My favorite fish, this time I mean it!
Yes the toad fish or if you are feeling less regional the oyster toad fish or Opsanus tau if you will. When I was a boy we would visit the Atlantic coast of North Carolina (the Pacific Coast of NC was to far of a drive) and hang with my grandparents. My grandfather would as a rule take us fishing freshwater and then for a week or two we would be on the coast fishing in big blue aka the Atlantic Ocean. My grandfather was not flush with cash so we normally found very creative places to dip a hook.
Shrimp and squid was the bait of choice, my grandfather would scoff at my collection of lures and try as I might I always went back to real live dead bait, because the lures never worked and the dead bait would produce. We would use a 2 oz weight with two hooks, drop it into the water and most of the time you could real in two fish! Pin fish, blow fish, croakers, preacher dicks, eels, spot, mullet among others but my favorite was the toad fish! The toad fish is ugly and not good to eat but it was a fighter and the sense of danger you would feel when trying to take it off your hook was addictive, the thing had jaws like a vice and always in the back of my mind I would think "what if this thing latched on to my daddy parts"?
The ocean is about fished out, I cant remember the last time I caught a toad fish ~` I t makes me sad but then again I don’t fish that often if I am on the coast so maybe the sea still has a bounty but its lost to me, I miss the I caught bottom like tug of a toad fish and the adrenaline rush I felt when I would ask my grandfather to help me get it off my hook.
Attention Readers: This could become a book review provided I find a book it fits. Kind Regards JW
(also known as the oyster cracker)
Species: Opsanus tau (Linnaeus, 1766)
Range: western Atlantic from Maine to the West Indies.
Habitat: found on mud, oyster shell, rock, along sand bottoms and garbage dumps in shallow water.
Food: preys on crustaceans, mollusks, fish, and just about anything else it can get its mouth on.
Characters useful in identification: bulging eyes; fleshy flaps (whiskers) on cheeks and jaws; broad, flat heads.
Color: skin is yellowish to brown with dark brown oblique bars and brown reticulations.
Image courtesy: Fisherman's Guide: Fishes of the Southeastern United States.
Charles Manooch, III, author. Duane Raver, Jr. , illustrator.
Reproduction: toadfish are known for producing vocalizations, accomplished by rapid muscle contractions. The male produces a "foghorn" sound which may attract females to a nesting site. The spawning season lasts from April to October.
Maximum size: 38 cm TL (1.25 ft.)
Other interesting tidbits:
- The toadfish has no commercial value and is generally considered a nuisance due to its powerful and potentially dangerous jaws which make it tough to remove from fishing hooks; however, it is edible.
- It can survive out of water for extended periods.
- This fish is also plays an important role in medical research.
- NASA and the Marine Biological Lab in Woods Hole just completed experiments in which toadfish were sent to space. To read about this research, go here.
Murdy, E.O., R.S. Birdsong, and J.A. Musick. 1997. Fishes of Chesapeake Bay. Smithsonian Institution Press, 324 pp.
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Date last modified: 07/14/99