This website is brought to you advertisement-free. I hope you will benefit from its contents without having to endure the visual clutter and distraction of meaningless ads. It is just another way for me to say thank you and give back to science. Please enjoy!
Note. Historically this website was included within Mexfish.com. On June 15, 2016 it was spun off as a stand alone website. You will find it cross-referenced and linked from Mexfish.com.
This website has been put together for the benefit of recreational anglers and the scientific community in an effort to give back to science which has been very good to me over the years. It is done without funding and has only a one-way monetary stream, i.e., expenditures. Eventually I hope to publish it in book form with proceeds donated to charity. It includes some of the best photos available (from a scientific perspective) of numerous fish species and also documents 45 length extensions (new world records!), 33 range extensions, and six previously undocumented depth extensions. See Length Extensions and Range and Depth Extensions.
I also have one species that is new to science, the Cape Wrasse, Sagittalarva inornata, pictured below. It was uncovered by Dr. Benjamin Victor within this website – I had originally posted it online as a different species.
Cape Wrasse, Sagittalarva inornata. Fish caught out of 250-foot water, on Gordo I, 10 miles northeast of Puerto Los Cabos, Baja California Sur, August 2008, on a Sabiki rig. Length: 13.0 cm (5.1 inches).
The current inventory found on this website includes 749 individual fish species. At present I also have a couple hundred quality photos of Birds (some of which are not known to the Baja), Shells, and Marine and Terrestrial Life, which I now slowly posting on this website that are accessible via the links at the top of this page.
NEW ADDITIONS FOR 2017 – 28
Atlantic Chub Mackerel, Scomber colias
Atlantic Sharpnose Shark, Rhizoprionodon terraenovae
Atlantic Thread Herring, Opisthonema oglinum
Black Bullhead, Ameiurus melas
Blacksmith, Chromis punctipinnis
Bonefish, Albula vulpes
Bonnethead, Sphyrna tiburo
Bullseye Jawfish, Opistognathus scops
Finespotted Moray, Gymnothorax dovii
Freshwater Drum, Aplodinotus grunniens
Gafftopsail Catfish, Bagre marinus
Hardhead Catfish, Ariopsis felis
Leopard Searobin, Prionotus scitulus
Leopard Toadfish, Opsanus pardus
Long-barbeled Sea Catfish, Bagre pinnimaculatus
Midnight Parrotfish, Scarus coelestinus
Monkeyface Prickleback, Cebidichthys violaceus
Pike Killifish, Belonesox belizanus
Pluma Porgy, Calamus pennatula
Sand Seatrout, Cynoscion arenarius
Sharpnose Pufferfish, Canthigaster rostrata
Sheepshead Minnow, Cyprinodon variegatus
Silver Perch, Bairdiella chrysoura
Smoothtail Mobula, Mobula thurstoni
Speckled Sanddab, Citharichthys stigmaeus
Woolly Sculpin, Clinocottus analis
Yellow Stingray, Urobatis jamaicensis
Yellowbelly Cichlid, Parachromis salvini
NEW ADDITIONS FOR 2016
94 in Total – See New Additions for 2016
NEW ADDITIONS FOR 2015
98 in Total – See New Additions for 2015
NEW ADDITIONS FOR 2014
53 in Total – See New Additions for 2014
I was trained academically with degrees in Chemistry from Earlham College, Middlebury College, and the University of California, Davis. I worked for a company with a complicated history known originally as Calbiochem Corp., La Jolla, CA, from December 1975 until December 2003 and was its Managing Director for the last 15 years until I was abruptly and unexpectedly forced into early retirement. My fishing hobby and my reading of King of the Moon authored by Gene Kira saved my life! Note: King of the Moon is currently available as an Amazon Kindle book for just $2.99. It is an absolute must read! I started this “hobby” in 1988 when I made my first three-day trip to Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur, Mexico, found way too many interesting things to do and returned for a second visit within four weeks. Over the years I have slowly increased my time in residence in Mexico to a current level of 40 percent of the year. I have now made more than 200 round trips from the greater San Diego area to Los Cabos, Baja California Sur, via San José del Cabo International Airport and one round trip into the exceptional La Paz airport, which was Hurricane Odile related.
