Forget the halibut in Dana Point harbor, one angler was recently surprised when he reeled in a spotted ratfish during a 1/2 day boat excursion aboard the 'Real Fun' operated by Dana Wharf Sportfishing and Whale Watching.
According to General Manager Donna Kalez, these fish, like the one above are far from typical.
"It was a super cool catch," she said. "We've not seen one here in about two years and it is definitely not eatable."
She said Capt. Dusty Mayo had to send it to another captain to find out what the heck it was.
According to Ocean.org: "the scientific name of the spotted ratfish means “water rabbit,” and it is also called the blunt-nosed chimaera. It belongs to the same family as the rabbit fish and is similar in shape, but unlike its relative, it does not have an anal fin on the underside next to the tail. Its pattern of white spots on a dark background may provide camouflage in the same way as the spots help to camouflage deer in a forest.
"The spotted ratfish uses its large pectoral fins to glide and flap its way over the seabed in search of its prey, which consists mainly of mollusks and crustaceans. Like other chimaeras, the female lays eggs, each one encased in a tadpole-shaped, protective capsule. The eggs are laid in the summer, two at a time, and are dropped onto the seabed."
Like Kalez mentioned, the ratfish is not fished commercially, since it is not very palatable, although it is sometimes unintentionally caught in nets along with other fish, Oceana.org says.
"It is not popular with fishermen because it has the ability to inflict a nasty wound with its sharp dorsal spine and can also deliver a painful bite. The spotted ratfish is frequently encountered at night by scuba divers, its large eyes glowing green by flashlight," the site says.
The folks over at Laguna Niguel Lake have never seen a ratfish. They say it's more of a saltwater fish.
At the lake, the top three fish caught:
Winter season - Rainbow trout, bluegill, crappie
Summer season: Channel catfish, largemouth bass, bluegill/crappie