Leerfish, also known as akya, is a well-known sea fish for its enjoyable angling, great taste, large size, and agility.
|Other Names:||Leerfish, Garrick|
|Scientific Name:||Lichia amia|
|Origin:||Eastern Atlantic, Mediterranean, Indian Ocean|
|Adult Size:||Up to 200 cm|
|Reproduction Period:||Spring to Summer (April to June)|
|Fishing:||Prohibited during the breeding season|
Leerfish is a sea fish species from the Carangidae family. Its agility, large size, and unique character have made it one of the favorites among anglers. In our country, it’s commonly known as akya, but its other name is Leerfish. This fish is also recognized as a larger version of the “çıplak” fish and is sometimes called “lamb fish”, though they are not the same species.
Initially listed as Lichia amia by the Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus in 1758, it has upper parts characterized by brownish tones, contrasting with shiny silver-white colors. Its body is somewhat flattened from the sides. It possesses a sharp nose, medium to small eyes, and a slender upper jaw structure.
Its size excites anglers. In adult phases, they can reach up to 200 cm in length and weigh up to 50 kg. However, they are generally seen averaging 120 cm in length and weighing around 20-25 kg.
Habitat, Diet, and Reproduction
It’s a fish native to the coasts of the Mediterranean and South Africa. The Eastern Atlantic, Mediterranean, and Indian Ocean are its primary habitats, but they have also been spotted in the Black Sea.
Even though it’s a large fish, it prefers coastal habitats. They love swimming in areas up to 50 meters deep and near river mouths. They usually live in small groups of a few akyas rather than large schools. Juveniles are commonly seen in estuaries.
Being carnivores, they feed on crustaceans and small fish. Juvenile mullets are a staple in their diet.
Their breeding season falls between spring and summer. Around May to August, they lay their eggs near the coastlines. After breeding, akyas replenish their lost fat and energy by consuming mullets and sardines.
How to Catch Leerfish?
Among the most agile, fast, and aggressive fish in our seas, it is eagerly awaited by amateur anglers.
There’s a fishing ban for Akya from May 15 to August 15. Outside of these dates, there’s a size limit of at least 40 cm and a catch limit of 1 fish per person. The wait is worth it because fishing for akya is very exciting.
There are several bait options for catching them, including live bait, artificial bait, and double spoons. Using 100-size hooks, 080 thickness, and 5-6 fathom leaders with squid, ilarya, or needlefish as bait can be effective.
How to Cook Leerfish?
The most flavorful period for Akya is between October and February. It got its name “lamb fish” due to its taste, but it’s a different species.
- Ensure it’s fresh. Akya has less fat compared to other large fish, so use more oil than usual.
- Clean the fish and either fillet or slice it.
- Marinate the prepared fish in salt and olive oil and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Cook the marinated fish in moderate oil over medium heat until golden. Enjoy!
- Akya can also be deliciously prepared in the oven. The key is lemon and plenty of olive oil.
- Prepare the fish for baking by cleaning and slicing (you can also dice it to skewer size for kebabs).
- Mix lemon, salt, black pepper, and plenty of olive oil in a bowl.
- Marinate the fish slices in this mixture.
- Lay them on a tray lined with baking paper and pour the remaining marinade over them (you can also add peeled tomatoes if you wish).
Health Benefits of Leerfish
Akya is a rich source of high-quality protein and beneficial fats. It helps maintain cholesterol levels, reducing the bad and increasing the good. It supports a balanced heart rate, preventing cardiovascular issues. It’s notably rich in phosphorus and B vitamins.
Is Leerfish Tasty?
Yes, akya is a very delicious fish. Its meat is firm and low in fat. It can be prepared in various ways such as pan-fried, baked, grilled, or even as a soup.