One of the most intriguing fish found on the offshore waters of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia is the flying fish, otherwise known as the flyer. Flyers are an excellent food source for large gamefish and are a sight to see by those who catch a glimpse of them taking flight. What exactly is a flying fish?
How Do You Identify A Flying Fish
The visual appearance of the fish is dependent upon the variety. However, flyers achieve a maximum length of 18 inches, are blue towards the top fading to white, have a forked tail and massive pectoral fins.
One variation of the variety is the extension of the pelvic fins in addition to the pectoral fins. The extension of both the pectoral and pelvic fins results in a four-winged variation of the fish.
Flyers are only found in warm waters. They do not prefer that dips below 68 degrees.
Are Flying Fish Extinct
The flyer is far from extinct. Flying fish include over 40 varieties and live in multiple oceans, including the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic.
Spot flyers for yourself by venture offshore of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia to the open seas.
Flying fish are easily disturbed by passing boats. Schools of flyers will leap out of the water, simultaneously putting on a spectacular show. Catch a glimpse of the masses flying by as you cruise or remain still.
Do Flying Fish Actually Fly
While flying fish have wing-like apparatuses, they do not perform a flapping motion to achieve elevation after exiting the water.
Flyers swim at a rapid rate before exiting the water and becoming airborne. The purpose of the wings is to create glide as opposed to forward and upward motion by propelling the wings up and down.
The next time you are offshore and spot flyers, pay close attention to the motion of the wings or lack thereof.
How Far Can A Flying Fish Fly
Despite the flyer relying on the water to breathe, the fish soars long distances above the surface, even with the inability to achieve respiration.
On average, the flyer travels over 150 feet but can exceed 600 feet with ideal wind conditions.
Regarding height, flying fish max out at 20 feet above sea level on their journey before splashing back in the sea for a breath of air.
What Does Flying Fish Taste Like
In Barbados, the flying fish is a staple to the local cuisine. Fortunately, the fish is abundant in offshore waters; therefore, they are simple to harvest by utilizing bright light. The flyers are attracted to bright artificial light.
The fillets are best served fresh as they do not freeze or travel well. When cooked, the flesh is described as white, firm, and tender when cut with a fork.
Flyers are prepared in various ways, including frying, steaming, or a Barbados favorite called Cou-Cou.
Who Eats Flying Fish
In addition to humans, flying fish are a source of nutrition for bluewater gamefish well offshore of Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina.
Bluewater gamefish are primarily pelagic species which means they migrate extensively through the gulf stream.
The species of fish which feed on flyers include marlin, dolphin fish, wahoo, tuna, mackerel, and tuna varieties. All of these can be seen busting the surface chasing after schools of flyers.
Are Flyers Good Bait
Flyers are excellent bait for both fish feeding at the surface and the bottom. It is not uncommon for a flying fish to land in a boat. Rather than setting it free, utilize the fresh fish as bait.
First off, clip the wings to avoid the flyer from becoming airborne after it is hooked to the line. Place the hook through the flyer and cast it near weed lines on the surface or drop it to the bottom with a weight.
The surface feeders like dolphin, tuna, and wahoo will find it to be a delectable treat, much like grouper, snapper, and sharks on the bottom.
Get Offshore And Spot Flying Fish
Having the opportunity to watch flyers become airborne is a spectacular sight that will create a memory to last a lifetime. The fact that a fish can glide at such long distances above their habitat seems unnatural. For the fisherman, keep an eye out of flyers to locate feeding pelagics, and remember to send one out as bait if you’re fortunate enough for one to land in the boat.