On Makana we carry two fishing poles along with several hand lines for fishing. When we are sailing in the ocean the fishing poles are deployed on each hull with 2-3 hand lines strung out between the poles. A hand line is basically a 200 – 300 lb. test fishing line attached to the boat by a bungee cord with the other end having a length of leader line leading to the lure. The bungee cord is looped with a clothes pin so when a fish hits the line we hear a snap when the clothes pin releases the bungee. To “reel” the line in I wear protective gloves and pull the line in hand over hand letting the excess line trail off the boat. Then to get the fish aboard, depending on the size fish, I sit in our transom and pull the fish up between my legs and bear hug the bugger. If it’s a small fish I pull it up out of the water and flop it into our dinghy which is on davits between the two hulls or use our gaff. For the first 5 years aboard Makana we only had hand lines with my father later gifting us the two nice rods and reels.
According to those in the know depending on the type fish one is trolling for the most effective method to fishing in the ocean is to use between 4 to 7 lines. The lines are set at various lengths and given position names; 2 long riggers on the outside with 2 short riggers a long corner and a short corner between with a Hong Kong set in the middle (I didn’t make this stuff up). I typically set 4 or 5 lines with the choice of lures used a topic for another day. We don’t troll on the banks side of the islands as we’ve mainly caught Barracuda which are known to carry ciguatera, a nasty bacteria, which could make life miserable if consumed.
After our pounding by the derecho on Wed. night and with the forecast indicating we may have round two coming in several days we decided to seek a more protected anchorage. On Sunday a little after sunrise we along with Cool Cat and Wreckless Faith departed Staniel Cay to make the 55+ mile sail down to Georgetown.
Those in the know troll along “the drop off” on the eastern side of the islands where in less than the length of a football field the depths typically go from 100+ feet to several thousand. As we made our way out into the ocean I had the two fishing poles rigged and ready to go with the hand lines not yet rigged. As soon as the depth finder indicated we were at the drop off I set the two poles and began to rig the hand lines. Not 30 seconds after setting the lines with the poles they both began to scream “zzzzzzzzzzzz” indicating we had fish on and they were running out our lines. I grabbed the starboard pole and Katie raced towards the port pole but the fish got off before she reached the pole, darn. I started reeling in the pole with the fish putting up quite the fight, I’d reel in a bunch then the fish would reel out a bunch. After 10 minutes of fighting I prevailed and had the fish in the dinghy. Black-fin Tuna (Thunnus atlanticus) are the smallest in the tuna family and are found in the western Atlantic from Cape Cod to Brazil.
Once we have a fish aboard there are several options as how to proceed. First, I immediately cover the fish’s eyes with my hand or a rag which calms it down. Next, the fish typically gets some rum in its gills. We like to share and it’s a somewhat happy humane ending. However, for tuna there is no rum involved. They are unique in that they and mackerel sharks are the only species of fish that can maintain a body temperature higher than that of the surrounding water. Therefore, they need to be bled out to prevent the meat from spoiling. This requires cutting a vein while holding the fish to prevent the cockpit from turning into a horror film scene.
As soon as Hoku saw we had a tuna she asked me if I would make one of her favorite fish recipes, Blackened Tuna Sushi. It’s one of my favorite sushi recipes and very easy to prepare. The difficulty is in getting the fresh tuna which we just happen to have.
- 1-2 slabs of sushi grade raw tuna
- 2 Tbs Fennel seeds or 1 tsp ground
- 1 Tbs brown sugar
- 1 garlic clove finely chopped
- ½ tsp each ground nutmeg, cinnamon, white pepper, black pepper and salt
- ¼ tsp ground red pepper
- ¼ stick butter
- soy sauce and wasabi for serving
- Combine all herbs and spices and grind in grinder or chop finely with a knife creating a dry rub. Heat butter in frying pan until melted the roll tuna in butter. Use a plate or flat dish and spread rub evenly then roll the tuna to cover all sides with rub.
- Heat butter being careful not to burn and sear tuna in butter for 5-7 seconds on each side. Remove and use a sharp knife to slice the tuna into ¼ inch thick slices and arrange on a plate or serving dish. Serve immediately with soy sauce and wasabi. In Japanese tradition pinch the wasabi with your thumb and two fingers to form a mini Mt. Fuji.