California barracuda are near shore, epipelagic, schooling fish found from Cabo San Lucas, Baja California, to Kodiak Island, Alaska. Thin and toothy, an axe handle with jaws, Pacific barracuda are smaller than their Atlantic relatives, and undeserving of the fierce image conjured by their name.
However, the California variety is a fighting fish on a sportsman's line. Barracuda became a popular game fish after World War II. The catch has historically centered in southern California and northern Baja.
Barracuda figured prominently in the development of California's purse seine fishery in the early 1900's. Landings peaked in the early 1940's, then declined, while a series of state regulations supplanted the purse seine in favor of gill nets and hook and line. A popular market fish during the fishery's heyday, barracuda fell out of fashion -- out of sight, out of mind -- as the public taste turned to shark. Barracuda have returned to abundance, awaiting rediscovery as Californians increasingly value the health benefits of Omega-3-rich seafood.