Definition of candlefish in US English:


nounPlural candlefishes

  • A small edible marine fish with oily flesh, occurring on the west coast of North America.

    Thaleichthys pacificus, family Osmeridae

    Also called eulachon
    • ‘In this case, many point their fingers at the shrimp trawler that operates off the coast, a trawler that doesn't want to stop fishing when the candlefish pass through.’
    • ‘Gulls wheeled and screamed over the first slug of spawning candlefish.’
    • ‘Dr. Hubbard stated ‘While recovering sediment cores at night we attracted an enormous school of baitfish, likely candlefish, with our ship's deck lights.’’
    • ‘He'll then switch his lures to match the size of the candlefish, usually about 2 to 3 inches long.’
    • ‘Both herring and candlefish can be imitated with Marabous or weighted or unweighted Clouser Minnows.’


So named because the Chinook Indians formerly burnt the oily bodies of these fish as candles.