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Old 31-05-2013, 21:18   #1
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Catching a Really Big Fish

As we were passing through Costa Rica a few years ago, I bought a really big ( used) fishing reel. All the sport fishing guy's had them so it must be cool. We troll with it's 100lb test line but I have been using lures that seem to only catch small fish, 10lbs or so. We have just a fridge, no frezer so there is no way to save stuff in the tropics for long, maybe a day before it starts to seem not so fresh. So if I keep this up sooner or later I am going to catch a really big fish. The idea scares me. Sure you could cut the line when you see the fish but what if I didn't? One of our friends here on the forum has given us a recipe for jerky so I'm wondering how great it would be to have 50lbs of jerky. Landing a big fish could be pretty dangerous, even a 10lb fish goes crazy in the cockpit before it succumbs to which ever method we kill it with. I have never been on a big league fishing expedition so I can't imagine how they land a 100lb fish safely. Squirting booze in it's gills sounds great but when this 100lb monster is thrashing around, casually squirting cheap Rum into it's gills also sounds iffy when you are trying to control the situation with the all the equipment flying around. So I am asking, how do you pull this off safely?
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Old 31-05-2013, 21:26   #2
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Re: Catching a really big fish

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So I am asking, how do you pull this off safely?
Up in Alaska, when a big halibut is reeled in, it sometimes gets a bullet in the head before they gaffe it.
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Old 31-05-2013, 21:40   #3
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Re: Catching a really big fish

Lance. Youtube "Wicked Tuna" to get the idea. Though those are 1000 lb.ers. No damage or risk and much less blood on deck. I use a big ass knife that screws onto the end of a boat hook. Halibut over 100 lb. are not uncommon around here. Jerky is great, but very difficult at sea. Must be kept totally dry.
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Old 31-05-2013, 21:57   #4
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It's called a kill stick. Basically a small bat. Crack to the head once or twice and the fish is done.
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Old 31-05-2013, 22:13   #5
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Re: Catching a really big fish

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It's called a kill stick. Basically a small bat. Crack to the head once or twice and the fish is done.
All experienced fishermen carry these- solid lump of wood with handle like a latrge rolling pin. If you don't have these guess a hammer could do at a pinch.

Large fish are simply filleted, split up into meal sized packs and then into the freezer. Never whole fish.

Few cruising vessels are set up well for processing fish. A good sized bait/processing board can be mounted on rails/transom.

Examples here Bait Cutting Boards & Filleting Boards, Fish & Bait Boards Can be build better/larger yourself.
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Old 31-05-2013, 23:11   #6
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Re: Catching a really big fish

Pound for pound the "fighting-est" fish would be the Mahi Mahi, or Dolphin fish. Yet they don't present as much risk as any of the tuna once landed. So, the issue is not the size of the fish per se. More accurately it is the species and the tuna presents the most risk although to land a swordfish would be hazardous in a confined space like a cockpit.

For a large fish ( >100 lbs ), I would not land (bring aboard) the fish until after it has expired. Run a stout line through the gill plate and out the mouth to hang the head above the water alongside the boat. For most species of tuna, there is a period of time when they are quite docile before they launch into what can be best described as violent thrashing, ie, the dance of death. I once witnessed a 90 lbs Albacore snap into two pieces two 2 x 6" boards sistered together which were four feet long. But just prior to that there were several minutes of complete stillness in the fish.

Still, it is best to act swiftly and for that there should be a plan. My plan for catching large fish is not unless I am within less than one day of landfall. Trading a big fish for fresh eggs and vegetables is a pleasurable pursuit.

BTW: billy clubs don't always achieve the desired result. Plus, they usually end up in liberally distributing fish parts and fluids around the boat. Piercing the ventral artery has a higher rate of success and is easy once one has learned some basic fish anatomy.
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Old 31-05-2013, 23:48   #7
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Re: Catching a really big fish

I catch them on a kayak, bleed them and haul em on board
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Old 31-05-2013, 23:58   #8
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Re: Catching a really big fish

