplish gray below; the upper part of the body and head is covered with small, rounded, irregular dark brown spots; the sides and caudal fin with larger and longer pale brownish blotches, somewhat reticulate; fins dusky, some edged with white. Its habits are similar to those of the gag, just described, in whose company it is found. It grows to a length of two feet or more, and to ten pounds or more in weight. The remarks concerning the tackle and fishing for the gag apply equally as well for the scamp.

This fish, with the gag, is sometimes taken on the snapper banks by the red-snapper fishermen, though it is not shipped to the northern markets as it does not bear transportation so well as the red-snapper, and is sold for home consumption or eaten by the crews. The scamp does not stray so far north as the gag, being confined to subtropical regions. It is regularly taken to the Key West market by the commercial fisherman, where it commands a ready sale, being well esteemed as a food-fish. The first specimens. I afterward preserved were secured from this source.