Strange Brew: Tile Fish, Blue Catfish, and Triggerfish

Yes yes, I know I usually cover boats as opposed to fishing, but if you own a boat and you aren’t into fishing, I honestly can’t imagine why you’re here on Fishgame.com. Besides, recently I’ve been immersed in writing about a number of different – and sort of oddball – species that boaters should find interesting whether they catch them or not: tile fish, blue catfish, and trigger fish.

Golden tile fish are quite an unusual species. That shouldn’t be too surprising, considering where they live!

Tile Fish

This species comes in three basic flavors: golden, blue (sometimes called blueline), and sand tile fish. While all have oddities of their own, and each lives in very different depth ranges in the Gulf, the most interesting is probably the golden. It grows the largest (the state record is 31.3 pounds, though tile fish twice that size have been caught in the Atlantic), lives the deepest (it’s rare to find them in less than 500 feet of water) and is seen and/or caught by the fewest number of fishermen. Here’s the stand-out: way down there in the deep, those fish live in burrows and mainly feed on crustaceans creeping along bottom. As a result, their meat has a distinct shellfish flavor, sort of a cross between crab and lobster. Can ya beat that?? If you want to get the scoop on effective golden tile fish tactics, read Prospecting for Golden Tilefish.

Blue catfish are not the most…. errrr… beautiful creatures on the face of the planet.

Blue Catfish

What fish has beady little eyes, a mouth big enough to engulf your entire forearm, and is slimier than a politician? Why, the blue catfish, of course. These fish are so dang ugly, it just doesn’t seem fair. They also grow to an amazing size (Texas record: 121.5 pounds!), readily eat anything from cut fish to hot-dogs, and can survive in water with the clarity of chocolate milk. The biggest on record, an insanely fat 143 pounder, came from Buggs Island Lake in Virginia. Want to find out how the Old Dominion State anglers go after them? Check out FishTalk’s Tactics for Monster Blue Catfish.

Trigger fish may not be huge, but they sure are strange.

Trigger Fish

No, they aren’t very big, but trigger fish are still an eye-catching species. It’s not their bizarre collection of fins, unbelievably tiny mouth, or strange body shape. No, the really strange thing about these fish is their “trigger”. The front dorsal fin pops up and remains up, no matter how hard you try to dislodge it. If, however, you pull back on the second dorsal spine – the trigger – the front one folds right down. Yes, strange is most certainly the word for it. Still, we’d note that trigger fish taste great, and can often be caught in large numbers in the Gulf. If you want to try catching one you need to use some very specific tactics; read Triggerfish Tricks, to learn more.

Lenny Rudow:
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