Since we’re in the dog days of summer and with constant rain storms, fishing has been put on hold for most local anglers, at least stream and river anglers where waters haven’t had a chance to recede and become fishable. And for those who take home a few fish for dinner, it may be interesting to find out what fish make the best table fare.
According to the Outdoor Hub, if you ask 10 different anglers what their favorite wild fish to eat is, you’re likely to get 10 different answers. The closest general answer is on the polling website shareranks.com, which, with more than a thousand virtual votes, offered the best list of top 10 wild fish that deserve a place on your table.
Given that the source material being an internet poll, the answers tend to generalize and several large families of fish have been grouped together. The polls also tend to favor more popular fish, but the number-one answer is surprising and one I disagree with as it’s my favorite fish to eat, and the only one my wife will eat. Here is what was found.
Many of you may be surprised that halibut ended low on this list, especially as many anglers familiar with halibut would have rated it much higher. By itself halibut has a very mild, subtly sweet flavor. Its lean, flaky meat is very versatile and can be cooked in a number of ways, and halibut cheeks are especially prized as the most tender part of the fish.
Good old perch. Many people count white perch among their favorite fish for its flaky texture and and mild taste.
8. Red snapper
Oily, moist, and fairly mild with a sweet flavor, the red snapper is a fish that is hard to mess up.
7. Yellowfin tuna
Yellowfin tuna, or ahi, is one of the more coveted fish on the list, especially by chefs specializing in sashimi.
The poll doesn’t differentiate between different species of trout, which is curious, since there is a world of difference in taste between each. Some anglers keep away from lake trout, which they describe as “muddy” and too oily for the effort, while others love them. Of course, rainbow trout often ranks among one of the tastiest fish to keep.
5. Sea bass
High in fat and low in the dreaded fishy flavor, sea bass is best grilled, poached, or steamed.
Much like halibut, walleye is incredibly versatile and can be made into pretty much anything. Fans of this fish often compare it favorably to chicken and say it is very easy to prepare. Walleye is especially popular in Minnesota, where the fish is eaten more than any other state in the United States because they have an excellent walleye fishery.
It’s not surprising to see salmon in the top three of this poll. Possibly one of the most overused fish in the country, salmon still enjoys a stellar reputation for its firm, flaky flesh and mild flavor.
Dorado – or mahi-mahi – is a great-tasting fish that has lean pink meat with a mild sweet flavor. They are also prized by anglers for their acrobatic prowess on the line.
1. Whitesaddle Goatfish
You might not have heard of this one before, and frankly we were a bit surprised to see it on top of the poll. We would have figured one of the more familiar fish, such as salmon or mahi-mahi, would win. However, the whitesaddle goatfish took número uno as the tastiest fish in this poll.
Also known as kumu, one of the few places you could fish for this species is Hawaii, and spearfishing is generally preferred.
They are apparently unique among fish because they taste a lot like shrimp. They are also pretty expensive, so it might be better to dive for your dinner instead.
There you have it. I’m sure you have your own favorite and it appears saltwater species outnumber freshwater picks. As for my preference. 1. Halibut, 2. Mahi Mahi, 3. Salmon (good for the heart), 4. Tuna, 5. Sea Bass, 6. Walleye, 7. Red Snapper, 8. Perch (especially through the ice during ice fishing season), 9. Trout, 10. Never ate it, never heard of it – sorry Whitesaddle Goatfish.
Nick Hromiak has been an outdoors and automotive writer for over 30 years. He's been published in numerous national and state-wide outdoor magazines and newspapers.