White Snook, Centropomus nigrescens
The White Snook, Centropomus viridis, whose common Spanish name is robalo plateado, and known locally as robalo, is a species in the Snook or Centropomidae Family, known collectively as robalos in Mexico. Globally, there are twelve species in the genus Centropomus, and all twelve are found in Mexican waters, six in the Atlantic and six in the Pacific.
The White Snooks have elongated compressed bodies. They are silvery fish with a prominent black lateral line. Their fins are dusky with the exception of their pectoral and pelvic fins, which have touches of yellow. They have a straight shovel-shaped upper head profile, a large protractile terminal mouth, a protruding lower jaw, and widely separated eyes. Their second and third anal spines are short and of equal length; their third dorsal spine is longer than the fourth (a key to identification); their pectoral fins are very short; and their pelvic fins are a little behind the pectoral fin base.
The White Snooks are found in bays, estuaries, the lower parts of freshwater streams, and where dry river beds meet the ocean (presumably due to subterranean water flow) at depths up to 80 feet. They reach a maximum of 1.22 meters (4 feet 0 inches) in length, established by a fish photographed below, and just under 25 kg (55 pounds) in weight.
In Mexican waters the White Snook are found from Magdalena Bay southward along the southwest coast of Baja, in the southern half of the Sea of Cortez, and along the coast of the mainland south to Guatemala. They are more abundant in the southern portions of this range.
The White Snook is one of two large Snooks residing in the Pacific Ocean. It is almost identical to, and very easily confused with, the Black Snook, Centropomus nigrescens (wider and heavier body; large gap between eyes; lower jaw protrusion more pronounced; third and fourth dorsal spines of equal length).
The White Snooks are esteemed recreational targets normally taken on fly-lined live bait. Due to their white meat, they are considered an excellent food fish.
White Snook, Centropomus viridis. Fish caught off the San José River mouth, Baja California Sur, June 2012. Length: 1.22 meters (4 feet 0 inches). Second photo illustrates the key to the identification, the third dorsal spine being longer than the fourth noting that the first two dorsal spines are exceedingly short. Fish caught with Captain Jorge of the La Leona Fleet, Palmilla Beach, with Manager Julio Zumaya holding the fish.
White Snook, Centropomus viridis. Fish caught off the San José River mouth, Baja California Sur, November 2016. Length: 1.01 meters (3 feet 4 inches). Fish caught with Captain Alejandro of the La Leona Fleet, Palmilla Beach, with Manager Julio Zumaya holding the fish.