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16 Different Species of Jack Fish that Anglers Can Catch

The term jack fish refers to a wide variety of fish species that belong to the family Carangidae.

a single catfish swimming underwater

They are fast-swimming fish that live in huge schools, inhabiting habitats such as reefs, seagrass beds, bays, sandy flats, estuaries, etc.

Although they are primarily marine fish found in tropical and temperate waters around the world, some can also be found in areas where the water is brackish, a mixture of fresh and salt water.

Many are popular game fish with anglers, as well as a common attraction in larger public aquariums.

a school of catfish swimming underwater

Read on as we explore the different types of trevally and the distinctive features that set them apart.

jack Fish types

  1. Crevalle Jack
  2. Greater Amberjack
  3. Lesser Amberjack
  4. Permit
  5. Florida Pompano
  6. African Pompano
  7. Blue Runner
  8. Bar Jack
  9. Yellow Jack
  10. Horse Eye Jack
  11. Rainbow Runner
  12. Leather Jack
  13. Pilotfish
  14. Almaco Jack
  15. Lookdown
  16. Banded Rudderfish

1. Crevalle Jack

The Crevalle jack (Caranx hippos) is abundantly present in the waters of Florida and the Greater Antilles, from deep reefs to offshore shorelines.

multiple jack crevalle swimming underwater

Their bodies are deep and compressed with a blunt head and a black spot on the gill cover.

They have a forked tail and are yellow in color with a white belly, weighing an average of 25 pounds and reaching 2 feet in length.

2. greater amberjack

The Greater Amberjack (Seriola dumerili) is also called the Horned or Amberfish. They commonly inhabit reefs several hundred feet deep and shallow waters of the Caribbean, Florida, and the Bahamas Sea.

a freshly caught greater amberjack

These jack fish are golden brown in color with a heavy body. A dark brown line runs from the eye to the dorsal forked fin.

Their average size ranges from 60 to 80 pounds, but they can weigh up to 200 pounds.

3. lesser amberjack

The Lesser Amberjack (Seriola fasciata) is similar to the Greater Amberjack, inhabiting the same habitat as the latter.

a school of lesser amberjack

However, they are not as common as the large amberjacks and can be seen swimming among debris and brush lines.

They look the same as large amberjacks, except they are much smaller in size, never exceeding 1 foot and weighing up to 25 pounds.

4. Permit

Also known as the great pompano, the permit jack (Trachinotus falcatus) is typically found in the inlets, passes, and valleys of the Bahamas and Caribbean seas. They are seen in abundance on Gulf wrecks and South Atlantic reefs.

They are silver in color with no scutes on the body and yellowish bellies. The allowed jack fish size ranges from 25 to 35 pounds on average and never exceeds one foot.

5. florida pompano

Florida Pompano (Trachinotus carolinus) inhabits Florida waters from surf, ocean docks, bays, and near canals.

a pompano fish swimming underwater

Like the leaves, the Florida pompano also has silvery bodies, pale bellies, dark dorsal fins, and other yellow fins.

Its head is usually rounded without shields on the body. The average weight of the Florida pompano is 2 pounds, which can grow up to 8 pounds.

6. African Pompano

Also known as the threadfish and Cuban jack, the African pompano (Alectis ciliaris) is abundant in shallow reefs in the lower half of the Atlantic, Caribbean, and Bahamian seas.

They are large, flattened fish with steep, drooping heads and sides of pearly silver.

The name threadfish refers to their dorsal and anal fins, which are elongated and threadlike, and are usually lost as the fish grow in size.

Their average size ranges from 20 to 35 pounds, sometimes growing to 55 pounds.

7. blue runner

The blue runner (Caranx crysos) is commonly known as the blue or hardtail jack. They live off the coast of deep reefs in the waters of Florida, the Bahamas, and the Caribbean seas.

Their appearance is similar to crevalle trevally, but their heads are more gently rounded. They are usually steel blue or pale green in color, with scutes running from tail to head.

