garbage fish

'Trash Fish' Don't Deserve Such a Bad Reputation

They're not all bad.

You've probably heard people talk about "trash fish," "garbage fish," "garbage mouth" or "rough fish." While there are a lot of names, they all describe fish that aren't a sought-after game species. You're probably thinking of a few right now.

Some fish in America aren't good for eating, others don't put up a fight and some are believed to be killers. I'm guilty of harboring a few prejudices towards fish species myself. I'm working on this and the more I learn, the more I tolerate.

In some cases, I've grown to even like these so-called trash fish.


Image via Pinterest

Image via Pinterest

The American fishing community has labeled all the gar species as garbage. The alligator gar has it the worst, as for years it's been the target for elimination, even by state and federal authorities.

Now, lets take a step back and look at the gar species as a whole. This is a fish that's remained relatively unchanged since the Cretaceous period with some reaching sizes of 8 feet long and over 300 pounds. Who wouldn't want to hook into something like that?


The freshwater drum has stolen many a bait from me when I was walleye fishing. I'm not mad because I don't think a fish that fights this hard could make me mad. I have to admit, I don't eat this fish and probably never will. It's all because of what the fish themselves eat: zebra mussels.

I've heard it's great eating when you smoke it. Personally, I would rather let it go so the fish will continue to eat the invasive zebra mussels.


Image via wikipedia

Image via wikipedia

Most of you are looking at this and are arguing that catfish are not a rough fish. Well, that depends on where you live. Being a Michigan native, I believed this was one of the worst trash fish out there. I've never been so happy to be wrong when I pulled up a 37-inch channel cat my wife convinced me to keep. A

ll members of the catfish family are terrific eating. I probably don't have to go into detail about how fun they are to catch!


Common, buffalo and grass carp shouldn't be on this list, but they are. Fly anglers have targeted this species, and for a good reason. Carp fight hard and apparently taste pretty good, too.

Buffalo carp are some of the most popular fish to eat in the United States. Bowfishing for these giants is a bit controversial, but that's a ton of fun, too. Carp also thrive in bodies of water that other fish can't survive in. This fish offers angling opportunities across the globe in bodies of water that might not offer fish.


Image via Pinterest

Image via Pinterest

Dogfish, mud fish and mud pike are some amazing fighters. If you've had the fortune of hooking into one, you know they can put up a fight better than almost any game fish.

These fish are elusive and can be tricky to catch, which makes them worth the pursuit.

Bowfin also have one of the most unique uses in what is called "Cajun caviar."


This one I just don't understand. Smoking suckers is a Michigan classic. If you think suckers are inedible, you need to make a trip to the Midwest.

White Bass and White Perch

I've yet to taste test this fish, but I certainly will. I won't say that these fish are exceptionally great fighters, but apparently they're more than sustainable seafood. In fact, most people I've talked to would describe them as delicious.