We are afraid to clean anything now after eating what would have been a world-record Carolina hake. We catch a lot of blackbelly rosefish while fishing very deep. This fish appears similar, and I’m guessing it’s a scorpionfish of some species, of which there seem to be legion in that family. Can you identify the species? Ken Neill Yorktown, Virginia
Ken, the fish in question appears to be a spinycheek scorpionfish, Neomerinthe hemingwayi, although I’d really like to see a clear photograph showing one of the fish’s pectoral fins to be absolutely certain. The spinycheek scorpionfish ranges from New Jersey to around Florida and into the northern Gulf of Mexico, including Campeche, Mexico. It is known to reach a total length of 16 inches and to inhabit depths between 150 and 750 feet over hard-bottom areas. Like many scorpionfishes, it is reputed to be excellent eating. Ed. note — The angler did get a positive ID and did end up weighing the fish — and a good thing: It is now the IGFA all-tackle world record for the species, at 4.39 pounds, the 12th world record set on Neill’s boat, Healthy Grin, and the third for angler Roger Burnley.