From 4th Trip: Cabrillo Pier and Belmont Pier

Engraulis mordax




Engraulis mordax Girard, 1854, San Francisco, California, United States.


English: Anchovy, Californian anchovy, North Pacific anchovy, pinhead; French: Anchois de California, anchois du nord, anchois du Pacifique, anchois du Pacifique nord; German: Amerikanische Nordpazifische, Amerikanische Sardelle; Spanish: Anchoa de California, anchoa del Pacifico, anchoveta, anchoveta de California, anchoveta norteƱa.


Grows to 4 in (10 cm). Body slender and elongate but round in cross section. Back is green and sides are silvery, including a stripe along the flank in young individuals. Large head and mouth with a pointed snout.


Northern Pacific from Vancouver Island, Canada, to Baja California, Mexico.


Pelagic marine species found to depths of 984 ft (300 m). Usually stays in coastal waters within 18.6 mi (30 km) of shore but may range as far as 298 mi (480 km) offshore. Enters estuaries, bays, and inlets during the spring and summer.


Forms schools during most of the year, although these become smaller or break up in late spring, typically around the end of spawning in April or May. Moves to inshore waters during spring and summer and migrates offshore in the fall and winter. Diel migrations also occur, with the northern anchovy remaining at depths during the day and approaching the surface in low-density schools at night.


Obtains food both by filter feeding and particulate biting. Feeds on plankton, primarily euphausids, copepods, and decapod larvae. Northern anchovies are an important forage species for other fishes, birds, and marine mammals.


Spawns in inlets and offshore, with spawning activity occurring at night. Two major spawning areas exist in coastal waters off southern California and Baja California, Mexico. Eggs are broadcast and fertilized in the water column, then float and incubate for two to four days before hatching. Spawning takes place throughout the year, and individual females may spawn several times each year. However, as a whole, the species exhibits a clear peak in spawning during the winter and early spring.


Supports a commercial and bait fishery, which developed after the collapse of the Pacific sardine fishery in the 1940s. Approximately 25 million pounds were landed in 2000, with most used for fish meal, fertilizer, and animal feed. A small portion is consumed by humans in pickled or salted forms.

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