Striped Mullet

Striped Mullet, Mugil cephalus

The Striped Mullet, Mugil cephalus, whose common Spanish name is lisa rayada, is a member of the Mullet or Mugilidae Family, known collective as lisas in Mexico. There are 15 global member of the Mugil Genus, three are found in Mexican waters of the Atlantic, two in the Pacific and two in both the Atlantic and the Pacific.

The Striped Mullet has a very elongated body. They are a silvery gray fish that is dark gray dorsally transitioning to silvery ventrally. There are several subtle longitudinal stripes along the sides. The caudal, dorsal and pectoral fins are black and their anal and pelvic fins yellowish. The heads are rounded and slightly wider than they are deep, with a small terminal mouth that has thin lips and a knob on the bottom of the lower lip, a blunt nose and well developed prominent fatty eyelids with a small slit over the pupil, and front and rear nostrils that are widely separated. The anal fin has three spines and 8 or 9 rays and is anterior of the second dorsal fin, two widely spaced dorsal fins, a weak forked caudal fin, short pectoral fins that do not reach the origin of the first dorsal fin. They do not have a lateral line and the body is covered with large scales.

The Striped Mullet are found in shallow coastal waters and estuaries and also venture into adjacent fresh water. They travel in enormous schools and are found near the surface over sandy bottoms of all coastal tropical waters to dephts up to 400 feet. They reach a maximum length of 135 cm (53 inches) with sexes being of equal size; the world record, as of 2015, is 10 pounds, 6 ounces. They feed primarily on algae, zooplankton and dead plant matter making them an important ecological waste processing machine. They are preyed on by fish, birds, and various other marine mammals. They are known for leaping out of the water frequently, believed to generate an oxygen source. Reproduction is via dioecism with females laying between 0.5 and 2.0 million eggs each annually that are fertilized externally via the males. The Stripped Mullet have life spans of up to 16 years. They are found in all Mexican waters of both the Atlantic and the Pacific.

The Striped Mullet are virtually identical to and easily confused with the White Mullet, Mugil curema (lighter coloration, nine anal rays); they are also similar to the Liseta Mullet, Mugil setosus (blunt head profile, deeply concave anal and second dorsal fins, longer rounded pectoral fins).

The Striped Mullet is a filter feeder and as such cannot be caught with hook and line via traditional methods. They show up in June and July along the southern coasts of Baja by the million attracting the famous Roosterfish. They are caught either via a cast net or they can be snagged with a heavily weighted treble hook with surf casting gear. They are one of the important seasonal commercial live baits of the greater Los Cabos area during the summer months that are flylinned live targeting one of the world’s true exotics, the Roosterfish. In some countries they are raised by aquaculture. They are also sold year around in the local Mexican markets both fresh and whole for human consumption.

Striped Mullet, Mugil cephalus: Fish provided by the commercial bait salesmen and caught with a cast net within the Puerto Los Cabos Marina, July 2014. Length: 30 cm (12 inches).
Striped Mullet, Mugil cephalus: Fish provided by the commercial bait salesmen and caught with a cast net within the Puerto Los Cabos Marina, July 2014. Length: 30 cm (12 inches).