Bar Jack

Bar Jack, Carangoides ruber

The Bar Jack, Carangoides ruber, whose common Spanish name is cojinuda carbonera, is a member of the Jack or Carangidae Family, known collectively as jureles and pámpanos in Mexico. There are twenty two global members of the genus Carangoides, four of which are found in Mexican waters, two in the Atlantic and two in the Pacific.

The Bar Jacks have moderately compressed deep oval bodies with a depth that is 27 to 31% of standard length. They are gray to gray-blue dorsally and transition to silvery then white ventrally. They have a dark horizontal bar that runs along their back just under their dorsal fin often accompanied by an electric blue stripe immediately below, after which they are named. Juveniles have up to six dark bands on their sides and their lower caudal lobe is darker than their upper lobe, foreshadowing the bar that will develop with maturity. All their fins are dusky. Their dorsal and ventral profiles are similar. They have a pointed snout and a small terminal mouth that ends under the first third of their medium-sized eyes. They have two dorsal fins and their anal and soft dorsal fin lobes are slightly elongated. Their pectoral fins are longer than the head. They have 31 to 38 gill rakers and 23 to 29 prominent scutes. Their lateral line is moderately arched anteriorly. Their body is covered with small scales.

The Bar Jacks are pelagic mid-sized subtropical schooling fish usually found in clear shallow waters, often over coral reefs, at depths up to 60 feet. They reach a maximum length of 65 cm (26 inches) and 6.8 kg (17 pounds) in weight. They live either as solitary individuals or in large schools. They are opportunistic predators feeding on benthic and pelagic fish as well as squid and crustaceans. In turn, they are preyed upon by larger fish including dolphin, marlin, sailfish and various seabirds.

In Mexican waters the Bar Jack are found in all waters of the Atlantic.

The Bar Jack cannot be confused with any other species due to the unique bar on its back.

The Bar Jacks are popular game fish for recreational anglers and can be caught on light tackle with a variety of lures and baits. They are also fished commercially via trawls and purse seines and used as live bait for marlin and sailfish. They are sold commercially on a limited basis, although their food value varies from fair to very good and larger fish are known to contain Cigua Toxin. From a conservation perspective they are currently considered to be of Least Concern, being common with a wide distribution and a stable population however due to heavy fishing pressure this status might be downgraded in the near future.

Bar Jack, Bar Jack, Caranx ruber, juvenile. Fish caught from coastal waters off Key West, Florida, January 2014, Length: 26 cm (10 inches). Catch, photo and identification courtesy of Dean Kimberly, Atlanta, GA.

Bar Jack, Carangoides ruber. Fish caught in coastal waters off Key Largo, Florida, December 2014. Length: 35 cm (14 inches). Catch, photo and identification courtesy of Ben Cantrell, Peoria, IL.

Bar Jack, Caranx ruber: Caught off the beach with a 12 cm Rapala X-Rap Lure at Playa de Carmen, Riviera Maya, Quintana Roo, Mexico, in April 2012, by Maurice Kerger. Length: 50 cm (20 inches) and approximately 12 pounds.Bar Jack, Carangoides ruber. Fish caught off the beach at Playa de Carmen, Riviera Maya, Quintana Roo, April 2012. Length: 50 cm (20 inches). Weight: 5.4 kg (12 pounds). Catch, photo and identification courtesy of Maurice Kerger, Holland.