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Puffer: a misunderstood fish

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By The Staff

Growing up near Long Island, New York in my teens much of my fishing was done on the many beaches brunting on the Atlantic Ocean. Most of our catch would be kingfish (southern whiting), weakfish (southern trout), striped bass and that nasty, ferocious bluefish. Intermixed were skates and my unforgettable sting ray. An occasional catch was the comical blowfish (southern puffer).

All the above were surf caught but the blowfish were treated with little respect and whenever they were beached a brief game of “Tickle the belly until it blew up and play soccer” would result. Once blown up, it could be easily kicked back to the breakers - what fun! A few years later a few friends and I happened to be told by some old salt that our piscatorial soccer ball was darned good eating and was selling wholesale at the Fulton Fish Market for $4.50 per pound. Yipes! let's try'em, was agreed, and our next trip proved their value.

About a year ago while out fishing with my buddy, Bob Robertson, a number of blowfish were caught and at our cleaning station I filleted a few - one cut just behind their bony head enabled me to push their body free from its round outer skin and voila! a perfect boneless fillet with only its spine to pick from when fried in oil.

One note of caution - the area around Titusville (east coast) produces a poisonous algae which the puffer feeds on - Do not eat! In fact, many Florida fishermen will not eat blowfish no matter where caught, even when fed with mild and honey. A quick check with the Florida Fish and Wildlife should confirm one way or other. For me, bring 'em on!

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