Some Fish Are on the Menu

By Jonie Maschek

I am often asked, ďIs all the fish caught here good to eat?Ē Most of the fish in these waterways are edible.

A favorite in most seafood restaurants is flounder and it is plentiful in this area. Flounder is from the flat fish family, which spends its entire life on the bottom of the waterways. One side is marked with spots and the other side pure white looking. Both eyes are at the top of one side. Flounder is considered excellent table food. It is good stuffed with crab meat or broiled, baked, fried and is considered a lean white fish. If fishing from a pier, drop bait over the side and dangle it on the bottom and you might just wake up a flounder. I have seen them brought in by boat with trout catches from the flats.

Have you had a puffer or a blow fish on your line? I have always thrown them back in the water but one angler told me that there was a way to eat them. I read an article from the East Coast about some tourist who ate a blow fish and was poisoned. I asked this angler what he did to make this fish edible. He insists that you must know what to keep and what to throw away.

Reported cases of poisoning from the blow fish have resulted from either eating an organ such as the liver or from bursting an organ during cleaning, thus contaminating the fish.

This poison can be dangerous and I still will not clean one. It has been reported that abdominal cramps, nausea, diarrhea, headaches and vomiting could occur from eating the blow fish.

The fish is called blowfish because it has the ability to inhale either air or water and swell its body into a shape resembling a huge ball with a head stuck on one end and a tail on the other.

The most accepted theory of how the puffer gets his poison, ciguatera poison starts when the fish eats a toxic plant, probably algae.

If still choosing to eat this fish, be well aware of the perilous potential and take precautions while cleaning it. Marine scientists advise against eating this fish.

A good fish to eat that has white lean meat, is the ugly sheepshead. It is striped and as sharp fins, but after it is dressed it is one of the better eating fish. You may make a fish chowder, fry or bake it.

Grouper is a favorite in seafood restaurants. Nothing is better than a blackened grouper sandwich or baked, fried or grouper fingers. I saw grouper on sale for $8.99 per pound at the local market. So if you spend all day catching one it is worth it.

Jacks are usually caught from a school of them jumping across the Bay. They are fun to catch but most people donít like to eat the amber jack. The people that do eat them usually smoke them and they are good testing. Fried jacks often has a strong taste. Perhaps if anyone is an expert on this fish, they would know how to make it taste good.

Speckled trout is an excellent table fare. Often fried, but if large enough, can be baked.

Redfish are often stuffed and baked. They are delicious fried with a light breading.

Mullet is always used at fish fries. Perhaps it is because so many may be caught at one time with a cast net and a multitude of people can be fed. It is a fatty fish and most often is fried or smoked.

Those catching whiting often think they are silver trout. It is a good table fare and are perhaps best pan fried.

If you have a fish on the line and not sure if it can be eaten, why not turn it loose and donít take a chance.

The waterways are filled with edible fish, just drop a line and make a wish.

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