The Eulachon also known as the “Hooligan” or “Candle Fish”
The Candle Fish is a small fish, smelt (6-10 inches long) that is found along the Pacific Coast of North America, from Northern California North to Oregon, Washington, British Columbia to Alaska.
The reason they are called “candlefish” is due to the fact that they get so fact during spawning with 15% of their body weight deriving from fat.
The Candle Fish does not hone in on a specific stream to spawn as salmon do, and spends the majority of its life in the ocean.
- SOUTHEAST ALASKA: Main Spawning Migration can occur as early as April
- CENTRAL/WESTERN: MAY, Turnagain Arm/20 mile River-Late April Early may
- CHILKAT, ALSEK & COPPER RIVER: Occasional winter runs in January and February when temperatures are right.
- Some Streams have seperate overlapping migrations
- 33 rivers documented, 15 consistent rivers used
- Nass, Kitimat, Kemano/Wahoo, Kingome, Kitimat, Bella Coola, Kiliniklini, Skeena, Kinsquit, Fraser, Kildala, Chuckwall/Kil bella, Kitlop, Kowesas, Wannock
- Nass, Fraser, Skeena and Klinaklini Rivers are the major spawning grounds
- Eulachon enter lower reaches of rivers Late February to April.
- Sampling through a Scientific study on the Fraser River showed highest concentrations on 18/19 April and falls off after (Spring 2009)
- Northern BC Spawing takes place March and April- Canadian Study
- Columbia/Klamath Rivers: As early as December/January/March
- Coastal Rivers of Washington/Oregon: April/May
Its a very simple procedure to help them live up to their name of “Candle Fish”.
1) You catch them
2)Dry them and string them on a wick or on a forked stick (as indigenous peoples did)
3) They can then be burned on a candle.
A Native American recipe to render the oil differs from one tribe to another. The Hisla People of Kitamaat Village in B.C. Canada however use this recipe
“Their general recipe is to allow the fish to ripen for approximately two weeks under evergreen branches, cook the fish in fresh water, and then skim the oil from the surface of the water. Specific recipes differ in the dumping and stirring of the fish, straining the carcasses, placing rocks in the water to reheat the mixture, and filtration methods. Whatever method used that is unique to the individual tribe, those involved in making the oolichan grease were, and still are, proud of the end product. The grease was, and still is, shared and sometimes given away as a gift. The valuable and nutritious end product is used on many foods; salmon, halibut, herring roe, and berries, similar to the way butter is used. The grease was used for trade with other First Nations that did not harvest oolichan.”
Taken from “whatscookingamerica.net”