Cabezon (fish)

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Scorpaenichthys marmoratus.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
Superclass: Osteichthyes
Class: Actinopterygii
Subclass: Neopterygii
Order: Scorpaeniformes[1]
Suborder: Cottoidei
Superfamily: Cottoidea
Family: Cottidae
Genus: Scorpaenichthys
Girard, 1854
Species: S. marmoratus
Binomial name
Scorpaenichthys marmoratus
(Ayres, 1854)

The cabezon (Scorpaenichthys marmoratus) is a large species of sculpin native to the Pacific coast of North America. Although the genus name translates literally as "scorpion fish", true scorpionfish (such as lionfish) belong to the related family Scorpaenidae. The cabezon is the only known member of its genus.[2]


The cabezon is a scaleless fish with a broad bony support extending from the eye across the cheek just under the skin. Normally it has 11 spines on the dorsal fin. The cabezon also has a stout spine before the eye, an anal fin of soft rays, and a fleshy flap on the middle of the snout. A pair of longer flaps are just behind the eyes. The mouth is broad with many small teeth. The coloring varies, but is generally mottled with browns, greens and reds. >90% of red fish are males, whereas >90% of green fish are females.[citation needed] It reaches up to 99 cm (3 ft 3 in) in length and 14 kg (31 lb) in weight.[2] As the Spanish-origin name implies, the fish has a very large head relative to its body.

Distribution and habitat[edit]

Cabezon are found in the northeast Pacific Ocean from Alaska to Baja California.[2]

They are found in a wide range of habitats at depths of 0–200 m (0–656 ft), including rocky, muddy and sandy bottoms, and kelp beds.[2]

Fishing technique[edit]

Cabezon feed on crustaceans, mollusks, fish and fish eggs. Cabezon are taken as a game fish, however their roe is toxic to humans.,[2] because of the occurrence of a toxic phospholipid (Dinogunellin). Cabezon inhabit the tops of rocky ledges as opposed to rockfish and lingcod, which usually inhabit the sheer faces of these features.

The current world record for cabezone on hook and line is 23 lb (10 kg) in Juan de Fuca Strait, WA on Aug. 4, 1990 by Wesley Hunter.[citation needed] How to fish for Cabezon with hook and line. Cabezon can be caught with #50 fishing line with a treble hook and a weight at the terminal end of the line. You open the reel and drop your line straight down to the top of the reef, click your bail closed, reel it up about one to three feet, and bump your weight up and down on the reef. The noise and vibration attract the Cabezon to bite.


  1. ^ "Scorpaeniformes". Paleobiology Database. Retrieved November 15, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2012). "Scorpaenichthys marmoratus" in FishBase. December 2012 version.