Family: Scombridae (Mackerels and Tunas)
Genus and Species: Katsuwonus pelamis
Description: The body of the skipjack is cigar-shaped (tapers at both ends). The snout is sharply pointed and the mouth is relatively large. The color is dark blue to purple on the back become silvery or white below, with four to six dark horizontal stripes on the belly.
Range: Skipjack occur worldwide in warm seas. They are found in the eastern Pacific from Peru to Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Skipjack usually visit California waters in the fall when water is relatively warm (about 68° F) and the currents are from either the south or southwest.
Natural History: The diet of the skipjack tuna includes fishes such as anchovies and sardines as well as squid; however, shrimp eggs and similar organisms are a major component of the diet. Skipjack tuna do not spawn in waters off California, but further south in the eastern Pacific spawning takes place during the summer months. A skipjack tuna that is 18.5 inches long and weighs 5.5 pounds lays an estimated 113,000 eggs, while one that is 22.1 inches long and weighs 13.1 pounds produces 600,000 eggs. The young fish grow rapidly and when 1 year old are 18 inches long. They rarely live beyond 7 years.
Fishing Information: Most skipjack are taken incidentally to other fishing activities, especially albacore or tuna fishing. They bite a feather eagerly and will readily come to the boat when live anchovies are used as chum. Most anglers do not actively seek skipjack because of their small size and the undesirability of the meat when fresh. However, skipjack is good if processed and most is consumed after it is canned. Most fish taken off California weigh 2 to 12 pounds, with the vast majority in the 4 to 6 pound range.
Other Common Names: skippies, oceanic bonito, striped tuna, arctic bonito, watermelon, victor fish.
Largest recorded: No length recorded; 26 pounds (California).
Source: Marine Sportfish Identification, California Department of Fish and Game, 1987
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