Sailing 5 knots while trying to reel in a 20 pound fish is impossible. Well at least the way we were doing it. Our heavy duty fishing pole was in effective. Usually the line would snap under the weight of the fish. If we managed to keep a fish on long enough, it would then be hard to reel it in.
We didn’t have our boat decked out with deep-sea fishing equipment and didn’t want to invest on getting one rigged up. So the decision was not to fish when on passage.
But then we met, Victor. He made his living fishing for Tuna and Mahi Mahi in French Polynesia.
His equipment was simple.
- A thick plastic filament line, rolled up on a spool (similar what you role up a garden hose with)
- A squid lure.
One day he took a Kelly (man) and a few of our cruising buddies out to show them how he fished. Victor didn’t speak English. Kelly and his friends didn’t speak french or Polynesian. But Victor was able to get his message across.
He pointed to the birds flying above which indicated that fish were eating below. He would motor around that area, with the lines out and tuna started to bit.
Convinced of this technique, Kelly purchased similar equipment in Tahiti. Our first offshore passage we were successful.
We discovered the best time to fish was 1-2 days before making land fall. Kelly would drop the line in the water and tie it off on a cleat.If a fish were on, we would use the winch to reel it in. We also purchased a gaff-hook to spear it and bring it up the side of the boat.
I had to kill the fish. I had two options either
- Take a mouthful of liquor and blow it into the gills of the fish or
- Beat it on the head with a club.
Though a mouthful of cheap vodka is nasty, I preferred killing them with the alcohol, it was quick and humane.
After Kelly’s fishing lesson in French Polynesia, throughout our voyage we would catch Mahi Mahi and Tuna. It would take days to finish eating it and we would share with other cruisers when we got to an anchorage and even locals.