How Are Freshwater and Saltwater Fish Different?

How Are Freshwater and Saltwater Fish Different?

What is it? Why should you use it? Types of tshirt

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.

 

Size

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).



Diet

Knowing 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.



Behavior



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.
 

 

Largemouth bass. Photo: Ryan Hagerty/USFWS
Largemouth bass. Source

 

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:

SEE ALL ARTICLES

Tackle Bag TLC: Essential Care and Maintenance Tips for Your Fishing Backpack

Understanding the importance of regular cleaning is crucial for maintaining the Baitium Fishing Tackle Backpack. Not only does this practice preserve the quality of the material, but it also ensures the backpack's longevity and performance.

The Ultimate Guide To Choosing the Best Fishing Tackle Backpack

As an avid angler, having a high-quality fishing tackle bag that meets your fishing needs is a must. Gone are the days of cramming a messy array of boxes, tools and gear into a worn duffel bag before heading out on the water. The right bag keeps your gear organized, protected, and accessible, allowing you to focus on reeling in the big catch instead of rummaging around for equipment. But with so many bags on the market, how do you choose one that has all the important features you should look for? Let’s look into the essential characteristics of a top-tier tackle bag that every fishing enthusiast must consider.

Can Fishing Rods Be Carried on a Plane?

Planning ahead is key for anglers traveling with fishing gear, especially when flying. The anticipation for the fishing trip starts mounting well before arriving at the destination. However, to ensure a smooth journey, anglers must understand the airline rules regarding fishing equipment. By knowing the regulations and packing properly, eager fishermen and women can avoid headaches and focus on the real adventure waiting for them at the water's edge.

Can Fishing Line Go Bad?

One critical component that all too often gets overlooked with fishing setups is the fishing line itself. And the unfortunate answer is yes - fishing line can certainly go bad over time.

Hot Fishing Trends for 2024

The world of fishing is changing rapidly. As we move into 2024, several key trends are emerging that will shape the future of recreational angling and the fishing industry. From advances in gear and technology to some fishing techniques gaining more popularity over others, these changes are transforming the overall experience and practice of fishing.

Is Today a Good Day to Go Fishing?

Thinking of going fishing today? It’s critical to consider a variety of environmental factors that can significantly impact your success by the water. Ideal fishing conditions typically involve a mix of elements such as temperature, wind speed, atmospheric pressure, and precipitation levels.