Ron Nuzzolo

Fish On

A local boat captain’s take on ling and hake

Over the winter months you read about fishing reports where anglers were catching ling and hake.

I received many inquiries about these creatures. What are they? What do they look like? Are they good to eat? Well I found answers to these questions from one of the best party boat captains on the East Coast. Capt. Bob Bogan of the Gambler in Point Pleasant. Capt. Bob makes a living catching these winter fish. He makes it his business to know all there is to know about every fish in our waters. The more you know about each species habitat, water temperature, depth, bottom landscape, prey and signs from above (sea gulls), the easier it is to find them.

Ling are in the cod family and are great to eat.

According to Bogan, ling are really red hake. Purple hake and white hake look very similar. Many of the smaller purple and whites are easily mistaken for the more common ling.

Our ling appear pale-tan/orange when they are on the move. When they have been sitting on a wreck for a long time, they turn darker, sometimes rust colored to match the color of the wreck.

The purple hake has a subtle shade of purple along its flanks.

A white hake is lighter in color, with the white of its belly reaching further up its sides. Except for its larger size, it is even harder to distinguish from the ling than a purple. Silver hake is whiting and is in the cod family. (I miss whiting.) Whiting fishery was a big recreational winter fish years ago.

Squirrel hake is smaller than a ling and has white spots on its flanks. They are generally caught when the water is warmer.

If you get a chance, visit the Gambler on the Web at and check out some of their upcoming trips. Capt. Bob will make you feel right at home and will supply you with all your needs and tackle to have a memorable trip.


Gambler’s 30-mile trip was slower last week. High hook was 15 ling. There were a couple cod and Pollock, and a 6-pound purple hake won the pool.

From the surf:

I did get reports from Belford (west of Ammo pier) that stripers were being caught and released up to 24 inches on clams on the outgoing tide. Get ready, they’re here.

As the weather warms up in the coming months I will recommend some easy ways to get the family introduced to the sport. You should never feel intimidated to go on a party boat or on a beach and cast a line in the water. Fishermen are usually reserved and quiet, but once you ask for assistance they are willing to help out and show you the basics, and some will even tell you about the one that just got away.

Recipe of the week

Every week I ask readers to send in their favorite local recipes to share with the rest of us.

This week’s recipe is from a Jersey girl who was born in Long Branch, and grew up there. Anna Denardo moved to Aberdeen when she got married to her husband Fred, and it’s actually her mother-in-law’s recipe, revamped with the added Emeril’s Fish Rub. Anna comes from a long line of fishermen. Anna’s family was the original owners of “Giglios Bait and Tackle Shop” in Sea Bright. The original owners were Anna’s dad and three older brothers, Armond, Arthur and Robert Giglio. Armond and Arthur have since passed away, and Ernie, another brother took over the store in the early ’90s with his nephew Jimmy Giglio (Armond’s son). Unfortunately, it has been closed for about four years. It originally opened in the early ’60s. Thank you, Anna, for sharing this with our readers.

Get the net: 5 out of 5 nets

Comment: Just in time for flounder season, impressive

Difficulty: medium

Anna’s Stuffed Flounder

5-6 flounder fillets


1/2 small onion chopped

2 tbsp. salted butter

1 can LUMP crab meat

3/4 cup flavored bread crumbs

2 tbsp. mayonnaise

Pinch of pepper

Paprika for color


Emeril’s Fish Rub

Extra virgin olive oil


White wine

To Prepare : Rinse the fillets in cool water and set aside in a bowl. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Take out a baking dish and set aside. In a small skillet, add your butter and chopped onions and sauté until the onions are soft. Let cool. In a small mixing bowl, add the bread crumbs, lump crab meat, mayonnaise, pepper, paprika. (For added kick, you can add Tobasco sauce.) If it’s too dry, you can add a little water. (You should be able to roll this stuffing into a ball.) Lay your fillets white seam side down, flat side up. Place about a heaping tablespoon of stuffing onto the fillet and roll. Hold together with toothpicks. Place them into the baking dish as you go along. When finished, sprinkle Emeril’s Fish Rub and olive oil. Cut the lemon and sprinkle over the fillets. Pour wine around the fillets.

Bake for 20- 25 minutes.

Chef: Anna Denardo, Aberdeen