I initially started fishing with Captain Salvador Pino B (“Pata”) in his small skiff (a Mexican panga, 6.7 meter (22-foot), equipped with a government subsidized 90-hp Honda outboard) launched off the beach at La Playita; we eventually moved into the confines of the newly constructed Puerto Los Cabos marina. Pata, a lifelong local resident and career fisherman in local waters, introduced me to the concept of “small boats, ginormous fish”. I started fishing with him at a rate of four trips per month, year-round. A typical day would consist of a departure well before first light, a 15 to 20-mile run north, fishing various known glory holes, including Cardonal, Canyon, Destiladeras, Gordo I, Gordo II, Gordo Point, San José Canyon, Santa Maria Canyon, Zero, the 25 Spot, and the 1150 Bank, for five to six hours, and returning in the early afternoon. We fished the 40-mile coastal strip from Vinorama to the Old Lighthouse (around the corner and into the Pacific) and up to seven miles at sea. During the period September 1988 to June 2009, I made 503 trips with Pata.
For a variety of reasons, in July 2009 I changed captains and moved closer to home to Palmilla Beach, returning to the more traditional beach launch, and took up fishing with Captain Javier Barco (“Barco”), in his similar 6.7 meter (22-foot) panga, also equipped with a government subsidized 90-hp Honda outboard, increasing my fishing rate to five trips per month. Barco, also a lifelong local fisherman, follows in the footsteps of his father and grandfather who initially fished local waters via wind-driven handmade canoes and made their livelihoods off the ocean as commercial fishermen. The Barco family has launched off Palmilla Beach every day, weather allowing, for the last 60 years.
With Barco, we depart later, just at sunup, and fish almost exclusively on the five-mile coastal strip from the mouth of the San José River to the Westin Hotel (recently destroyed and subsequently sold), up to three miles out at sea, normally returning just after noon. Having fished that area at a rate of 200 days per year for the last 50 years, Barco knows the turf, but even so, because fishing conditions change daily, (water temperatures, wind, day length, light intensity, strong currents, etc.), one never knows what fish to expect. Remember, the next stop due south of here is Antarctica, southwest is Australia, and west is Asia! You really never know who might decide to come to Los Cabos on holiday! One will often hear the statement “every day of fishing around here is different” which is 100 percent spot-on. During the period July 2009 to February 2017, I made 479 trips with “Barco.”
In 2016, I tried some new locations that included La Bocana, Loreto, and Puerto Adolfo Lopez Mateos, all within Baja California Sur. In April 2016, I spent three days in La Bocana (interesting as it might be one of THE most remote places on earth) fishing with two different captains, again in a standard Mexican panga. I fished a total of five days in Loreto (two in April and three in October) with Captain Servando Davis (who is exceptional) in a standard Mexican panga. I believe that Loreto just might be the greatest fishing location on earth. I fished a total of eight days in Puerto Adolfo Lopez Mateos, Magdalena Bay (two in April, three in July, and three in October) with Captain Jimmy Camachio (who is also exceptional) in his jumbo panga designed for Gringo whale watching tours. I believe that the greater Magdalena Bay area might be the best location on earth for marine life diversity. I plan to return to both Loreto and Puerto Adolfo Lopez Mateos with some frequency in the years ahead.
My captains use very unfamiliar navigational approaches to fishing. They loath modern electronic equipment such as GPS, temperature gauges, depth finders, and fish finders and instead use “word of mouth” and/or a triangulation system off local mountain tops with locations passed down for generations.
