Do You Know Your Catch?

One of the most commonly asked questions by anglers, at some point in time, is "What is it?" Knowing what you caught is extremely important for many reasons, including the reason that misidentification can lead to violations of fisheries regulations. This section is meant to guide the angler through thirty-six of Maine's most commonly encountered saltwater species. These fish are grouped into Families as listed in the American Fisheries Society publication, "Common and Scientific Names of Fishes."

Select this link for a color compilation of all 36 fish listed in "Do You Know Your Catch?". (PDF file, 37 pages, 5.9 MB).

Select this link for a smaller file compilation of "Do You Know Your Catch?" in black & white (PDF file, 20 pages, 2.9 MB).

Arrangement of the fish identification section

Common names: Other names used in various geographical locations to identify each species.
Description: To properly identify your catch these commonly observed attributes can be used.
Where found: Though fish often know no bounds, there are general locations where they most commonly may be found.
Similar Gulf of Maine species: Here are listed other fish that resemble this species and may cause identification problems.
Remarks: This includes life history, behavior, feeding habits and angling information.
Records: The current Maine State Saltwater Angler Record (MSSAR)* and the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) records are listed.

Some of the links below are PDF files, which may require the free Adobe Reader (download here) to view or print.

Questions or Comments? Contact Marine Recreational Fisheries Staff.

To view information on individual fish, select the common name of the fish, below.  Each link is to a 1-page PDF file, 100-400 kb:

alewife (PDF) halibut (PDF) shad (PDF)
black sea bass (PDF) herring (PDF) silver hake (PDF)
blue shark (PDF) little skate (PDF) smelt (PDF)
blueback herring (PDF) longhorn sculpin (PDF) spiny dogfish (PDF)
bluefin tuna (PDF) mackerel (PDF) striped bass (PDF)
bluefish (PDF) mako shark (PDF) sturgeon (PDF)
brook trout (PDF) menhaden (PDF) tautog (PDF)
brown trout (PDF) ocean pout (PDF) thresher shark (PDF)
cod (PDF) pollock (PDF) white shark (PDF)
cunner (PDF) porbeagle shark (PDF) winter flounder (PDF)
cusk (PDF) redfish (PDF) wolffish (PDF)
goosefish (PDF) salmon (PDF)  
haddock (PDF) sea raven (PDF)  

If you have any questions regarding recreational fishing or this species listed above please contact Bruce Joule.

Fish Illustrations by: Roz Davis Designs, Damariscotta, ME (207) 563-2286

With permission, the use of these pictures must state the following: Drawings provided courtesy of the Maine Department of Marine Resources Recreational Fisheries program and the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund.

1. fork length 7. dorsal fin 13. caudal peduncle
2. total length 8. pelvic fin 14. upper lobe of tail fin
3. snout 9. anal fin 15. gill cover
4. barbel 10. tail (caudal) fin 16. midline
5. pectoral fin 11. adipose fin 17. lateral line
6. ventral fin 12. caudal keel 18. finlets

diagram of fish parts diagram of more fish parts