Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Rough Fish: Do We Have Good Taste Or Are We Snobs

by Scott Hall

Armas Yuhala of Cohasset has a commercial fishing license to harvest "rough fish" in Itasca County. He takes Bullheads (upper left), Suckers, Buffalo and Dogfish (upper right) from lakes and rivers. In March he harvested over 14 thousand pounds of Dogfish from the "hotpond" on the Mississippi by MN Power's Clay-Boswell Plant. He sells to fish markets in New York and other big cities.

I couldn't help but wonder why there's no market here for the fish. My guess is it's a combination of traditions and taste. It would be interesting to find out how Dogfish are prepared by those New Yorkers. Perhaps it's more highly valued by people from certain cultures.

I called Tom Dickson, author of The Great Minnesota Fish Book. Tom's book profiles 105 species of fish native to Minnesota waters. Most of these species I've never caught or eaten, and I couldn't find a Dogfish in his book. Tom and Armas both confirmed that the fish we call the Dogfish in MN is known as the Bowfin to people who study fish. In Louisiana it's called a Shoepike, from the French "choupique", meaning cabbage pike, which refers to its big appetite and preference for vegetated ("weedy") waters.

Tom doesn't like the term rough fish very much because it has a negative connotation that makes us inclined to undervalue their place in our waters. Plus, they all have amazing stories that explain why they belong in our lakes and rivers. KAXE's Early Bird Fishing Guide, Jeff Sundin, likes to spear and smoke suckers. Bullhead feeds are popular at firehall and other social feeding frenzies. Let us know if and how you have prepared and eaten "rough fish" .

Listen to our interview with Armas Yuhala

No comments: