Giant Mexican Needlefish, Mexican Needlefish, Crocodile Needlefish
Agujón Lisero
(Tylosurus crocodiles fodiator)

Giant Mexican Needlefish, Tylosurus crocodiles fodiator: This fish is characterized by its short beak and distinctly eponymous “needlelike” appearance. It is dark blue-green on its back, with silver sides.

The Giant Mexican Needlefish has long pectoral and pelvic fins, and the bottom lobe of the caudal fin is much longer than the upper. It has a raised, prominent black keel at the tail base.

This fish species is quite similar to and can be confused with the California Needlefish, Strongylura exilus, and the Pacific Agujon Needlefish, Tylosurus pacificus, both of which have a longer beaks and other subtle differences that are difficult to distinguish without a detailed side-by-side comparison.

The Giant Mexican Needlefish is a member of the Belonidae or Needlefish Family.

Distribution in Mexico fishing areas

This fish is abundant and found in all Mexican fishing waters south of Cedros Island on the Pacific coast, on the Cortez Coast of Baja California, and throughout the Pacific coast of mainland Mexico, including the offshore islands Tres Marias and Revillagigedos.

Other needlefish species found in Mexican waters include: the Agujon Needlefish, Tylosurus imperialis melanotus; the Barred or Flat Needlefish, Ablennes hians; the California Needlefish, Strongylura exilus; and the Pacific Needlefish, Tylosurus pacificus. All of these needlefish are very similar in size and appearance and one can easily be fooled into an improper identification.

However, the largest of the needlefish is the Giant Mexican Needlefish, and the largest one caught that we are aware of was 64 inches in length and 16 inches in girth, caught off the beach near La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico, by Neil Kelly, coauthor of the Baja fishing guidebook, The Baja Catch.

The Giant Mexican Needlefish can be found at times in large, massive schools cruising the surface well out at sea. They will normally show up with live bait or in a chum line in the water. At times they can be difficult to hook, as they have very bony mouths, like to play with their food prior to ingestion, and can cut monofilament with their teeth. If found close to shore it is a indication that they have followed a school of prey to this location. They are viewed by locals as poor table fare and a “catch and release.” However, their meat cooks up snowy white and is delicious, once you get past the blue-green bones, which turn white when cooked. Giant Mexican Needlefish feed mainly on small schooling fish such as anchovies, herrings and mullets, and they are not known to attack larger reef fishes.

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Giant Mexican Needlefish, Tylosurus crocodiles fodiator: Photo courtesy of John Snow.

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Giant Mexican Needlefish, Tylosurus crocodiles fodiator: Caught during a fishing trip with Capt. Pata in the panga Salome, about 10 miles north of La Playita, San Jose del Cabo, Baja California Sur, Mexico, late morning in May 2004, in 72-degree water, on the surface utilizing 30-pound test line with a Mustad 92553 hook, size 1/0, on a flylined live sardina. This Giant Mexican Needlefish was 61.5 inches long and about 30 pounds in weight. The Giant Mexican Needlefish likes to make short, mad dashes that decrease in length with the size of the fish. They are very acrobatic, and can make spectacular jumps while bending themselves into complete circles. The Giant Mexican Needlefish is viewed by locals as a “catch and release” fish. Initially, I believed this one might be a world record, but my friend Gene Kira indicated that his friend Neil Kelly had caught one 64 inches in length and 16 inches in girth off the beach south of the lighthouse at Punta Arena, south of La Paz. Description and photo courtesy John Snow.

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Giant Mexican Needlefish, Tylosurus crocodiles fodiator: These species photos are of a Giant Mexican Needlefish, 53 inches long, caught while fishing from the beach at Bahia el Rincon, East Cape, Baja California Sur, Mexico, in October 1998, on a live sardina and 8-pound line. My biggest were 61 and 59 inches. They were caught from my panga with a trolled artificial fly and a dead trolled sardina. Especially if they are over 4 feet, they are one of my all-time favorites. Description and photo courtesy Peter Langstraat.

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Giant Mexican Needlefish, Tylosurus crocodiles fodiator: Photo courtesy Trout Traubman.

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Giant Mexican Needlefish, Tylosurus crocodiles fodiator: Photo courtesy Dean Mitchell.

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Giant Mexican Needlefish, Tylosurus crocodiles fodiator: Caught fishing at Las Arenas, La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico, on a flylined sardina, with Tortuga Sportfishing and Capt. Hugo. Photo by Gene Kira.

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