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Bottomfish Identification: Cod Fishes

Walleye Pollock
Gadus chalcogrammus

Occasionally caught off the Washington coast by commercial harvesters using otter-trawls.  Recreational harvest within Puget Sound is now closed, with the exception of restricted fishing in the San Juan Islands and Strait of Juan de Fuca.  See the Sportfishing Regulation Pamphlet.

Description: Walleye pollock have an elongate olive-green to brown body, often with faint blotching or mottling above, silvery sides, and a whitish belly.  They have three dorsal fins and 2 anal fins.  The lower jaw projects slightly beyond the upper jaw and a chin barbell is tiny, if present at all.  The first anal fin of this species is usually pale and the other fins are dusky.  Young walleye pollock have 2-3 narrow yellowish stripes along their sides.

Maximum Size: To 91.4 cm (3 ft) in length (Puget Sound),   105 cm (3.4 ft) in length (Alaska), and 6.05 kg (13.3 lbs) in weight (Alaska).

Maximum Age: Up to 10 years old (Puget Sound), 22 years old (Alaska).

Range/Habitat: Walleye pollock range from the northeastern Pacific Ocean from the Seas of Japan and Okhotsk, east in the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska, and south in the northwestern Pacific Ocean along the Canadian and U.S. west coast to Carmel, California.  The highest densities of most populations are in the North Pacific Ocean, including the northern Gulf of Alaska, Bering Sea, and the Sea of Okhotsk, suggesting that walleye pollock populations in the Puget Sound are relatively isolated and genetically distant.  They are found off shore and adults and juveniles move up and down through the water column depending on the time of day.  Adults have been documented as deep as 366 m (1,200 ft), but the vast majority occurs between 100 and 300 m (328-984 ft).


Photo: S. Axtell