Snow On The Mountain, Go Snow Go…

There’s snow on Mount Hamilton, and on the ridges to each side.

This is Mid-March. This is not usual. This is not exotic either. It is a rare thing though.

We sometimes get a little snow on Mount Hamilton. Occasionally, it will reach the lower elevations of the flanking ridges. This is more often a January or February thing. Often we have no precipitation at all after February. One year, we were having a horrible drought through winter and then had “Miracle March” where a downpour of rain happened (snow not so much).

But now, for the 3rd or 4th time? this month, there’s once again Snow on the Mountain.

Some years, March is quite warm. This year it has wobbled back and forth, but with a very cold 2 week cycle.

I thought of taking some photos of it, but really, what’s the point? I’ve taken the same photos in other months, so all that would change is the date stamp.

What this isn’t, is “Global Warming”. It isn’t warm. Instead of shorts and a shovel in the back yard I’m in long sleeves, long pants, and turning on the room heater at night. I can see snow out my window, though a couple of thousand feet higher. Still, it makes for very cold down slope drainage air.

Per the Wiki, Mt. Hamilton is 4,265 feet, 1300 M elevation. At the lowest in the morning, the snow looked to be a bit over 1/2 way up the mountain. Call it about 2500 feet. Maybe 3000 (though it changes through the day as it melts).

This isn’t impossible, just very rare. The Wiki goes out of their way to cite one year, not that long ago, that also had abnormally heavy snow in March:”


Numerous times each winter temperatures drop low enough for Mount Hamilton (left) to receive as much as a foot of snow for a day or two.

These mountains are high enough to receive snowfall in the winter, perhaps up to a dozen times. Occasionally, when a cold, wet storm comes in from the Gulf of Alaska or Canada, Mt. Hamilton and the surrounding peaks get significant snowfall. In February 2001, 30 inches (76 cm) of snow fell, and in March 2006, the peak was left with over a foot (30 cm) of snow in one night.

The National Weather Service has had a cooperative weather station on the summit of Mount Hamilton almost since the time that the Lick Observatory opened. It has provided a glimpse of the extreme weather conditions that occur on the Diablo Range, especially in the winter months.

It can even be later. Back in 1967 there was a late snow in April. On April 1st. Just a couple of weeks away right now. So unusual that makes it to the Wiki as well.

But what is quite clear is that had we been warming so horribly as all the Climate-Doomsters shout at us, we’d not be having the same very unusual late snow this year. It would be rain instead.

Mount Hamilton Snot April 1 1967

Mount Hamilton Snot April 1 1967

Mt. Hamilton had a foot of snow on the ground on April 1, 1967

January is usually the coldest month on Mount Hamilton with an average high of 49.4 °F (9.7 °C) and an average low of 37.5 °F (3.1 °C). The warmest month is usually July with an average high of 78.2 °F (25.7 °C) and an average low of 63.1 °F (17.3 °C). Due to frequent thermal inversions during the summer, it is often warmer on Mount Hamilton than in San Jose. The record high temperature of 103 °F (39 °C) was on August 5, 1978. The record low temperature of 7 °F (−14 °C) was on December 21, 1990. The average days with highs of 90 °F (32 °C) or higher is 4.3 days. The average days with lows of 32 °F (0 °C) or lower is 50.6 days.

Annual precipitation averages 23.73 inches (603 mm). Measurable rainfall occurs on an average of 71.9 days each year. The most rainfall in a month was 12.13 inches (308 mm) in February 1998; no rainfall has been common during the summer months. The maximum rainfall in 24 hours was 6.87 inches (174 mm) on December 23, 1955.

Annual snowfall averages 10 inches (25 cm). The maximum snowfall in a year was 59.0 inches (150 cm) in 1955. The maximum snowfall in a month was 38.1 inches (97 cm) in February 2019.
The 24-hour maximum snowfall of 14.0 inches (36 cm) occurred on February 18, 1990. The deepest daily snow depth was 18 inches (46 cm) in March 1976. Measurable snow has been recorded in every month from November through June.

I note in passing the max snow in a month was in 2019 and 24 hour max was 1990. Not 50 years ago… Looks to me like lots of cold snow since “global warming” was declared a thing… More than in the ’70s & ’80s when we were told it was just a couple of decades to thermal Armageddon…

So yes, it isn’t truly an Earth Shattering Snow until it happens in June, and that’s still a couple of months away. Yet the March and April 1 snow is so unusual as to be called out and cited in the Wiki (Cue the Wiki Langoliers to go gobble up that bit of history…)

The Wiki shows the average March Snow as 3.8 inches / 9.7 cm. Yet we’ve had a few snows this March and I’d guess they were well over that. (Seeing as a couple persisted for several days after the first onset).

Again, not all that exceptionally unusual, more like dead on normal. But certainly not what we ought to be seeing if there were any actual warming in evidence.

Nothing has changed in the Snows of Mt. Hamilton over the 50 years I’ve been watching it. We went through some low snow periods in the hot 1980s. Had more snow in the colder times before that, and have returned to more snow now, later in the season. It’s just a regular roughly 60 year cycle, now returned to cold and snow again.

I’ll be watching the mountain closely for the next month or two, and should any snow show up in May or June, I’ll certainly make noise about it. But frankly this repeated snowing in March is quite cold enough, thank you. The house heater just kicked on… and this is supposedly the hottest time of the day in early afternoon…

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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49 Responses to Snow On The Mountain, Go Snow Go…

  1. philjourdan says:

    We got slush this morning. Very not unusual. But the fact that this was the coldest February in 30 years, and headed for a very cold March (we did have a couple of days of beautiful weather), I suspect that the mini ice age cometh. It will not destroy the religion as they will explain it away. But their coffers will run dry as more people realize the man behind the curtain is a charlatan.

  2. Quail says:

    I learned a new word this year, “Graupel.” Never needed to describe rain frozen onto snow before.

  3. H.R. says:

    We’re having an up and down March. We got home March 4th, very tired and only unloaded things that shouldn’t be in the travel trailer (tools, food, dog and cat food and such).

    It was COLD! Not really bad for our area and early March, but coming from 80(F) in Florida to 60(F) in Georgia, to 50(F) in Tennessee, to 40(F) and very windy at home well, it was freezin’ @$$ cold!

    After a day of rest, we got a few days of warming up into the 50’s and even the low 60’s (F).

    Good thing because we thoroughly emptied the trailer and detail cleaned it, including renting a carpet shampoo rig for the 12 square feet of carpet in there. I had several fix-its to do and went about it accordingly.

    We finished up on Friday and it turned cold again; low 30s (F). Sunday, we had a mix of snow and pebbly sleet. Any type pavement was too warm for it to stick, but it stayed on grass, deck rails, etc. and did not melt there.
    Today, it got up to 52 or 53 and I’d had enough fun with RV stuff, so I went fishing.

    Wise decision. I caught eight Crappie and one Bass in a little over an hour. Four of the Crappie were large keepers, and the Bass was a 12″ x 12 oz. 2-year old male. They are just an appetite with a tail and I guess I just swam my jig right past his nose. He was too cold to put up any of the usual jumps and fight that Bass are known for.
    Anyhow, timely topic because earlier today, I was thinking about the apocryphal 50-some names that the Inuit have for snow. That’s been scoffed at and supported, depending on whose frozen ox is being Al-Gored.

    But then it struck me that in American English, we have at least four names for frozen precipitation – snow, sleet, hail, powder and??? – so why shouldn’t The Mighty Quin have 50?

    Oh, then there’s freezing rain which generally knocks out power, but the ice coating on tree branches is just a jeweled bedazzlement. Always breathtakingly gorgeous and I’ve seen it up to 12mm thick. The whole World turns to sparkling diamonds everywhere you look. (Hmmm… seems ice storms are always followed by a blazingly clear sky. I’m not sure why that is, but it sure makes for a beautiful Winter scene.)


  4. E.M.Smith says:


    I envy you your fishing… California is largely fished out, or polluted, or just so much Red Tape And Rules you can’t figure out what is a keeper…

    Oh, and ask a Skier about kinds of snow. English has a LOT more. Acorn. Base. Packed Powder. Sierra Cement, Cascade Concrete, Black Ice, chowder, corn snow, crud snow, dust on crust, hero snow, granular and freshies and more… etc.

    The English Language is quasi-agglutinative. We glue on adjectives to base nouns to make all sorts of subtle variations, but as distinct words not as parts of one word. Inuit is highly agglutinative so their bits are firmly glued to each other into “one word”. So what is the difference between our “Acorn Snow” “powder snow” “floating flakes of snow” “pebble snow” “packed powder” “hard packed snow” and more vs their similar phrases without the spaces?

    In theory, Indo-European languages are highly inflected (like Greek and Latin) and not agglutinative, but English dumped most of the inflections and moved on to adjectives, adverbs, prefixes, suffixes, etc. We are on our way to becoming an agglutinative language. See: Watzup? and Ya’gonnago? and even Iwanago fishinthelake… The ancient forms of Indo-European were often written as they sounded, without word spaces… So to some extent agglutinative vs inflected is an artifact of how you define the breaks in the sound system…

    So how many “words” does English have for snow? How many adjectives and phrases can you make and run together?…

  5. H.R. says:

    @E.M. – Per names for snow, I forgot that you were a skier. It was easy for you to come up with several more names and I recognized some of those types after you listed them.

    Yeah, I grew up being told that there were 50+ Inuit names for different types of snow, since that’s pretty much what they live with; snow, snow, and more snow. Then a few years ago I read something by someone that pooh-poohed the idea.

    So up until that topic popped into my head just above, the 50+ names and the pooh-poohing were both in limbo in the ‘fact filter’ in my brain. I’m thinking the pooh-pooh person was full of poo-poo and the 50+ is a fact.
    Per fishing: Get crackin’ and move to Florida where you can fish either salt or fresh or both almost every day.

    I’ve always talked fishing here on your blog and the regulars know I’m fishing crazy. It took many years for me to catch on that you like to fish very much yourself. You’ve never really discussed it at any length, but over the years you posted about fishing growing up and then a few mentions of fishing in Florida. And from those mentions, usually as an aside to something else – one was, why do saltwater catfish taste like crap? – I could infer that you were fishing in Florida a bit more than you’d write about.

    Also, you had mentioned that you had heavy gear somewhere in the garage for Pacific saltwater fishing. I think that was at the meet ‘n greet in Lakeland where I showed you my heavy gear that was in the back of my truck, and you said something like, “I have something similar to that at home.”

    When you finally make the move to Florida, I think we should have an annual Chiefio’s Blog Fishing Tournament and Dodgy Proceedings. followed by a Chiefio’s Blog Fish Fry and Dodgy Proceedings. Freshwater, Surf, Inshore, or Offshore TBD. 😜👍😁😎

  6. E.M.Smith says:

    My Florida Friend is busy getting his official sailing certification and intends to buy a significant sized sail boat. At which time I intend to spend a fairly large amount of time on it with a line in the water ;-)

    I’ve fished the Pacific (somewhere is a nice photo of me holding one very large salmon hanging by the jaw from each hand..) and really like Pacific ocean fish… I’ve fished a LOT of California (mostly in the past when we had a lot more fish to catch) and love the taste of our trout, blue gill, crappie, bass, and yes, catfish.

    In Florida, for about 1.5 years, I lived in an RV Park on a lake. I’d fish it often, but mostly caught very small stuff. A “local” would regularly catch some really big thing that he said was marginally inedible. Gar? Long skinny thing with lots of teeth… and tiny bones in the meat. He asserted that was the reason not much in the way of large bluegill, perch, etc. were on offer.

    I went out on the Gulf Side on a boat ( about 28 foot?) with Florida Friend and his Brother-in-law and caught a couple of things. B.I.L. looked at me like I was crazy when I said I liked the taste of Catfish (as I was thinking California cold water cats). Later I discovered the warm water Florida Catfish taste of algae and mud and are lousy on the plate. They also have an armored head that seems to extend 1/2 their body length so not much meat on them anyway.

    There was some other fish I caught that was quasi-bass like whose name I forget, but it tasted OK not great. Some salt water thing that was questionable as to being over or under limit size…

    Overall, as I’m much more interested in eating fish than in fighting them until we are both tired and then sending them home to recover: I was disappointed in Florida fish.

    I am really looking forward to trying salt water fishing on the Atlantic Side and maybe down in the keys, and would love to find out there’s something worth eating on the Gulf side or in the fresh water ashore… but fear that the warm water and algae make it all taste a bit like crap inland and in the gulf… or that I need to go 20 miles off shore for anything good…

    What gear have I got? I don’t know. Really. Maybe 20 fishing poles of various kinds? A few salt water, a bunch of fresh water, some fairly large number of small portable and packable things. I think my fly fishing rod / reel gave up the ghost some decades back (due to lack of use and hot summers in the garage…). I have a couple of tackle boxes and packs. My usual travel kit is a couple of collapsible rods and a tackle small backpack. I’ve got one light rod that’s something like 12 feet all assembled for getting over cattail reeds ;-)

    So yeah, I’m up for fishing Florida, but especially so with someone who knows the local fish and how to catch something worth the effort to cook…

    Oh, and in California / Oregon the Ling Cod and Cabezon are a delight on the plate. The Cabezon have a turquoise mouth and flesh (but it turns white on cooking). The result of a diving / spear fishing expedition into water of about 39 F about 45 years ago when I was willing to get into water that cold ;-) Hey, if they won’t get on the hook, you can always jump in and just shoot them! Though I understand that in Florida what with Salt Water Crocks and Alligators that is discouraged…

    One of the best fishes I ever ate ;-) But ugly…

  7. cdquarles says:

    The blizzard of ’93 happened here during the same week, mostly on the 13th. More usual here, for this week in March is 70s and 80s for highs before late winter/early spring “normals” return. So, we are preparing for large hail, damaging winds and possible tornadoes this afternoon and tonight. After this wave passes through, back to the cold. Ugh. This weather reminds me of 1974, where we had repeated “polar vortex” pulses into late May, where we had one overnight low of 34, the week before Memorial Day. We are more likely to get accumulating snow in March than December, where that is most likely January and February.

    Re fishing … now is a good time for catfishing and crappie/sunfish, locally. I’ve done my share of fishing, but not so much now in my old age.

  8. cdquarles says:

    Oh, yeah, alligator gar. Local lake has some in it. Some folk do eat them. If you do fish the Gulf, I recommend fishing the northern Gulf, off Pensacola, FL or Mobile, AL, or Gulfport, MS, and even over toward Houston, TX. Do go a few miles off shore. My brother-in-law routinely took my sister and the rest of her family out from Dauphin Island.

  9. jim2 says:

    One Gulf fish worth eating is flounder. Preferably battered and fried.

  10. E.M.Smith says:


    So you are saying to find a drunken flounder, indulge in fisticuffs with it, and then it is best?

    English is an odd language at times ;-)

    Nice to know there are flounder about. I like flounder, but always thought of them as cold water fish.


    Yeah, that was it… Alligator gar.

    So you are saying that more north in the Gulf and in cooler winter season the “stuff” that makes the fish taste bad is lessened / gone? OK, I’m up for that.

    Oddly, I find it easier to sit still for a few hours waiting for a bite now as I’m older than when I was a kid…

    OTOH, we’d often go “Beer Fishing” where we always caught our limit ;-)

    (A man sitting around drinking beer is a bum to be run out of the park. A man sitting around with a fishing pole and line in the water, drinking beer, is a Noble Fisherman. Bait and hook optional…)


    BTW, the trip to Oregon for the Cabezon Hunt was the same trip where I was caught in a Blizzard on the way back. I’ve told the story of night in the car by the I-5 freeway near Shasta, then getting it free and stopping in Weed for a cup of coffee… and getting odd looks as I entered wearing a parka over my wet suit… The thing that kept me warm enough all night was that I had my 1/4 inch wet suit along with the coat…

    Note that I did not wear the fins into the restaurant. Just boots. No flip-flap-flip-flap-flip-flap… I did have the head covering on though… Nobody said anything but I did get a couple of odd looks ;-)

    Yes, I went to Oregon, in the winter, with a blizzard on the way, to jump into the ocean in pursuit of fish… We camped at a beach park near Coos Bay and went diving the next morning. I think we were good for about 35 to 45 minutes and were running low on air about the same time that the lips were getting significantly blue and I was coveting the notion of a “Dry Suit” as every time I moved my arms a lot a big shot of cold would find an edge of my wet suit…

    OTOH, extremely fresh Ling Cod over a camp fire on the beach after a day in the ocean was just an amazing experience… Don’t know which I liked more, the fire or the fish ;-)

  11. jim2 says:

    How to Catch Flounder in the Gulf of Mexico

    Use advanced tactics to score big on Gulf of Mexico flounder.
    By Robert Sloan
    Updated: August 8, 2019

    Flounder are some of the most quirky fish on Earth. Jigs catch more flounder than any other lure — that’s a fact. But live baits, like shrimp, mud minnows and finger mullet, catch them as well. And small crankbaits fished along bottom prove deadly. It’s all about being in the right place on the right tide.

  12. p.g.sharrow says:

    I remember years ago, spring 1960 my parents rented the “Sheep Ranch” for the weekend, It once really was a sheep ranch. and a storm blew through. The headlands shook with the thunder of the surf that night. Next morning the seas calmed, father went fishing and I went exploring the tide pools in the low tide. I found a couple of nice Abalone and father caught a nice big Cabezon. We had fresh fish ! Abalone for breakfast with eggs and roasted over a camp fire Cabezon for dinner. Wasn’t all that cold that week but we start the week before camped on the Mohave with snow in the Joshua trees, followed with snow and rain in Death Valley, followed with Trout fishing in the Walker River where we had to keep knocking the ice out of the rod furrels before casting out the line.

  13. philjourdan says:

    Inuit is highly agglutinative so their bits are firmly glued to each other into “one word”.

    So Inuit is like German?

  14. philjourdan says:

    @EMS – Re: Catfish – I heard the same thing about Catfish (bleck!), but then caught and ate some and really liked them! But the ones I have caught and ate are from freshwater, not salt, ANd not from FLA. SO I suspect that is the reason., The first Cat I ate was CA Freshwater and it was good!

    As for Gar? Learn to pick the bones! That is still mighty fine eating! The worst tasting fish (as in no taste)? CA Trout. Went Trout fishing and caught some rainbow. They had no taste. Never went trout fishing again.

    NOt crazy about CA seafood in any event. My BIL took us to the “best seafood place on the west coast” (in Santa Barbara). Most tasteless seafood I have ever et! I prefer the Gulf or Chesapeake Bay Seafood. Much more flavor. The best crab in the world (and that includes Alaskan King) is Chesapeake Blue Crab! The problem? You got to pick it. But I can pick them clean!

    I love to fish. But I go for Spot and Croaker when they are running. Bony fish, but the best flavor!!!

  15. philjourdan says:

    @Jim2 – Flounder is found all over the world. My grandfather use to take me fishing on the outer banks of NC for flounder. But I caught one in the Chesapeake bay. ANd of course on the west side of the nation they are called Halibut. But my Grandfather loved them. Me? They are ok., But I have other fish more flavorful.

  16. E.M.Smith says:

    Um flounder and halibut are both flat fishes, but different species. All Halibut are Flounders but not all Flounders are Halibut… and there’s a halibut on both sides of the country:

    Species of the genus Hippoglossus
    Atlantic halibut, Hippoglossus hippoglossus – lives in the North Atlantic
    Pacific halibut, Hippoglossus stenolepis – lives in the North Pacific Ocean

    Hippoglossus is a genus of very large righteye flounders with one species native to the north Atlantic Ocean and one to the north Pacific Ocean.

    Kingdom: Animalia
    Phylum: Chordata
    Class: Actinopterygii
    Order: Pleuronectiformes
    Family: Pleuronectidae

    Subfamily: Pleuronectinae
    Genus: Hippoglossus
    G. Cuvier, 1816

    Flounder can be right or left eyed.

    The name “flounder” is used for several only distantly related species, though all are in the suborder Pleuronectoidei (families Achiropsettidae, Bothidae, Pleuronectidae, Paralichthyidae, and Samaridae). Some of the better known species that are important in fisheries are:

    Western Atlantic
    Gulf flounder – Paralichthys albigutta
    Southern flounder – Paralichthys lethostigma
    Summer flounder (also known as fluke) – Paralichthys dentatus
    Winter flounder – Pseudopleuronectes americanus
    European waters
    European flounder – Platichthys flesus
    Witch flounder – Glyptocephalus cynoglossus
    North Pacific
    Halibut – Hippoglossus stenolepis

    Olive flounder – Paralichthys olivaceus

    But if you think you are done at Flounder… well, there’s another division of flatfishes about that…

    A flatfish is a member of the ray-finned demersal fish order Pleuronectiformes, also called the Heterosomata, sometimes classified as a suborder of Perciformes. In many species, both eyes lie on one side of the head, one or the other migrating through or around the head during development. Some species face their left sides upward, some face their right sides upward, and others face either side upward.

    Many important food fish are in this order, including the flounders, soles, turbot, plaice, and halibut.

    In our restaurant we had fillet of sole and halibut steaks on the menu. Very different sized fishes. I’ve had turbot and it’s good, but never had plaice. I’ve had several kinds of flounder, but don’t know just which ones…

    Not met a flat fish yet I didn’t like to eat… but I’m willing to keep trying till I do! ;-)

    But you’re not done just at turbot and plaice:

    Species and species groups

    I’ve had “sand dabs” and don’t know what makes them different from a plain Dab. Per their wiki’s the Dab is from near England and the Sanddab the Americas, so there’s that. No idea what a Megrim or Tounguefish might be… or a Brill for that matter. Though the wiki says brill are a kind of Turbot

    Megrim it says are from the North East Atlantic and Mediterranean which explains why I’ve not eaten them (yet ;-) while Tounguefish are from tropical and subtropical waters which again explains why I’ve not had them from the cold north Pacific…

    So many fish, so few plates and so little time…

  17. Tom says:

    Are the number of volcanic eruptions actually up; or, is the reporting of eruptions more comprehensive? More cooling from increased sulphur aerosols or less UV energy from a quiet sun, would support more snow upon the mountain.

  18. E.M.Smith says:


    I don’t have hard facts that they are up, but they do seem to be up compared to prior years.

    In the 50’s and early ’60s there were lots of volcanic islands erupted. So many so it became a theme of books and shows. In the ’70s to ’80s these dropped off a lot. So much so that when we did a honeymoon in Hawaii I was unable to see a lava flow despite having waited decades for the chance and watching the Big Island erupt constantly for decades. Then, just about 10? years back, maybe 20… the Big Island got active again. Lava has now consumed the volcano center / museum we visited while looking at a bunch of cold rocks on our honeymoon…

    So there IS cyclicallity and I’ve personally seen it in Hawaii. But was it enough to mean much?

    Also note that during the Little Ice Age there were more volcanoes of merit that popped off. Even up to “1800 and froze to death” the “year without a summer” of 1816.

    What isn’t known also is, does the volcanic cycle cause the weather shifts, or are both caused by some other agent?

    In particular, solar changes change cosmic ray rates. The cosmic ray rates seem to shift the rate of atomic decay, which would shift the rate of magma heating and thus eruptions. This isn’t proven either, but it does provide a plausible mechanism for the historical modulation of volcanic activity to increase in cold times (note that many of the increased eruptions come AFTER it is already cooling a lot…)

    So which way causality runs is also an unknown, but there is a path that runs from the sun to both volcanoes and weather.

  19. philjourdan says:

    @EMS – and bluegill are different from sunfish, but both are crappies. To a fisherman, it is not the genus, species and subspecies. It is the fight of the fish, and the taste. Halibut and Flounder taste similar and give the same fight. That is all that matters.

    Not everything is about science. Some is just about sport.

  20. E.M.Smith says:


    Um, ALL are sunfish, but crappies are not bluegill are not perch are not…

    Crappies (/ˈkrɒpi, ˈkræpi/)[3][4] are a genus, Pomoxis, of North American freshwater fish in the sunfish family Centrarchidae. Both species in this genus are popular pan fish.

    Yes, I know, regional variations in the language. When I was growing up they were all called “perch” even though we have no true perch in Northern California. Just a dazzling variety of sunfish. Never saw a Crappie until I was in my teens ( I think they are introduced here) and wondered what it was when I saw it. VERY different look to the beast.

