Amberstripe Scad

Amberstripe Scad, Decapterus muroadsi

The Amberstripe Scad, Decapterus muroadsi, whose common Spanish name is macarela plátano, is a member of the Jack or Carangidae family, known collectively as jureles and pámpanos in Mexico. This fish is also known as the Mexican Scad. There are twelve global members of the genus Decapteurs, five of which are found in Mexican waters, two in the Atlantic, two in the Pacific, and one in both oceans.

The Amberstripe Scads are a coastal pelagic species found at depths up to 1,050 feet. They reach a maximum length of 55 cm (22 inches). They have “mackerel-like” elongated slender cylindrical bodies with a depth that is 16 to 20% of standard length. Their upper jaw bone is straight on top and angular on the lower corner. They are blue-olive dorsally and yellow-silver ventrally. They have a small black blotch on the upper edge margin of their gill cover. Their flank has a yellow stripe bordered above and below by blue stripes. Their fins are lime green and their caudal fin has a dark lower lobe and a greenish-yellow upper lobe. Their anal fin base is relatively short and their second dorsal fin base is long. Their pectoral fins are slightly shorter than the head length. They have 37 to 42 gill rakers and 28 to 41 scutes. Their lateral line has a long low arch anteriorly. Keys to identification include the presence of less than 20 scales on the straight portion of their lateral line, a total of 103 to 115 scales and scutes, and the absence of scales on top of their head. They are a poorly studied species and very little is known about their behavior patterns.

The Amberstripe Scad is wide-ranging and is found in the Pacific Ocean and East China Sea, however, in Mexico they are limited to the west coast of Baja.

The Amberstripe Scad can be easily confused with the Mackerel Scad, Decapterus macarellus (scales on head; greater than 20 scales on straight portion of lateral line), the Shortfin Scad, Decapterus macrosoma (no scales on head), and the Jack Mackerel, Trachurus symmetricus (numerous scutes; arched lateral line). Note: There are three Scads of the Decapterus genus residing in Mexican waters of the tropical Eastern Pacific that are exceedingly difficult to separate: the Amberstripe Scad, Decapterus muroadsi, the Mackerel Scad, Decapterus macarellus, and the Shortfin Scad, Decapterus macrosoma. They can only be identified conclusively via microscopic examination to determine the shape of their jaw bone and the scale count within the flat section of their lateral line.

The Amberstripe Scads can be maintained alive in bait tanks and are utilized as live fly-lined or troll bait to target the larger big game fish such as dorado, marlin, and tuna. If retained past the daily outings in the Los Cabos area, they are normally frozen and used in subsequent outings as dead fly-lined or trolled bait. They are not considered to be a valuable food fish.

Amberstripe Scad, Decapterus muroadsi. Fish caught in coastal waters off Point Palmilla, Baja California Sur, January 2017. Length: 33 cm (13 inches).

Amberstripe Scad, Decapterus muroadsi. Fish caught in coastal waters off Point Palmilla, Baja California Sur, September 2017. Length: 40 cm (16 inches).