Lance Lizardfish, Shorthead Lizardfish
Chile Arpón
(Synodus scituliceps)

Lance Lizardfish, Synodus scituliceps: The Lance Lizardfish is a fairly easy fish species to identify. It has an elongated body with a head that has small eyes,  a large mouth, and a relatively long pointed snout with the lower jaw ending in a fleshy knob.

The Lance Lizardfish has a grayish color on the back, grey on the sides with a silvery sheen, and white on the ventral parts. The tail and the scales have blackish outlines.

Keys to identification of this fish species are that the dorsal fin originates closer to the adipose fin than to the snout tip, the anal fin base is longer than the dorsal fin base, and the pectoral fins do not reach the base of the pelvic fins.

The Lance Lizardfish reaches 22 inches in length at maturity.

It has a similar appearance and can be confused with the Iguana Lizardfish, Synodus sechurae (pectoral fins reach pelvic fin origin and the anal fin base is of equal length as the dorsal fin base).

Distribution in Mexico fishing areas

The Lance Lizardfish is found up to 500 feet deep in the water column over sandy and muddy bottoms and in Mexican fishing areas , it is known from Magdalena Bay south along the Pacific side of Baja California, throughout the Sea of Cortez, and along the coast of the mainland south to Guatemala. It is absent from around Mexico's oceanic islands.

The Lizardfish have one midbody dorsal fin, a small adipose fin at the rear of the back, large pelvic fins (with eight or nine rays) that are located on the abdomen behind the pectoral fins, and a forked caudal fin. They have straight lateral lines. Lizardfish are found sitting motionless on the bottom, perched on their pectoral fins, or buried in the sand with one eye exposed, waiting to ambush unsuspecting prey. They are voracious predators, feeding primarily on small fish (anchovies, top smelt, and white croakers), krill, squid, and shrimp.

The Lance Lizardfish is a member of the Synodontidae or Lizardfish Family known in Mexico as Chiles.

Lance Lizardfish picture 1

Lance Lizardfish picture 2

Lance Lizardfish, Synodus scituliceps: A very rare catch made while fishing with Captain Pata in the panga Salomé, in 300-foot deep water, utilizing a Sabiki rig, 10 miles north of La Playita, Baja California Sur, Mexico, in May 2009. Size 12 inches. Decription and photos courtesy of John Snow.

Shorthead Lizardfish picture

Shorthead Lizardfish picture

Lance Lizardfish, Synodus scituliceps: Description and photos courtesy of John Snow.

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