Angler holding a common carp.
Getty Images: Sablin

3 Unexpectedly Tasty Freshwater Fish Worth Trying Yourself

Do these fish really taste bad for real, or is it just because we haven't tried them yet?

It's possible that the fishy taste you're finding in the fillets you just fried could be the result of bad handling. Sometimes it's just the way it was packaged before it was frozen or could it be that we're just not eating fish enough? While we all have our favorite fish to fry, some have gotten a bad reputation over time based on those who have had the gumption to try it, but just didn't like it.

Some of the fish that you and I take for granted such as halibut, flounder, grouper, swordfish, and albacore tuna can have a strong but subtle taste that we just love. Even freshwater fish like striped bass, walleye, and even catfish can turn the noses of some folks who aren't used to it, (not catfish!) but each to their own taste buds.

Let's look at three examples of fish some may have trouble allowing to pass their lips. This isn't to say that we should all start eating it regularly, just that we may need to give it a try.

Alligator Gar

Some of the best fishing and hunting videos we often see come from places like the Lone Star State and involve one of earth's most prehistoric looking (and fighting) creatures, the alligator gar. According to one of our favorite sources, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, "The flesh of the alligator gar is white and firm with a mild taste, comparable to the flesh of many sport fishes that anglers eat."

The site is also quick to warn that "While the flesh is tasty, it should be noted that the eggs of the alligator gar are toxic and may cause sickness if eaten."

That may be one reason people avoid alligator gar. However, we suspect one of the main reasons why folks tend to shy away from eating this incredible fish is that it is a difficult prospect to clean them. The alligator gar is an extremely tough customer. You might have to use wire cutters, tin snips, or possibly a hatchet to cut through the armor they have. That's a tall order, and more than most people want to deal with in their limited free time. Especially when there are so many other options for fresh fish in or near the same waters alligator gar inhabit. 

However, if you have the patience, and want one of the greatest tastes of southern cooking, then try the aforementioned video for making the inimitable fried gar balls. You might be surprised at how tasty they are. 


Even just by using the word "eel" it brings forth an undesirable attitude in even the most ardent consumers of the fish eating public. In fact, there are so many types of both freshwater and saltwater feels to choose from, it's hard to tell where to begin.

First of all, eel is perfectly edible. After that it should be said that eel blood is toxic to mammals, but the simple process of cooking it properly renders that issue a moot point. Depending on who you talk to, eel meat is said to be similar to salmon or catfish in taste. Although it may have a lighter, rather subtle, sweet, and simple taste with a slightly chewy texture.


These guys have a bad reputation as a bottom feeder and are often referred to as a "trash fish." However, they are not only good to eat, but great as an angler's target as well. There are carp tourneys across the globe. That's a great testament to their awesome ability as a freshwater foe.

Carp can be poached, fried, baked, grilled, or prepared any way you would cook and eat other fish. One thing that should be mentioned is that carp have the dreaded Y-bones that cause us to get a mouthful when we eat other fish species such as northern pike, This probably where a lot of their bad reputation comes from. However, scoring the meat before frying (as shown in the video above) lets the hot oil penetrate further to eliminate much of them during the cooking process.

Seafood Choices

The lesson to take away here is what one angler considers worst fish to eat for others may be the best fish for others and vice-versa. At the end of the day, the best tasting fish is really all a matter of opinion. All it takes is one person eating a bad fish that came from a poor ecosystem, or wasn't cooked properly, to soil their opinions.

Simply put, don't be afraid to judge a fish until you try it. You're limiting yourself to some awesome possible dishes if you only stick with the popular fish choices out there. At the very least keep an open mind to new opportunities. You never know, you may just find a new favorite!

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