Cabezon, Scorpaenichthys marmaratus: The Cabezon can be confused with several lingcods, but is identified by the absence of scales on the body, the presence of a skin flap over each eye, and in the middle of the snout a blue mouth with the absence of large teeth.
The Cabezon has a wide bulbous head with a large mouth that is covered with spines and fan-like pectoral fins. It has an elongated stout body. The Cabezon has the ability to change colors to adapt to the background but is generally mottled brown with males being red and the females green on the backs and sides gradating to pale below. It has a notch in the spinous dorsal fin after the third or fourth spine.
This fish species reaches a maximum size of 30 inches and 25 pounds and is found up to 300 feet deep in the water column over rocky reefs. The females produce 50,000 to 100,000 eggs per annum.
It is found along the Pacific side of Baja California peninsula from the California border south to Punta Abreojos and is absent from all other Mexican fishing waters. The Cabezon is an important targeted sport fish being a strong foe on light tackle. It is good eating and historically was an important food substance for Native Americans. However, the roe should be discarded and considered highly toxic.
Note: The Cabezon in some waters is an endangered species being a favorite target of spear fishermen as it is a “sitting duck” during nesting periods, which threatens the long term survival of the species.
The Cabezon is a member of the Scorpionfish Family.