If you fish in the same area, year after year, you pretty much know all the local fish. Face it. There are only so many species you’re apt to cross paths with. And you get familiarized with them one and all. Nothing surprises you.
If you decide to try fishing a new part of the coast, however, I suggest getting a fish identification book. One you can carry in your boat, kayak or tackle box. I’m not joking.
When I lived in Florida, I quickly learned that lesson. It’s for your own good. Some fish are nasty in one way or another. Take the leatherjacket. It’s a small Florida fish, looking harmless enough, but the dorsal and anal fins carry a strong venom. Ouch. Be careful with those guys. In fact, be careful with any fish you can’t identify right off.
My friend Pete is down in the Keys right now. A day ago, he sent me the picture above. Now that is a weird look fish. Right? It looks like a fugitive from a Mars. But any Key’s angler would know it immediately. Just a parrotfish.