Tomtate

Tomtate

Haemulon aurolineatum

AKA:

Red Mouth, Blood Mouth

Managed by:

SAFMC


Physical description:

One of the smallest of the grunts, tomtate are not highly regarded by fishermen. However, the species is an important food source for larger fish-eating reef fishes. Often seen by divers, tomtates are approachable and serve as a warning when larger fish are near by. They often tighten their schools and move away from approaching predators. The tomtate is silver white all over with a yellow-brown stripe running the length of the body and ending as a black blotch at the base of the caudal fin. This spot is also evident in most juvenile grunts, and may be lost by older fish. The inside of its mouth is bright red.


Biological description:

The tomtate is distributed from Cape Hatteras to Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico, the Central American coast and the Caribbean. Preferred habitat is rough bottom areas, which are scattered over the otherwise smooth plain of the continental shelf. Tomtates are seldom in waters less than 54°F. Females may mature when as small as 5.5 inches and males as small as 6.5 inches. All fish over the age of 5 are capable of reproducing. Spawning takes place in the spring. Tomtate may grow to be 12 inches and 1 pound. They feed on small, bottom-dwelling invertebrates.


South Atlantic Federal Regulations

Commercial:

  • Size Limit: None
  • Trip Limit: Limited access permit required.
  • Regulatory Remarks:
    • All species must be landed with head and fins intact.
    • Recreational and commercial fishermen are required to use dehooking tools when fishing for snapper grouper species.
    • The use of non-stainless steel circle hooks (offset or non-offset) is required for all species in the snapper grouper complex when using hook-and-line gear with natural baits in waters North of 28 degrees N. latitude.
    • After the commercial quota is met, all purchase and sale is prohibited and harvest and/or possession is limited to the recreational bag limit. This prohibition does not apply to fish harvested, landed, and sold prior to the quota being reached and held in cold storage by a dealer. Quotas are given in gutted weights.
    • Commercial snapper grouper vessels must have onboard NMFS approved sea turtle release gear and follow smalltooth sawfish release protocol. See the Handling and Release Protocol from NOAA Fisheries or call 727-824-5312.
    • Annual Catch Limit (ACL) – This species is managed under an ACL. See current information on Commercial ACLs (quotas) from NOAA Fisheries.
  • Additional Updates:

Recreational:

  • Size Limit: None
  • Bag Limit: None
  • Regulatory Remarks:
    • No bag limit or size limit.
    • All species must be landed with head and fins intact.
    • Recreational and commercial fishermen are required to use dehooking tools when fishing for snapper grouper species.
    • The use of non-stainless steel circle hooks (offset or non-offset) is required for all species in the snapper grouper complex when using hook-and-line gear with natural baits in waters North of 28 degrees N. latitude.
    • The sale of bag-limit caught snapper grouper species is prohibited.
    • Annual Catch Limit (ACL) - This species is managed under an ACL. See current information on Recreational ACLs from NOAA Fisheries.
  • Additional Updates: