Calico Lizardfish, Synodus lacertinus
The Calico Lizardfish, Synodus lacertinus, whose common Spanish name is Chile Lagarto and also known as the Reef Lizardfish or Banded Lizardfish is a member of the Lizardfish or Synodontidae Family, known collectively as “Chiles” in Mexico.
The Calico Lizardfish are found in and around rocky coral reefs and close to boulders adjacent to sand at depths up to 510 feet, although I have found them predominantly at depths of less than 150 feet. They reach a maximum length of 24 cm (9.4 inches), a length established by a fish that I caught. They are found in all Mexican waters of the Pacific with the exception of the northern third of the Sea of Cortez. Although rather common in the greater Los Cabos area, they are a poorly studied species and very little is known about their behavioral patterns.
Due to their elaborate red coloration patterns, the Calico Lizardfish are easy to identify and not likely to be confused with any other species. They are, however, quite similar to the very rare Eastern Pacific Flagfin, Aulopus bajacali (transparent anal fin without stripes).
The Calico Lizardfish are viewed by local fishermen as a by-catch of no value. They are more abundant than some species but are seldom caught because their small mouths require small hooks for success. They are strictly a “catch-and-release.”
Calico Lizardfish, Synodus lacertinus: Fish caught in 100-foot water, off Point Palmilla, Baja California Sur, January 2014. Length: 15 cm (5.9 inches). I have seen these fish regurgitate fish half their own size indicative of their aggressive feeding behaviors.