RobThe human race is generally a bit uneducated with regards to the ocean and all that she holds. Leisure Boating will look at different ocean species every month with the aim of giving our readers a closer look at the wide range of life forms that lurk below.
This month we’ll look at a game fish that’s relatively unfamiliar to South African anglers but very popular among American and South American fishermen, the Roosterfish. The roosterfish is a game fish common in the marine waters surrounding Mexico, from the Gulf of California to Panama, and in the eastern Pacific, from California to Peru. It is the only fish in the genus Nematistius and the family Nematistiidae.
It is unmistakable in appearance and one of the most beautiful species in the sea. It is greyish-blue to green on top and silver along the sides. It has several thick pronounced dark blue stripes, which start off vertically from the dorsal fin but veer off horizontally towards the tail.
Its distinctive dorsal fin that gives it that name has seven, long, comb-like, almost velvety spines and resembles a rooster’s comb. It will erect this unique dorsal fin when excited such as when hooked or when chasing after prey; otherwise it will retract it into a groove, or sheath it along its back. Another extraordinary trait of the Roosterfish is the unusual arrangement of its ears: the swim bladder penetrates the brain through the large foramina and makes contact with the inner ear. It then uses its swim bladder to amplify sounds.
Like its namesake of the poultry variety, the Roosterfish fights viciously; usually at the surface, often providing quite a show. An average size fish in peak season would be 15-18 kg with a 22-26 kg being large and a 30 kg exceptional. The IGFA All-Tackle record is currently 51 kg. It generally feeds not far from shore, sometimes almost beaching itself as it chases bait fish in the surf and some big ones are occasionally landed from shore. It is one of the most sought after fish in Baja, California, and the inshore or near shore areas of Cabo San Lucas especially. Fishermen target them mainly for the fantastic fight they put up as it isn’t a particularly tasty fish, and therefore they are usually released. Those who have eaten the fish describe its meat as ‘leather-like’ and nearly inedible…