If you are vegetarian because you hate people killing chickens, cows, pigs and fish, please skip this part, otherwise I am looking forward to your emails…
To fish on the sound (the deep water) you want to trawl at least two lures or more if you can to improve your odds. The surface lures are good for dorado (mahi-mahi) and deep water lures are good for wahoo and tuna. Your lures can be home-made – I made several of them from plastic garbage and landed big mahi-mahis. They can be made from pretty much any plastic trash – the colors you want are green and yellow and can also experiment with blue and black. I’ll try to put up some pictures when I have a chance. You want them to be about 7 inches long. Make your own, foot-long, stainless steel wire leaders and put a hook at least as big as your index finger. I was amazed how well it worked – I immediately stopped losing all the fish – once the fish was hooked it never got away or broke, we always got it out of the water. We use 80lbs test line and simple “cuban yo-yo” a plastic ring to reel the line on. We don’t carry any real fishing rods on our sailboat.
Best times are apparently the outgoing tide, when currents carry the small fish out of the shallow banks into the deep water bringing all predators into a feeding frenzy. Also new and full moon are thought to be best times. Rough weather and chop seems not to be a major factor – we got the fish in the rough just as well. One thing that does make a difference is the speed of the boat. Perfect trawling speed is about 7 knots, so as close to it as you can get, best chances at getting a fish. One good tip is that when you do land a fish; do not slow down the boat – if you can, make it go faster! The idea is that you retain control over the fish and not allow it to swim wildly around your keel, dinghy, prop or other places the fishing line and mahi-mahi does not belong. When you land a mahi-mahi and have need for more, i.e. you have a freezer and want to stock up, do let your line out again – mahi-mahi is rarely alone and when they bite, they bite. Please do not take more than you can eat. They are stunningly beautiful animals. To clean a large fish it’s best to file it. Make a cut around the head, by the gills, and then another cut alongside on top and another from the bottom, then take pliers, grab the skin and just peel it off from each side. Then with a sharp knife you can cut the meet off the spine into filets. This whole process is over in 10 minutes. While unpleasant to think or write about it will save you tones of time and will yield most meet in a beautiful, tasty, boneless filets. Do yourself a favour and do not overcook your fish. Everything tastes better fried, 6 minutes on each side should be enough, depending how thick are your stakes.
Lobster and spear fishing.
In the Bahamas trigger spear guns are illegal, so the two options you have is a “pole spear” or “Hawaian sling” Both do the job, but my preference is a pole spear with a single tip with a latch.
Lobster season is over last day of March. These creatures like hiding under the rocks and in various holes at the bottom in the reef. When snorkeling look for the two antennas sticking out of the hole. They seem to be blind or close to it, so take your time, but if you touch the antennas the game is over – they will crawl so deep, you’ll never get them out. Otherwise take your time – get the air and plan your approach. Make sure you have enough thrust on your spear to go through the shell. The lobster tail in garlic butter is amazing, but you will be surprised how much more meat you can get from other parts as well, so if you can boil the whole thing and pick it up later. There is a trick to cleaning up the digestive track in the lobster tail. It involves shaving up the back end one of the antennas that led you in to him in the first place. Talk about adding an insult to the injury.
There isn’t enough meat on the crab to justify their killing. So don’t do it, look at them and pass them on. But if the crab salad is your spouse non-negotiable item that you used to get them out of your home and cruising, you will find the buggers in the holes and sometimes attached to the roofs under the corral heads. They can get pretty big and can drop their legs when scarred out of their wits. A spear in the head will do that. Again, not much meat in the legs or elsewhere. Waste of animal. Satisfy yourself with finding one and show it to your snorkeling buddy. Nough said.
From the reef fish in the Bahamas grupers and snappers are tastiest. Queen fish will do, but have thick skin on them, so don’t hurt them unnecessarily. Parrot fish, if you really starving, squirrel fish, if you like the bones and don’t like the meat. If I have the time I’ll update this page later with some pics.
Ciguatera is an unpleasant disease that can ruin your holidays or your life. Yes, in rare instances it can kill you. It affects nervous system. I’ve met a family in 2003 that got sick from it and were back on their legs in a week without much more than a bad memories of being sick for few days, but it can be much nastier tan that. It is very rare though… Google it for more accurate and in-depth info, but the gist is that it results from eating a fish containing high concentration of the reef toxins accumulating in its body as a result of the feeding on the fish off the reef. Skip large baracudas and you’ll be fine. It turns out that the reef fish is not as dangerous to eat as eating the fish that feeds on the reef fish, as they tend to accumulate the toxins.