Kelpfishes and Fringeheads: Family Clinidae
Species: Gibbonsia elegans (Cooper, 1864); from Gibbonsai (William P. Gibbons, an early naturalist from Alameda), and the Latin word elegans (elegant or handsome).
Alternate Names: Called Sargacero or Sargacero manchado in Mexico.
Identification: Typical kelpfish shape—pointed snout, tiny mouth, rounded caudal fin, and long dorsal fin. Color varies widely; green to brown or tan or reddish—often blotched or streaked. 1-3 (often 2) ocelli on back. Soft rays more widely spaced toward rear of dorsal fin. Scales that extend well onto the caudal fin distinguish it from other kelpfish.
Size: To 6.2-inches long; most caught from piers are around 4-5 inches.
Range: Bahia Magdalena, southern Baja California, including Isla Guadalupe, to Piedras Blancas Point, central California
Habitat: Shallow-water areas near rocks or kelp. Typically feeds on benthic crustaceans, small mollusks and worms, but also eats fair quantities of algae.
Found from subtidal rocky areas to 56 m depth, usually in seaweed. Female lays white eggs in seaweed; male guards egg mass.
Piers: Embarcadero Marina Pier, Oceanside Harbor Pier, Cabrillo Mole in Catalina, Redondo Spotfishing Pier, Malibu Pier, and Monterey Coast Guard Pier.
Shoreline: Occasionally taken by anglers fishing in rock or kelp areas if using small hooks.
Boats: An inshore species rarely take from boats.
Bait and Tackle: Light tackle and small hooks. Preferred baits appear to be sea worms—pile worms and bloodworms, pieces of shrimp, and fresh mussels.
Food Value: Too small to be used for food.
Comments: A small fish that is rarely caught due to their small mouth. However, they are sometimes an incidental catch by perch anglers using small hooks.