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|Mystery Fish: Can You Identify it?|
|Wednesday, 14 September 2011 17:20|
One of the coolest things about fishing in the ocean is that you never know what you’ll encounter, including mystery fish you’ve never seen before. And after 20 years plus of offshore fishing, this weekend I “discovered” a new species. Can you figure out what kind of fish this is?
We found this critter under a board nearly 50 miles offshore, swimming with a school of triggerfish. We were catching the triggers, which are quite tasty, and from above this looked exactly like them. Though it kept nipping at baits it wouldn’t get hooked, and when it came within a few feet of the boat, I free-gaffed it. (Pre-emptive strike: before you preachy types jump all over me, a dead fish is a dead fish whether you catch it with ultralight gear, super-heavy tackle, or a gaff. If a fish is edible and you plan to “harvest” it in a legal manner, it doesn’t make a bit of difference to the ecosystem how you kill it. If you don’t think free-gaffing is “sporting” then fine, don’t do it. But you won’t get an apology from me if I can stick, hook, or otherwise legally catch a tasty critter and cook it up for dinner!)
It took hours of Googling and some help from Tidalfish.com to finally get a positive ID: this is a unicorn leatherjacket filefish. It turned out to be exceptionally yummy, baked in lemon-butter with a sprinkle of Old Bay. You’d like to encounter a mystery fish all of your own? All you have to do is keep on fishing – sooner or later, it’s bound to happen.