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Old 27-01-2022, 20:58   #1
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Catching Fish while Sailing?

Question for those Fishermen and Sailors. How do you usually land a fish when you're sailing and trolling? Do you just keep the sailboat going and try to wrestle the fish in against the current? Get the sails in irons to stop moving? What do you guys recommend? Thanks for any advice!
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Old 27-01-2022, 21:17   #2
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Re: Catching Fish while Sailing?

Put boat in to irons and land the fish. Too easy for the fish to get away otherwise.

Fish caught on long passages are usually Mahi mahi or Tuna. A successful catch is always a highlight for crew.
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Old 27-01-2022, 21:21   #3
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Re: Catching Fish while Sailing?

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Put boat in to irons and land the fish. Too easy for the fish to get away otherwise.

Fish caught on long passages are usually Mahi mahi or Tuna. A successful catch is always a highlight for crew.
This is exactly the answer I was looking for! Thank you!
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Old 27-01-2022, 21:21   #4
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Re: Catching Fish while Sailing?

Depends how big ! Sometimes luff up to get something big in .
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Old 27-01-2022, 22:01   #5
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Re: Catching Fish while Sailing?

I've given it up.

You never catch the right fish. You think "Bit of sashimi would be nice", throw the line in and a damned mackerel will grab it and you end up going without the sashimi and then having to eat a freezer full of mackerel for the next two months (Single hander and some of the mackerel in northern Queensland have to be seen to be believed)
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Old 27-01-2022, 22:11   #6
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Re: Catching Fish while Sailing?

I’ve never done more than luff up to slow progress when landing a fish. I keep a gaff in the lazarette and clean them on the aft deck. I don’t want anything large so I shake off or use the gaff to dislodge the hook if I get anything I can’t consume in a couple days.
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Old 27-01-2022, 22:17   #7
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Re: Catching Fish while Sailing?

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I've given it up.

You never catch the right fish. You think "Bit of sashimi would be nice", throw the line in and a damned mackerel will grab it and you end up going without the sashimi and then having to eat a freezer full of mackerel for the next two months (Single hander and some of the mackerel in northern Queensland have to be seen to be believed)
I can see the frustration. Some Mackerel are just too oily. If I may(this may take some more time compared to Sashimi), try to brine the Mackerel for a few hours. We have Spanish and King Mackerel here in Florida. We usually brine them and they actually taste good. Just some food for thought, pun intended.
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Old 27-01-2022, 22:42   #8
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Re: Catching Fish while Sailing?

For me, with a crew of 2, we only slow down a bit. Rounding up and luffing the sails is not worth the effort IMO. Far offshore, in rough conditions, it could even be dangerous and make it extra difficult to land the fish. I will grant that there may be an increase in risk of losing the fish by not immediately reducing speed to 0 knots, but in my experience, the additional risk is low.

When we get a strike we will first de-power the rig by slacking the sheets (or cutting the throttle back to idle if motoring) and then reel in the fish (walking the rod up from the stern along the side deck to a point amidships forward of the mizzen shrouds).


If I can slow the boat from 7k to 4k I have reduced the work of landing the fish and reduced the risk of losing it, but have not sacrificed stability or momentum or really even slowed the boat's progress a great deal. Once the fish is gaffed aboard, one crew re-adjusts the sails while the other butchers the fish.
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Old 27-01-2022, 23:45   #9
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Re: Catching Fish while Sailing?

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Put boat in to irons and land the fish. Too easy for the fish to get away otherwise.

Fish caught on long passages are usually Mahi mahi or Tuna. A successful catch is always a highlight for crew.
That is what we did after hooking a Marlin a few days out on a crossing the Atlantic after leaving the Caribbean in 1977. It took us almost an hour to land the fish... in the end we had to lower the dingy, get the fish into it, get a line around his tail to lift him on board.

We were a crew of 6 so it kept us in meat for a while.
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Old 28-01-2022, 00:48   #10
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Re: Catching Fish while Sailing?

Nice -I bet that was a happy day pt49!

Mainly spring salmon here. Drag them along a while if going slow enough, then turn upwind and hope I get the fish in before the tide sweeps us into anything nasty. And/or frantically start the motor…
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Old 28-01-2022, 03:52   #11
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Re: Catching Fish while Sailing?

We fish with hand lines on a 40' catamaran and NEVER luff up to a stop to land a fish.

We do slow to three or four knots. At that speed none but the largest fish can turn away and put up a fight. We have to be patient, get the tired fish to the side of the sugar scoop and use a gaff (or two if necessary) to haul the fish up the sugar scoop stairs.

Safety comes first. If the fish is big enough to need a gaff, harnesses and tethers go on the humans. A tail line is ready for the fish. No fish is worth going overboard for!

Over the last six years or so these techniques have worked well for us in the Caribbean, Atlantic, and the Med. (By the way, don't believe the "there are no fish in the Med" story. The biggest tuna we have landed all came out of the Med.
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Old 28-01-2022, 04:27   #12
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Re: Catching Fish while Sailing?

I carry right on sailing, but I also fish with a big line so there's no danger of breakage. I haven't yet hooked a fish that I couldn't just haul in hand over hand, slosh into the cockpit and bang on the head with a shilelagh.
That said, I'm not great at fishing, and am never in a position to despise even the most humble mackerel.
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Old 28-01-2022, 05:57   #13
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Re: Catching Fish while Sailing?

If you are trolling multiple lines, you NEVER stop to fight or land a fish. Slow way down, yes, but stop, never. The fish will swim around, tangling the other lines. If you keep moving, he is forced to the top of the water an nothing tangles.


Also, moving keeps some pressure on the hook, making it harder to through the hook. With a hand line it is difficult to keep the slack out when they start head-shaking at the sight of the boat. The only fish I have lost were due to going too slow during landing.



Don't be in too big a hurry to land the fish. Let them get a little tired. Take 2-3 minutes to get everything ready.



Slow way down, yes. 2-3 knots is enough. The best method depends on what sails are up. Even big fish (up to 50 pounds) are easier to land when moving because they can't get sideways to the boat as easily.
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Old 28-01-2022, 06:33   #14
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Re: Catching Fish while Sailing?

We trail hand lines tied to a cleat, with a bungee absorber.(250# test)
Once we hook, we maintain speed and direction, drag the fish until it skips along the surface for a few minutes. At that point we reel it in as the fight is over
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Old 28-01-2022, 07:32   #15
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Re: Catching Fish while Sailing?

I use a medium class rod with a large Shimano reel with 100 pound test, and 5 ft of leader that is also 100 lb test. Put a sinker above the swivel before the leader. I troll a size 1 spoon, loosen the drag and set the clicker, and put the rod in a rod holder connected to the station.

When the fish hits, I let it take some line while I sit on the side deck and the land the fish to the side of the boat, then gaff it. I don't stop the boat. I don't even alter sail trim. I only use one rod. Too complex otherwise.

Good luck!

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