The first time you see one, thoughts of a giant angelfish cross your mind.

Spadefish just kind of have that look – or at least close enough to make the comparison.

But that’s about where it ends.

Spadefish, which have been around for decades, were an uncatchable species when locals first discovered them around saltwater navigational structures like buoys, wrecks and the Chesapeake Light Tower.

But that changed when a group of angler like Jim Wright realized that the roundish, flat species loved to eat small jellyfish – or, as it would turn out, anything resembling them.

Small pieces of clear, plastic bags were first one the list. But it didn’t take long to realize that small chunks of clam were the real ticket.

It didn’t take long for seriously thinking anglers to discover other items – even clear Gummy Bears – could entice this hard-fighting, wonderfully-tasting critter into biting.

Before long, especially with the help of regional free- and scuba-divers would confirm that spadefish were abundant throughout the region.

And they were becoming more so, it seemed, in the last couple of decades.

Yes, there have been years of a smaller population and less size of each catch, but the bounce-back has always been fantastic.

The clam industry it thankful. The product is super popular when spadefish time comes around.

And that time is already here.

Spadefish numbers are good right now and the water is warm enough that they are ready to eat.

Light spinning tackle – even fly rod – anglers have been enjoying the show.

Which sometimes leads to problems.

Let’s face it, anglers are people and people sometimes are, well, a little crazy.

Fly over the light tower any morning and witness the crowd of boats – sometimes three and four deep – trying to get in on the action.

Which has led many diehards to look for other places.

Many anglers have left the “popular” places and have started fishing around close-to-shore wrecks and artificial reels where they can work on a variety of species.

The plan produces good catches.

A lot of anglers fish for the oldest reasons – a good fight and a table full of wonderful eats.

And spadefish provide both.

The fight aside, the eating table can be the best place to enjoy spadefish. They are, to put if simply, excellent.

Fried, broiled, baked – you name it – all work.

But one of my favorites with this species is to take the fillets and dose them with a high-quality blackening seasoning – either homemade of bought.

Let the fillets marinate for a day or two, then melt butter and fire up the grill.

Give the fillets – or chunks of them – into the butter and give them a quick minute or two on the grill.

Fix your favorites sides ahead of time then set down to a fantastic meal.

But first, get away from the crowds and find yourself a fish-holding place that hasn’t been worked over by others and get yourself one of the best – and most fun – species you can imagine.