I use almost exclusively Sabiki rigs with Size 2 and 1/0 hooks, tipped or not tipped with cut squid, and explore the bottom. A key here is make sure your line strength is at least 40/30. Both Pata and Barco fish for “big fish” using more traditional approaches, such as yo-yo iron, fly-lined live bait, and trolling. Barco and I catch a lot of fish, for example 1,898 fish of 86 different species, in 65 panga trips during calendar 2015. The diversity, however, is not quite as extensive as it was in the more remote locations covered with Pata. Barco, in the role of the fall guy, and I, the “Species Hunter”, were featured in an episode of “Extreme Fishing with Robson Green” that aired in prime-time on British TV in April of 2012 with a live audience estimated to be between 1.2 and 1.5 million viewers, and yes we launched off Palmilla Beach.
I find it most interesting – now with 959 panga trips under my belt – that neither I nor my captain have missed a booked date, which is truly phenomenal. We have weather-related postponements at the rate of two or three a year but those are quickly rebooked for a later date. And, if it is blowing like holy hell at departure time and you silently wonder “are we going today?” you quickly learn that this question is a really dumb one and you’re glad you didn’t verbalize it, as the answer is always “most definitely!”
I also access different fish specimens from alternative sources – some from live bait salesmen (in the old days we purchased live bait about 50% of the time; currently it has dropped to perhaps 10% of the outings due to lack of supply), from surf fishing, from tide pooling, from local fish markets, from commercial fishermen who have access to deep water shrimp trawlers, and of course, from the internet readership of Mexican-Fish.com.
When you catch 20 to 30 different species per month and you go back three weeks later and catch 20 to 30 different species about half of which were not caught the previous month, fish identification becomes an interesting challenge. The question is always “what is it?” I started looking around for help and had the good fortune to run into MexFish.com. I contacted my now long-time friend, Gene Kira, and struck up an instant friendship. Gene’s knowledge, conveyed primarily through his writings, about Baja California and its resident marine life is phenomenal. It helps explain why I instantly developed an interest in trying to document the fish inventory of the greater Los Cabos area.
FISH. Within this website you will find hundreds of on-the-spot pictures of fish, the vast majority having actually been caught in Mexican waters. In total there are more than 650 species, some quite rare, but also including photos of all the favorites. The great majority of these fish have been caught by myself out of either a charter skiff (a Mexican panga captained by local Spanish speaking “pangueros”) in the greater Cabo San Lucas area or from shore in the greater Los Cabos area of Baja California Sur, Mexico. Also represented on a limited basis are fish from the traditional and historic sportsfishing centers of East Cape and La Paz in Baja and the major fishing centers on the coastal mainland, which have been submitted by recreational anglers. Finally, on a limited basis, I have included fish from the Gulf of Mexico which have either been purchased at local fish markets or whose photos were submitted by recreational anglers who fish the Caribbean. This unique fish photo gallery also contains biological notes for each species, their scientific names, and local Spanish names, making it a handy guide for identifying and learning about what you’ve just caught on your Mexican travels. I sincerely hope that you will view this as a continuing work-in-progress that will help you become a more thoughtful and enthusiastic sport angler, and one who will help promote marine conservation everywhere.
SCIENTIFIC SUPPORT. This website has had tremendous scientific support. Especially noteworthy are the extensive contributions of Dr. Phil Hastings, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, CA; Dr. Robert N. Lea, Monterey, California; Milton Love, University of California, Santa Barbara; Dr. Ross Robertson, Tropical Research Institute, Panama City, Panama; H.J. Walker, Jr., Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, California; and Dr. Benjamin Victor, Irvine, CA. I owe each of these individuals many thanks as their continuing and omnipresent support has been truly exceptional.
EDITORIAL SUPPORT. This work would simply not have been possible without the strong tireless continual editorial support of Dr. Marie Azzaria, Santa Barbara, CA, who has been exceedingly helpful in removing the myriad blunders inherent to this kind of work. Thank you Marie!
