The Cusk (Lota lota), also know as burbot or freshwater cod have unusual anatomies, possessing heads similar to catfish with body length swim fins, giving them an eel-like appearance. The mouth is large and wide, with a single chin barbel hanging prominently from the lower jaw. Cusk range in coloration from a muted tan to a dark brown, overlaid with contrasting dark brown to black spots.
According to Inland Fisheries and Wildlife biologists, Maine cusk require almost 13 years to reach just 24 inches, making them one of the slowest growing fish species in the State. The largest recorded cusk caught in Maine was an 18 pounds 8 ounces behemoth caught by Annette Dumond, in 1986 while fishing Eagle Lake.
Cusk usually reach sexual maturity around their fourth year of life, with spawning season occurring deep under the frozen ice between the months of December and March. As broadcast spawners, male and female cusk will simultaneously release sperm and eggs into the water to be fertilized. Eggs then settle onto the sand or gravel where they stay until they hatch, a period of time stretching from 50 to 100 days depending on water temperature. Cusk have been know to live as long as 20 years.
Crepuscular hunters, cusk prefer to hunt for food in the twilight hours of dusk and dawn. Though primarily piscivores or fish eaters, cusk will also eat insects, frogs, snakes and even birds. In Maine, anglers occasionally catch cusk on deep water togue traps but more typically they are caught at night on deep water traps fished with dead fish bait.
Cusk meat when deep-fried becomes a delectable treat and many even profess that cusk has a taste and texture similar to lobster.
Wildlife Quiz Questions:
1. What are other names for the cusk?
2. What part of a cusk’s anatomy make it very different from other fish.
3. What color are cusk?
4. How long can cusk grow in 13 years?
5. What was the largest cusk caught in Maine.
6. What year of life do cusk reach sexual maturity?
7. How long are cusk able to live?
8. What kind of hunters are cusk?
9. What are piscivores?
Wildlife Quiz Answers:
1. Other names for cusk include burbot or freshwater cod.
2. Cusk have body length swim fins, giving them an eel-like appearance.
3. Cusk range in coloration from a muted tan to a dark brown, overlaid with contrasting dark brown to black spots.
4. Cusk are a notoriously slow growing species, typically growing only 24 inches in 13 years.
5. The largest recorded cusk caught in Maine was an 18 pounds 8 ounces behemoth caught by Annette Dumond, in 1986 while fishing Eagle Lake.
6. Cusk reach sexual maturity around their 4th year of life.
7. Cusk can live to be 20 years old.
8. Cusk are crepuscular hunters, cusk prefer to hunt for food in the twilight hours of dusk and dawn.
9. Piscivores are creatures that eat primarily fish.