    OTOH, they are all “Centrarchidae” / sunfish and all taste about the same. They are all closely related to Bass and that’s enough for my plate…

    I suppose “Back East” where true perch and Crappie are native it’s easier to forget that Sunfish is the whole group and includes the native fishes of those of us in places not blessed with true perch or native crappies…

    The Sacramento perch (Archoplites interruptus) is an endangered sunfish (family Centrarchidae) native to the Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta, Pajaro, and Salinas River areas in California, but widely introduced throughout the western United States.

    The Sacramento perch’s native habitat is in sluggish, heavily vegetated, waters of sloughs and lakes. It can reach a maximum overall length of 61 cm (24 in) and a maximum weight of 3.6 kg (7.9 lb), and it has been reported to live as long as six years. Its adaptability to different habitats is high, and it can survive on a wide variety of food sources. As young perch, they consume mainly small crustaceans and eventually move on to insect larvae and then smaller fish as adults.

    Yeah, I like the Sacramento Perch (that isn’t a perch…) ;-)

    Most authorities recognize three species within the perch genus:

    The European perch (P. fluviatilis) is found in Europe and Asia. This species is typically greenish in color with dark vertical bars on its sides with a red or orange coloring in the tips of its fins. The European perch has been successfully introduced in New Zealand and Australia, where it is known as the redfin perch or English perch. In Australia, larger specimens have been bred, but the species rarely grows heavier than 2.7 kg (6 lb).

    The Balkhash perch (P. schrenkii) is found in Kazakhstan, (in Lake Balkhash and Lake Alakol), Uzbekistan, and China. It is very similar to the European perch, and grows to a comparable size.

    The yellow perch (P. flavescens), smaller and paler than the European perch, is found in North America. In northern areas, it is sometimes referred to as the lake perch. This species is prized for its food quality and has often been raised in hatcheries and introduced into areas in which it is not native. Yellow perch are almost identical in appearance to European perch, but have a more yellow coloring. These fish typically only reach a size of about 38 cm (15 in) and 1 kg (2 lb 3 oz).

    Just sayin’… I’d rather have a Sacramento than a Yellow ;-) (Perch or not…)

    We also have ‘Red Ear Sunfish” and a few other kinds of all sorts. No, I don’t know their proper species names, just ate ’em too fast ;-) Folks call them, more or less interchangeably, perch, sunfish, and panfish out here. BUT, Crappie are clearly different (lighter grey and much more speckled) and are called Crappie here.

    Things are likely reversed where you have lots of Crappie and not so many Sacramento Perch or Red Ear Sunfish…

    One of my gripes about the California Regulations is that they are VERY specific about particular sunfish when the waters are full of things of indeterminate type (often hybrids…) and if you get it wrong, you get whacked hard…

    Oh, and don’t get me started on “Surf Perch”…

  21. H.R. says:

    @E.M. – When you move to Florida, the fish you want to catch for the table is Cobia.

    If you ever see it on a menu (rare) order it. Opportunities a few and far between.

    It’s a bit of a dinosaur in the fish world. They can get fairly large. They like warm water, so when I’ve been in Florida in Winter, they are further South and not around.

  22. E.M.Smith says:


    From the wiki on it:

    The cobia makes seasonal migrations. It winters in the Gulf of Mexico, then moves north as far as Massachusetts for the summer, passing Florida around March.

    I think you left Florida a bit too soon ;-)

    So next year, fish the Gulf in Jan / Feb then Florida in March and SLOWLY work your way up the coast to the desired latitude…

    I think I see an RV and seasonal migration along the coast in my future ;-)

  23. H.R. says:

    I just checked, and they aren’t where I usually fish. It’s a long way over to where they hang out in Winter in the Tampa Bay area.

    Here’s a brief outline on Cobia fishing n the Tampa Bay area and it mentions where they hang out in Winter. I don’t go to that area because it’s too much driving time and not enough fishing time left over.

    In the Spring, they start cruising the flats where I can nip down and fish.

  24. The True Nolan says:

    @E.M. “Um flounder and halibut are both flat fishes, but different species.”

    My wife and I once saw a pod of porpoises playing Frisbee. Seriously, one would stick his head up in the air and fling something out of his mouth, which would then go sailing over to another porpoise. They didn’t catch the thing, but would dive down and come right back up with it in their mouth, and then fling it to another member of the pod. This went on for several minutes before the object landed close enough for us to identify. They were playing Frisbee with a flounder.

  25. Compu Gator says:

    Our Esteemed leader has been, ummm, snookered by risking the Perils of Wikipedia, instead of applying local knowledge.

    There are perfectly legitimate “halibut” swimming or lying in wait in the N.E. Pacific Ocean that are not members of the allegedly exclusive “halibut” genus Hippoglossus. Indeed, consulting Wikipedia reveals a major qualification [♢]:

    Halibut are dark brown on the top side with an off-white underbelly and have very small scales invisible to the naked eye embedded in their skin. [Wkp. 8]

    Well, well, well!  So does the California halibut, Paralichthys californicus. Never mind the inexplicably dismissive claim by Wikipedia [×]:

    Other species sometimes called “halibut”
    • Family Paralichthyidae
        • California flounder, Paralichthys californicussometimes called “California halibut

    “Sometimes”!?  Who in hey-ell is it who ever calls one a “flounder“?  Why might any reader care what I  think?  Ummm, for roughly a decade late in the 20th Century, I was very active with a regional organization of California divers, whose members included many enthusiastic spearfishers. I even have a halibut catch to my credit, and in one of the more challenging ways at that: Spearfishing over sand flats in Monterey Bay [⍦]. I never nevvvah!  heard that very popular fish referred to as a mere “flounder”. 

    The California Dept. of Fish & Game consistently refers to the species as a “halibut” [♓] [♡], not as a “flounder”.

    Paralichthys californicus is almost certainly what you were receiving, fresh from suppliers in S.F. or Monterey, for your Central Valley family restaurant’s “halibut” menu item, satisfying especially the customers who want “fish that doesn’t taste like fish”.  Records of commercial halibut landings in California, as reported regionally from S.F., Monterey, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, and San Diego, go back to 1930 [⚓].

    Note ♢ : §2:

    Wkp. note 8: “Pacific Halibut (Hippoglossus stenolepis)”.  Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game: (retrieved 19 August 2012).

    Note × : §6:

    Note ⍦ : Plenty legal at 39 in. (1 m.) length, but inches short of the largest of our private group. I don’t recall the weight, altho’ I can’t imagine that we would’ve dispersed without using scales somewhere, and logging the answers.

    Note ♓ : Notably p. 199,241 in Daniel J. Miller & Robert N. Lea (1972) 1976: Guide to the Coastal Marine Fishes of California; Reprint of 1972 Guide plus 1976 Addendum. Fish Bull. 157. Cal. Dept. of Fish and Game in collaboration with U.C. Sea Grant. U.C. Div. of Agricultural Sciences ‘sale publication’ 4065, 235+12 pp. An example for the young-uns that in Fisheries Science, such nearly half-century old publications still matter.

    Note ♡ : Charles W. Haugen (ed.) 1990: The California Halibut, Paralichthys californicus, Resource and Fisheries. Fish Bull. 174. Cal. Dept. of Fish and Game (presumably in collaboration with U.C. Sea Grant). Scripps Digital Collection, U.C. San Diego Library: I suspect, seeing the URL, that this would be U.C. Div. of Agricultural Sciences ‘sale publication’ 4867.

    Note ⚓ : Kristine C. Barsky 1990: “History of the Commercial California Halibut Fishery”: P. 217–227 (228 blank) (esp. App. I, 224–225, App. II, 226–227) in Haugen 1990 [♡].

  26. philjourdan says:


    Different areas, different names. Our “Sun Fish” are also called pumpkin seeds. But bluegill, rockbass, and pumpkin seeds are called crappies. Why? Because they never put up a fight are usually too small to keep.


  27. philjourdan says:

    @HR – Re: Cobia – Thanks for the recommendation! I have to go down there one more time, but will make a point to see if I can find a place that serves it (although my sister who is down there and who I will be visiting hates fish! – so I hope they have a good steak as well).

  28. philjourdan says:

    @CompuGator – I do not go by Wiki-pedilies for the most part. I go by what the mates and captains of the charters say. They are not scientists, not the most knowledgeable. But they know fish.

    So If I claim Halibut is the APAC name for flounder, it is because that is what they taught me.

    Cancel me for trusting old salts.

    In the end, I trust taste buds.

