Haddock fish identification, its habitats, characteristics, fishing methods.
Haddock is a valuable North Atlantic food fish of the cod family, Gadidae, that is often smoked and sold as "Finnan Haddie." The Haddock is a bottom dweller and a carnivore, feeding on invertebrates and some fishes. It resembles the Cod and, like its relative, has a chin barbel, 2 anal fins and 3 dorsal fins. It is identified from Cod by a dark, rather than light, lateral line and a distinctive dark spot on each side of the body over the pectoral fins, often called the "devil's mark". Color is otherwise gray or brownish above, paler below. Size is to about 3 feet (90 cm) and 24.5 pounds (11 kg). Haddock is a popular food fish, widely fished commercially. It is one of the most popular varieties of smoked fish and it has a unique succulent and delicious flavour.
The haddock or offshore hake is a marine fish, a member of the cod family, distributed on both the American and European coasts of the North Atlantic. On the American coast haddock are the most abundant from the southern part of the Grand Bank and from the more easterly of the Nova Scotian Banks to Cape Cod in the summer. In winter they are taken southward to New York and New Jersey, and they extends its range southward to Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.
The Haddock, like the closely related Cod, are easily distinguished from other coastal fish by their 3 dorsal and 2 anal fins, and with slightly concave margin. The margin of the haddock's tail is more concave than that of the cod. The front dorsal fin is more acutely triangular in shape and taller than the following two, that are more angular. The posterior two are squarish, the middle dorsal being slightly larger than the last. Of the two anal fins, the second or posterior one is a mirror image of the third dorsal fin. Haddock can be distinguished from the other closely related members of the cod family by a black lateral line running along its white side and a large spot on each side of the body over the pectoral fins.
The haddock's mouth is relatively the smaller, not gaping back to below the eye, and the lower profile of its face is straight, with the upper profile only slightly rounded, giving the nose a characteristic wedge-shaped outline in side view. The upper jaw projects further beyond the lower in the haddock than in the cod, and the snout is usually more pointed and the body more flattened sidewise.
There are about the same number of dorsal fin rays in haddock as in cod; and while the anal fins average one or two more rays each, some Cods may have more anal rays than Haddock. The Haddock is a slimmer fish than the Cod and its scales are scarcely visible through the mucus with which the skin is coated.
3 Dorsal fins.
First has 14 to 17 soft rays.
Second has 20 to 24 soft rays.
Third has 19 to 22 soft rays.
2 Anal fins.
First has 21 to 25 soft rays.
Second has 20 to 24 soft rays.
Scales have 160 rows along the side.
Maximum total length is 44 (usually 14 to 23) inches.
Maximum weight up to 37 (usually 1 to 5) pounds.
The top of its head is back, and sides down to the lateral line are dark purplish gray, paling below the lateral line to a beautiful silvery gray with pinkish reflections, and with the black lateral line and the sooty shoulder patch standing out vividly. Haddock usually run very uniform in color, but occasionally one shows from one to four dark transverse bars or splotches in addition to the black shoulder blotch. The belly and lower sides of the head are white. The dorsal, pectoral, and caudal fins are dark gray; the anal fins pale like the lower part of the sides and black specked at the base; and the ventrals are white, more or less dotted with black. Sometimes a haddock may be decidedly golden on the back and sides, with the lateral line golden, and such fish may lack the dark blotches.
Haddock inhabit deep, cool waters, rarely entering estuaries or river mouths, generally avoid depths less than 30 feet. They are most commonly found at depths of 140 to 450 feet (40 to 133 m), but has a range as deep as 300 m on substrates of gravel, smooth rock, or sand littered with shells. Haddock are rarely appear over ledges, rocks, or kelp (cod preferable), or on the soft oozy mud to which hake resort. They prefer broken ground, gravel, pebbles, clay, smooth hard sand, sticky sand of gritty consistency, and where there are broken shells; they are especially partial to the smooth areas between rocky patches. They prefer water temperatures of 36 to 50°F (2 to 10°C), and avoid water warmer than about 50-52°F Juveniles prefer shallower waters and larger adults deeper water.
Adult haddock do not engage in long migratory behavior as do the younger fish, but seasonal movements could occur across all ages. They migrate seasonally to areas that provide optimal habitat conditions. In winter, haddock move to deep water where temperature is warmer and more constant than that in shallower areas.
Haddock feed primarily on small invertebrates, although larger members of the species may occasionally consume fish. Before descending to the ocean floor, larval haddock feed upon microscopic copepods. Bottom dwelling juveniles and adults feed upon almost any slow moving invertebrate including small crabs, bivalve mollusks, small sea worms, amphipods, clams, starfish, sea cucumbers, sea urchins and occasionally squid. Also their regular diat include the larger Crustacea, such as hermit, spider, and common crabs, shrimps, and amphipods, with gastropods and bivalve mollusks in great variety, worms, starfish, sea urchins, sand dollars, brittle stars, and sea cucumbers. Rarely they feed on herring, sand lance, small eels or other young fish (silver hake).
Spawning occurs between January and June, peaking during late March and early April. Spawning occurs offshore in depths of 100 to 600 feet in temperatures of 35 to 45°F on sandy, rocky or muddy bottoms. Both males and females are sexually mature by the time they are 2 to 3 years old. An average-sized female produces approximately 850,000 eggs, and larger females are capable of producing up to 3 million eggs each year. Females weighing 2.2 pounds produce about 170,000 eggs. Incubation occupies 15 days at a temperature of 37°F and 13 days at 41°F. The eggs are buoyant, without oil globule, and are from 1.2 to 1.7 mm in diameter. They are average slightly larger than eggs of the cod.
The newly hatched larva is about 4 mm. long, with the vent close behind the yolk sac and at the base of the ventral fin fold, not at the margin, so that it seems to end blind. In water with a temperature of 41°F the yolk sac is absorbed in about 10 days when the little fish is about 5.5 mm long; the dorsal and anal fins are fully formed at 16 to 20 mm.; and the young haddock begin look like an adult by the time when it is 30 to 40 mm long. The arrangement of the larval pigment serves to differentiate the little haddock until it is about 12 mm long. Larger fry are distinguishable from both cod and pollock by their pale pigmentation, and by the greater height of their first dorsal fin. Haddock average about 6 inches long (5 to 7 inches) at the end of their first year.
A medium action 8 foot boat rod with a fast acting tip is recommended. A sensitive rod is necessary to feel the light bumps the haddock creates when it grabs a baited hook. A small piece of clam or squid is very successful bait. Unlike the cod, which gives a sharp yank, haddock bite in series of small bumps. These slight taps can best be felt if the line is held between the thumb and finger. Because haddock have soft mouths, they are easily lost if not properly played after being hooked. When a haddock taps the bait, the hook should be set easily with a steady pull rather than a jerk, and the fish should be steadily retrieved without pumping the rod.
Unlike the related cod, haddock does not salt well and is often preserved by drying and smoking. One form of smoked haddock is Finnan Haddie, named for the fishing village of Finnan or Findon in Scotland, where it was originally cold-smoked over peat. Finnan haddie is often served poached in milk for breakfast. Smoked haddock naturally has an off-white color; it is very often dyed yellow, as are other smoked fish.
The fillets are placed in a brine solution for a few minutes and then hung on stainless steel racks to drain. The full racks are then placed in a brick built chimney and smoked for 10 to 12 hours over smouldering oak and beech chippings.