If you're like me, you've probably wondered what the differences are between freshwater and saltwater fish. Why do some prefer to fish in saltwater and others in freshwater? And as an angler, why should you care?
First, the basics: fish are animals with backbones that live in water and breathe through gills. They can move through the water because their bodies are streamlined and they have fins. They are all different sizes, shapes, and colors. Most of them are cold-blooded. Generally, that’s where their similarities end.
Some fish live in freshwater, like lakes, rivers, and streams. Others live in saltwater, like the seas and oceans. Some, like the salmon, breed in freshwater, go back to the ocean, and eventually come back to freshwater to breed. I’ll spare you the tedious details, which you can read more about here. But as an angler, you should know that some fish live in freshwater and can't survive in saltwater because their bodies are better adapted to the freshwater environment. The same goes for saltwater fish, which are better adjusted to seawater.
In terms of size, they’re vastly different. Although they both come in all sizes, saltwater fish can grow much bigger than freshwater fish. This is because the ocean is huge, which gives them plenty of room.
Guinness World Records says that a 13-foot (3.98 m) freshwater stingray caught in Cambodia in June 2022 holds the record for the largest freshwater fish ever caught. By comparison, the largest saltwater fish ever caught was a filter-feeding whale shark. It was caught in the Arabian Sea off the coast of Veraval, Gujarat, India, in May 2001, measuring 61 feet and 8 inches long (18.8 m).
DietKnowing the natural food of fish is important for several reasons. It can help you figure out what kind of bait or lure to use. This is called "matching the hatch" among anglers. It can also help you figure out when to fish based on when those natural food sources are around. The diet of a fish depends on whether it is a carnivore (meat-eating), herbivore (plant-eating), or omnivore (eats both meat and plants). Saltwater fish mostly eat algae, seagrass, plankton, insects, krill, and other fish. Freshwater fish eat insects (like crickets, grasshoppers, and mayflies) and worms.
Saltwater fish tend to be more aggressive, powerful, and more challenging to land than freshwater fish, so if you go fishing in the ocean, be ready to put up a fight. This is why saltwater rods, reels, and lines are made to be stronger. Most people who have never fished before are told to start in fresh water until they know how to use their gear and can can move on to saltwater.
Most Common Freshwater and Saltwater Fish in the US
What are some of the most common freshwater and saltwater fish you might catch in the US? According to the 2016 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, these are the fish that most anglers tried to catch:
In freshwater, except the Great Lakes:
Black Bass (Largemouth, Smallmouth), Panfish, Trout, Catfish/Bullhead, Crappie, White Bass, Striped Bass, and Striped-Bass Hybrids
In the Great Lakes:
Walleye/Sauger, Salmon, and Steelhead
Finally, in saltwater: Red Drum (Redfish), Striped Bass, Flatfish (Flounder, Hybrid), Sea Trout (Weakfish), Bluefish, and Salmon.
Knowledge is power when it comes to improving as angler. The more you know about fish, the better prepared you will be to catch them, and the more you will enjoy sportfishing and its many aspects. So do you prefer catching freshwater fish, or saltwater fish?
MOST READ NEWS:
Is Overfishing Still a Problem?
One of the main causes of reductions in maritime animal populations is fishing. Overfishing occurs when fish are harvested quicker than they can reproduce, which makes it difficult for them to maintain a healthy population. We must take action to end overfishing as it is a global phenomenon that has harmed and is still harming our oceans.
Overfishing often goes hand in hand with bycatch, where enormous quantities of undesired fish or other animals are caught, and then later discarded.
5 Questions with Tim Anderson (@timtombanjo2)
We asked Tim Anderson, an angler from Texas, five questions to uncover his fishing background, most memorable fishing escapades, and must-have gear to get to know him better. Check out his answers in this blog.
Spring Fishing Checklist: What To Prepare Before Hitting the Water This Spring
Spring has sprung and it's time to go fishing! With the sun shining and the weather warming up, it's the perfect time to enjoy the great outdoors and take advantage of some excellent fishing opportunities.
Get to Know Sean Frado (@fishingfanatics_NTX)
Sean Frado is an angler located in Fort Worth, Texas who loves “the idea of competition between man and fish.” He hopes to unite the fishing community and encourage outdoor recreation.
How To Choose a Fishing Charter
Booking a fishing charter is a popular and convenient way to enjoy a day on the water. Whether you’re an experienced angler or a newcomer to the sport, a well-planned fishing charter can provide you with a memorable fishing experience.
How To Keep Your Fishing Gear in Good Condition
Did you know that one of the most important things you need to learn and practice to ensure a great fishing experience is fishing gear care and maintenance?
Fishing Basics: How to Get Started
Learning a new hobby can be tough, and fishing is no exception. But with the right effort and time investment, you’ll be able to become a good angler in no time. Have a good foundation with the basics and then learn from experience.
Tips for Staying Safe on a Boat
Many anglers have their own boats for a lot of good reasons. But as the saying goes, with great power comes great responsibility. While the goal of recreational fishing is to have fun, staying safe on a boat should also be top priority.