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North Carolina Department of Environment Quality

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Marine Fisheries - Reef Fish

Marine Fisheries

Reef fish

Reef Fish

8-point rule

 
 

Species on North Carolina’s Artificial Reefs

Many of the species seen on North Carolina’s Artificial Reefs can be found inshore or nearshore, as well as offshore. Below is a general, but not exhaustive list of what you might find while fishing the state’s artificial reefs.

Inshore and/or Nearshore Species

Species Common Name Scientific Name Also Known As
Black drum Black drum Pogonias cromis Drum
Bluefish Bluefish Pomatomus saltatrix Blues, snappers, choppers, Taylor blues
Cobia Cobia Rachycentron canadum Ling, lemonfish
King mackerel King mackerel Scomberomorus cavalla Kings, kingfish, snakes, smokers
Red drum Red drum Sciaenops ocellatus Channel bass, redfish, puppy drum, spottail bass
Sheepshead Sheepshead Archosargus probatocephalus Convict fish
Southern flounder Southern flounder Paralichthys lethostigma Flounder, flat fish
Gulf flounder Gulf flounder Paralichthys albigutta Flounder, flat fish
Spanish mackerel Spanish mackerel Scomberomorus maculatus Spanish
Spotted seatrout Spotted seatrout Cynoscion nebulosus Speckled trout, southern spotted weakfish, speck
Gray trout Gray trout
( Weakfish)
Cynoscion regalis Gray trout, trout, weakfish
Black seabass Black sea bass Centropristis striata Blackfish, Atlantic sea bass, bass, rock bass, old humpback, pinbass

Offshore Species Inshore and/or Nearshore Species

Species Common Name Scientific Name Also Known As
Black seabass Black sea bass Centropristis striata Blackfish, Atlantic sea bass, bass, rock bass, old humpback, pinbass
Dolphin Dolphin fish Coryphaena hippurus Dolphinfish, mahi mahi
Gag grouper Gag grouper Mycteroperca microlepis Black grouper, gag
Gray triggerfish Gray triggerfish Balistes capriscus Triggerfish, taly, leatherjacket, leatherneck
Amberjack Greater amberjack Seriola dumerili Amberjack, jack
Vermilion snapper Vermilion snapper Rhomboplites aurorubens Beeliner

How do fish use the reefs?

Some marine fish species require reef habitat to survive while others gain a direct benefit from reef habitat, but are able to survive without it. The following information discusses how demersal (bottom) fish, baitfish, and pelagic (open water) fish relate to reef habitat.

Demersal (bottom) Fishes
Bottom dwellers such as black sea bass and gray triggerfish need reef habitat to survive. Bottom dwellers typically cluster under overhangs, cavities and crevices found on the reef. The nooks and crannies found in the reef provide refuge from larger predatory fishes. These areas also provide a large menu of mobile food.

Reef Fishes
Reef fishes make excursions away from the food abundant reefs to feed on worms and clams and other fauna living in or on the open sandy bottom. Soon after feeding, they return to the safety of the reef.

Schooling Baitfish
Baitfish, such as menhaden, school around high-profile reef structure like sunken ships. Why? Some say baitfish use high profile structure as a directional reference point. Others say they use the structure’s shadow to conceal themselves from predatory fish. Regardless of why, schooling bait fishes only temporarily abide at reefs before moving to other areas.

Pelagic (open water) Fishes
9u Pelagic (open water) species such as bluefish, cobia, Spanish mackerel, and dolphin fish are high in the reef food chain and use the hardened habitat for feeding purposes. Pelagic fish are attracted to the bait fishes found around the reef, but are only transients. Reefs are not a requirement of their life cycle.
N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries • 3441 Arendell Street • Morehead City, NC 28557 • 252-726-7021 or 800-682-2632

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