Rainbow Runner

Rainbow Runner, Elagatis bipinnulata

The Rainbow Runner, Elagatis bipinnulata, whose common Spanish name is “Macarela Salmón”, and known locally as “Arcoiris” is a member of the Jack or Carangidae Family, known collectively as “Jureles and Pámpanos” in Mexico.

The Rainbow Runner has a greatly elongated, fusiform body that tapers as both end that has a width that is 21 to 25% of standard length. They are a dark olive green to blue on the back and white below. They have two narrow light blue or bluish-white stripes along the sides with a broader olive or yellowish stripe between. The fins have an olive or yellow tint. The head and snout are pointed and they have a small mouth that opens at the front and ends well before the eye. The soft anal fins base is significantly shorter than the soft dorsal fin base. The caudal fin is deeply forked with a base is notched above and below. They have short pectoral fins, which are equal in length with the pelvic fins, and a single two-rayed finlet behind the anal and dorsal fins. Their lateral line has a slight arch anteriorly. The body is covered with small oval scales.

The Rainbow Runner reach a maximum of 180 cm (71 inches) and 17.1 kg (37 pounds 9 ounces) with the world record having been caught in Mexican waters. They are a pelagic species found in the epipelagic zone in and around coral and rocky reefs in large schools from near the surface and to depths up to 490 feet. They feed on crustaceans, small fish and squid. Reproduction occurs via the release of pelagic eggs with spawning occurring in summer.

They are wide ranging being a circumtropical species found in the both the western and eastern Pacific; however, in Mexico they are limited to the tip of the Baja, throughout the Sea of Cortez and along the coast of the mainland south to Guatemala.

The Rainbow Runner can be confused with the Bluestriped Chub, Sectator ocyurus (wider body) and the Jack Mackerel, Trachurus symmetricus (lacks blue stripes).

Rainbow Runners are caught primarily with hook and line and are an excellent sportsfish. They are also taken commercially with gillnets, purse seines and on trolling lines being caught on the level of 20,000 tons per year with the largest catches being made in Indonesia and the Philippines. They are marketed fresh, smoked or dried and salted and considered to be excellent table fair.

Rainbow Runner, Elagatis bipinnulata: Longnose Puffer, Sphoeroides lobatus: Fish caught off the surface off Point Palmilla, Baja California Sur, November 2011, on a flylined Sardine. Length: 60 cm (24 inches).
Rainbow Runner, Elagatis bipinnulata: Fish caught off the surface off Point Palmilla, Baja California Sur, November 2011, on a flylined Sardine. Length: 60 cm (24 inches).