Pacific Spotted Scorpionfish, Stone Scorpionfish, "Sculpin"
Pacific Spotted Scorpionfish, Scorpaena mystes: The Pacific Spotted Scorpionfish is one of the true exotics.
It is characterized by its broad, spiny head, deep pits under the eyes, large pectoral fins with thickened rays, two dark bars on the tail, numerous conspicuous barbells under the mouth, and abundant skin flaps over the head and body which give it the appearance of a seaweed-encrusted rock.
The Pacific Spotted Scorpionfish reaches a length of approximately 18 inches and up to 5 pounds. It is found in shallow water around seaweed covered reefs.
Distribution in Mexico fishing areas
The Pacific Spotted Scorpionfish is found in all fishing waters of Mexico including the oceanic islands. It should be treated as “hazardous” and released as soon as possible, being careful not to allow its poisonous spines to penetrate the skin.
This fish species is a member of the Scorpaenidae or Scorpionfish Family, in general having large, bulbous heads with numerous spines, skin flaps, and large protruding eyes. Family members have venomous spines in their foredorsal, ventral and anal fins.
Puncture wounds from these spines are painful but seldom life threatening. Scorpionfish are masters at camouflage and can change color and shape to blend into the background. Concealed, they rest motionless on the bottom, waiting for the unsuspecting prey.
Pacific Spotted Scorpionfish, Scorpaena mystes: Dorsal fin from a fish caught off Point Palmilla, Baja California Sur, Mexico, in July 2011. Length 32 cm. Another orange colored fish but this one with four large black spots on the dorsal fin. Both the orange color and black spots are unusual for this species. Description and photo courtesy of John Snow.
Pacific Spotted Scorpionfish, Scorpaena mystes: Fish courtesy of the commercial fishermen of the greater Los Cabos area of Baja California Sur, Mexico. Caught in January 2011. Length 36 cm. Note the orange coloration and the large black spot on the dorsal fin, both of which are unusual for this species. Description and photo courtesy of John Snow.
Pacific Spotted Scorpionfish, Scorpaena mystes: Caught while fishing in the surf, in January 2004, utilizing a standard fish finder rig, on cut squid. Viewed by locals as dangerous and an immediate “catch and release.” I have noted that after a release the fish taken from the deep remain on the surface at which point even the birds have no interest. A truly exotic beast! Description and photo courtesy John Snow.
Pacific Spotted Scorpionfish, Scorpaena mystes: Caught during a fishing trip with Captain Pata in the panga Salome, La Playita, San Jose del Cabo, Baja California Sur, Mexico, in February and July of 2003, in 50 to 100-foot deep water, utilizing 30-pound test, with a 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. Approximately 18 inches and 4 pounds. Description and photos courtesy John Snow.
Pacific Spotted Scorpionfish, Scorpaena mystes: Spines poisonous. Photo by Gene Kira.
Pacific Spotted Scorpionfish, Scorpaena mystes: Caught during fishing in November 2001 by Ton van Dalen with a circle hook and a live sardina, length 15 inches. From Peter Langstraat: "This fish is nicknamed "sculpin." However, they don't belong to the family of sculpins. The cabezon does belong to the family of Sculpenidae, so this one could be nicknamed as such. From Northern California up to Alaska there are tens of different species of sculpins. Description and photo courtesy Peter Langstraat.
Pacific Spotted Scorpionfish, Scorpaena mystes: Photo courtesy Trout Traubman.
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