Machete, Elops affinis
The Machete, Elops affinis, whose Spanish common name is machete del Pacifico, is a species in the family Elopidae, the Tenpounders, known as machetes in Mexico. This fish is also known as the Ladyfish. Globally, there are only six species in the genus Elops, of which three are found in Mexican waters, two in the Atlantic and one in the Pacific.
The Machete has an elongated cylindrical body with an oval cross-section. They are a dark blue-green transitioning to a silvery with blue reflections. The caudal and dorsal fins are dark; the other fins have a light yellow tint. The head has large eyes with fatty eyelids, an oblique mouth at the front that reaches past the eyes with a projecting lower jaw. The Machete has an anal fin (12 – 18 rays) that is well behind the dorsal fin with a shorter base than the dorsal fin base, the caudal fin is deeply forked, the one dorsal fin (20 – 27 rays) is mid-body, the pectoral fins are low on the body just behind the gill covers, and, the pelvic fins originate under the front half of the dorsal fin base. They have 16 to 20 gill rakers. They have prominent lateral lines that run the length of the body. Their fins are without spines and they are covered with very noticeable scales.
The Machete is a shallow in-shore pelagic species that that aggregate in large schools. They are known to enter estuaries and fresh water. They are twilight predators feeding on small fishes, especially herrings, and shrimp. The Machete reach a maximum length of 91 cm (36 inches) and are found over sandy bottoms at depths up to 33 feet. They are poorly studied, not being of commercial interest, and not much is known about their behavioral patterns. They are found in all Mexican waters of the Pacific.
The Machete is an easy species to identify however can be confused with the Eastern Pacific Bonefish, Albula esuncula (small mouth that does not extend to eye, pelvic fins originate at the rear of the dorsal fin), the Milk Fish, Chanos chanos (large eyes, small mouth, strong lateral line, short pointed dorsal fin) and the Shafted Bonefish, Albula nemoptera (prolonged filamentous last dorsal fin ray and long last anal fin ray with dorsal being longer than anal).
The Machete are referred to “10-pounders” due to their horrific strength and stamina however they seldom exceed three-pounds, and when hooked they can provide recreational anglers with quite a tussle. As such they are a targeted game fish in some areas. The Machete is not edible due to the numerous small bones found throughout its body.