  29. H.R. says:

    @philj – The only place I have ever seen cobia on the menu, and of course I ordered it, was “Harry’s Old Place” in Winter Haven, Florida.

    BTW, I could also get Monkfish there, another favorite fish. Monkfish is also called, “The poor man’s lobster” and that’s a good description of it. Heavenly stuff when it’s broiled in butter. You’d think you got a 12 oz slab of lobster tail.

    Harry’s opens at 5:00 pm and there are no reservations. The line to get in starts forming at about 4:30 pm. It is the best seafood restaurant I have ever walked into.

    We went there 3 times and I ordered Cobia twice and Monkfish once.

    Oh, and the prices at Harry’s are nutso…. nutso cheap** that is. They’re $5 to $10 or even way further less than the high end seafood restaurants, and they know what they are doing there.

    If you want superior seafood cooked to perfection, go to Harry’s Old Place. If you want high prices, white linen tablecloths, heavy silverware, and squirts and swirls and dabs of green or orange this or that sauce with sprigs of who-knows-what popular weed for garnish on tiny squares of fish and at stratospheric prices, go somewhere else.

    **Most seafood dishes were $16 to about $21 when we were there in 2018. My Cobia dinner was $19 and IIRC, the monkfish was $20. I suppose they are a few dollars higher now, but still none of that $30 or $40 dollar (or more!) crap.

  30. E.M.Smith says:


    No, not “snookered” by the Wiki. There’s been “dispute” since the beginning:

    Paralichthys californicus (Ayres, 1859)
    Taxonomic Serial No.: 172743

    (Download Help) Paralichthys californicus TSN 172743
    Taxonomy and Nomenclature

    Kingdom: Animalia
    Taxonomic Rank: Species
    Synonym(s): Hippoglossus californicus Ayres, 1859

    Pleuronectes maculosus Girard, 1854

    So Girard in 1854 called it a Pleuronectes while Ayres 5 years later called it a Hippoglossus. As a Hippoglossus it would be a Halibut, but the current name is the original Pleuronectes. So clearly a flounder, but IF you subscribe to Ayres, also a halibut.

    As to what common names are applied to fishes:

    There are so many, and often in conflict, and if you get the “wrong fish” because you were off by ONE SPINE in the dorsal fin you can be in big trouble with Fish & Game. Part of why my fishing has reduced markedly in California. (The other being you must put your PAPER licences glued to your upper body where it can be seen from a distance and that means water+paper = bad idea AND you look stupid… Another being the high price these days… Another being the low catch rates… Another being that I don’t want to spend 20 minutes with the Guide Book trying to figure out if the fish I caught is legal or not on that 100 ft stretch of river – yes, some places have rules by the foot of river…) So, for example, Delta Smelt have slightly different spine counts than Japanese Smelt (introduced by Fish & Game back when they thought they were the same).

    You want to catch a minnow and use it for bait? Better be able to tell the two apart with greater skill than the 1950s fish biologists who introduced the Japanese Smelt and caused the destruction by out-competing and hybridization of the Delta Smelt (no, it has nothing to do with fresh water and shipping our rivers out to sea is NOT going to save the Delta Smelt).

    But back to the present:

     Taxonomic Hierarchy
     	Kingdom	Animalia  – Animal, animaux, animals	 
     	   Subkingdom	Bilateria 	 
     	      Infrakingdom	Deuterostomia 	 
     	         Phylum	Chordata  – cordés, cordado, chordates	 
     	            Subphylum	Vertebrata  – vertebrado, vertébrés, vertebrates	 
     	               Infraphylum	Gnathostomata 	 
     	                  Superclass	Actinopterygii  – ray-finned fishes, spiny rayed fishes, poisson épineux, poissons à nageoires rayonnées	 
     	                     Class	Teleostei 	 
     	                        Superorder	Acanthopterygii 	 
     	                           Order	Pleuronectiformes  – flatfishes, flounders, soles, limandes, plies, poissons plats	 
     	                              Suborder	Pleuronectoidei 	 
     	                                 Family	Paralichthyidae  – flétans de sable, lenguados areneros, sand flounders, lefteye flounders	 
     	                                    Genus	Paralichthys Girard, 1858 – Summer flounders, southern flounders	 
     	                                       Species	Paralichthys californicus (Ayres, 1859) – California halibut, lenguado californiano, California Halibut

    So “common name” is California Halibut, but the accepted species name is Paralichthys.

    And “Summer Flounder” was affixed by Girard who also affixed Paralichthys. Ayres also identified the fish in 1859, but his assignment of hippoglossus did not stick.

    Background Information
    The White House Subcommittee on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics has identified systematics as a research priority that is fundamental to ecosystem management and biodiversity conservation. This primary need identified by the Subcommittee requires improvements in the organization of, and access to, standardized nomenclature. ITIS (originally referred to as the Interagency Taxonomic Information System) was designed to fulfill these requirements. In the future, the ITIS will provide taxonomic data and a directory of taxonomic expertise that will support the system.

    The ITIS is the result of a partnership of federal agencies formed to satisfy their mutual needs for scientifically credible taxonomic information. Since its inception, ITIS has gained valuable new partners and undergone a name change; ITIS now stands for the Integrated Taxonomic Information System.

    The goal is to create an easily accessible database with reliable information on species names and their hierarchical classification.
    The database will be reviewed periodically to ensure high quality with valid classifications, revisions, and additions of newly described species. The ITIS includes documented taxonomic information of flora and fauna from both aquatic and terrestrial habitats.

    The original ITIS partners include:

    Department of Commerce
    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
    Department of Interior (DOI)
    Geological Survey (USGS)
    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
    Department of Agriculture (USDA)
    Agriculture Research Service (ARS)
    Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)
    Smithsonian Institution
    National Museum of Natural History (NMNH)

    Yes, it is an “appeal to authority”, but in taxonomy that’s really all you’ve got. Dueling “experts”.

    FWIW, in many species there are strong disagreements about just what species (and sometimes genus and more…) a given animal or plant belongs to. Cladistics started reordering everything back in the ’80s and is largely why I didn’t become a botanist. I was interviewing a Grad Student in the Botany department to see what interested me… he was enthusiastic about how this new thing ‘cladistics’ was going to change all the names. What I heard was “You will spend 3 years memorizing thousands of Latin Linnaeus name and then need to replace all that with new and different ones”. He was enthusiastic about the opportunity to make the name changes and have some kind of power / recognition / fame / ‘contribution’ where I just looked at the waste of 3 years of my life learning names that were “going away”.

    That’s why Gramineae (all the grains) is now Poaceae, Leguminosae is now Fabaceae renaming all the beans and pulses and many many more.

    So, as a result, not only have a large number of the historical “scientific names” of just about everything changed, but so have the assignment of species to type categories. Birds (Aves) are now part of Dinosauria.

    Why does this matter to fishes?

    Because the Common Names are usually pre-cladistics and often assign things to the “wrong” clade. Common names tell you what fish are called, not what they are.

    Here’s an example of what’s happening now (note that ‘homoplasties” is same ‘shape’ in different critters from similar evolutionary pressure – why 6 entirely different animal lines evolved into “crabs” but only one is “true crabs”.):

    Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution
    Volume 125, August 2018, Pages 147-162
    Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution
    Revised classification of the righteye flounders
    (Teleostei: Pleuronectidae) based on multilocus phylogeny with complete taxon sampling
    Author links open overlay panelKirill A.VinnikovabRobert C.ThomsonaThomas A.Munroec

    • The first complete molecular phylogeny is proposed for the family Pleuronectidae.

    • New classification of the family Pleuronectidae is based on molecular evidence.

    • Several diagnostic morphological characters are proposed for pleuronectid taxa.

    • Previous morphology-based phylogeny of Pleuronectidae includes many homoplasies.

    • Molecular phylogeny provides evidence for a new species in the genus Platichthys.

    Members of the family Pleuronectidae are common representatives of the marine benthic fauna inhabiting northern regions of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. The most recent comprehensive classification of the family, based entirely on morphological synapomorphies, recognized five subfamilies, 23 genera, and 61 extant species. However, several subsequent molecular studies have shown that many synapomorphic characters discovered in the morphological study might represent homoplasies, thereby questioning the reliance on these characters with the warning that they may provide misleading information for testing other morphology-based evolutionary hypotheses. In the present study, we propose a comprehensive taxonomic reassessment of the family Pleuronectidae based on the molecular phylogeny reconstructed from four nuclear and three mitochondrial loci and represented by complete taxon sampling of all but one valid species currently assigned to this family. To check for robustness of the phylogenetic hypothesis, we analyzed the effect of base compositional heterogeneity on phylogenetic signal for each locus and compared six different gene partitioning schemes.

