Barracuda (California)

From 23rd Trip: 1/2 Day Afternoon on the Icon 8/8/09

Family: Sphyraenidae (Barracudas)

Genus and Species: Sphyraena argentea

Description: The body of the California barracuda is very elongate and slender, and almost round. The mouth is large with canine-like teeth. It has a sharply pointed snout with a projecting lower jaw. The color is grayish black with a bluish tinge on the back becoming silvery or white on the sides and belly. The tail is yellowish and the dorsal fins are widely spaced.

Range: California barracuda occur from Cape San Lucas, Baja California, to Kodiak Island, Alaska. This species is found from the surface to depths of 60 feet, but is rare north of Point Conception, California.

Natural History: The California barracuda’s main forage is anchovies and other small fishes. The spawning season in southern California may extend from April through September, but most spawning takes place in May, June and July. An individual probably spawns more than once each season. About 75 percent of the California barracuda will spawn when they are 2 years old. The ovaries of a 37 inch female weighed 0.75 pounds and were estimated to contain 484,000 mature eggs. Young barracuda up to 6 inches in length are usually found in shallow water close to shore.

Fishing Information: Most California barracuda are taken with live bait fished at or near the surface; however, they will take an assortment of trolled artificial lures. If you see a very large barracuda, in the 10 pound range, chances are it’s a female. Positive identification can be made because the female has a charcoal black edge on the pelvic and anal fins, whereas the male fins are edged in yellow or olive. Three pound barracuda are common, but generally they are large enough to put up a good fight. Caution should be taken when you land a barracuda to avoid their needle sharp teeth.

Other Common Names: barracuda, scoot, scooter, snake, barry, Pacific barracuda.

Largest Recorded: Reported to 5 feet, but recorded to 4 feet; 18.1 pounds.

Habitat: Pelagic Environment

About the Author

Sean loves to fish in Southern California and this site is his journal of his adventures in fishing. He started fishing when he was a little guy with his dad David, and has continued to this day with his family. In his day job, Sean has been a graphic designer for over 15 years, designing everything from in-store displays and signage for supermarkets to e-commerce auction sites for an online consumer electronics company. He was a web and graphic designer then later an art director for McMullen Argus Publishing (Primedia), building and working on sites for Lowrider Magazine and Super Chevy, plus 30 other automotive magazine sites. Sean seized the opportunity to teach other aspiring designers - a passion that took him first to Learning Tree University and then to Golden West College in Huntington Beach, CA, where he has been an integral part of the renowned digital arts department for more than ten years. Throughout his teaching career, Sean maintained a freelance business, designing for clients including the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (Los Angeles Area Emmy Awards), Image Comics and many more. See his work at