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The so-called "large" fish that are caught near shore run about 35 pounds; and "large" ones taken on Georges Bank about 25 pounds.
But the shore fish, large and small together, average only between 6 and 12 pounds in weight.
The cod is a heavy-bodied fish, only slightly flattened sidewise, its body deepest under the first dorsal fin (cod neither very fat nor very lean are about one-fourth to one-fifth as deep as they are long), tapering to a moderately slender caudal peduncle, and with a head so large that it takes up about one-fourth of the total length of the fish.
And the bottoms where cod and hake are found are so distinct that a long line set from a hard patch out over the soft surrounding ground will often catch cod at the one end, hake at the other.
At the other extreme, comparatively few cod are caught much deeper than 100 fathoms within the Gulf of Maine.
And although fishermen sometimes do well at much greater depths on the slopes of the offshore banks, the 5- and 75- fathom contours probably include the great majority of all the cod living in the Gulf, summer or winter.
The back and upper sides of the former range from almost black through dark sooty or brownish gray, olive gray, olive brown, sepia brown, mouse gray, ashy gray, clay colored, and greenish to pale pearly (darker on the back than on the sides); the fins are of the general body tint, and the belly is whitish, usually tinged with the general ground color.
The red or "rock" cod vary from dull reddish brown to orange or brick red, with white belly tinged with reddish, and with red, olive, or gray fins.