Q: I always hear fishing guides in my hometown talking about thread herring and pilchards, and then read about fishermen on the west coast of Florida talking about whitebait and greenies. Are they all the same species of baitfish, or are they different? I am confused.
-- Roly Mendez, Key West, Florida
|Atlantic Thread Herring|
A: Well, Roly, they are different species. Members of the herring family (Clupeidae) represent some of the most popular saltwater baitfishes in many coastal areas of the United States. They are fairly common and serve as favorite food items for many large predatory fishes. The different common names used throughout their range can make finding their true identities a bit confusing. In this case, the names "threadfin herring," "greenie" and "greenback" all apply to the same species, Opisthonema oglinum, which receives the official common name of Atlantic thread herring from the American Fisheries Society. The AFS recognizes Herengula jaguana, which anglers commonly refer to as "pilchard," as the scaled sardine.
-- Ray Waldner