Mississippi has a new state record for mangrove — or gray — snapper, and a lot of fishermen now have a realistic goal for reincarnation.
Not only did the Commission of Marine Resources certify a new and one-pound heavier mangrove record on Tuesday, it also approved the first “fat sleeper” ever reported to the state agency as caught on hook and line.
That’s right, a fat sleeper.
It’s a real thing, and Kerry G. Hester of Ocean Springs established a state record at 1.058 ounces.
Scientifically known as Dormitator maculatus, and commonly known as a storm minnow, fat sleepers are found throughout the Gulf of Mexico in shallow inshore brackish waters and coastal fresh waters.
It is a stumpy little fish that looks like it has too many fins for its body, is mottled in color with the males showing bands of dark brown, blue and green, with a large blue spot located behind the head.
According to biologists, the fish are fairly common but rarely seen by the average angler. They are bottom dwellers, but in the winter will form big schools and move to the surface during storms — hence the name storm minnows.
With an average length of 5 to 10 inches, they are not considered a good source of food, except for redfish and trout. Many net throwers will target them during the winter storms to use as bait for reds and specks.
Of course, the mangrove snapper is a highly sought after fish that is certainly great to eat. John Joseph Bullock of Gulfport now holds the record with a 15-pound, 7.79-ounce snapper caught this summer. The previous record was 14 pounds, 7 ounces.