Steel Pompano

Steel Pompano, Trachinotus stilbe

The Steel Pompano, Trachinotus stilbe, whose common Spanish name is pámpano acerado, is a member of the Jack or Carangidae Family, known collectively as jureles and pámpanos in Mexico. 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 Steel Pompanos have oval-shaped strongly compressed bodies with a depth that is 41 to 45% of standard length. They are overall dark silver in color and lighter on their sides and belly. They have a white bar on the rear of their head that fades quickly upon collection. Their caudal fin has dark margins. Their head has a rounded and extendible snout. Their dorsal fin has six short stout isolated spines followed by 25 to 26 rays. Their anal and dorsal fins have very low and long pointed lobes of equal size and length. They have short pectoral fins and minute pelvic fins. Their caudal fin forms a deep “V” shape and their lateral line is straight. They have 43 to 53 short gill rakers and lack finlets or scutes. Their body is covered with oval scales.

The Steel Pompanos are a coastal pelagic schooling species found demersal inshore over sandy bottoms and around rocky offshore islets at depths up to 75 feet. They reach a maximum length of 50 cm (20 inches). Very little is known about their behavioral patterns.

The Steel Pompano are virtually unknown in Mexican waters of the Pacific with only one documented fish from the Revillagigedo Islands; the fish photographed below documents a significant range extension and the presence of the species in the Sea of Cortez.

The Steel Pompano can be confused with the Paloma Pompano, Trachinotus paitensis (no white bar at rear of head; long pelvic fins) and the Whitemouth Jack, Uraspis helvola (first dorsal fin shaped as small triangle; no white bar at rear of head; white inside of mouth; modest-sized anal and dorsal fin lobes).

Steel Pompano, Trachinotus stilbe. Fish caught from coastal waters off Puerto Los Cabos, Baja California Sur, February 2007. Length: 30 cm (12 inches).