Hake, the name of two groups of ocean fish related to the cod. Hake vary from about 18 inches to 4 feet (45 to 120 cm) in length. They usually feed at night in shallow water. Among the true hake are the silver hake, stockfish, Pacific hake, and European hake. The silver hake, or whiting, is a two-foot (60-cm) species caught off the New England coast. The stockfish is common off southern Africa. Both are important food fish. The Pacific hake, found from Puget Sound southward, and the European hake are little used as food.
The other kind of hake, also called ling or codling, has two dorsal (back) fins and one anal (rear) fin. Attached to the throat are stringy, narrow pelvic fins that trail in the water. Because of these trailing fins, some of these hake are called “forkbeards.” Common American species include the red hake (or squirrel hake), the southern hake, and the white hake, caught from Newfoundland to Florida. The red hake and white hake species are food fish, and are also processed for their oil and air bladders. The bladders are converted into isinglass, a gelatin used in making adhesives and in clarifying liquids.
The silver hake is Merluccius bilinearis; stockfish, M. capensis; Pacific hake, M. productus; European, M. merluccius; red, Urophycis chuss; white, U. tenuis. Hake belong to the codfish family, Gadidae.