Game Fish Identification Reference Guides

(Chanos chanos)
(Forsskål, 1775); CHANIDAE FAMILY; also called melkvis, banglus, and salmon herring

Milkfish are the only member of their family and are broadly distributed in the tropical Indian and Pacific Oceans. While they are more common in the Indian and western Pacific, they are known in the eastern Pacific from San Pedro, California to the Galapagos Islands. Milkfish are a marine species that is also known to inhabit estuaries and, occasionally, enter freshwater streams. Milkfish are coastal in nature and can be found in water less than a meter deep to depths of 30 meters. Juvenile fish can be found singly in shallow water, while adults tend occur in schools around reefs. The maximum recorded age for this species is 15 years.

The morphology of this species resembles a combination of a bonefish and a mullet. The elongate body and deeply-forked tail are very reminiscent of a bonefish, while the mouth is toothless and terminal in nature like that of a mullet. Despite, the strong resemblance to bonefish they are considered more evolutionarily advanced by having four branchiostegal rays. In addition, many anglers that have caught milkfish also believe that they are much stronger fighters than bonefish, making it highly esteemed by anglers. However, they can be difficult to catch owing to their diet that consists primarily of algae, small benthic invertebrates and pelagic fish eggs and larvae. Because of their affinity to small prey items, they are well suited for fly anglers that have the ability to “match the hatch” with what they are feeding on at the time.

Current All Tackle Record

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