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The white hake is a bottom-dwelling species normally caught on muddy bottoms in depths ranging from 100 to 3,000 feet of water. It prefers cooler water; although it can be found on the continental shelf and upper continental slope anywhere between Labrador and North Carolina, and sometimes as far south as Florida, its presence in southern waters is limited to the cooler, deeper waters.
White hake are, by far, the largest hake found in the northwest Atlantic, capable of reaching weights approaching, and possibly exceeding, 50 pounds. The official record for the largest white hake ever caught by a recreational fishermen is a 46 ¼-pound specimen caught off Maine in 1986, although there are many stories of larger white hake, some approaching 60 pounds, that were caught in the southern New England recreational cod fishery but never submitted for official recognition.
White hake are a good food fish, but like most hakes, their meat can become soft if it is not quickly and continually iced down. Even so, the fillets can often be found in seafood markets. Landings are dominated by the commercial fishery, where white hake bring a significantly higher price than other members of the hake family, about $1.50 per pound. Recreational landings usually occur as part of the mixed groundfish fishery of New Jersey, New York and New England. White hake are managed by the National Marine Fishery Service’s Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management Plan, administered by the New England Fishery Management Council. Although the stock is currently neither overfished nor subject to overfishing, it has been slow to recover from past overharvest, and is now in the 14th year of what was intended to be a 10-year rebuilding plan.