Fishing on offshore passages nearly always offers some excitement and surprises. We've caught tuna, wahoo, kingfish, barracuda, sailfish, and dorado, which is also known as mahimahi or dolphinfish. Fishing under sail offers unique challenges, primarily in the area of boat-speed control. We generally sail between five and eight knots, an ideal trolling speed. The challenge comes after hooking a fish. Powerboats make it possible to quickly vary your speed and maneuver in any direction, depending on sea conditions. Options are more limited under sail. We usually head up, sheet the sails in tight, and pinch so we'll slow down; we want just enough speed to maintain steerage. This makes reeling in the fish, especially a large one, much easier. If the seas are such that heading up is an uncomfortable option, we ease the sheets and reduce sail. As we pull the fish closer, we take care to keep it from making a run under the boat and fouling the line around the prop or rudder. We keep two sharp gaffs on hand. With practice, a fish can be gaffed and swung aboard in one fluid motion, which is ideal.
As soon as the fish is aboard, we pour strong rum of the cheap variety into the gills. I feel that this, rather than clubbing, is a far more humane and civilized way to dispatch the fish. A few brief shudders, and it's all over. I joke that this process gives us a jump start on the marinating. The fish is then bled, filleted, vacuum sealed, and frozen. Occasionally, fresh sushi is the order of the day. The walls (sides) of the Gulf Stream are prime fishing grounds. When sea conditions permit, this area often helps to fill the freezer with an ultra-fresh catch.