Monkfish - Lophius Piscatorius


Latin: Lophius Piscatorius

English: Monkfish, Angler, Headfish, Goosefish

German: Der Seeteufel, Anglerfisch

French: La Baudroie Commune

Italian: Rana Pescatrice

Spanish: El Rape Común, Rape Blanco

Croatian: Grdobina

About: Monkfish (Angler, Headfish, Goosefish) is name of several types of fish in the northwest Atlantic, most often the species of the anglerfish genus Lophius.

Monkfish has a very large head with a large mouth that bears long, sharp, recurved teeth. Body is flat and adapted for life on the sea bottom - depending on the species, body is light or dark brown-reddish, with dots and spots of various sizes and shapes that help Monkfish to camouflage itself while waiting for prey.

Thee first spines of the spinous dorsal fin has been modified to act as an angling apparatus that bears a bulb-like (fleshy) lure. This angling apparatus is located at the tip of the snout just above the mouth and is used to attract prey - small fish that are swallowed whole.


Monkfish on fishmarket - photo is not 'flattened', monkfish is that flat :)
Photo by N.M.

In many countries, according to the regulations, the phrase "monkfish" is only permitted for species:

- Lophiodes Caulinaris,

- Lophius Americanus,

- Lophius Budegassa,

- Lophius piscatorius.

Monkfish is relatively large fish - it grows to a length of more than 1.5 m (5 ft) with specimens of 1 m (3 ft) being common. The largest recorded specimen weighed around 115 kg (253 lb).

Habitat: Monkfish is found in North Atlantic on both sides - in Europe and in America. Also, it is found in Mediterranean and Black Sea (actually, Black Sea is part of Mediterranean Sea, but for many species it is needed to emphasize this).

In general, Lophiidae or anglerfishes are found in the Arctic, Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans.

Monkfish can be found on various terrain types that provides opportunity for easy prey and camouflage - it roams from shallows to depths up to 1000m.

Fishing period: It can be caught year long, little bit better in warmer months.

Fishing rigs and tackle: Due to it's size and shape, it can be easily caught in various nets. In recreational fishing, it is most commonly caught on longline and on strong rod and reel. Rarely, it will attach slow moving lure while trolling just above sea bed - in that case, prepare for great surprise and fight :)

It will swallow any fish or fish meat that it can find. Due to the mouth size, even rather small specimens can swallow large bait.


Monkfish on fishmarket, with Gilthead Seabream (down right).
Photo by N.M.

Cuisine:  Monkfish is considered as delicacy. Tail has very special taste and often is prized more than a lobster. Head is often used in soups and fish stews with other fish. Tail has almost no bones, but many people prefer Monkfish head in fish stew and then served on large plate - whole - myself included :)

Acutally, it is great, no matter how one prepares it - barbequed, fried, grilled ... Also, the liver of monkfish, known as ankimo, is considered a delicacy in Japan.