Gafftopsail Pompano, Trachinotus rhodopus
The Gafftopsail Pompano, Trachinotus rhodopus, whose common Spanish name is pámpano fino, is a member of the Jack or Carangidae Family, known collectively as jureles and pámpanos in Mexico. This is perhaps the most beautiful fish found in Mexican waters of the Pacific. There are twenty global members of the genus Trachinotus, seven of which are found in Mexican waters, three in the Atlantic and four in the Pacific.
The Gafftopsail Pompanos have diamond-shaped strongly compressed bodies with a depth that is 41 to 45% of standard length. They have an overall silver coloration, four to six yellowish to brown bars on their sides, and yellow fins. They have a bluntly pointed and extendible snout. Their dorsal fin has 6 short isolated spines followed by 19 to 21 rays. They have long pointed anal and dorsal fin lobes with anal and dorsal fin bases of equal length. They have short pectoral and pelvic fins. Their caudal fin is “V” shaped and their lateral line is slightly arched over their pectoral fins. They have 21 to 26 short gill rakers and no finlets or scutes. Their body is covered with oval scales.
The Gafftopsail Pompanos are a coastal pelagic species found demersal inshore over sandy bottoms and around rocky offshore islets at depths up to 100 feet. They reach a maximum length of 61 cm (24 inches). Very little is known about their behavioral patterns.
In Mexican waters the Gafftopsail Pompanos are found in all waters of the Pacific.
The Gafftopsail Pompano is easy to identify and cannot be confused with other species found in the Pacific. They are, however very similar to the Palometa, Trachinotus goodei, found only in the Atlantic, but have slightly more rounded bodies, lighter fins, and shorter narrower caudal fin lobes.
The Gafftopsail Pompanos are fairly common in the surf around the tip of the Baja and can be caught from shore with some regularity. They are considered excellent table fare.
Gafftopsail Pompano, Trachinotus rhodopus, juvenile. Fish caught off the beach at Cabo Real, Baja California Sur, November 2017. Length: 18 cm (7.1 inches).
Gafftopsail Pompano, Trachinotus rhodopus. Underwater photo taken in the greater Cabo San Lucas area, Baja California Sur, November 2017. Length: ca. 36 cm (14 inches).
Gafftopsail Pompano, Trachinotus rhodopus. Fish caught from shore at Los Barriles, Baja California Sur, January 2018. Length: 36 (14 inches). Catch courtesy of Kyle Rousseau, Maple Ridge, British Columbia, Canada. Photo courtesy of Brad Murakami, Surrey, British Columbia, Canada.