Q: This wild fish didn't hit a bait or lure: It was shot on a spearfishing charter about 30 miles from Puerto Vallarta. At first glance I thought,
Monster bonefish! I've since figured out it's definitely not a bonefish. But whatever it is, the damn thing nearly pulled the spearfisher's arms from his sockets! Any information you could provide would be greatly appreciated.
-- Capt. Josh Temple, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
A: What you have there is a nice-sized milkfish, Chanos chanos. This species occurs in warm-water areas around the world and grows to over 6 feet long and 30-plus pounds. The very large, deeply forked tail makes it a powerful, fast swimming fish. Milkfish also represent an important species for the aquaculture industry in many parts of Asia. Juveniles frequent brackish waters, including mangrove areas and even freshwater lakes. Adults range widely in marine areas. I'm not surprised that this one was speared, because as planktivores, they can be hard to hook. They eat cyanobacteria, soft algae, small benthic invertebrates, and even pelagic fish eggs and larvae. However, like mullet (which have a similar diet), they can be caught on a line using bread for bait provided they are first convinced by persistent chumming that bread is good to eat.
-- Ben Diggles