ROOSTERFISH / Nematistius pectoralis Gill, 1862; NEMATISTIDAE FAMILY

Occurs in the eastern Pacific Ocean from the Gulf of California to Peru. It is reported to be most common off Ecuador. An inshore species, it is found in the surf, over sandy bottoms, and in moderate depths. Tagging results have shown the maximum movement being about 300 miles (483 km).

The second dorsal fm has one spine and 25 28 soft rays. The dorsal fins normally remain retracted in a deep groove along the fish's back, but when the fish is excited the fins rise. There are no bony scums along the caudal peduncle. There are two dark blue or black, curved hands on the flanks. One beginning from the front and the other from the back of the first dorsal fin. Both run diagonally down the flanks towards the front of the anal fin then curve smoothly and rim along the flanks to the tail base. The dorsal spines are banded with alternate dark and light stripes and the lower base of the pectoral fins is black.

The roosterfish is an active predator of small fishes. When hooked or in pursuit of prey it will raise its dorsal fin like a flag and may leap repeatedly, greyhounding over the surface. Fishing methods include trolling or casting small baits and lures, or live bait fishing from a boat or shore.

The rosterfish has strong local commercial value. The flesh is tasty and of good quality.