Pacific Tomcod

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Scientific Information

The body of the Pacific Tomcod (Microgradus proximus) is elongated, slender and moderately compressed. The head is elongate and there is a small fleshy projection, a barbel, on the lower jaw. The color is olive green above, creamy white below, and the fins have dusky tips. Three spineless dorsal fins and the small chin barbel separate the Pacific tomcod from any similar appearing fish, except its cousin, the Pacific cod. The Pacific cod has a barbel as long as the diameter of the eye while the Pacific tomcod has a barbel that is less than one half the diameter of the eye. The Pacific tomcod is a member of the true cod family. It is one of the smaller members of the group and is often confused with the white croaker. Again, the three spineless dorsal fins will distinguish this species from the others.

Community Information




Spoken Name

Relevant Site Information

The Pacific Tomcod, known locally just as "tomcod," are a very important subsistence resource. After the ice sets enough to take a snow machine up to the mouth of the Serpentine River, locals will begin jigging for them. Later on, tomcod will be abundant in the lagoon just south of the island. People will either drill a hole in the ice with an auger or with a traditional ice chisel known as a tuuq. In the spring, locals will head to the west channel and fish across on the other side. Tomcod are prepared and eaten a few different ways. They may be eaten frozen (qaak), boiled, or freeze dried.


California Department of Fish and Game. "Marine Sportfish Identification: Other Fishes."

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