Cusk (Brosme brosme) Family Gadidae, Cods

Common name: cusk

Description: Cusk are dark slate to red brown above with yellowish sides and a dirty white underbody. They have an elongated, taper shaped body with a blunt snout and a single barbel on their chin. Their dorsal and anal fins are exceptionally long and they have a rounded tail fin, all of which are bordered with a black stripe that is edged in white. Cusk can grow to a size of about 3 1/2 feet in length and to 30 pounds in weight. Their average size in the waters of the Gulf of Maine, however, is closer to 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 feet in length and 5 to 10 pounds in weight.

Where found: offshore

Similar Gulf of Maine species: wolffish, eel pout

Remarks: Cusk are exclusively bottom dwellers that inhabit moderately deep waters of 60 to 90 feet. They prefer a hard rough substrate made up of rocks or boulders. These fish are solitary in nature and are not particularly abundant. Cusk are excellent table fare, particularly in chowders and stews. Occasionally, anglers will hook onto a cusk while fishing for cod or haddock. Although these fish are considered to be weak and sluggish swimmers, they have a powerful body. Both clams and herring work well as bait when fishing for cusk.

Records: MSSAR (Maine State Saltwater Angler Records)
IGFA All – ­Tackle World Record

Fish Illustrations by: Roz Davis Designs, Damariscotta, ME (207) 563­2286

Drawings provided courtesy of the Maine Department of Marine Resources Recreational Fisheries program and the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund.

BACK TO: Maine Saltwater Fish Species List

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