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Tomtate, Grunt, Spot tail, pain in the a--. The last name is usually what you call Haemulon aurolineatum when you start catching them. They look very similar to the white grunt that we all call "grey snapper" (it sounds better for the tourists than grunt), but they have a spot on the tail. Tomtates must line the bottom by the millions and when you do start catching them instead of the larger triggerfish or white grunts, you may as well move on. Any small piece of bait that you put down will probably be inhaled. Tomtates don't usually get larger than 8 inches and so they do make good bait. Usually I fillet them for cut bait, but they also work as live bait when hooked through the back and fished on the bottom for grouper or even mid-water for amberjack or barracuda. I don't recommend going after them for bait on purpose unless there is nothing else available, but if you need fresh bait then they can be caught on almost any bottom with small hooks baited with squid.

Capt. Charlie

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