Tuna, mahimahi, or wahoo, skinned, filleted, bloodline removed 2 tablespoons lime juice 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 teaspoon finely minced garlic 3/4 tablespoon dark rum Pinch of salt Freshly ground pepper 1/4 cup mayonnaise plus 1/4 cup plain yogurt (or 1/2 cup mayonnaise) 1/2 to 1 tablespoon fresh lemon
(or lime) juice, to taste 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon finely minced garlic, to taste 1 tablespoon chopped parsley 1 teaspoon chopped scallions or chives 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
(or 1 teaspoon dried) Sprinkle of other dried herbs
(e.g., oregano, tarragon), to taste Salt and freshly ground pepper Marinate the fish in lime juice, oil, garlic, rum, salt and pepper. Let stand in refrigerator for up to 30 minutes. To prepare the garlic-herb g sauce, mix together remaining ingredients in a small bowl and keep cold. Prepare grill (high heat). Lightly spray grill rack with cooking spray (or wipe with oil) to prevent sticking. Grill tuna approximately 2 to 3 minutes per side (depending on thickness) until it's seared on the outside and rare to medium rare inside, depending on preference. Keep in mind that the fish will continue to cook once it's removed from the grill. Serve at once with garlic-herb sauce.
The sauce, which will keep up to a week in the refrigerator, is also wonderful with such near-shore fish as mackerel, grouper, and snapper. You must cook these fish longer until the flesh flakes easily. S.C.
We've found that different fish, at different times, will attack different colors. T he ir pre f e rence can d e pend on the weather conditions or the type of prey on which they're feeding. Our strategy, usually, is to troll a combination of different colors and styles of lures and hope that one of them will catch some fish's fancy.
The more lines we have out, the more likely we are to get a strike. Perhaps it looks more realistic to the fish to see a group of prey swimming together. Dedicated sportfishing boats use outrigger poles to deploy as many lines as possible.
They even troll hookless "teaser" lures right up behind their boat to excite the fish. On Zora, we've simplified their system. The two rod holders on the stern pulpit angle the rods out to each side at about 45 degrees to the water. This gets the outboard lines as far from the boat as possible and allows us to troll a yo-yo line off each stern cleat without fouling the rod lines. The two handlines are trolled closer to the boat, about one and a half to two boat lengths back, and they're staggered about 15 feet from each other. The two rod lines are 20 or 30 feet farther back, depending on the wave action. We troll on the surface because it's much easier simply to clip on a lure than to mess with weights, and we've had great success. For surface trolling, we try to get at least one lure to "skip" out of the water every five seconds or so. We adjust their distance behind us until the lures are riding on the front side, or face, of the following wave and popping out of the water every once in a while.
Anyone interested in fishing should carry The Cruiser's Handbook of Fishing (1999, McGraw-Hill; $ 13), a thoroughgoing book by Scott and Wendy Bannerot. We learned much from it, and also from talking with sport fishermen we've met along the way. Many of the best cruising grounds are also great fishing grounds, and you'll find small marinas filled with spor t fisher men throughout the Bahamas, the Turks and Caicos, the Virgin Islands, and beyond. These guys are often happy to share what they know, and some have gone as far as to respool reels for us and give us lures to try. Local fishing-supply stores are also a good source of information. Even if the proprietor isn't a fisherman himself, he can identify the lures preferred by the locals. I always buy two.
On the water, we have two fishing methods: active and passive. On a passage with a timeline to meet, we fish passively, just trolling our lines behind us wherever the boat needs to go. On the other hand, if we're just out for a sail with no deadline, we'll often go out of our way to sail in areas that appear to be likely fish spots. The most obvious, and the easiest to find on your charts, is "the drop-off," where the bank or shelf drops off into deep water, usually at the 100-fathom line. We no longer troll in depths under about 200 feet; that's barracuda territory, and we've had quite enough of trying to unhook and release those toothy monsters. We sail the drop-off back and forth, tacking back into deeper water when the depth sounder begins to flash. We also look for such unusual seafloor features as seamounts and pinnacles, where relatively shallow mountaintops bump up from off soundings. All of these areas are rich in small prey and, therefore, in the predators we want to catch.
We also look for current rips and lines of floating seaweed. Current rips, or shears, are those ribbons of still or ruffled water differing in appearance from the surrounding water; they signify an up-welling of deeper water or a meeting of two different water masses that may be rich in prey. Seaweed lines may signify the same; in addition, rafts of floating seaweed provide shelter for small bait fish as well as for larger mahimahi. Similarly, any large floating object, such as a wooden pallet or metal drum, is worth trolling near, since pelagic mahimahi often congregate under these.
