Game Fishing > Grunt Family, Haemulidae > Yellow grunt

Yellow grunt

Yellow gruntThe yellow grunt was first noticed by Bloch, in 1790, from the West Indies; but owing to a mistake as to its proper identification it was named sciurus, meaning "squirrel," by Shaw, in 1803, based on Bloch's description and figure. The name squirrel is in allusion to the grunt­ing noise it emits when captured, which is compared to the barking of that animal. It is abundant in the West Indies and south to Brazil, and is quite common about Key West.

The yellow grunt is very similar to the common grunt in the conformation of its body and fins, but has a rather curved profile instead of a depression in front of the eye. The teeth are similar, with about three strong canines on each side. The scales on the upper part of the body are relatively smaller than in the black grunt.

Its color is uniformly brassy yellow, with about a dozen longitudinal and distinct stripes of sky-blue, some­what wavy, extending from the snout to the anal fin; the fins are yellowish; the inside of the mouth is scarlet. It grows to about a foot in length, but occasionally to eighteen inches. It is the handsomest in coloration and appearance of all the grunts, and is often called "boar grunt" by the Key West fishermen.

A black-bass bait rod, braided linen line, snelled hooks, with sinker adapted to the depth and current of the water, and sea-crawfish, shrimps, prawns, or cut­fish bait, will be found quite applicable for grunt fishing.

Although the yellow grunt was known to science from the West Indies as early as 1790, it was not recorded from the waters of the United States until a century later, when in 1881 I collected it at Key West. This is the more remarkable inasmuch as it is rather common along the keys, and is moreover such a striking, well­marked, and handsome species that it is difficult to imagine how it had been overlooked. The field has, however, been pretty well worked since, and many new species have been recorded.

The Florida Keys, like the southern portion of the peninsula, are of formation, and are underlaid by oolitic and coral limestones. These coralline rocks are formed by the action of the waves and weather on the calcareous secretions of coral polyps, those beautiful "flowers of the sea" which are still building better than they know on the outlying submerged reefs, and where may be seen those tiny "toilers of the sea," madrepores, astreans, maeandrinas, porites, gorgonias, etc., rivalling in beauty of form and color the most charming and delicate ferns, fungi, mosses, and shrubs.

The fishes that frequent the coral reefs are very handsome, both in form and coloration: silvery, rosy, scarlet, brown, and golden bodies, with sky­blue, bright yellow, rosy, or black stripes and bands, or spotted, stellated, and mottled with all the hues of the rainbow; and with jewelled eyes of scarlet, blue, yellow, or black; fins of all colors and shapes, and lips of scarlet red, blue, or silver.