Striped Mullet, Mugil cephalus: The Striped Mullet is one of the more abundant members of the Mugiladae Family found in Mexican waters. Globally there are a total of 75 species of Mugiladae of which seven are found in the Eastern Tropical Pacific.
The Striped Mullet is characterized by having an elongated silvery grey body with two widely spaced dorsal fins, a deeply forked caudal fin, and no lateral line. The Striped Mullet has well developed fatty eyelids, front and rear nostrils widely separated, thin lips with a knob at the bottom of the lower lip, and three anal fin spines, and eight or nine anal fin rays.
The Striped Mullet has an elongated body with a round head that is slightly wider than it is deep, a small mouth and blunt nose. It has thin lips with a bump on the tip of the lower lip and prominent adipose eyelids that have only a small slit over the pupil. Its back and upper sides are dark gray, and the lower sides and belly are silver. The Striped Mullet has several longitudinal stripes readily apparent along its sides. Its caudal fin is deeply forked and solid in color. The Striped Mullet has short pectoral fins that do not reach the origin of the first dorsal fin and the origin of the second dorsal fin is posterior to the origin of the anal fin.
The caudal, dorsal and pectoral fins are black and their anal and pelvic fins yellowish. The Stripped Mullet is easily confused with the White Mullet, Mugil curema (lighter coloration, 9 anal rays, anal and 2nd dorsal fin are fully scaled, black blotch at base of pelvic fins) and the Liseta Mullet, Mugil setosus (blunt head profile, deeply concave anal and second dorsal fins, longer rounded pectoral fins).
The Striped Mullet is known for leaping out of the water frequently, which is believed to be a mechanism to generate an oxygen source, and is normally 1 to 3 pounds in size. The world record, as of 2004, is 6 pounds, 15 ounces. The Striped Mullet is viewed by some to be an excellent food fish and it is sold commercially fresh, frozen, dried and salted; the roe is sold fresh or frozen. The Striped Mullet is caught primarily by cast nets and to a limited extent by snagging with a heavily weighted large treble hook. When utilized as a bait the Striped Mullet is normally fished “flylinned” with a 7/0 hook attached to 60-pound test line, targeting Dorado, Grouper, Roosterfish and Snappers, or fished “down deep” with a 7/0 hook attached to 100-pound test line and an 8-ounce torpedo sinker targeting large Grouper and large Snappers. The Striped Mullet also can be used as an effective cut bait or when cut up as chum.
The Striped Mullet is found in shallow coastal waters, and it ventures into adjacent fresh water. It travels in enormous schools and is found near the surface over sandy bottoms of all coastal tropical waters. When it shows up in mass, the major game fish such as Dog Snappers, Roosterfish and Tuna are soon to follow. The Striped Mullet feeds primarily on algae, zooplankton and dead plant matter, making it an important ecological waste processing machine. It is preyed upon by large game fish, birds, and various marine mammals. The females lay one-half to two-million eggs annually.
The Striped Mullet has a broad distribution in Mexican fishing waters, being found along the Pacific side of the Baja California peninsula, throughout the Sea of Cortez, along the coast of the mainland, and around the oceanic islands.