Cocinero, Caranx vinctus

The Cocinero, Caranx vinctus, whose common Spanish name is also cocinero, is a member of the Jack or Carangidae Family, known collectively as jureles and pámpanos in Mexico. Globally, there are seventeen species in the genus Caranx, nine of which are found in Mexican waters, three in the Atlantic and five in the Pacific and one in both oceans.

The Cocineros have “jack-like” moderately compressed slender rectangular bodies with similar upper and lower profiles and a depth that is 31 to 35% of standard length. They are dusky blue dorsally and silvery with golden or greenish reflections on their sides. They have eight or nine incomplete bars on their sides and a distinctive black blotch on the edge of their gill cover. Their anal, caudal, and dorsal fins are yellow. Their anal and second dorsal fin bases are long. Their pectoral fins are longer than the head. They have 28 to 30 gill rakers and 46 to 53 strong scutes. Their lateral line is pronounced with a short anterior arch. Their body is covered with small scales.

The Cocineros are a common pelagic schooling species found in both coastal and oceanic waters over all types of terrain at depths up to 165 feet. They reach a maximum length of 38 cm (15 inches). They are a poorly studied species and very little is known about their behavior patterns.

In Mexican waters the Cocineros are found in all waters of the Pacific with the exception that they are absent from the northern third of the Sea of Cortez.

The Cocinero can be confused with the Golden Trevally, Gnathanodon speciosus (yellow pelvic fins; bar through eyes), the Green Jack, Caranx caballus (darker; no bars; thinner body) and the Whitemouth Jack, Uraspis helvola (white inside mouth; six bars if present).

The Cocineros are typically caught by commercial fishermen with gill nets in shallow waters adjacent to the beach and are considered an insignificant catch.

Cocinero, Caranx vinctus. Fish provided by the commercial fishermen of the greater Los Cabos area, Baja California Sur, July 2014. Length: 33 cm (13 inches).

Cocinero, Caranx vinctus. Fish caught from coastal waters off Mazatlán, October 2014. Length: 33 cm (13 inches). Catch and photo courtesy of George Brinkman, Guelph, Ontario, Canada.