All about Roosterfish: Characteristics, habitats, sport fishing and more…

This time you will learn all about Roosterfish (Nematistius pectoralis ) which are one of the strongest marine species. The Spanish word for roosterfish is Pez Gallo (pronounced  Guy-yo), or just Gallo.


Kingdom: Animalia Class : Actinopterygii (Ray-finned fishes) Order: Perciformes (Perch-like) Family: Nematistiidae

All About Roosterfish: Main Characteristics

The rooster fish have an elongated and slightly compressed body and their dorsal profile is quite convex. However, their main characteristic lies in their 8 thorns dorsal fin which resembles a rooster crest. This trait is unique among all marine species and makes them very peculiar and attractive for all fishermen. We invite you to read our article the anatomy of fish to learn more about this topic

all about roosterfish: anatomy

All about Roosterfish: Size and Weight:

These fish weigh around 40 kilograms and their size is about 3 meters. However, these measures are very different and depend mainly on their location.

Roosterfish Coloration

They have a bluish-grey hue in most of their bodies, interspersed with silver tones. They also have various spots on their snout, the lower part of the head and close to the eyes. On their sides you can see 2 surrounding slats, one that goes from the dorsal fin and extends to the fin, and the other goes from the dorsal spine to the end of the tail. The dorsal spines are quite pronounced on their tips with black color and yellow and grey lines.


Roosterfish have a dorsal fin with   8 long, sharp spines preceding 1 spine and 28 rays. Such a structure is their main defense and attack mechanism and can even be folded and stored in their dorsal sheath.  As for their anal fin, it possesses 18 soft rays and 3 thorns. The pectoral fins are larger, with 16 rays, while the pelvic ones are medium sized with 5 soft rays and a thorn.

Let´s watch them

All about Roosterfish: Habitat

This species usually lives in coastal areas, near reefs, seeking refuge in sandy places. It´s also common to see them at the ends of the beaches, lagoons and estuaries. When they are still juvenile and not fully developed, they can live in shallow waters without any inconvenience.

As for the most common season of the year to see this species, it goes from June to September, and their skillful movements make it possible to see them in places like the mouths of rivers, rocky places and strong –swell areas. Their main geographic area is the American coast of the Pacific Ocean, specifically between the coasts of Peru, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica and Mexico.

How Do Roosterfish Feed?

Their diet includes a wide variety of fish of different sizes, such as bull or copper fish, and even feed other roosterfish. However, they complement their diet with mullet fish, sardines and the real koi fish, which they pursue busily until they catch them and devour them using the high speed that characterizes them.

All about Roosterfish: Reproduction

Their mating takes place from the beginning of July until the end of February. Their fertilization is external and they lay their eggs in less- depth areas near the coast, where they feel more protected. Fingerlings are characterized by a perfect symmetry and usually settle near the surface until they reach maturity.

As roosterfish develop they undergo a series of transformations, as their appearance becomes different and gradually lose their juvenile symmetry.Then, when they migrate to the seabed, they remain there for around   two years.

All about Roosterfish: Sport Hunting

These fish are very popular in the world of sport fishing, since their fame of tireless fighters  represents  a challenge for many fishermen. The Current World Record – (certified by the entity of sport fishing in the world, the IGFA)-is 114 pounds, and was established five years ago in the coasts of Baja California. However the average catch is in the range of 20 to 40 pounds.

How to fish Roosterfish?

There are several techniques for fishing this species. One of them consists in using  trolled live baits from a boat, at around four knots of speed. The other is to apply Rapala Magnum type lures or X-Rap 14. There are three types of lures for shore fishing starting with the famous Ranger in the range of 2 1/4 to 4 ounces of weight.

There are also the 3 ounces Whistler, plus the Bounder in the range of 1 ¾ to 2 ½ ounces of weight. One of the favorite places for this practice is Baja California in USA, which is considered the mecca of sport fishing and offers excellent beaches for the catches of roosterfish.

Let´s watch and learn

All about Rooster Fish: Commercial fishing

This practice is carried out in order to sell their meat, which became quite coveted after they were known through their sport hunting.  The trawling between 100 and 500 meters of depth is one of the methods employed for this purpose, the longline fishing being the other one. In the latter it´s is employed  a long line  called the main line, with baited hooks attached at intervals by means of branch lines called Snoods (or gangions).

Let´s learn about trawling


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