Nearshore anglers have been catching ribbonfish.

Nearshore anglers have been catching ribbonfish.

Anglers fishing outside Oregon Inlet have been catching a nontraditional gamefish called ribbonfish. These fish are voracious eaters and will take most cut bait fished just under the surface. There is no question how they got their name.  They are long and flat, the body tapers down to a point and they have chrome-like skin. Besides the unusual shape, they have an impressive set of teeth that are barbed and very sharp and will bite you.

Also known as cutlassfish, they are members of the Trichiuridae, a family of nearly 20 species. They are swift swimmers that generally dwell on the bottom but at times during the day will come to the surface to feed. Used as bait for larger gamefish in the United States, cutlassfish are a valued food and a commercial species in many other countries, especially Japan, where they may be used for sashimi. They are also marketed salted/dried and frozen.

Traditionally they are used for king mackerel bait. But the past few winters commercial fisherman have been catching them and selling them at market. Some of the local commercial fishermen tried eating the ribbonfish and were surprised at the high quality of the flesh. It is white and mild and tasty and lends itself to many cooking methods.

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