Pacific Mutton Hamlet, Mutton Hamlet
Guaseta del Pacifico
(Alphestes immaculatus)

Pacific Mutton Hamlet, Alphestes immaculatus: The Pacific Mutton Hamlet is characterized by its rusty brown appearance and red eye with darker brown blotches forming irregular bars on its side.

It also has numerous pale and dark brown spots. In general this is not a difficult species to identify, with the exception of the Rivulated Mutton Hamlet, Alphestes multiguttatusunless, or unless it shows up in its red costume as pictured below.

It can be distinguished from the Rivulated Mutton Hamlet by its broken brown spots along its sides which ten to coalesce to form interrupted stripes (versus a smaller species with five or six additional regularly aligned transverse bars on the pectoral fins).

The Pacific Mutton Hamlet reaches a length of 30 centimeters and about 1 pound in weight and is found in the first 100 feet of the water column. It is a nocturnal predator feeding primarily on benthic crustaceans.

Distribution in Mexico fishing areas

In Mexican fishing waters , the Pacific Mutton Hamlet is not found along the Pacific side of the Baja California peninsula, but is found in all waters of the Sea of Cortez south of Santa Rosalia and on mainland Mexico south of Guaymas.

The Pacific Mutton Hamlet is usually too small to fillet.

This fish species is a member of the Serrandae or Sea Bass and Grouper Family.

Pacific Mutton Hamlet fish picture 1

Pacific Mutton Hamlet, Alphestes immaculatus: A live fish, returned to the ocean in pristine condition after the photo was taken and still showing the white spots that rapidly disappear after being caught. Description and photo courtesy John Snow.

Pacific Mutton Hamlet fish picture 2

Pacific Mutton Hamlet fish picture 3

Pacific Mutton Hamlet fish picture 4

Pacific Mutton Hamlet, Alphestes immaculatus: The top two fish caught during a fishing trip with Captain Pata in the panga Salome, La Playita, San Jose del Cabo, Baja California Sur, Mexico, midmorning in July 2003, in 83-degree, 50 to 100-foot deep water, utilizing a 30-pound test, 40-pound two dropper loop rig, with swivel, 3-ounce bank sinker, and Mustad 92553 hooks, size 2/0, on cut squid, 15 miles north of La Playita. Size approximately 10 inches and 1 pound. Viewed by locals as either a component of soup or a catch and release. The identity of the second photo was confirmed by Dr. Ross Robertson, Smithsonian Institute, Panama. Description and photos courtesy John Snow.

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