SPECIAL THANKS. I would also like to thank the following people for their contributions to this website: Ronnie Arnett, Birmingham, Alabama; Mike Auditore, Rocky Point, Sonora; David Aller, Phoenix, Arizona; Ashley Bingham, Halifax, Nova Scotia; Pamela Pelger Bolles, Loreto, Baja California Sur; Daniel Botha, Dawson Creek, British Columbia; Ryan Bowen, Portland, Oregon; Eric Brictson, La Playita, Baja California Sur; George Brinkman, Guelph, Ontario, Canada; Dean Brittenham, Garwin, Iowa; Michael Browning, Denver, Colorado; Stuart Burnett; David Burns, Tecolutla, Veracruz; Genaro Calderon, Mexicali, Baja California; Ben Cantrell, Peoria, IL; John Caruso, New Orleans, LA; Dan Cartamil, La Jolla, CA; Eduardo Correa, Mexico City, Mexico; Mauricio Correa, San Jose del Cabo, Baja California Sur; Dr. Matt Craig, San Diego, CA; Jeff Cross, Albuquerque, NM; Jeff Dawson, Joseph, Oregon; Ruben Duran, Puerto Adolfo Lopez Mateos, Baja California Sur; Tracy Ehrenberg, Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur; Michael Ells, Big Rapids, Michigan; Hank Ellwood, San Carlos, Sonora; Dr. Brad Erisman, La Jolla, CA; Dr. Lloyd Findley, Guaymas, Sonora; Ian Franck, New Westminster, British Columbia, Canada; Dan Fuller, La Jolla, CA; Dr. Grant Galland, Washington D.C.; Tommy Garcia, Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur; Ruben Gonzales, South Padre Island, TX; Andrew Hansen, Santa Cruz, CA; David Haselbauer, Scandia, MN; Tadeo Hernandez, Mazatlán, Sinaloa; Dr. John Hyde, La Jolla, CA; Dr. William Inboden, III, Washington, D.C.; Maria Johnson, Prescott, Arizona; Mike Kanzler, Isla San Marcos, Baja California; Vikki Kauffman, Santa Rosalia, Baja California; Maurice Kerger, Holland; George Kimberly, Atlanta, GA; Dean Kimberly, Atlanta, GA; Gene Kira, Valley Center, CA; Cindy Klepadio, La Jolla, CA; Perry Kotkas, Calgary, Alberta, Canada; Dr. R. Wilson Laney, Raleigh, NC; John Laine, San Felipe, Baja California; Luc LaJoy, Evergreen, CO; Peter Langstraat, Holland; Dr. Jeff Leis, Sydney, Australia; Josh Leisen, Gaylord, MI; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Eric Lewallen, Scarborough, Ontario; H.-C. Lin, La Jolla, CA; Dick Lorhke, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada; Barry Mastro, Escondido, CA; Bill Mathias, La Paz, Baja California Sur; Dr. John McCrosker, San Francisco, CA; Ted and C.J. Miller, Rocky Point, Sonora; Marc Montocchio, Morehead City, NC; Robert Moore, Gilbert, AZ; Gary Nafis, Californiaherps.com; Nick Morenc, Mission Viejo, CA; Brad Murakami, Surrey, British Columbia, Canada; Clifton Northum; Monserrath Orozco, Todos Santos, Baja California Sur; Keith Ottenfeld; Jason Potts, Mazatlán, Sinaloa; Matt Quilter; Mark Rayor, Los Barriles, Baja California Sur; Tony Reyes, San Felipe, Baja California; Dr. Richard Rosenblatt, La Jolla, CA; Larry Rothblum, Cabo San Lucas; Isais Ruiz, Guaymas, Sonora; Carl Rutherford, Mesa, AZ; Richard Shields, Encinitas, CA; Leo Slaninko; Dr. David Smith, Washington, D.C.; Dr. William Smith-Vaniz, Gainesville, Florida; Owyn Snodgrass, La Jolla, CA, Tyler Sterling, Spring Valley, CA; Kenneth Tse, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, H.-C. Tsen, La Jolla, CA; Michael Verdirame, Markham, Ontario, Canada; Bob Weaton, Loreto, Baja California Sur; Chris Wheaton, Loreto, Baja California Sur; John Weir, Orlando, Oklahoma; Robert Wilson, Cobourg, Ontario, Canada; Wayne Wilson, Cobourg, Ontario, Canada; and, Richard Yoder, San Diego, CA.
