Cabezon, aka Scorpaenichthys marmoratus, is a fish that’s the only member of its genus family. It is natively found on the North American Pacific coast; it is one of the largest species of the sculpin. Due to its loud mouth and the croaking sounds it makes, it is called the ‘mother-in-law’ fish. It is not usually targeted by coastal anglers because it is a coveted catch along the shorelines.


Its large head is a primary distinguishing trait of the fish, therefore being named ‘Cabezon’, which means “large head” in Spanish. Its colors vary from different shades like green, red, and brown, mixed in with various darker shades that help them hide from plain sight. It does not have scales, so it has smooth skin, grows up to at least 1 metre, and weighs over 24 lbs.

Habitat and Lifestyle

Cabezon is found close to the shore from intertidal areas to 200 m of water among kelp vegetation, jetty rocks, and reefs. It waits patiently for its prey and lunges at them with its enormous mouth. It is a prized recreational game fish and is found commonly in the areas of the Eastern Pacific, North Alaska, Mexico, and Baja California.

Finding and Catching

This fish can be caught from an inflatable boat or kayak.

It is hard to find a big-sized Cabezon when you’re fishing by the pier. You might take home a 12 lb. one if you’re lucky enough. Preparing both either, a medium-sized tackle with a 15-lb line testing capability. Jigging in a slower speed close to the bottom will help catch more Cabezon. Rock structures and shallow waters are critical places for finding them.

Peak Season

In the state of California, the spawning peak happens during October-March, and the peak season is during the month of January.

Best Bait

The best Cabezon baits you can use to catch them include:

  • Small crabs
  • Abalone
  • Fresh Mussels
  • Squid
  • Fish eggs
  • Shrimp