Bigeye Scad

Bigeye Scad, Selar crumenophthalmus

The Bigeye Scad, Selar crumenophthalmus, whose common Spanish name is charrito ojón and whose local name is caballito (little pony), is a member of the Jack or Carangidae Family, known collectively as jureles and pámpanos in Mexico. Globally, there are only two species in the genus Selar, one of which is found in Mexican waters, this species from both the Atlantic and the Pacific.

The Bigeye Scads have moderately compressed elongated fusiform bodies that are wide in the middle and taper at both ends and have a depth that is 27 to 31% of standard length. Their eyes are disproportionately large (after which they are named) and are covered with a fatty eyelid. They are metallic blue to blue-green dorsally and white ventrally. Most fish have a yellow stripe that runs mid-flank from their gill cover to the upper part of their caudal fin base. Their mouth ends in front of the eyes. Their anal and dorsal fin bases are long with the anal fin being behind the dorsal fin. Their two dorsal fins are set very close together and have no free spines preceding them and no finlets following them. Their caudal fin is forked and their pectoral fins are longer than the head. Their lateral line has a long low arch with 29 to 42 scutes. Their body is covered with small scales.

The Bigeye Scads are a pelagic schooling species found in large inshore schools and in estuaries over sandy bottoms at depths up to 560 feet. They reach a maximum length of 30 cm (12 inches). They are vertical and horizontal migrators feeding on small invertebrates, foraminifers, and shrimp at night when inshore and move to deep waters during daylight hours to feed on zooplankton and fish larvae.  They are a poorly studied species and very little is known about their behavioral patterns.

The Bigeye Scad has a wide global distribution and are found in all the Mexican waters of the Atlantic and the Pacific with the exception that they are absent from Guerrero Negro northward along the central and northwest coasts of Baja.

The Bigeye Scad cannot be easily confused with any other species.

The Bigeye Scads are one of the most famous species in Mexican waters due to its local name of Cabalito (little pony) and utilized primarily as fly-lined live bait for large game fish as they survive bait tanks well. They are not a first selection of Los Cabos pangueros and will generally be used when nothing else is available. They are accessible predawn via hook and line with Sabiki rigs but the majority are caught via cast nets. They are considered quality food fish and are a substantial food source within all tropical Asian countries.

Bigeye Scad, Selar crumenophthalmus, juvenile. Fish collected from coastal waters off Point Palmilla, Baja California Sur, April 2012. Length: 2.6 cm (1.0 inch).

Bigeye Scad (1)

Bigeye Scad, Selar crumenophthalmus. Fish provided by the commercial bait salesmen of Puerto Los Cabos, Baja California Sur, July 2014. Length: 27 cm (11 inches).