    So until the Paralichthys californicus is run through a DNA / Cladistics study, it stands on the last assignment as a Flounder. It is possible it could end up as a Halibut, but that assignment was NOT adopted when proposed by Ayers, so does not stand. Regardless of what people CALL it. After all, “Alaskan Crab Legs” are not from a true crab…

    Also note that genetic testing of imported fish stocks for market have shown wildly incorrect “common names” assigned to fish. Some as wrong (and likely fraudulent) as calling Shark a valuable non-shark fish. Others as innocuous as having Rock Fish misidentified as to particular species (with different quota…) and some just a bit dumb like calling a Rock Fish a Bass.

    So either the fishermen are horrible crooks, or they are not that good at taxonomy…

    BTW, I’m one of them. I’m pretty sure the thing I loved eating in Florida was an undersized something else… I caught it, said “It looks like a FOO to me” and kept it. At home, with The Book and more inspection time, I thought it was a BAR and about an inch under regulation… So I’m no more critical of other fishermen than of myself.

    So in the middle of that kind of absolute naming MESS, the Wiki is no more wrong than anyone else. I will QUOTE the wiki as it is free of copyright claims, but usually do validate it against some other sources too.

    Oh, and in the folks restaurant:

    We were in a farm town a long ways from the ocean. This was in the ’60s and hauling fish fresh from Monterrey to there was not common. Plus, we didn’t sell that much fish (except on Friday to the Catholics – when we’d have a ‘Fish Special’ with fresh fish). The Halibut was on the menu as a “stocking item” that could be ordered at any time. SO….

    These were FROZEN halibut steaks. IIRC they were Atlantic Halibut on the box. At that time (and sometimes even now), frozen fish is better in flavor than “fresh” fish as the sellers idea of “fresh” is usually “a day or two ago” where frozen is often frozen at sea in minutes after the catch. OTOH, it’s a 55 year old memory of something I wasn’t really interested in… so could be wrong. (I did stock room / putting away… saw LOTS of boxes…some of it stuck…)

    To the best of my knowledge we didn’t have any Pacific Halibut or Flounder on the menu as they didn’t have local freezing facilities for it. We did have local fish of some other kinds. Salmon, trout, and others. We’d even cook local catfish for folks who caught them and wanted to eat theirs. We also did that for pheasants. Folks who came up from “the city” to hunt pheasant could present their bird at lunch time. I’d take it out the back to the chicken processor one block over who’d pluck and dress it, then we’d cook it for them for their dinner “for the same price as a fried chicken dinner”. The added cost of the processing offset by not needing to buy a chicken ;-)

    I remember a Friday Special of “Fillet of Sole” that I’m pretty sure was local source / fresh. Shipped in from the coast for Friday. Also Salmon in season (the local run went up a river 5 miles away). Then some other fish that I don’t remember exactly. Some white thing… And we had frozen “Fish Sticks” that kids seemed to like, and a frozen “breaded fish patty”. The Halibut was about 2 x the price of the other fish, so didn’t move that fast. But was there for the folks who wanted it. I liked it, but liked the Salmon Steaks better ;-)

  31. YMMV says:

    @E.M.Smith, I read that and chuckle, “the science is settled”. Again. Ha!

  32. E.M.Smith says:


    Yeah. That was my first introduction to Unsettling Science… My High School Teacher had extolled the virtue of “Scientific Names” as “They NEVER change” and are always accurate while “common names” are highly variable and entirely unreliable… Then I went off to college and ran into the fact that Cladistics was going to throw all scientific names into turmoil AND the “scientists” liked that idea as it gave them so much opportunity to publish…

    It was at that moment I realized that “Practical Science” as done in universities was about looking for opportunities to be a “Pot Stirrer” not ways to build stable understanding.

    IMHO, much of the chaos we’ve seen in various “Scientific” areas is a direct result of the strong desire to Pot Stir for tenure, publishing, or promotion.

    Otherwise, why gratuitously change the name of Gramineae? They could have just left it alone and noted the members in it that moved around. But Nooo…. had to show they had POWER and change it… to get the “glory” of it all…

    Drastically reduced my prior admiration for “Scientists”…

  33. Compu Gator says:

    (Chiefio: When you get an opportunity, please delete all of my posting dated “20 March 2021 at 11:00 pm” GMT; I unintentionally combined 2 postings.)

    I was puzzled by the previously quoted description of cobia as “passing Florida” could possibly mean: The alleged “migration” requires starting in the Gulf of Mexico, and then to reach the Atlantic and swim north, rounding a major peninsula that’s 400 miles long [*]. So I decided to check Wikipedia‘s sources for that claim. What I found was more Perils of Wikipedia [×]:

    The cobia makes seasonal migrations. It winters in the Gulf of Mexico, then moves north as far as Massachusetts for the summer, passing Florida around March.[Wkp. 9]

    Where Wkp. 9 contains (in full) only:

    9.^ Reader Report: Cape Cod Cobia []. (July 20, 2015)

    This sole citation for §6: “Migration” says nothing about “Migration”,  nor Florida, nor the Gulf of Mexico. All it attests to is that as of July 20, 2015, a reader of , identified as Mass.-based Don Schwinn, unexpectedly had caught 1 cobia at a “Horseshoe Shoal” earlier in July.

    It’s very weak as sources go, and the whole section that’s based on it should be summarily deleted.

    Note * : Peninsula length to 1 significant figure as measured from a map printed in a atlas. Measurement by ruler from northernmost point that seemed to provide a symmetrical peninsula: Where the westernmost St. Mary’s River border with Georgia intersects the mildly diagonal not-quite-200-mi. straight-line border with Georgia.

    Note × :

  34. philjourdan says:

    After reading EMS’ explanation, I am going to stick with the old salts’ naming conventions. It may not be scientifically accurate, but from the looks of it, neither are the scientific names!

  35. YMMV says:

    Most (?) people who are not scientists do not understand this, but “The Science” is not science, it is dogma. Science is a discovery procedure for the new stuff AND a rout-out-the-bad procedure for the old stuff. Yes, that leads to “the strong desire to Pot Stir for tenure, publishing, or promotion.” Which is an unfortunate side effect of a good thing. Scientists were better before they learned to be press agents for themselves. “The Science” is dogma, at least if you do not rout out the bad.

    Innocent example: starfish. It’s not a fish. And stars are not shaped like that either. Big deal.

    Guilty example: Social Darwinism. “The Science” was eagerly adopted by the Nazis and others. The Nazis tried to prove it, thereby giving themselves a Darwin Award. But MANY others bought into it too. Eugenics has been mostly swept from the history books, but it was a big thing everywhere, even on this side of the pond.

    Quaint example. In Shakespeare’s time it is alleged that people believed that the heart was the seat of emotion. Anger: liver and gallbladder, spleen: thoughtfulness, lungs: sadness, kidneys: fear. Black bile, yellow bile, phlegm, and blood.

    We still talk about blood when we mean DNA when we say race.

    We used to go to school to learn more modern ways of thinking. That was before schools became woke-factories.

  36. E.M.Smith says:

    Per Cobia migration: They DO migrate and it does involve moving away from / back to; and to some extent around Florida. And yes, one guy catching one fish is enough to establish a range for the migration.

    Where They Live

    In U.S. waters, cobia are most abundant from Virginia south through the Gulf of Mexico.
    Cobia migrate seasonally in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico.
    Along the Atlantic coast, they move south and offshore toward warmer waters during the late fall and winter.
    Cobia found in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico during the summer move to south Florida waters in the winter, possibly spending the winter near the Florida Keys.

    So two major populations. One more north in the Atlantic and migrating to Florida and a bit off shore in winter. The other in the Gulf and migrating from up near Alabama & PanHandle Florida down to the Keys in winter.

    Looks to me like they might have a “meet and greet” near Cuba / Puerto Rico in winter and it would be interesting to look at winter catch data for the Caribbean.

    In both cases the populations “pass Florida”.

    So it looks to me like the Wiki is in fact correct. BUT is not making it clear that there are 2 distinct North / South migrations going on in what are potentially 2 populations (though likely with some mixing south of Florida.

    It looks like they are quite happy in waters from Bahamas to Puerto Rico as farmed fish:

    Cobia is a relative newcomer to the U.S. market, with limited distribution from a handful of aquaculture operations. However, proponents of cobia farming believe it could be the next tilapia, though with more character and upscale appeal. The species is a proven candidate for aquaculture, as it adapts well to a farm environment and reaches market size of around 11 pounds in less than a year. Limited availability from the wild is also sparking interest in aquaculture; cobia are not targeted by commercial fishermen and are landed just as bycatch. In the wild, cobia can reach more than 6 feet and 150 pounds and are a popular gamefish. They are found worldwide in tropical, subtropical and temperate waters, except the eastern Pacific. China is the leading producer of farmed cobia. Farmed production elsewhere is in a developmental stage, but global production is expected to expand in the future. A U.S. freshwater facility in Virginia is marketing farmed cobia, and ocean-cage operations are under way in Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, Vietnam and Central America.
    Global Supply:
    Belize, China, Dominican Republic, Panama, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Taiwan, United States, Vietnam

    I guess the Pacific off California being nearly frigid is just too cold for them…

    Wild Rachycentron canadum can be found nearly everywhere in tropical, subtropical and warm temperature marine waters. In the eastern Atlantic, they occur from Massachusetts and Bermuda to the Rio de la Plata, Argentina (Ditty and Shaw, 1992; Resley and Webb, 2006) with the northern range record being a specimen collected from the Scotian Shelf off Canada (Shaffer and Nakamura, 1989). Cobia range from the Atlantic coast of Morocco to South Africa (Smith and Merriner, 1982). According to FAO (2017), they do not occur in the Mediterranean, but there are reports of cobia in eastern Mediterranean waters (Golani and Ben Tuvia, 1986) and the species can likely be regarded as Lessepsian (McLean et al., 2009). The potential also exists for the migration of cobia into the Mediterranean via the Strait of Gibraltar (Golani et al., 2002). Cobia range throughout the Indian Ocean, and in the western Pacific they are reported from Hokkaido, Japan to Australia (IUCN, 2017; Shaffer and Nakamura, 1989). They are not native in the eastern Pacific (Shaffer and Nakamura, 1989), although escaped fish have recently established a population there (Kwok, 2016; King, 2016).

    Looks to me like they are all over the place except where the water is too cold, and generally do a migration to a place as it warms up and back toward the equator when it gets a bit cold… I can relate to that ;-0

    So I don’t see the Wiki as being horridly wrong here, just a little less than the desired detail…

  37. E.M.Smith says:


    You can call them anything you like. But when you assert what it is, that authority is held by the fish taxonomy experts who decide what is and isn’t in a taxon (that we are free to ignore in normal discourse…).

    As to just how messed up naming is for fish, from that link above:

    Preferred Scientific Name
    Rachycentron canadum (Linnaeus, 1766)

    Preferred Common Name

    Other Scientific Names
    Apolectus niger (Bloch, 1793)
    Centronotus gardenii Lacepède, 1801
    Centronotus spinosus Mitchill, 1815
    Elacate atlantica Cuvier, 1832
    Elacate bivittata Cuvier, 1832
    Elacate canada (Linnaeus, 1766)
    Elacate falcipinnis Gosse, 1851
    Elacate malabarica Cuvier, 1832
    Elacate motta Cuvier, 1829
    Elacate nigra (Bloch, 1793)
    Elacate pondiceriana Cuvier, 1832
    Gasterosteus canadus Linnaeus, 1766
    Meladerma nigerrima Swainson, 1839
    Naucrates niger (Bloch, 1793)
    Rachicentron canadum (Linnaeus, 1766)
    Rachycentrodon canadum (Linnaeus, 1766)
    Rachycentron canadus (Linnaeus, 1766)
    Rachycentron pondicerrianum Jordan, 1905
    Rachycentron typus Kaup, 1826
    Scomber niger Bloch, 1793
    Thynnus canadensis Gronow, 1854

    International Common Names

    English: black king; black king fish; black kingfish; black salmon; butter fish; butterfish; cabio; cod; crab eater; crabeater; cubby yew; kingfish; lemon fish; ling; prodigal son; runner; sergeant fish; sergeantfish

    Spanish: bacalao; bonito; bonito negro; cabio; cobia; cobie; peje palo; pejepalo

    French: cobia; mafou

    Arabic: goada; kumi nu’aakhr; seekel; segel; seheeha; sikel; sikin

    Chinese: jun cáo yú; xí là bái

    Local Common Names
    Brazil: beijo-pirá; beijupirá; beiupirá; bejupirá; bijupirá; biupirá; cação-de-escama; cação-de-escamas; canado; chancarona; parabiju; parambiju; peixe-rei; pirabeju; pirabiju; pirá-biju; pirambiju; pirapiju
    Cape Verde: fogueteiro-galego; peixe-sargento; pirão; sargento
    Colombia: caitay
    Denmark: sergentfisk
    Estonia: seersantkala
    Finland: okakala
    Germany: Cobia; Offiziersbarsch; Offiziersfisch
    Guinea: bonita
    Guinea-Bissau: bacalhau
    India: cuddul-verarl; kadal-viral; madusa; modasa; muddus; neimeen; peddah-mottah; sakala; sakla
    Indonesia: badee; gabus laut; mondoh
    Iran: sookalla
    Japan: sugi
    Jordan: sakan
    Korea, Republic of: nal-sae-gi
    Madagascar: hambe-mvrozo; soa ambina
    Malaysia: aruan tasek; buntut karbo; hai lay; jaman
    Mozambique: bacalhau; ndjika; nzanzuduma
    Namibia: kobia; königsbarsch
    Papua New Guinea: king fish
    Philippines: balisukan; dalag dagat; dalag-dagat; dalag-dalag; gile; hayoan-tasik; itang; kume; langa-langa; langlanga; pako; pandauan; pandawan; sakalan itang; tangiging-batang; tangirion; tase; tasi; tayad; tiruk
    Poland: rachica
    Portugal: filho-pródigo; fogueteiro-galego; peixe-sargento; sargento
    Senegal: todié
    Somalia: takho
    South Africa: kobia
    Sri Lanka: cuddul-verari; cuddul-verarl; kadal-viral; mudhila; mudhilla; mudhu luhula
    Sweden: cobia
    Tanzania: songoro
    Vietnam: cá Bop; cá Giò

    So good luck with that whole “common name” thing… and even what “Scientific Name” (i.e. Latin translation of some feature or common name…) is a dogs breakfast. A nice record of just what fish who didn’t know already existed when he “found” it…

  38. E.M.Smith says:

    That link also has a global range map. Other than cold arctic waters and the cold North Pacific along Canada and Northern USA, looks like it’s pretty much everywhere. The original map is ‘interactive’ so a pita to copy / embed and I had to create this copy to get a usable image:

    So looks to me like you can catch them anywhere on the Eastern and Southern parts of the USA and into the Caribbean on south. Actual best dates likely a function of warm water temperature dates.

    The orange bits of land are a bit odd… Implies it is found in freshwater rivers too.

  39. E.M.Smith says:

    Yeah, I’m on the Cobia “hook”… guess what I want to do next Florida trip ;-)

    Size: Up to 6 feet (150 pounds); common from 10 to 50 pounds

    Cobia are found in nearshore and inshore waters with inlets and bays. Cobia are frequently found around buoys, pilings and wrecks in these areas.

    They spawn in spring and early summer. Feeds on crabs, squid and small fishes.

    I could be happy with a 10 to 20 pound fish ;-)

    So fish around “junk in the water” and it can be inland some ways in bays and estuaries. Got it. Don’t even need to leave the dock…

    Use squid bait or minnows. (Hey, I’m the one who gets to eat the crab ;-)

    Additional Information
    State Record: 130 lb 1 oz, caught near Destin

    Fishing Tips and Facts: Live crabs and small fish are good baits for cobia. Keep bait near the surface or, if cobia are deeper, add just enough weight to get the bait down and still retain its movement. Medium to heavy tackle is required to land these fish which average 30 pounds. Large specimens in the 50-80 pound class are frequently caught and cherished by the lucky angler who outmatches these powerful fish. Cobia are excellent table fare.

    Don’t think I could figure out how to properly land or use a 100+ pounder…

    Wonder if anyone sells small crab as bait?…

    So tell me, how did we migrate from Snow in Mountains to a semi-tropical fish off shore?…

  40. E.M.Smith says:

    Don’t know if these folks really have clue or not.. but interesting suggestions. Especially shrimp as a crab alternative as there’s lots of shrimp bait available:

    Save those eels and crabs for larger fish, or fish that simply won’t eat other baits.

    If the fish is truly picky, a large shrimp will usually do the trick to get a strike.

    A mullet is a great bait for cobia. To get even the pickiest of cobia to eat, try this trick. Take a fresh, lively mullet and pierce its heart cavity with a knife or other sharp instrument, and then throw it out in front of the cobia. On initially hitting the water the mullet will take off like the devil was after it, but will soon slow down due to blood loss. The combination of a struggling fish and blood can usually get even the smartest of cobia to eat.

    Don’t overlook the value of chumming for cobia. A strategically placed chum line, a little farther offshore than most of the boats looking for cobia, will often attract cobia that are swimming too deep for a sight-fishing fleet to target. These fish are almost always hungry and eager to take a bait as well. And sitting in one place burns less fuel than running around chasing fish all day.

    Always carry an assortment of jigs in different sizes, styles, and colors. It’s okay to bring your favorite jig; just make sure you bring a variety just in case Mr. Cobia doesn’t have the same sense of style as you do.

    I think shrimp sounds easiest and most available to try first. No idea where you get “mullet” as bait fish. Maybe it’s an east coast thing? Or maybe as a mostly fresh water fisher I’m not well acquainted with salt water live bait offerings.

    Cobia Range, Habitat, and Feeding Habits
    In the western Atlantic, the cobia (also called ling) ranges from Nova Scotia in the north to northern Argentina in the south, including the Gulf of Mexico. In the Eastern Atlantic it is found roughly from the equator south, around South Africa, and then throughout the Indian Ocean and western Pacific. Ling prefer water temperatures between 68F and 88F.

    Cobia are mostly found nearshore in depths as shallow as 30ft (or less) to about 300ft, though they also venture out to open waters around oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. They are a structure-oriented fish and can be found around reefs, floating debris, weed lines. They also shadow turtles or rays, migrating fish in particular do that.

    Some ponds in Florida are just FULL of turtles. I wonder if smaller turtles can be used as bait? Or is that just too much asking for trouble?

  41. H.R. says:

    @E.M. – We went from snow to tropical migrating fish because I gave a fishing report in the middle of my discussion of snow on either side of the fishing report.

    You responded to the snow comments and a bit to the fishing report.

    Where it went really went off the rails is when eating fish came up. You are a sucker for any food-related topic 😜

    While discussing edible (and barely edible) fish, I brought up Cobia, one of my favorites if I can get it.

    Depending on your viewpoint, it was all downhill from there. 😜🤣
    You can get mullet just about anywhere for bait. Use a cast net to get live, fresh mullet. You can get frozen mullet at any bait shop and even in the sporting goods department at Walmart.

    Use a Sabiki rig to catch live pinfish and greenbacks. I use live pinfish on 8/0 or 9/0 hook on my heavy gear just to see what I can get. I’ve had a couple of instances where my 80#-test line was snapped after something big gulped my pinfish

    Frozen crabs are hit and miss. Live bait crabs, at least in the Greater Tampa Bay area are hit and miss at bait shops. Maybe 1 out of 4 or 5 live bait shops will have them and they are not always available at the shops that have tanks for them. Some people catch legal-size blue crabs and use them for bait, but I don’t think a legal blue crab would make it past your plate to ever get on a hook.

    Cobia shadow rays and turtles. Best I know, they don’t necessarily eat them, though the 100-pounders might chomp down a turtle or small ray. The Cobia are just joining the parade and trying to blend in; pull down their hat, turn up their collar, put on their dark glasses and maybe nobody will notice. 😎
    I mentioned that Cobia weren’t around Tampa Bay during the Winter, but that article I linked to said they are there… over by the power plant. It’s warmer over there and some of the fish skip migrating out of Tampa Bay and head to the back of the bay where the water is a few degrees warmer in Winter. The manatees go there, too.

    I didn’t bring up Grouper. Outstanding on the plate and fun to catch. I didn’t want the thread to go off the rails AND plunge down the mountainside into a head-on with another train. Grouper are almost a religion with some fishermen.

    Oh, and stingrays are good eating. The best eating size have a 2′ or so wingspan. The big’uns get tough and less tasty. There are how to clean ‘n cook articles and videos for stingrays.
    Oh, back on topic… it snowed somewhere today. 😜 😁

  42. E.M.Smith says:

    IIRC, Grouper are really just a giant sized sea bass. At least in terms of shape and function (species not so much?). Sting Rays? Edible? Who knew… I suppose they are sort of like shark… I further suppose cable cutters to remove the “sting” might be a good idea…

    Yeah, snow, I think it was in the mountains… ;-)

    In other news…

    I think I’m going to plan a fishing tour of shore facilities of Florida… Beaches, docks, jetties, piers, … and find a friend with a boat…

  43. jim2 says:

    RE: Fish sticks. I still like them :)

  44. H.R. says:

    @jim2 – Fish sticks – me too. 👍 😊

    I forget which ones were more fish than breading and the brands that were more breading than fish. I think mom got the cheaper ones with more breading probably twice due to the low, low price. Nobody really liked them. Then she figured that it was worth paying a little more to get the good stuff.

    Funny that. I can’t remember how many times we had fish stick dinners when we were kids, but I can sure remember the couple of times she got the bargain sticks. The difference was that noticeable even to us kids. Blech!

  45. E.M.Smith says:

    IF I could find breaded fish without Corn Meal in it, I’d still be buying fish sticks…

    Unfortunately, corn causes me problems now, so I get to “DIY” and make my own breaded fish…

    Not hard. Egg wash (beat an egg with a TBS of water or milk) dip fish, let dry a little until sticky, dredge in bread crumbs…

    For bread crumbs: Take heels of loaves and put them in a tub on top of the Fridge. After a couple of days to about a week they will be dry. Grind them up. IF you don’t have time: Cube and put the cubes on a cookie tray in the oven on 250 F for about 10 minutes… Basically making croutons without the seasoning and not toasted… Grind them up…

    I really miss the fish sticks from the store…

  46. philjourdan says:

    @EMS – I do not believe I asserted any authority. I did declare what I called them.

  47. E.M.Smith says:


    And I agreed with you that you can call them whatever you want. The “other you” about asserting authority was the You about “everyone”… What in proper English would be “When one asserts”… but sounds bogus in American English. Wish we’d kept it…

  48. p.g.sharrow says:

    Yesterday morning I awoke to snow on the ground and cold! Today was a nice spring day and the fruit trees ready to BLOOM! If the bees are happy. Maybe the fruit trees will bless us with their treats in the fall 8-) straw berries starting their bloom, Time to weed their beds, and hope to be blessed with their treats. Hills are greening in the spring warmth…pg

  49. Compu Gator says:

    Inland Central Florida forecasts show our last chance, overnight Mon./Tue., for airing out our homes with refreshing 50s°F (10–15°C) lows. That’s until November, yall!  Or maybe mid–late October, if God is kind to us. Not even a powerful hurricane is enough to make such a chill happen. Instead, that would require serious cold front(s) from the west, which won’t be welcomed when passing thro’ regions much north of here.

    Meanwhile, our highs are forecast to step up, in just 3 days thus: 80, 85, 90°F (27, 29, 32°C). Ugggh!

    Local weatherpersons, some of whom apparently earned degrees in meteorology, typically pander to tourist viewers & listeners. The overnight chill is described as “unseasonable”,  as if genuine local residents should feel guilty about shivering tourists. Right now, we’re in the state’s “dry season. The hot days without rain are cheerfully announced as if “no rain in the forecast” were universally good news. I assume that it mostly is for tourists, who resent getting rained upon as they stand in long line-after-long line at corporate theme parks. But local residents need water for their struggling gardens & lawns, which will dry without rain or irrigation; the neighborly ones strive to do so without violating our gov’t-mandated no-watering days & hours.

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