Pinfish, Lagodon rhomboides
Pinfish are distributed throughout Florida’s nearshore and estuarine waters. In some areas
pinfish are so abundant that their grazing alters the composition of estuarine epifaunal seagrass
from late fall through early spring (Darcy 1985). Nelson (1998) found rapid instantaneous
growth rates of 0.10–0.25 per month for young-of-the-year pinfish. Based on scale annulus
formation, Hansen (1970) concluded that age-2 pinfish average 5 inches standard length (SL).
Nelson (2002), using whole otoliths, found pinfish as old as 7 years. Pinfish mature at the end of
their first or second years, when they are 4.3 inches SL or larger (Hansen 1970). Pinfish length
at 50% maturity was estimated to be 5.2 inches SL. Instantaneous natural (M) mortality was
estimated at 0.78 per year, and total instantaneous mortality (Z) was estimated at and 0.90 per
year (Nelson 2002).
Pinfish are voracious predators as juveniles and subadults (Carr and Adams 1972; Stoner
1979). Adults are reported to be omnivorous (Stoner 1980). Juveniles feed primarily on shrimps,
mysids, and amphipods. While the diet of adults includes most of that eaten by juveniles, adults
also consume great deal of plant matter. Other reported food items include fish eggs, insect
larvae, decapod crabs, bivalve molluscs, and polychaetes. As they get larger (less than about
1.6” SL) and incisor shape changes to flat-topped, pinfish switch from suction and ram feeding
to biting (Luczkovich et al. 1995). Pinfish are an important forage item for many fish species
(Darcy 1985). Known fish predators include alligator gar, longnose gar, ladyfish, spotted
seatrout, red drum, bighead sea robin, southern and gulf flounders (Gunter 1945; Kemp 1949;
Darnell 1958; Diener et al 1974; Rozas and Hackney 1984). Bottlenose dolphin also feed on
pinfish (Kemp 1949).
In 2005, statewide landings of pinfish were 1,414,302 pounds, of which about 96% were
made by the recreational fishery, mostly on the gulf coast (85% of the landings made). Atlantic
coast commercial landings of pinfish were highest in Brevard County (Fig. 1). Gulf coast
commercial landings were highest in Pinellas and Manatee Counties. Recreational landings were
high and even in all of Florida’s Atlantic and gulf coastal regions except in Monroe County (Fig.
The 2005 total landings of pinfish were 42% lower than the average landings in the
previous five years (2000–2004) and were 8% higher than the 1982–2005 historical average
landings (Fig. 3). Total landings on the Atlantic and gulf coasts generally increased during 1990–
2004 (Fig. 3).
Commercial catch rates on the Atlantic coast showed a sharp increase between 1993 and
1994, remained steady until 2003, and rebounded in 2004 and 2005 (Fig 4). On the gulf coast,
catch rates fluctuated with no consistent trends (Fig. 5). Total-catch rates by recreational anglers
have been stable on both coasts, though a slight steady decrease is detectable on the Atlantic
coast since 2002 (Figs. 6, 7).
Juvenile catch rates from fishery-independent monitoring on the Atlantic coast show
strong recruitment of juvenile pinfish in four years (1996, 1998, 2003 and 2004; Fig. 8). Juvenile
indices from the gulf coast have fluctuated erratically (Fig. 9). Young-of-the-year abundances
appear to reflect adult abundances in Tampa Bay and were correlated with sea surface
temperatures in Charlotte Harbor (Nelson 1998). Young-of-the-year mortalities were estimated
to be 99.95-99.98% each year. Post-young-of-the-year pinfish abundance fluctuated without
trend on the Atlantic coast, whereas 1998 and 2003 were years of relatively high abundance on
the gulf coast (Figs. 10, 11). Prevalence of gross external abnormalities fluctuated without trend
on both coasts (Figs. 12, 13), with the most common abnormalities being ulcer/lesion on the
Atlantic coast and parasite infestations on the gulf coast (Figs. 14, 15).
No formal stock assessment for pinfish is available at this time.
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|Status and Trends 2007 Report
Florida’s Inshore and Nearshore Species
by Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute