Crevalle Jack


These two members of the Carangidae family are almost identical in appearance and were formerly thought to be the same species.

Identification

Both species are bluish-green to greenish-gold on the back and silvery or yellowish on the belly. They are compressed, and the deep body has a high, rounded profile, as well as a large mouth. The tail and the anal fin may be yellowish, and the ends of the dorsal fin and the upper tail are occasionally black.

There is a prominent black spot on the gill cover and another at the base of each pectoral fin. The soft dorsal and anal fins are almost identical in size. The two species are distinguished externally from each other only by the presence of a larger maximum number of scutes, up to 42 on the Pacific crevalle jack, as opposed to 26 to 35 on the crevalle jack.


Size

Averaging 3 to 5 pounds in weight and 1 to 21⁄2 feet in length, the crevalle jack can regularly weigh as much as 10 pounds; the Pacific crevalle jack is usually smaller. The all-tackle world record for the crevalle jack is a 58-pound Angolan fish and for the Pacific crevalle jack is a 39-pound Costa Rican fish.

Life history/Behavior

Spawning occurs offshore from March through September. Young fish occur in moderate to large fast-moving schools, and crevalle jacks occasionally school with horse-eye jacks, although larger fish are often solitary.

Food and feeding habits

Voracious predators, they feed on shrimp, other invertebrates, and smaller fish. Crevalle jacks will often corner a school of baitfish at the surface and feed in a commotion that can be seen for great distances, or they will chase their prey onto beaches and against seawalls. Fish of both species often grunt or croak when they are caught.

Other Names

crevalle jack
common jack, crevally, toro, trevally, horse crevalle; Spanish: cavallo, chumbo, cocinero, jurel común.

Pacific crevalle jack
toro, crevally, cavalla, jiguagua; Spanish: aurel, burel, canche jurel, chumbo, cocinero, jurel toro, jurelito, sargentillo.

Distribution

In the western Atlantic, crevalle jacks occur from Nova Scotia south throughout the northern Gulf of Mexico. In the eastern Pacific, they occur from San Diego, California, to Peru.

Habitat

Both species can tolerate a wide range of salinities and often inhabit coastal areas of brackish water and may ascend rivers, frequenting shore reefs, harbors, and protected bays. Small fish are occasionally found over sandy and muddy bottoms of very shallow waters, as in estuaries and rivers. They are common in depths of up to 130 feet and often move into cooler, deeper water during the summer.
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