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Old 13-09-2009, 04:46   #1
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Challenge: Landing a Really Big Fish

Last year while sailing off the coast of Long Island, Bahamas I hooked the biggest Mahi Mahi I've ever seen. As luck would have it, it hit on the rod with my smallest reel, a Penn 114H. As I worked to get it (him or her) to the boat, it kept trying to cirle the stern. I've never experienced a fish doing that before. So for about an hour and half, I worked the fish as Diane drove the boat in circles to keep him on the port side. I finally got it along side, gaffed it and hefted it to the deck amidships. Then all hell broke loose! The fish was a good 5' long and went around 70#. Diane was trying to hand me a towel to cover his head and the rubbing alcohol to sedate him when he exploded, thrashing about like I've never seen one do before. I still had the gaff in him, but his girth was so large it didn't go all the way through. I jumped to the cabin top to escape bodily harm and in a matter of seconds the was off the gaff, over the lifelines, back in the water, broke the 100# steel leader and left with my lure!

The good news is that he didn't leave a single drop of blood anywhere, so the consensus is he wasn't mortally wounded and most likely survived the ordeal.

My question is, what is good proceedure to land something of this size? Bringing one across the transom is out of the question do to the dink on davits, so the foredeck is the only option.

I need to get this figured out cause I'll be back there in a few months and plan to get my lure back and him in my freezer!

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Old 13-09-2009, 05:14   #2
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Unless you have a humongous freezer, why try to catch a fish that big? use a smaller lure, and catch smaller, easier to handle fish, enjoy a fresh fish dinner, and try again the next time to do the same.
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Old 13-09-2009, 05:19   #3
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We have two deep freezers and we eat what we catch. I enjoy fishing and, as stated, am trying to figure how to deal with larger fish should I ever catch one again. Billfish I hook are catch and release cause I can grab the bill (up to around 100#) and remove the lure and let em go. Plus I have zero interest in getting into a dual with a billfish on the foredeck.
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Old 13-09-2009, 05:20   #4
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Where's Vasco when I need him...lol!
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Old 13-09-2009, 06:27   #5
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Well, I use lighter line (40 lb test) because if I can't land it on 40 lb test, I don't want it in my cockpit.

I also use a fish billy to subdue the fish, not alcohol. Crude but effective.
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Old 13-09-2009, 06:29   #6
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On a big fish, try to get a tail rap on them and drag them for awhile, this will give them a chance to become exhausted. Or you can club them, but it makes a huge mess. I have seen people put a thumb through the eyes, or rip out a hand full of gill plates.
We keep alcohol in a spray bottle, which allows a more distant application The towel and liquor is the best approach. It sounds like you just got a "Hot One". We caught a 60 pound tuna, and we have a freezer but it maxed our storage out. SO we graciously traded for ice, gasoline, water, and used it for tipping at the fuel docks . But I did kinda feel like "Forest Gump", we had it raw,grilled,tuna salad, boiled, etc. etc.
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Old 13-09-2009, 07:50   #7
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use i fish billy. keep Dawn dish soap, a bucket, and a scrub brush on hand for clean up. Don't let the blood dry and clean up is easy.
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Old 13-09-2009, 08:15   #8
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A good approach is to drop them directly into a big fish box, slam the lid on him, and sit on the lid till you are sure he is dead, one resurected on me an jumped out when we raised the lid to unhook him. But, who has room for a big fish box on deck. If you can cover his head with a big wet beach towel as soon as he hits the deck it helps keeps them from thrashing and makes it easier to hang on to them till you can subdue them with alcohol or better a good fish billy.
It is very improtant, in my opinion, to use a single hook lure like the cedar plug pictured or a spoon or feather. A trebel or other multi hook lure is liable to hook you also as you swing aboard and wrestle the thrashing fish.
Good luck, don't forget the Kikkoman and Wasabe.
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Old 13-09-2009, 08:24   #9
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Why not just have a towel soaked in booze/alcohol in a bucket with a lid on it ready to go. As soon as the fish clears the gunwale, your mate throws the alcohol soaked towel over the head. - If the fish gets away, she throws the towel over your head. . .
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Old 13-09-2009, 09:30   #10
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And if the fish ain't bitin suck on the towel!
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Old 13-09-2009, 10:11   #11
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I release any fish i cant eat in 3-4 days, why freeze it ? Im not sure if you relize there is a BIG difference in frozen fish and fresh fish , why keep a big frozen fish on a boat-?? The bahamas has all the fresh fish you want just about any day you drop your line in -if your near the drop off I say let the really big ones go to reproduce and keep a 20 pounder
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Old 21-11-2009, 10:54   #12
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I always gaff the larger fish in the tail, we have caught several dolphin that size. I have found if you can control the tail you can control the fish, this includes when you have him in the cockpit.
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Old 21-11-2009, 11:26   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sailing now View Post
The fish was a good 5' long and went around 70#. Diane was trying to hand me a towel to cover his head and the rubbing alcohol to sedate him when he exploded, thrashing about like I've never seen one do before.
Here's your problem, rubbing alcohol should not be used. Use only the best dark rum. There are two methods, take a mouthful, swallow. Take another mouthful, spit it at the damn fish, anywhere near the head but try to get the gills.

The second method is to put the rum in a squirt bottle like those plastic ketchup or mustard holders. When you've got the fish's head out of the water get your partner to squirt the rum in the gills. I have even thought of using a squirt gun.

I tried baseball bats but all that happened was the first swipe I missed and put a ding in the hull, the second swipe I lost the bat. I think you might have tried to land the fish too soon. I know we all hurry in case a shark takes it but it doesn't hurt to tire the bugger out first.

My gaff is a bit short (no comments please) so I sometimes shove a boathook down the throat. See pic.

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Old 21-11-2009, 12:52   #14
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I just use my 44 Mag and a gaff
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Old 21-11-2009, 12:54   #15
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