Barred Pargo

Barred Pargo, Hoplopagrus guentherii

The Barred Pargo, Hoplopagrus guentherii, who is also known as the Mexican Barred Pargo, whose common Spanish name is Pargo Coconaco and locally as Coconaco, is a member of the Snapper or Lutianidae Family, known collectively as “pargos” in Mexico.

The Barred Pargo has a deep moderately compressed body and has the widest body of the snappers being 44-46% of body length. Overall they are reddish brown in color with an all brown head with a white chin and six alternating wide and narrow white bars running down the sides. These bars are quite pronounced upon collection but fade quickly over time. The anal fin has a strong second spine, the dorsal fin has ten spines and is continuous, and the pectoral fins are long extending well past the anal fin origin. Juveniles have closely paired bars on the side and a black spot at the base of the dorsal rays.

 The Barred Pargo is found within heavy rock structures and caves up to depths of 330 feet. They reach a maximum length of 92 cm (36.2 inches). They are nocturnal predators consuming crustaceans and small fishes. They shelter in rocky reefs and in caves during the day. The Barred Pargo is found from Magdalena Bay south along the west coast of Baja, in the southern two-thirds of the Seas of Cortez and along the coast of the mainland south to Guatemala.

 The Barred Pargo is a very easy fish to identify and cannot be confused with any other species.

 The Barred Pargo is not considered to be a quality food fish and used as a component of soup. They are normally caught close to shore and are also accessible from the beach pre-dawn; however, they are rare and seldom caught by hook and line. Catching a large fish is a great feat due to the rocky structure and caves they inhabit. They are targeted by spear fishermen and because they hide in caves during the daytime and thus becomes easy prey.

Barred Pargo, Hoplopagrus guentherii: Fish caught out of the surf at Km 21, Cabo Real, Baja California Sur, November 2008, on cut squid using a carolina rig. Size: 35 cm (14 inches) and 2 pounds.
Barred Pargo, Hoplopagrus guentherii: Fish caught out of the surf at Km 21, Cabo Real, Baja California Sur, November 2008, on cut squid using a Carolina rig. Length: 35 cm (14 inches).
Barred Pargo, Hoplopagrus guentherii. Fish caught in Loreto, Baja California Sur, August 2014. Photo courtesy of Chris Wheaton.
Barred Pargo, Hoplopagrus guentherii. Fish caught in Loreto, Baja California Sur, August 2014. Photo courtesy of Chris Wheaton.