How to Catch & Cook Roosterfish (+Health Benefits & Alternatives)

Do you like to fish? If you are an experienced angler, chances are you have heard of the wild roosterfish.

It is as difficult to catch as it is fun to look at, which makes it a favorite for anglers looking for a challenge.

If you do manage to haul in one of these fish, you may want to think twice before putting it on your menu.

Generally speaking, you can eat roosterfish safely, but it is not the best-tasting fish available. Using a strong sauce and frying it can cut down on the strong taste of roosterfish.

If you want to eat roosterfish, chances are you will need to catch it yourself or visit the East Pacific, where it lives, for local dishes.

Catching Roosterfish

If you want to eat roosterfish, you will most likely need to catch it yourself or charter a company to do the fishing for you.

Roosterfish puts up quite a fight so expect to need some specialized fishing gear, especially lines and reels that are strong enough to bring in this prize game fish.

Tip: Ask your charter company if they have any preparation tips or recipes for roosterfish. Because they fish in the waters where roosterfish live, they are the go-to experts on the best ways to eat these fish.

Where Roosterfish Live

Before you can eat roosterfish, you need to travel to their natural habitat to fish for them.

Roosterfish live in the Eastern Pacific, from Baja, California to Peru. They can get up to 100 pounds or more, while the average size is around 20 pounds.

They get their name from the spiny dorsal fin, which resembles a rooster comb. It raises up when they are excited. Their scales are also magnetic.

Sounds like a cool fish to catch! Unfortunately, this fish is not such a tasty option to eat. It is generally considered a sport game fish, rather than a fish meant to be eaten.

Most local anglers, professional anglers, and chefs recommend that you catch and release roosterfish. You can also mount it as a fishing trophy.

Storing Caught Roosterfish

If you manage to snag a roosterfish, congratulations!

Whether you want to eat it or mount it, you will need to keep the fish on ice until you get back to land. At that point, you can move it to a refrigerator.


One of the best ways to do this is to use an ice chest specifically designed for fishing. These can have continuous drain holes that reduce the likelihood that contaminants will accumulate on the fish.

They can be free-standing or attached to your boat. The most important thing is to keep the storage chest cold with plenty of ice.

How To Prepare Roosterfish

Once you catch a roosterfish that you want to eat, the next step is to filet and prepare it.

For those who want to catch and eat their own roosterfish, this species will take some extra work to catch and prepare.

Making sure to prepare your fish safely is important when eating any seafood. If you have fresh-caught roosterfish, you will need to filet it before cooking. Some charter companies offer this service for an additional cost.

Fileting Roosterfish Properly

Separate the skin and meat using a sharp filet knife. Start at the tail and work up. It’s best to do this on a flat surface. A small slip of your filet knife can have disastrous consequences for your fingers.

When you filet the roosterfish, make sure to remove the bloodlines from the meat. Roosterfish have large bloodlines, which is one of the reasons that they have such a strong taste.

Removing the bloodlines will help make the taste milder, although still very strong compared to other fish.

You can store raw roosterfish meat in the refrigerator for up to two days. It should be kept in an airtight container or bag to prevent bacteria from growing or the fish from contaminating other food.

How Much Meat Is On A Roosterfish

The amount of meat on the roosterfish will vary based on its size. The average roosterfish is around 20 pounds, which means you will get around 10 pounds of meat after you filet it.

If you are very experienced, you may be able to get a little bit more. You can then cut these into filets, cubes, or whatever size you prefer for preparation.

Cooking Roosterfish

You can cook roosterfish like most other seafood: grilled, broiled, stewed, and others. When you cook roosterfish, sear it on each side for a few minutes to get a nice crispy texture.

You will want to cook it until the internal temperature is 145 degrees Fahrenheit. How long this takes will depend on the thickness of your filets or pieces. Generally, once the fish is firm to the touch, it is done.

Roosterfish tend to be tougher than other types of fish. This means that it is very important not to overcook the fish or it will be so tough that it will be very difficult to eat.

Health Benefits Of Roosterfish

Generally, seafood is high in protein, good fats, Omega-3 fatty acids, and other nutrients. Roosterfish is no exception.

If you want to get the health benefits of including seafood in your diet, roosterfish can do that for you.

You should be aware of the sauces or other ingredients that you use to flavor and serve the roosterfish.

Cooking or serving fish with a lot of rich ingredients like butter or cream can make it less healthy, although it may improve the taste.

Consuming Raw Roosterfish

It’s important to think about the health impact of consuming raw fish as well.

