Slender Kingfish, Menticirrhus elongatus
The Slender Kingfish, Menticirrhus elongatus, whose common Spanish name is berrugato fino, is a species in the Croaker or Sciaenidae Family, known collectively as berrugatas and corvinas in Mexico. Globally, there are only nine species in the genus Menticirrhus, of which ten are found in Mexican waters, three in the Atlantic and five in the Pacific.
The Slender Kingfish have elongated compressed bodies with a flat belly and an oval cross-section. They have a silvery blue-gray coloration. Their anal and dorsal fins are dusky. Their head is long with a low conical snout that projects beyond their horizontal mouth. They have a short thick barbel on their chin with a pore at its tip as well as slits and pores above their mouth. Their anal fin has one weak spine and 7 rays; their caudal fin is “S”-shaped with a pointed upper lobe; their dorsal fin has 10 spines followed by another spine and 22 to 24 rays with the third spine reaching past the origin of the second dorsal fin; and their pectoral fins are long with 17 to 19 rays. They have 7 to 10 short gill rakers and are covered with rough scales.
The Slender Kingfish are found demersal over sandy bottoms along the shore, in the surf zone, and in inshore bays at depths up to 215 feet. They reach a maximum length of 70 cm (28 inches). They primarily consume sand crabs.
In Mexican waters the Slender Kingfish are found from Guerrero Negro southward along the central and southwest coasts of Baja and along the coast of the mainland from Mazatlán to Guatemala; they are absent from the Sea of Cortez.
The Slender Kingfish can be easily confused with the California Corbina, Menticirrhus undulatus (barbel; very short broad snout).
The Slender Kingfish are caught primarily by recreational anglers utilizing bottom rigs baited with soft shelled sand crabs. They are viewed by locals as excellent table fare.