Probably the best sign of fish in an area is a flock of feeding birds. The birds are feasting on the bait fish disturbed by a school of larger feeding fish, often school-size tuna. If we see diving seabirds, we alter course toward them whenever possible. Trolling near the edge of the cluster (not through the middle, as you may spook the school) often produces multiple hits on our lines. Our last encounter with such a school produced four 10-pound black-fin tuna, which made wonderful sushi (see "Fresh Tuna Nigiri and Norimaki with Asian Slaw," page 63).
After losing several fish as we fumbled to bring them aboard, we came up with a system that works well and results in minimal losses. When we get a hit, the first thing we do is yell "Fish on!" Then we engage the autopilot and slow the boat. If we're under power, we throttle back; if we're under sail, we roll in the genoa and fall off the wind. One of us begins to bring in the handline or grabs the rod and stand-up belt and tightens the drag a bit on the reel. A stand-up, or fighting, belt is strapped around an angler's waist before fighting and reeling in a hooked fish on a trolling rod. With a cup designed to hold the butt of the rod, the belt spreads the considerable load created by a strong fish across the wearer's pelvis, and it allows her to use both arms to control the rod. It's an invaluable piece of equipment.
While that person fights the fish closer to the boat, the other gathers up the gear we'll need immediately: squirt bottle of rubbing alcohol, gloves, an ice pick, and a gaff. As the fish nears the boat, I put on a pair of gloves and grab the line, carefully pulling the fish closer to the boat. Even a tired fish can produce a surprising spurt of energy, so be very careful not to get any fi nge r s o r lim b s tang l e d i n th e monofilament in case it gets pulled from your hands.
As I get the fish to the transom, I wait for Neil to signal me that he's ready with the gaff. Then I hoist the fish out of the water. Neil swings the gaff (overhand) toward the head, then hauls the fish aboard. Meanwhile, I grab the squirt bottle of alcohol and squeeze a generous amount into the gills and mouth to stun the fish. Quickly, we lower it to the deck and feel
around the top of the head for the soft spot over the brain. One of us plunges the ice pick into this spot to quickly kill the fish. If the hit is accurate, the dorsal fin will stand up and quiver. If not, try again.
Next, bleed the fish as quickly as possible, especially if you plan to have sushi, as the meat quality will suffer the longer it's allowed to rest unbled. We use a sharp fillet knife and make diagonal cuts behind the pectoral fins, into the bottom of each side of the gills, and sometimes at the base of the tail. You should see a spurt of blood from the cuts. Then we thread an old dock line through the mouth and gills and tie the fish off the back of the boat, awash, to bleed for 10 minutes or so before filleting. If the fish is properly bled, there will be very little blood when you fillet it. There's no need to gut or behead the fish if it's easy to fillet, such as a tuna, and you can do so without cutting open the guts. Place fillets into small resealable bags and get them on ice immediately. It's very important, either at this stage or later, to remove every trace of the dark-colored bloodline that runs laterally down each fillet. This assures against a strong fishy taste and leaves one with two nice, tenderloin-shaped chunks of meat.
If we plan to freeze the fish for later use, we'll skin and further portion out the fillets as soon as we arrive at the night's anchorage, then bury them deep in the freezer next to the cold plates to freeze them as deeply and as quickly as possible. On Zora, much of the catch will be sushi tonight and tomorrow, though.
There's something deeply satisfying about sitting down to a meal of the freshest possible seafood in the cockpit of your sailboat at the end of a lovely day's sail. With a grill and a few basic ingredients, you find yourself eating a meal worthy of the finest gourmet restaurant—yet you've spent close to nothing to prepare it, you've done it all yourself, and the view from your table is unparalleled. What could be better?
Stacey Collins is continuing the tradition of family cruising that her parents began with her in the 1980s. She's currently sailing in the Caribbean with her husband, Neil, their daughter Liv, and Daisy the cat aboard Zora, their 1981 New Hampshire Mariner 39 sloop, which they spent several years restoring and upgrading. You can read more about their adventures on their website (www.sailzora.com).
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Lets start by identifying what exactly certain boats are. Sometimes the terminology can get lost on beginners, so well look at some of the most common boats and what theyre called. These boats are exactly what the name implies. They are meant to be used for fishing. Most fishing boats are powered by outboard motors, and many also have a trolling motor mounted on the bow. Bass boats can be made of aluminium or fibreglass.