What’s the world’s ugliest gamefish? While different people are sure to have different opinions, everyone should agree that the Gulf Toadfish is certainly a top contender.
Wait a sec – a toadfish isn’t really a gamefish, is it? Well, sure – despite the gut-wrenching revulsion most people experience when they reel up a toadfish, these critters fight hard and are actually quite tasty. In fact, they earner a place among our list of Bizarre Gulf Fish You Can Eat, and with good reason. The fillets hidden behind that rock-like skull consist of firm white meat which is not too different from what you might slice off of a croaker. And if you think about it, catfish aren’t exactly beauty queens yet most of us don’t hesitate to eat ’em.
Catching toadfish isn’t terribly complex, either. This is a species you’ll want to go after with bait, and it’s extremely rare to catch them on lures. A simply top-and-bottom rig baited up with a chunk of crab, shrimp, or cut fish will do the trick. Try sinking it near rip-rap or inlet rocks, which are a favorite haunt for this species. They’ll also be found over oyster shell bottoms, usually in water at least 15 feet deep and often in 30 or 40 feet of water. When you feel a toadie’s bite set the hook firmly, because their mouths are extremely tough and piercing them can be a bit difficult. It’s also a good idea to have a pair of pliers on-hand, because removing the hook can be difficult too. On top of that, toadfish have a set of jaws lined with bone-crushing molars that you definitely don’t want to mess with.
So: are you ready to go on a toad hunt? Just think – not only will you have dinner, you’ll be able to brag about having caught the ugliest gamefish in the world.