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10 Ugly Fish Swimming the Seas, Streams, and Sewers

Ugly Fish

These 10 ugly fish have a face that only their momma could love, but we want to catch them anyway.

Most of the time, it doesn't matter to us what a fish looks like. We just want to catch one.

Even ugly fish can put up a good fight, and that's the whole point. All we want to know is where to go, what do you use, and what time to be there. Because when that rod bends over, there are very few things we can think of that are any better.

Let's be honest, if one of these fish came up out of the depths attached to your line you would be alternately shocked and happy, but you wouldn't necessarily be disappointed. In fact, you may just start to believe that they look interesting, or silly, or even tasty. Anything but ugly...

The bottom line is that not every fish can be a beautiful rainbow trout from a pristine mountain stream or a peacock bass straight out of the Amazon River. 

What do we truly believe when it comes to fishing? That each species plays a role, deserves respect, and adds some intrigue to our lives as anglers.

Even if they have a face only a mother would love.

1. Anglerfish

Of all relationships in the animal kingdom, anglerfish might be the clingiest. Mates actually fuse together. To prevent...

Posted by The Scientist on Friday, July 31, 2020

According to National Geographic, "The angry-looking deep sea anglerfish has a right to be cranky. It is quite possibly the ugliest animal on the planet, and it lives in what is easily Earth's most inhospitable habitat: the lonely, lightless bottom of the sea."

With that in mind you'd be angry too. Maybe this species has a name humans can relate to, but its prey will never know what hit it. There are actually around 200 species of anglerfish, some that even live in more shallow, tropical environments, meaning you may just have the chance to land one some day.

2. Blobfish

Blobfish to become the official #mascot of the Ugly Animal Preservation Society. Details: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-24040130 #aquarium

Posted by Central Florida Aquarium Society - CFLAS.org on Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Smithsonian Magazine says that "Two years ago the blobfish was voted the earth's most hideous species in an online poll conducted by the British-based Ugly Animal Preservation Society." Proof positive that you could tighten a line and have to break it simply because the fish is so darn gruesome.

3. Frogfish

Hairy Frogfish

Posted by Planet Earth Phenomenon on Tuesday, April 24, 2012

There are about 46 known species of frogfish worldwide found mostly in tropical and temperate seas, and it may be more appropriate to call them strange looking rather than ugly. Like the anglerfish, the frogfish uses a dangling lure that they wave in front of their mouth to attract prey. Gotta love it!

The frogfish swims by using jet propulsion in which its rear-facing gill openings propel it along rather than using a tail like most fishes. This almost makes it look like it is walking.

4. Goblin Shark

GOBLIN SHARK

Posted by I Love Animals on Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The goblin shark is another denizen of the deep seas. These creepy looking sharks have a prominent snout that sticks well out in front of its face and is covered with specialized sensing organs to help it find prey. They can actually extend their jaws to swallow their meals, and by the looks of it, not much gets away.

5. Monkfish

Goosefish/monkfish . Photo credit unknown

Posted by Marine Creations Taxidermy on Sunday, November 20, 2016

If you start a search for this crazy looking fish, the first thing that comes up is the myriad recipes for cooking this awful looking thing. Don't be confused: it tastes great! Monkfish is sometimes known as the 'lobster tail' when it comes to eating, but this fish is still as ugly as they come.

6. Catfish

Caption this catfish 💬💬💬#captionthis #captionchallenge#catfish

Posted by Bristol Aquarium on Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Catfish that are native to North America go by the scientific family name of ictalurids, and even that sounds bad. The big three types of catfish are blue catfish, channel catfish and flathead catfish and to anglers everywhere that they exist and fish for, they are some of the most beautiful creatures on earth.

But then again catfishermen think cut bait is beautiful, too.

7. Frilled Shark

The frilled shark has row after row of gnarly, inward-facing teeth, but its cousin, the goblin shark, can thrust its jaw right out of its face, so which one is more terrifying? Since it's a shark it should be ready, willing, and able to take any bait and give up a good fight, right?

Except that it lives somewhere between 400 and 4,200 feet deep. Grab your sinkers!

8. Lake Sturgeon

The hook and line lake sturgeon season began this weekend-- did you make it out for it? How did you do?We're...

Posted by Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources on Tuesday, September 10, 2019

According to the National Wildlife Federation, "Also called rock sturgeon, this freshwater fish is the oldest and largest native species in the Great Lakes." These barbel-faced fishes grow big, really big, and they "can live for decades. Males may reach 55 years, while females have been recorded living for 150 years."

And yes, we would love to catch (and release) them.

9. Viperfish

The viperfish, Chauliodus macouni, has teeth so large they don't fit in its mouth! Photo by Rob Sherlock.

Posted by Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) on Thursday, July 27, 2017

Not only is the viperfish one of the ugliest and most frightening looking creatures on Earth, but it is also one of the most unmistakeable. Since the viperfish is one of the most ferocious predators in the sea, and its teeth don't even fit inside of its mouth, you would think that this fish would be a prime time foe for anglers everywhere.

Just make sure to tie on an old lure that you don't care about.

10. Atlantic Wolffish

With powerful jaws like these the Atlantic wolffish prefers hard-bodied prey like sea snails, which it crushes like M&Ms. 📸: instagram.com/monster_fish_taxidermy

Posted by OceanX on Friday, October 23, 2020

Atlantic wolffish live along the coast of the Atlantic Ocean in North America from around Labrador to Georges Bank near Cape Cod. This cold water species has a set of teeth that could make any prominent orthodontist rich, but it uses them to feed on some pretty tasty items, including scallops, hermit crabs, Jonah crabs, and sea urchins just to name a few.

Honorable Mention

Gulper eels, fangtooths, coffinfish, prickly dogfish, viperfish, slickheads, and giant sea spiders all get credit where it's due. Actually, the way we humans see things, we could probably find a whole lot more to add to this list, but for now we'll just leave it at that.

Most of these ugly fish live in some seriously deep water near the sea floor and as fish species go, we don't usually see them very often. But, just for the record, we still want to know about what swims in the water where we do fish, just in case.

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NEXT: 43 HUNTING AND FISHING TERMS, AND THEIR (TONGUE-IN-CHEEK) MEANINGS

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10 Ugly Fish Swimming the Seas, Streams, and Sewers