May 23, 2018

Identifying this Mystery Bait Fish


We were fishing Delacroix when a trout coughed up this weird thing. We had no idea what it was, but now we do!

Mystery Bait Fish

It was a typical day, jigging for speckled trout in Delacroix or, more specifically, off of Oak River and the Twin Pipelines.

The action was more of the same thing: running around, effectively fishing each spot, and mostly throwing a jig.

Trout were doing what they always do, and one of those things they do, is barf up what they ate.

Not in the water, but usually on the boat. I swear they aim for upholstery!

Anyways, I have a habit of checking what they barfed up, as it could tell me more about what's going on.

The typical baitfish trout thrive on are easy to identify, even if it's half-digested.

potbelly minnow

It's pretty clear they are feeding on potbelly minnows when they....well...cough up part of a potbelly minnow.

  • Pogies are tall and round-ish
  • Shrimp look like shrimp
  • Cocahoes are long and skinny
  • Mullet are longer and have big eyes

But this one trout coughed up something we couldn't identify.

At first, we wanted to say it was a mullet, but the tapered tail ruled out that possibility, as did the face.

Digested Violet Goby

I was stumped.

So, I took a pic and made a point of asking someone at LDWF who'd definitely know. And she did!

And the mystery fish is...

....drum roll....

....building suspense....

....almost there....

....a Violet Goby.

What the heck is a Violet Goby?

A Violet Goby is two things:

  • An ugly-ass fish
  • Probably the reason we have purple lures

Make no mistake, this fish took a nosedive off the Ugly Tree and hit every branch on the way down.

If you thought sheepshead were dumb looking, try staring into the eyes of a Violet Goby via Google Image search.

Violet Goby

But this brings to mind why we use purple lures.

Matching the Hatch

There are some colors we use that make sense to me, because they look like the forage fish are eating, or contrast against its surroundings to be easily noticed.

Then there are some colors that make no sense at all, and I am pretty sure they exist only to capture the dollars of anglers, not fish.

Purple has always been one of those colors, but now that we know a Violet Goby is, uhm...violet, it becomes clear we'd want one of these in our tackle box.

See how radiantly purple this fish is?

You know what it kinda reminds me of? A purple sparkle beetle.

And see how big they are? Kinda reminds me of a queen sparkle beetle.

These weirdo fish feed on the bottom, right where we catch speckled trout on a jig.

It makes me wonder, are trout biting purple on certain days because that color matches the water conditions?

Or are they biting purple because that is the color of the fish they are feeding on?

purple sparkle beetles

Fishing Smarter

I cannot definitively say "yes" or "no" to those questions.

But it does beg a train of thought that's a wee different from conventional inshore wisdom. 

Of course, I am assuming Violet Gobies look this purple in the wild.

I dunno, a shrimper could tell us, for sure. 

Either way, this is something I'll be paying attention to as I fish and, when I do clean trout, will be sure to take the extra minute to view their stomach contents.

Plus, I think I will write some articles detailing the life cycles and habits of these fish, in order to help us understand more about the quarry we chase: speckled trout and redfish.

Have you caught a Violet Goby before?

Share your story below in the comments section.

Tight lines, y'all!

Captain Devin

About the Author

Devin is a former fishing guide and lifelong inshore angler. He founded Louisiana Fishing Blog in 2012 to share his ideas as a charter captain and still writes in it today. Since then he's created a fishing university — LAFB Elite — where he teaches inshore anglers how to safely navigate Louisiana's coast and catch more fish.

  • Looks more like a juvenile snakehead fish. It’s an invasive species that I believe is starting to move into Louisiana.

  • I think that half baitfish is a bay anchovy. As far as the gobies, when I was in Junior high, my Dad and two uncles bought a small shrimp boat together. We shrimped in Biloxi Bay between Ocean Springs and Deer Island. Violet gobies were a common catch, but they were 10-12″ long so too big for most trout to eat. I remember them being sort of maroon with gold in them.

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