Their average weight ranges from 1 to 2 pounds and can grow to at least 4 pounds, and they are typically 1.15 feet long.

8. bar jack

The bar jack or caranx ruber inhabits coral reefs and the grassy plains of the Caribbean seas and the Bahamas, sometimes in southern Florida.

Its body is black and bright blue on top, with silvery sides and a thin purple stripe running from head to tail. It grows to around 15-18 pounds in weight and is 1.5 feet long.

9. yellow jack

The yellow jack (Caranx bartholomaei) is similar to bar jacks, inhabiting the same regions as the latter. Unlike the crevalles, the body of the yellow jack is more streamlined with more radiant and colorful hues.

Steel blue above and yellow on the belly and sides, the yellow jack’s fins are bright yellow, often resembling yellowtail snapper when viewed from above.

Their average size ranges from 6 to 15 lbs, peaking at 30 lbs.

10. horse eye jack

The horse eye jack (Caranx latus), also called big eye jack or ojo gordo, is native to the coastal areas and seamounts of southern Florida.

Its body is similar in shape to the crevalle jack, except for the heads, which are not blunt.

Its color is also different from that of the crevalles, which are black and gray above and silvery on the sides and belly, with yellowish-black fins.

As the name suggests, horse-eye jacks have huge bulging eyes. As a big game fish, they can grow up to 3.31 feet long and weigh up to 29 pounds.

11. rainbow runner

Also called the Spanish Jack, the rainbow runner (Elagatis bipinnulata) is most common on the banks of Cay Sal in the Bahamas and throughout the Caribbean Sea. Their bodies are slender with pointed heads and no scutes.

Its color is very radiant, with blue and yellow stripes all over the body. They range in size from 16 to 22 pounds and can grow up to 6 feet.

12. leather jacks

Leather jack fish (Oligoplites Saurus) inhabit Florida waters widely, especially in the Greater Antilles, in bays or coastal rivers.

Like rainbow runners, they are smaller in size, no more than 1 foot, and their bodies are also slender and long, with pointed heads and large jaws.

Its shiny, leather-like fur is green on top and silver on the belly and sides. These fish can cause very painful punctures due to their very sharp dorsal and anal fins.

13. Pilotfish

The pilotfish (Naucrates ductor) lives in the waters off the coast of Florida. As their name suggests, they are often seen accompanying sharks and other large fish in the water, much like a pilot. They have slender shaped bodies with sharp heads.

a single pilot fish on the deck of a ship

The entire body is marked with black stripes, including the fins. The size of the pilot fish does not grow more than 2 feet.

14. almaco jack

The Almaco Jack (Seriola revoliana) lives alongside the great amberjacks on the reefs and wrecks of Florida, the Bahamas, and Caribbean waters.

They appear similar to large amberjacks, but their bodies are more compressed and deeper with elongated, sickle-shaped fins. Their average size ranges from 20 to 30 pounds.

15. Lookdown

Lookdown jacks (Selene vomer) are often called horseheads because of their sloping, concave-shaped heads.

They are native to the shallow coastal waters of the Bahamas and Caribbean seas, frequently congregating near shore at night.

They are silver in color and about the size of an average hand, never growing larger than 2 pounds.

16. banded rudderfish

The banded rudderfish (Seriola zonata) is commonly known as slender amberjacks. They reside in coastal habitats, preferring reefs, wrecks, and deeper channels.

Their appearance is very similar to that of pilot fish due to the dark bands on their bodies.

However, the striped rudder also has a dark line running from the eye to the tail, which the pilot fish lacks. Its size varies from 1 to 2 feet.

Related: The Most Common Types of Shad That Anglers Fish For.

final thoughts

All types of jack fish are mainly caught and raised in aquaculture, and are an excellent species for sport fishing.

Although commercial fisheries catch millions of jack fish for retail sale, they are not as commonly sold for eating, as their meat is of poor quality.

Instead, they are often used as supplements like fish oil and similar products.

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