PORT ARTHUR — Fish identification can be tricky.
There are some varieties of fish that look a lot like, others that are rarely season and there are even season appearance variations.
The Sabine area in particular tends to produce catches that baffle anglers on a yearly basis.
Take for example the strange silverfish fish with the orange bellies that have been caught over the last 8-10 years in the Sabine River and in drainage canals in Port Arthur.
They look a lot like perch but they are pacu, a South American fish that are cousins in the piranha. Local catches are attributable to aquarium releases and apparently, there have been enough for the fish to breed. It has been a few years since I had to identify one but there could still be some lurking out there.
Someone sent me a photo of a fish they thought might be in the infamous Asian snakehead.
It turned out to be the common grinnel (bowfin, choupique) in the breeding phase when the male displays neon green coloration.
Occasionally tarpon will show up around the Sabine Jetties and in Sabine Lake itself. I saw one in Old Rove destroying a school of mullet one hot August day in 1996 and we did a story somewhere around 2001 of an angler who caught a six-footer on the Louisiana side of the Sabine Jetties.
Sabine Lake used to be a widely renowned tarpon fishery with tournaments taking place in Port Arthur but for some reason the “silver kings” as they are known ditched us and now rarely enter our inland waters.
Mangrove snapper however started showing up here about a decade ago and are caught every summer.
These hard-fighting fish also known as “gray snapper” show up everywhere from the jetties to Bessie Heights Marsh.
A few years back I caught a small rock hind at the end of the Texas side of the Sabine Jetties while fishing for speckled trout. Rock hinds are a member of the grouper family and are red with black dots all over their body.