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Southern Kingfish

Menticirrhus americanus


Illustration of a southern kingfish

Also known as whiting.

  • Back is grayish-brown, fading to silvery sides and belly
  • 7 to 8 indistinct diagonal dark blotches on sides
  • Scales on underside are nearly the same size as body scales
  • Barbel on lower jaw

Similar Species: Gulf kingfish; M. littoralis (caudal fin has blackish tip); and northern kingfish, M. saxatilis (distinct "V" mark above pectoral fins)

Size: Up to 19 inches


Coastal waters. Common in surf zones along beaches. Also in shallow coastal waters with a muddy-sand bottom as well as high salinity bays and estuaries along the coast.  


Thought to prefer high wave action areas such as sand bars where the crashing waves dislodge and suspend small crabs and other small crustaceans. Feeds on fishes and invertebrates.

Additional Information

Fishing Tips and Facts: Longevity is 4 to 6 years. 

Recreational Regulations


Image Credit: © Diane Rome Peebles

Image Credit: © Diane Rome Peebles