Rare Popeye Catalufa caught in Dana Point

DANA POINT — A Popeye Catalufa was reportedly caught aboard one of Dana Wharf Sportfishing’s boats on Jan. 16, according to fish counts posted on the fleet’s website.

The fish, which can grow to almost 14 inches in size, is generally near rocky bottom ocean floors and in depths up to 820 feet.

A website dedicated to Mexican fish described Popeye Catalufa as scaly with an upturned mouth and projecting lower jaw.

“The Popeye Catalufa [is] characterized by a strongly compressed, distinctively deep oval body that have a depth that is 49 – 53 percent of standard length, and a large upturned mouth with a projecting lower jaw,” a description of the bigeye species stated on mexfish.com. “The Popeye Catalufa is a uniform pink to crimson color with juveniles having faint dark bands on their sides; these fade rapidly soon after collection.

“The outer edges of their rounded caudal and pelvic fins are black,” the description continued. “Their dorsal fin is continuous with 10 spines. As their central spines are the longest, they are used as a key to identification. Their pelvic fins are long and are broadly attached by a membrane to the belly and positioned in advance of the pectoral fins. They have large scales.”

Popeye Catalufa should be a catch-and-release fish, the website’s description of the species added.

“They are a rare and poorly studied species and as such there is very limited information available about their behavioral patterns,” the mexfish.com post explained. “They are found in all Mexican waters of the Pacific, however they are notably absent from the extreme northern portions of the Sea of Cortez.”

There were 80 anglers aboard four Dana Wharf Sportfishing boats on Jan. 16 who caught 99 sculpin, 16 Calico bass, five sand bass, three half moon perch and the one Popeye Catalufa; 128 bass were reported as catch-and-release.

The Popeye Catalufa was caught aboard Clemente, helmed by Capt. Chad Steffen.

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