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September 13, 2004

Carolina Hake

I caught this fish in about 40 feet of water over some old army tanks off Murrells Inlet, South Carolina. They resemble some of the cod that we used to catch up north in the cold water, but I haven't found anyone who has seen them before.

Q: I caught this fish in about 40 feet of water over some old army tanks off Murrells Inlet, South Carolina. I was using cut bait in early March of this year. These guys put up a respectable fight but didn't hit very hard. They resemble some of the cod that we used to catch up north in the cold water, but I haven't found anyone who has seen them before. The water temperature was about 54 degrees, and the water was very clear. How about a little help on this one? --Mike Robino, Pawleys Island, South Carolina

A: Mike, their resemblance to cod is due to the fact that they are in the family Gadidae, like the cod. It is difficult to pin down exactly what type it is without scale counts, but based on its coloration, shape of the first dorsal fin, and catch location, it is definitely a hake, genus Urophycis, and most likely Urophycis earlii, the Carolina hake. Preferring hard bottom, this species reaches a length of about 18 inches and uses its long, filamentous pelvic rays to find prey. Although its flesh is firm and tasty, there is no commercial fishery for them. -- Mike Fahay