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October 26, 2001

International Wreckfish

Q: I'm interested in the wreckfish pictured in a recent Sport Fishing article on deepwater fishing (November/ December 1997). What exactly is a wreckfish? Is it a type of cod, or is it a local name for a more unusual species? Are they found only in the Atlantic, or can we find them in the Pacific as well? - Tony Pauker, Santa Monica, CaliforniaA: The wreckfish (Polyprion americanus) is a temperate bass of the family Percichthyidae, along with relatives that include striped bass of the U.S. Atlantic coast and giant sea bass of the California-Baja coasts.

Q: I'm interested in the wreckfish pictured in a recent Sport Fishing article on deepwater fishing (November/ December 1997). What exactly is a wreckfish? Is it a type of cod, or is it a local name for a more unusual species? Are they found only in the Atlantic, or can we find them in the Pacific as well? - Tony Pauker, Santa Monica, California

A: The wreckfish (Polyprion americanus) is a temperate bass of the family Percichthyidae, along with relatives that include striped bass of the U.S. Atlantic coast and giant sea bass of the California-Baja coasts. Cods belong to another family: Gadidae.
Wreckfish frequent deep water of the continental shelf, to more than 2,000 feet, in both the north and south temperate zones of the eastern and western Atlantic. They're also caught in the western Pacific and in the Indian Ocean.
Wreckfish grow to 7 feet or longer and can weigh more than 100 pounds. Unlike other sea basses, including most groupers, temperate basses don't change sex. Because they grow slowly, however, wreckfish are easily overfished and are strictly regulated in U.S. federal waters.