Pacific Tomcod

By Bill Knauer

This time of year divers are likely to see large schools of small (4 - 8") silvery fish, particularly on night dives. These are usually juvenile Pacific tomcod (Microgadus proximus) with some walleye pollock (Theragra chalcogramma) mixed in. The Pacific tomcod ranges from central California to western Alaska and is found from the surface to 700 feet. It is one of the smaller members of the true cod family reaching a maximum size of 12 inches. They feed on smaller fish, shrimp and other small marine invertebrates. In turn, they are an important food source for seals, sea lions, and other larger fish. Because of their small size, they have only limited commercial value, but they are excellent eating, having a sweet, delicate flavor. For divers, the large circling schools in Smitty’s Cove make interesting viewing. On night dives, you will see the Pacific tomcod swimming in mid-water. They may be mesmerized by your light, often allowing you to approach for closer examination. Keep your eyes open for the critters as you are diving. They make a dive more interesting.