Amarillo Snapper

Amarillo Snapper, Lutjanus argentiventris

The Amarillo Snapper, Lutjanus argentiventris, whose common Spanish and local name is pargo amarillo, is a species in the family Lutjanidae, the Snappers, known as pargos in Mexico. This fish is also known as the Yellow Snapper. Globally, there are sixty seven species in the genus Lutjanus of which nineteen are found in Mexican waters, ten in the Atlantic and nine in the Pacific.

The Amarillo Snappers have moderately oblong bodies with an overall yellow coloration that is more prominent in the tail and lower part of the body. Larger adults are two-toned, rosy-red in the front and yellow in the back. Their fins are yellow or orange. They have a distinctive blue horizontal streak below their eyes that fades quickly after collection. They have a pointed snout and a large mouth. Their anal fin is rounded with three spines, the second being thick, and eight rays; their caudal fin is straight; and their dorsal fin is continuous and rounded at the terminal end with ten spines.

The Amarillo Snappers are found over rocky bottoms close to caves and crevices at depths up to 310 feet. They reach a maximum length of 76 cm (30 inches). They are nocturnal predators feeding on crabs, mollusks, octopus, shrimp, and small fish and take shelter during daylight. Juveniles will enter fresh water streams. They are found in all Mexican waters of the Pacific.

The Amarillo Snapper is an easy fish to identify due to its coloration which includes the broken blue line under the eyes and cannot be confused with any other species.

The Amarillo Snappers are considered an excellent food fish. They are not caught in abundance by hook and line as they virtually disappear shortly after the first morning light. They occasionally become accessible in the early morning when chummed up to near the surface with cut bait. They are also accessible from the beach but only during predawn hours with live sardines being the bait of choice. They are sold in many markets of the greater Los Cabos area with fish presumably caught via nets and brought in from unknown locations.

Amarillo Snapper, Lutjanus argentiventris: Fish caught out of 50-foot water off Cabo Real, Baja California Sur, April 2012, on chrome yo-yo iron. Size: 45 cm (18 inches).
Amarillo Snapper, Lutjanus argentiventris: Fish caught out of 50-foot water off Cabo Real, Baja California Sur, April 2012. Length: 45 cm (18 inches).
Amarilla Snapper, Lutjanus argentiventris. Fish caught in Loreto, Baja California Sur, August 2014. Photo courtesy of Chris Wheaton.
Amarilla Snapper, Lutjanus argentiventris. Fish caught in Loreto, Baja California Sur, August 2014. Photo courtesy of Chris Wheaton.