Why does fish caught by spear taste better than hooked fish?


I was listening to the radio this morning and heard one of the talk stations pitch a meat of the week pic as spearfished black grouper.  It was supposed to taste better.  Nobody really said why, just that it was supposed to.  I initially said in my little brain “BS” to myself.  But it got me thinking so I had to find out the answer.

What I found out is most divers who choose to spearfish don’t even know why  there is a difference in the quality of the fish flesh between netted or hook-and-line caught fish and speared fishing. Netted and hook-caught fish fight being caught and will thrash and usually die more slowly, causing an increase in lactic acids in the muscle tissue. The lactic acids in the flesh cause tend to degrade the quality of the flesh for eating. Harpooned and speared fish don’t suffer from this quality degradation since death comes instantly.

Apparently fish suffer from an intense amount of stress when caught by a hook or in a net.  This makes sense.  No big space to swim around in.  Internally the physical exertion that the fish suffers from trying to escape causes an oxygen deficit in the tissues which in turn forces the muscles to function anaerobically (without oxygen). When the fish does not get enough oxygen in it’s system it builds up lactic acid in the muscle which then diffuses into the fishes blood system.  This lactic acid acts as an acid in the blood which causes the pH of the blood to drop.  Even tiny changes in pH can cause big disturbances in the fish’s metabolic process which in the long run can kill the fish.

FYI for fish, it may appear with the catch and release programs that a fish can still die 3 days after you have released it if he has too much pH.  So what about game fish?  You know the ones you struggle with for ages like big marlin?   You can fight for an hour with some of them.  How much better would a tuna or marlin taste if speared?

So would you pay more for a speared fish in a fish market or do you think this is just a clever ploy to demand more $ from the catch of the day. 

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About daniellesdives

diving enthusiast
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