YOUR FISH PICTURES ARE REQUESTED. Do you have a photo of an unknown or new fish species not listed in this website, or an otherwise especially interesting or attractive photo of a fish caught in Mexican waters? I welcome the opportunity to look at your photos and identify your fish. Please send them to me via e-mail at Johntsnow32@gmail.com. You will be amazed at how quickly you get a response with the correct identification of the fish submitted. Your satisfaction is guaranteed! Thank You in advance and Muchas Gracias!
PHOTOGRAPHY PROTOCOL. Taking high quality photos of fish is a real challenge. I have added a section on the “How To” that I use that you might find useful – Photography Protocol.
USE OF OUR MATERIAL. To keep it simple – I am happy to share anything I have with you. Please note that I retain higher resolution photos than those found on this website since the tool that drives WordPress downsizes all photos during the posting process. It is very easy for me to send my photos to you via e-mail. I do have one request however – that you advise me about what you are planning on doing with my photos. For example, it is meaningful to me to know that if you are driving down coastal Costa Rica and you pass a sign to the entrance to the Tarcoles Fishing Village the pictured Pacific Red Snapper is one of my photos.
FISH NAME CONFUSION. Very rarely is any fish known by only a single name. There are inevitable local and regional variations, and for our purposes, two languages to sort out, each with its own peculiarities. For example, the prized gamefish “Dorado, Dolphinfish, Mahi-Mahi, Coryphaena hippurus” is always called a “Dorado” in Mexico, but in the United States it is usually referred to as a “Dolphin”, “Dolphinfish”, or “Mahi-Mahi.” The classic joke in Mexico is that if you walk down the beach and approach five different groups of anglers who have all caught the same species of fish, and you ask each of them for the species name, you will go home with five different names. In some cases even the “experts”, i.e., marine biologists, can’t agree on what a fish should be called, and with continuing research, fish are now being reclassified and given new scientific names. The names presented here, common in English, scientific in English (genus and species), and common in Spanish, are taken from “Common and Scientific Names of Fishes from the United States, Canada, and Mexico, 7th edition”, published by the American Fisheries Society, April 2013. The local Spanish names are obtained from local fishermen and can have as many as four different local variations. For example, one local fisherman will refer to the Goldeneye Tilefish, Caulolatilus affinis, as Conejo, Molahino, Pierna, and Blanco Pierna.
ESTIMATING FISH WEIGHTS. The weights of most game fish species can be estimated with good accuracy simply by measuring their length, usually their “fork length” which is measured from the tip of the nose to the shortest point in the “V” of the tail. This allows the pleasure of catching a fish, accurately determining its weight, and then returning it to the ocean unharmed to live another day. We have created some handy Weight From Length Conversion Tables for the major game fish of the Pacific. Please be advised that most recreational anglers over state a fishes weight by a factor of two! A representative example for the Yellowfin Tuna is presented below:
HOW TO USE THIS FISH PHOTO DIRECTORY. This website is extensive and contains hundreds of links to fish species listed by their English, Spanish, and scientific names (genus and species). The best way to find the fish you are looking for on this page is to use the “Find” command of your page browser to search for the fish’s name. Alternatively, the complete listing of fish species may be browsed in the following index pages:
BIRDS! When traveling in Baja California Sur, one encounters a vast collection of birds. I am in the process of posting photos of some of the birds I have encountered providing the common name, genus, and species for each. This is presently a work in progress that I hope to complete by April 1, 2017. Contributions to this section by Thomas Bartol, Allan Hansell and Burke Korol are acknowledged and greatly appreciated. Photographs of the twenty one birds presented on this website are found on the following page:
Crested Caracara, Caracara cheriway. The National Bird of Mexico.
FEEDBACK. If you see any errors or omissions or have any questions or suggestions on what is found on this website please e-mail me at Johntsnow32@gmail.com.
THANK YOU FOR VISITING! PLEASE RETURN SOON.