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Mayaheros Urophthalmus

Cichlidae

Perciformes

Inshore, Coral Reefs, Ponds, Rivers, Lakes, Canals. Estuaries

0 - 2 pounds

3" - 15"

Mexican Mojarra Game Fish Quality Very Good
Mexican Mojarra Meal Quality Very Good
Mexican Mojarra Fly Fishing Quality Very Good

Mexican Mojarra

Mexican Mojarra
Also Known As: Atomic Sunfish, False Red Terror, Mojarra Castarrica, Mayan Cichlid, Orange Tiger, Red Terror

Mexican Mojarra  (Mayaheros urophthalmus) Fish Description

The Mexican Mojarra is a brackish water fish. They are non-native and originally came from Central America. It has an oval-shaped body. Its color ranges from olive-brown to beige with 6 to 8 blue-green stripes across its body and it has a black spot in the middle. They are part of the cichlid family, related to fishes like the two-spot cichlid

 

Diet and Size

The Mexican Mojarra is omnivorous. It primarily eats animals such as snails, insects, crustaceans, and smaller fish. For plants, they eat algae and other plant matter.

The Mexican Mojarra is a small to medium-sized fish. As adults, they only average 3 to 8 inches long and usually weigh less than a pound. The biggest Mexican mojarra caught was 15 inches long and weighed 2.5 pounds.

 

Interesting Facts About the Mexican Mojarra

  • They are a popular food fish species and are often bred in aquacultures. In the wild, they have a more vibrant color. They need to be fed more vitamin A to keep up luscious red pigments like in the wild.
  • They are considered an invasive species in Florida which is why it’s been encouraged to catch them in this State.

 

Habitat and Distribution

The Mexican Mojarra prefer the warm tropical waters. They are known as hardy fishes that can survive waters that are high in salinity and low in oxygen and even polluted water systems. Their preferred temperature ranges from 68° to 93.2°F. They are non-migratory species but some have been introduced to Florida and became popular gamefish. They’re inshore fish swimming near the surface with depths of 0 to 6 feet. You can find them generally can find them in mangrove swamps with sandy areas and also coral reefs.

Their mating season is from spring to early summer. The best months to fish them is before their mating season, which April to June. They like to breed in sandy areas near coral reefs and both parents will protect their nest. 

They can be seen in the south of Florida, ranging from the southeast to the southwest. Fishing spots in Florida are in Florida Keys, Tampa Bay, Lake Okeechobee, and Melbourne. A spawning site is said to be in Snook Creek, Florida.

 

Fishing Techniques: How to Fish the Mexican Mojarra

As a game fish, most anglers are after it’s taste. They’re also known for aggressively biting bait presentations and are hardy fighters. Since they swim near the surface, they’re perfect for fly fishing. Check your spot and set up your gear to fish the surface. You can blind cast your presentation, and the fish will not be shy to take a bite. They’re also quite reactive so sight casting might scare them.

Recommended fly fishing gear from the anglers is usually 5wt to 6wt rod (though some have found that a 3wt rod is also usable) and ranging from 5 to 7 feet. 10 to a 15-pound floating line fluorocarbon leader. For hooks, use sizes ranging from 1 to 4.

Successful flies used for the Mexican Mojarra are sponge spiders, cork poppers, and minnows. Recommended baits to use are shrimps, small minnows, worms, and even white bread.