The theme of this post -
Conditioning and technique… Learning a whole new way to battle fish.
The update this week will
include several outings that capture a variety of fishing expeditions. First
was a great Kayak outing with Captain Tosh and our new neighbor David Horn (an
accomplished angler who has fished around the world). Whereas we didn’t tie
into any serious fish, it was a great outing none the less with a few special
photos of the Osa Bay before sunrise.
That evening I went on a run
up the mountain and had my first “in the wild” Redtail Boa Constrictor
encounter. As I was coming down the slope of a steep hill it was crossing the
gravel road and I was able to capture some photos on my i-Phone. I didn’t have
great light but my “Steve Irwin” training enabled me to lift it up and get one
good shot (I had several Boa Constrictors as pets during my teenage years). I
placed it back into the jungle and it was on its way. It was a very healthy
specimen that was about 6 Ft long.
Now to describe what I’m
referring to being “A Whole new way of battling fish.”
Throughout my fishing career,
I’ve trained myself to fight fish based primarily upon one simple rate limiting
factor – AKA the maximum tensile strength of the tippet (leader connecting the
angler’s line to the fly, lure or hook). When fly fishing for trout, you
typically use a very long – flexible graphite rod (9+ feet in length) and the
strength of the tippet can range from about 4 pounds to around 10 pounds. When
fighting larger Salmon or Steelhead, the line strength can go up to 12, 15 or
even 20 pounds.
To explain the science behind
this… I’ve landed many 30 pound and 40-pound class King Salmon on a fly in
heavy current with a 15-pound tippet. I’ve even landed a 64-pound Redfish in
Mosquito Lagoon (FL State Record) on a super light spinning rod with a 15-pound
fluorocarbon leader. Essentially, the angler is fighting the fish to a level of
fatigue that enables the controlled landing of the fish for a safe release.
This technique of fishing is both challenging and rewarding as it matches up
the most skilled anglers with attempting to land the largest fish on the
lightest tackle and equipment. The simple science is that the length of time
that you fight the fish is directly dependent upon the strength/stiffness of
the rod and the class of tippet leader connected to the fly.
The new fishing technique
that Captain Cory has introduced me to when fighting monster Yellowfin Tuna is
similar in concept but different in the physical demands placed on the
equipment and angler. Basically, you have a very Stiff/short (heavy duty) rod
with a reel that holds several hundred yards of 80-pound braided line that
connects to a 50 pound fluorocarbon leader that is ultimately tied to the hook.
When using my traditional technique that focuses on “tiring the fish” on light
gear to a level of exhaustion where you can land them, it would typically take
me about an hour to land a 60-pound Yellowfin. It can become physically
brutal on the angler (endurance wise), to land several fish in a row and it
obviously can consume most of the day.
The new technique that is counterintuitive
to an old-school fly-fisherman is to Hammer the Living SHIT out of the fish by
putting so much pressure on the beast that a 60 pound Yellowfin now arrives to
the boat in only about 20 minutes. Whereas this “high intensity interval tactic”
is definitely very physical for a shorter duration of time, it’s not nearly as
exhausting as fighting an equivalent fish for an hour or longer.
Cory says that this new
technique is possible because, it’s highly unlikely to break a 50-pound leader
even with the heaviest equipment and significant reel drag (in fact - you are
more likely to get pulled overboard than you are to break the rod). This tactic
allowed me to land 5 monster yellowfin in a row in the following classes – 40,
50, 60, 70 and 50 pounds. The longest battle was maybe 20 minutes in length and
I didn’t break off one fish in the process.
The only negative aspect of
this technique is that the Yellowfin tend to come in REALLY HOT and PISSED OFF
and go ballistic when they reach the boat (making it significantly harder on
the Captain and Mate to actually manage them). It can also be quite dangerous
to attempt to remove the hook safely for a release or to bring them in the boat
as they will proceed to break any angler’s legs that might be within range.
Cory’s solution to this
challenge is to first sink a huge gaft into the fish, then – while it is
thrashing out of control - attempt to take a knife and drive it into the brain
of the fish and then finally to slice the artery near the lateral line to “bleed
it out” before the fish finally gets dragged over the gunnel into the boat.
After being bled out along the side of the boat for maybe 10 minutes, the
Captain and/or Mate can then “in theory” lift it into the boat AND MAYBE… it
will have lost enough blood to where it’s then safe to venture to the back of
the boat for a photo. In every case on this day… Just when you thought it was
safe to go in close for an inspection, the beast would somehow come back to
life and proceed to get even with the angler with it’s last pound of strength!
As these photos illustrate,
the Yellowfin were so big that I couldn’t physically lift them and Cory had to
prop them up on my lap for the photos.
The Yellowfin we targeted
were off-shore about 18 miles and they were gorging themselves on really small
Red-Sardines (about 2 inches long). They bait school was so massive that it
spread out for hundreds of yards in every direction and was maybe 50 feet
deep. Dave hooked the largest Tuna of the day (maybe 80+ pounds) on his
heavy fly rod loaded with 400 yards of backing. He fought it for over an hour
(at long distance) before it finally broke the tippet as a result of the line
“raking across” it’s teeth. Word on the street is that Dave is looking
forward to “getting even” soon.
When the fish we landed came
crashing into the boat, they basically “threw up” the bait that was loaded in
After landing 280 pounds of
Tuna, my back, legs and arms had enough of a workout, and it was time to hunt a
few Roosterfish and Jacks on topwater poppers along the beach near our port.
Once again, we weren’t disappointed as we hooked 8 and landed several fine
species in the 30+ pound class.
Captain Tosh with a Monster
Jack in the 30 pound class.
The sunset was spectacular
(as usual) and the following photos with Captain Cory surveying the bay tell
the story as to why we feel that the Osa Peninsula is now our new “Last Best
Cory, Katie and I go out
again tomorrow for a day of Inshore fishing hunting the elusive RoosterZilla
and Giant Cubera Snapper.
More to follow, Happy
Holidays and Plan Your trips.