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     Those fortunate to have a personal budget that allows them access to party boats may have the opportunity to catch the Haddock.  This fish is renowned as splendid table fare!

     Presented here is general information of Haddock, its reproduction, habitat, food, fishing season, angling tips, handling and cooking.
  • General information:
    The haddock, a member of the cod family, inhabits both the American and European coasts of the Atlantic Ocean.  In the northwest Atlantic, it ranges from the southern end of the Grand Banks to Cape Cod in the summer and it extends its range southward to Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, in the winter.  The haddock, like the closely related cod, are easily distinguished from other coastal Massachusetts fish by their three dorsal and two anal fins.  The front dorsal fin is triangular in shape and taller than the following two.  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 and a large spot on each side of the body over the pectoral fins.  The largest recorded haddock weighed 37 pounds and measured 44 inches in length.  Few haddock exceed 20 to 24 inches in length, 3 to 5 pounds in weight and 9 to 10 years old.

  • Reproduction:
    Both males and females are sexually mature by the time they are 2 to 3 years old.  The haddock off Massachusetts reproduce on sandy, rocky or muddy bottoms from January to June, showing the greatest activity in March and April.  Spawning occurs offshore in depths of 100 to 600 feet in temperatures of 35 to 45 degrees F.  Georges Bank is the most productive spawning area in the northwest Atlantic.  The fecundity (number of eggs produced in a year) of females is related to their body size.  Females weighing 2.2 pounds produce about 170,000 eggs, while largest females may release as many as 3,000,000 eggs in one spawning season.

  • Habitat:
    Haddock inhabit deep, cool waters, rarely entering estuaries or river mouths.  They are primarily found at depths of 140 to 450 feet and generally avoid depths less than 30.  Haddock prefer substrates of gravel, smooth rock, or sand littered with shells and water temperatures of 35 to 50 degrees F.  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.  Most overwinter offshore from southern New Jersey to Cape Hatteras.  By early spring they seek more northerly areas of New England, moving into shallower waters of the Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank, where they remain all summer.

  • Food:
    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, sea worms, clams, starfish, sea cucumbers, sea urchins and occasionally squid.  Herring, sand lance, small eels or other young fish only rarely occur in their diet.

  • Fishing Season:
    May - November

  • Angling Tips:
    Anglers pursue this deep water species from private, charter or party boats.  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.  Forty pound test monofilament line on a high speed conventional reel is recommended.  Heavy line is necessary even though the haddock is a modest sized species because anglers fishing in deep waters cannot predict what other larger fish might grab the line.

    A typical haddock rig consists of the following.  A swivel (to prevent twisting) is tied to one end of a 4 foot piece of 50 pound test leader material.  A bank sinker is looped to the other end of the leader.  Number 6/0 or smaller hooks, with a short piece of yellow surge wound over their shanks are attached to the leader by two 6 to 10 inch "droppers" or loops.  Ten to 20 ounces of sinker are needed to hold the rig on the bottom, depending upon currents and depths.  A small piece of clam or squid is very successful.

    After the baited rig is lowered to the bottom, all slack should be retrieved.  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.

  • Handling:
    Haddock should be bled, gutted and iced immediately after capture to retain their superior flavor.  If they are iced in a large cooler the melt water should be drained occasionally so the fish do not soak in warming water.  If they are iced in a boat fish box, remove the fish box's drain plug.

  • Cooking:
    The meat of the haddock is lean and white.  It is less firm than cod and flakes beautifully when cooked.  Haddock is excellent baked, broiled, fried, poached, microwaved or used in a chowder or stew.
     The links to the left provide current marine and local weather reports, extended local weather reports, tide charts and the U. S. Coast Guard Navigation Center, featuring GPS information, DGPS sites (which are a must for anyone with a differential GPS), LORAN-C information, Local Notice to Mariners plus a boat load of miscellaneous navigational links and my Site Map.  Although most of the links to the left provide local information, my out of state visitors can also find nationwide marine and weather information.

     The remaining links to the right have my Boating, Fishing, Knot Tying, Fish Fileting and Tackle Tips pages.   Following those are my Search Engine pages, one with short descriptions and another in a table form, plus my Research Page.  Last but not least, is my Doll House Gallery featuring the Farmhouse and The Garfield!  These keep me busy in the winter.

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