The hake shown here is the red hake, the species we most frequently catch in Clearwater’s nets. As its name suggests, this fish is generally reddish brown in color. Also called the squirrel hake or ling, it has a long filament extending from the forward dorsal fin. We find this species in the saltier waters of the lower estuary and New York Harbor. While individuals can reach a length of over two feet and a weight of five pounds or more, those we catch are much smaller.
If the hake you’re looking at lacks the long filament on the forward dorsal fin, and has a black lateral line broken by white spots, it is the spotted hake. This species also occurs in the salty waters of the harbor and the lower Hudson.
The fourbeard rockling is another hake-like fish we might catch. This skinny fish has barbels on its nose as well as its chin.
Hake are not common in the estuary and not pursued by the fishing industry here. However, like many other members of the cod family, they are important commercial fishes where found in large numbers elsewhere.