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Sandy Bottom, Rocky, Coral Reef
6 - 11 pounds
8" - 22"
Not to be confused with the Sargo (which is from the seabream family), the Xantic Sargo (Anisotremus davidsonii) is a member of the grunt fish family that produces “grunting” sounds by rubbing together their flat teeth plates.
The Xantic Sargo can be identified through its somewhat elongated body, elevated and compressed back, and pouty lips. Its body is mostly silver except for the single brown or black vertical stripe on each side and the rather bronzy tinge on the top side of its prominently white lateral line. As for the fins, the caudal fin is slightly forked and the two-segment dorsal fin is spiny, both of which are colored dark brown to black. Its pectoral, pelvic, and anal fins are much lighter in color.
The Xantic Sargo is a known nocturnal benthic feeder. This means that they are mostly inactive during the day, typically found close to rocks and other underwater structures for shelter. At night, however, they would spring into action as they look for food near or over sandy bottoms, kelp and seagrass beds of rocky coastal reefs. They mostly feed on crustaceans, mollusks, and bryozoans. As most grunts, the Xantic Sargo is not a large fish and can only reach a maximum length of a little less than two feet, weighing around ten to eleven pounds.
Yes, the Xantic Sargo is a small fish but it can be moderately difficult to catch as they mostly stay near the bottom, often in reefs and other rocky structures underneath the water. They are also known to be talented bait stealers, thanks to their speed and small mouth.
That said, this small fish can easily be landed once you hook one. Best bait to use is strips of fresh fish or shrimp. Just make sure to use a small hook and make each piece as tiny as possible so it won’t be able to steal your bait without having its mouth hooked. For a tiny fish such as this, you will need a light rod paired with a stretchy line so that you’ll be able to better feel the fish’s attempts to steal the bait. Lastly, you should fish for them over reefs or sandy and muddy grass beds at night as they are actively hunting at night time.
The Xantic Sargo is endemic in the coastal waters of Eastern Central Pacific—from Santa Cruz in central California, USA to southern Baja California, Mexico, as well as within the waters of the Gulf of California. The fish also prefers reefs and other rocky environments, often near kelp beds where they mostly live and forage for food. With that, you can fish for them inshore—from piers, jetties, or even on a beach where there’s a kelp bed nearby.