Can You Eat A Ladyfish?

Ladyfish have long, slender, rounded pike-like bodies covered in fine silver scales and are also known as poor man’s tarpon, tenpounder, river fish, fiddler, silverfish, and john. 

The young Ladyfish has an eel-like appearance and is translucent. Like its cousins’ tarpon, bonefish, and skipjack, ladyfish is also a member of the Elopidae family.

Ladyfish is not a popular fish on the menu, but that doesn’t mean it cannot be eaten. Because of its texture, it should be prepared in a particular way. Most people who eat ladyfish, prefer it cooked in a pressure cooker, in a cake shape, or in a stir-fry.

If you happen to be in an area where you can get this fish, it may be worth a shot, but there are a few things to keep in mind. So, let’s find out more about Ladyfish and how it tastes.

Diet And Size Of Ladyfish

The larvae of ladyfish consume nutrients from the water. Afterward, they shift their focus to insects, small fish, and zooplankton. 

Adult Ladyfish are strictly carnivorous, preferring small bony fish and crustaceans. It can grow to be 35 inches long and 30 pounds in weight.

It is a predatory fish with tiny, sharp teeth and a bony throat plate between its mandibles. The upper body of the fish is bluish or greenish, despite its overall silvery appearance. 

It has no dorsal spines and just 25 to 29 dorsal soft rays. There are no anal spines on it, but it does have 16 to 19 anal soft rays. It has silvery or dusky yellowish dorsal and caudal fins and pale and speckled pelvic and pectoral fins. The scales are thin, with over 100 on the lateral line.

Where To Catch Ladyfish?

It can survive in a variety of salinities and is found in brackish water lagoons, bays, and mangroves. Some have also been seen many miles offshore. 

Open water in channels with average currents and shallow bars is preferred by the fish. It can also withstand low temperatures for brief periods.

How To Catch A Ladyfish?

How To Catch A Ladyfish

To locate them, use spoons. These are simple to throw and are liked by the fish, who enjoy chasing and swallowing whole fish. 

You must use its favorite prey, like mullet, anchovies, sardines, menhaden, shrimp, and crustaceans, as live or dead bait. The largest ones will be difficult to capture, so use a quick-action spinning rod with a length of about 7 feet. 

If you are going to use it as live bait, go for a medium-action reel. The extra versatility and whip can prevent the live bait from being torn away. Also, if you are using lures, make sure they are moving quickly or, the fish will miss them.

Once you have caught a ladyfish, handle it with extreme caution. It has razor-sharp teeth that can cause injuries. To avoid a nasty cut, unhook the fish with special fish pliers when keeping it around the fins. To evade piercing of skin by its teeth, make sure you are wearing gloves.

The fish can spray muddy poop on the deck once it is on board, so be prepared to clean it. To remove these stains, you can use a combination of liquid detergent and a cup of white vinegar.

Best Season To Catch Ladyfish

These fish are found all around the year, but the location changes with the seasons. The fish is scattered across estuaries and bays with low salinity in the spring. 

During the early morning hours or when the sun is setting down in the summer, the fish will seek refuge in deeper waters and shallow waters to avoid the harsh sun.

Valuable Fishing Tips For Catching Ladyfish

Ladyfish are caught easily with a fluorocarbon chief. It is the only one that the razor-sharp teeth of fish can not quickly break through. Invest in one with a 10 to 15-pound test and a braided or monofilament thread. 

Combining the leader with the monofilament line will give you more flexibility while fishing. 

The silver spoon is the perfect bait for catching ladyfish. It, combined with a shallow diving plug, would imitate mullet, one of its favorite prey.

These fish prefer shallow water.  If you are in 30 feet of water where the large ones congregate, you will see surface action. They can easily follow small baits to the surface, so keep an eye out for birds feeding on baitfish in the water. It will help you to catch them.

Using a light rig to catch ladyfish can be a lot of fun; the lighter the better. If you are targeting juveniles, a strong 4 to 6-pound test reel paired with a 6-foot rod will suffice. 

Popping surface flies and small streamer flies of silver hue can attract skipjacks. Backwaters are ideal for fly fishing because they are sheltered from the wind. A nice 2 to 4-weight rod will help you to cast far and have a good time on the boat.

Is Ladyfish Edible?

While it is edible, some people are hesitant to try it because of their fears. For one thing, it has more bones than other, more attractive fish. While other forms of fish have bones, ladyfish have enough that they are visible when eaten. Because of the large number of tiny bones, this dish can be more difficult to eat than others. 

The tiny bones from fish are removed if it is cooked correctly. More experienced chefs are aware of certain tricks that can make this fish very tasty to some.

Taste of Ladyfish

The overwhelming majority of people dislike the taste of ladyfish. Yeah, you can eat this fish, but that does not guarantee that you will enjoy the flavor. It has crumbly meat that is more textured than other fish, according to many. It is more mushy and sticky than other forms of seafood, which is why you would not find it on the menus of several restaurants. 

The oiliness of this fish is possibly one of the reasons many people avoid it. The oily flavor has been described as overwhelming by some. Many people dislike this sort of fish because it lacks texture and does not melt in your mouth like other kinds.

Is It Safe To Eat?

This fish is healthy to eat according to all guidelines. As previously mentioned, there is little information about the mercury levels in this particular fish, so it is best to eat it in moderation, but that does not mean you should not try it. It is not everyone’s favorite, but those that do seem to love its distinct flavor and texture.

Can We Eat It Raw?

This fish can not be used in sushi or sashimi as the number of bones makes it impractical to use. Hence, this fish can not be eaten raw.

Moreover, there is no confirmed information about the mercury level present in the fish. Therefore, it is not considered safe to be eaten raw.

How To Cook It Like A Chef?

Since their bodies are bony and their flesh is mushy, these fish are used as bait rather than for consumption. They are, however, edible, have a mild flavor, and can be used as a base for tasty fish cakes and other dishes when combined with a few other ingredients. 

Remove the scales from the entire fish before cleaning and gutting it. Remove the rib bones from the fish and fillet them. Scrape the flesh away from the bones with a spoon and put it in a dish. When all of the skin is removed, comb through it carefully to extract any small bones.

Combine mayonnaise, egg, and lime juice in a mixing bowl. Toss in some finely chopped celery and fresh parsley. Season the mixture to taste with salt and pepper. 

Blend the flaked fish into the mayonnaise mixture thoroughly. Allow 30 minutes for it to firm up in the refrigerator. 

Make patties out of the mixture. On a tray, spread out the bread crumbs. Using your hands, gently dredge each patty in the crumbs, turning to coat. 

In a frying pan over medium heat, heat the oil. Cook the fish cakes for 5 minutes on each side in the cooking pan, until the crumbs are golden brown and the cake is thoroughly cooked.


Now you know that ladyfish is a fish that can be eaten. Some people enjoy this fish when it’s cooked well, particularly when the bones are removed and it’s pressure cooked.

There’s no excuse not to try this fish if you’re looking for something different to try. So next time when you find a well-cooked ladyfish on the menu, make sure to indulge yourself in it.

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