Bleeding them is the secret! Just slice them on each side of the tail and leave them drag till they are dead then ya can bring em aboard with no mess or anything broken ! Makes for better tasteing meat because the blood is gone from the meat! And ya can use a perssure cooker and can most any fish ! We have canned tuna, mahi mahi, halibut, and a bunch more ! easy to do if it's not to hot LOL just a thought
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Old 01-06-2013, 00:02   #9
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Re: Catching a really big fish

If you beat them to death with a hammer,winch handle, special club, you end up with blood and fish scales all over your boat. After a friend told me about the vodka in the gills, I never beat on a fish again. A plastic squeeze bottle like you see in school labs with a tubing nozzle works easy, and the biggest fish(that I have caught) goes limp in about 90 seconds.____Try it, you will like it._____Grant.
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Old 01-06-2013, 00:03   #10
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Re: Catching a really big fish

to bleed tuna I insert the knife behind both pectoral fins. definitely bleed tuna and other pelagics.
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Old 01-06-2013, 00:59   #11
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Re: Catching a really big fish

We were light tackle fisherpeople. Dragged parachute cord with 200# stainless leader. We usually drowned the fish we caught before we brought them aboard. No fight or problems.

In the Marquesas we did hook up with a fish I wouldn't have wanted to bring aboard. We were doing about 4k in our Westsail when I felt the boat slow down. Looked back and saw the parachute cord was bar taut and stretched out slightly outside the boats wake. Whatever it was turned away from the boats direction of travel and the fish got off. The parachute cord, leader and lure shot forward like a slingshot with the lure landing in front of the boat. When I hauled the line end found the hooks straightened almost completely flat.

We had really good luck catching fish on the trip down, in the Marquesas and the Tuamotus. We'd soak the fish we couldn't eat in a day or two or give away in shoyu and hang to dry. Not a problem at anchor but seemed to take a long time to dry when we were sailing even in ideal weather. The problem with jerked fish is it was so tough it was exercise to eat. Ended up throwing much of it away or feeding to the cat. Caught Ahi, Aku, Mahi, and Ono.
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Old 01-06-2013, 02:58   #12
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Re: Catching a really big fish

I've done a fair amount of canning, mostly fruits and vegetables but some meats. For fish, I prefer smoking. Canning is a big operation and somewhat labor intensive. But canning, once organized, only requires two or three work stations. Smoking also requires the same amount of work stations but can be moved out of the cabin. Said another way, smoking is a cleaner job. I plan to be building a nice little shipboard smoker with multiple drying racks. My mouth is watering just typing this.
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Old 01-06-2013, 03:05   #13
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Re: Catching a really big fish

When fishing with elastic parachute cord or rubber snubbers, you gotta watch for those missles inbound. I've seen lures shoot through windows or once, even through the companion way to shoot through the cabin. A lucky shot.

Tuna will strike a lure so violently they may rip their jaw off when the line is stretched completely taut. That is one reason I like using a reel with good drag washers.
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Old 01-06-2013, 06:47   #14
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Re: Catching a Really Big Fish

The way yellowfin are caught on Wicked Tuna is when they get near the boat they are harpooned with a small hand held harpoon and then a noose is put around their tail. The fish bleed out pretty quick with the harpoon in them. They are then safely pulled out of the water dead or close to dead with no chance of losing them with the noose around their tail.

Using a gun sounds unnecessarily dangerous.

Without a big reel with enough braking force on the drag to absorb and dissipate all that heat energy a large fish will pull all the line off the reel and then part the line. One of the keys is to get the fish tired out from pulling on the drag for a long enough period of time. The bigger the fish, the more energy the drag needs to dissipate.
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Old 01-06-2013, 07:03   #15
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Re: Catching a Really Big Fish

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Without a big reel with enough braking force on the drag to absorb and dissipate all that heat energy a large fish will pull all the line off the reel and then part the line. One of the keys is to get the fish tired out from pulling on the drag for a long enough period of time.
The trick is to turn the fish. Pelagic species are always swimming. If you control the direction in which they swim you won't have to worry about being spooled. It is entirely doable to control their heading. Tuna help in that because they very typically swim perpendicular to the boat heading. So only a bit of effort is required to turn the fish toward the boat. Then it's wind like crazy and without creating a bird's nest on the reel.

Of course that presumes the hook is set in the mouth. One of the best fights I've had was when a tuna got hooked by the tail. In that case, a small fish feels like a beast.
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