Identification & Biology: The tripletail's body appears to have three tails. This is actually just the long rounded dorsal and anal fins, extending almost to the tail. They have a sloping head with small eyes. Color can vary from black, grey, brown and yellow depending on habitat. As they mature and grow, some retain a mottled appearance, but the majority change to a dark gray, black or a deep bronze color… and reach a maximum size of 40 pounds although the average size is much smaller.
Tripletail change color with their environment and are great imitators, often imitating flotsam and leaves. They swim/float on their side just like a flounder. But they are truly a surface fish, lounging around like a gar.
Range & Habitat: Tripletail is found coastally in the Gulf of Mexico but occur in tropical and temperate waters throughout the globe. They are the sole representative of the family Lobotidae and, contrary to popular belief, are not related to grouper or any other species found along the Gulf Coast. The tripletail is a semi-migratory pelagic fish. It is normally solitary, but under some conditions the tripletail may form schools. In the summer, they can be found in bays, sounds and estuaries. The tripletail is often found around ship wrecks, supports of beacons, the pilings of jetties, and the deep buoys.
Market Description: A few tons of tripletails are fished commercially on the east and west coasts of Florida, and marketed fresh, frozen, or salted. They are mainly caught using haul seines, gill nets and line gear. They are common in driftnet catches of tuna along the edge of the continental shelf. This fish is infrequently targeted by recreational fishers.
Recommended Preparation: For years many people wouldn't eat a tripletail if they caught one because they thought that the fish was sick due to its habit of floating near the surface on its side. Tripletail however has some of the best tasting meat of any fish that swims. Tripletail is an exceptional good eating fish. The flesh is firm, white and, is considered by many to be equal to or superior to red snapper or grouper.