The same guidelines for raw eating apply to roosterfish as any other type of seafood. It can be done, although you do run a higher risk of food poisoning.

If you are unsure how the roosterfish has been kept and prepared, this risk can go up even more.

Tip: Do not eat roosterfish (or any seafood) if you do not know that it has been stored at a safe temperature. You significantly increase your risk for foodborne illness by eating raw or cooked roosterfish that has not been stored safely.

Ceviche is a popular way to serve seafood that uses acidic citrus juices to “cook” fish.

This is a good way to get the fresh flavor that many people like from raw fish while also destroying some potentially harmful bacteria during the cooking process.

Flavoring Roosterfish Well

Because it has a strong flavor, it’s important to use equally strong seasonings and ingredients when preparing roosterfish.

Contrary to some other seafood options, you will want to mask the taste of roosterfish rather than highlight it.

Some people do like the taste of roosterfish but it is not a particularly popular fish.

It has much more recognition as a prize fish rather than one to eat. If you like strong fish tastes, you may want to try roosterfish.

Citrus-Flavored Seafood

Oranges, lemons, and limes make great flavor additions for a variety of seafood dishes. Roosterfish and lemons work very well together. Seasoning with salt and pepper will help the bright citrus flavor come through even more.

Pro Tip

You can marinate the roosterfish in lemon juice before grilling it or squirt fresh lemon juice on your cooked filets. Garlic makes another great addition to these dishes.

Crispy Roosterfish Filets

Another way to get around the strong taste of roosterfish is to focus on the texture of the dish.

Deep-frying roosterfish can create a crispy crust. Season your batter with strong spices before coating the roosterfish filet and frying it.

Roosterfish meat can be tough so be careful not to overcook it. This can be done easily when deep-frying so pay close attention to your dish as it cooks.

Remember that it will continue to cook for a minute or two even after you remove it from the deep fryer.

Flavorful Sauces And Salsas

Sauces and salsas with strong flavors can also work well with roosterfish. Spicy salsas with plenty of peppers have their own strong, distinct flavor.

Just make sure that you like spicy food or you may be wishing that you had gone lighter on the habanero!

Best Dishes With Roosterfish

Roosterfish is not a specialty in many dishes but can be prepared like other firm fish. Some popular choices include:

Garlic Butter Fish

Pan-fry roosterfish filets with plenty of garlic and butter. Add fresh lemon juice on top after the fish has cooked.

Deep-Fried Fish

Coat roosterfish filets with fish fry (prepare your own or buy premade at the store). Pan-fry or deep-fry in plenty of oil. Serve with tartar sauce for another great flavor boost.

Eating Like A Local

If you don’t want to fish for roosterfish, you might be able to find it on the menu of local seafood restaurants.

It is not common in restaurants, even in regions where it lives. If you do see it on a menu, you should at least give it a try. Who knows when you may have the chance again?

Top 3 Alternatives To Roosterfish

If you aren’t sure about roosterfish, you may want to try one of these other options that can be caught in the same area.

They will probably be available at the grocery store as well for those who don’t want to catch their own meal.

Fishing in the Eastern Pacific, you may catch one of these popular fish species.

They are also much more plentiful on menus and in grocery stores, even in other regions. They are great options for those who want something more palatable and easier to find.


This gigantic fish is also fun to catch but will require a special rig. Talk to your charter company about fishing for tuna versus roosterfish. Both can be a memorable dining experience.

Tuna are much more common on plates as well. Tuna is particularly great when eaten raw. It has hardly any “fishy” taste but takes on the flavor of other ingredients.

As a firm fish, it holds up well when cooked as well. Just be sure that the fish has been stored and prepared safely, especially if you want to eat it raw.


This fish is another large option that will make a fantastic photo if you do catch one in the wild.

They have a smaller region where they live and are in high demand, which means they are more expensive to buy for your next meal. They have a mild, firm flesh and taste great in a variety of dishes.

3.Pacific Mackerel

These fish tend to be smaller and leaner, making them great for a healthy diet. They can be salted and served raw, pickled, or cooked.

Mackerel are particularly popular in Asian cuisine and you will see them prepared with Asian spices and flavors often.

Final Thoughts

Roosterfish can be fun to catch and make a fantastic photo opportunity or mounted fish for sport fishermen.

As a meal, it is not generally very well-liked, although using strong flavors like citrus and spices can make it taste better.

Like all fish, make sure to store it safely on ice or in a refrigerator from the time you catch it until you are ready to prepare and eat it.