The back on this species is light green to brown with scattered darker spots. The light gray to silver sides have 34 to 43 lateral line scales. Lower surfaces of the head and venter are light yellow to white. Sides of the head are mottled with brown to dark orange spots. The dorsal fin is light gray with nine to 11 spines and 10 to 12 rays. The light yellow to white anal fin has three spines and 12 to 14 rays. The pectoral fin has 13 or 14 rays and it is long and pointed, its end reaching past the nostril when bent forward. The common name of this species is derived from the characteristic red or orange spot at the rear of the opercular flap. Adult size: 8 to 11 inches.