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  • Writer's pictureDoug Dunmire

The Excitement of Fishing on a Sailboat


It’s true, it would be easier, safer, less cluttered, simpler, cleaner, less stinky and less expensive to sail without fishing. However, there’s a thrill and satisfaction in hooking, landing, cleaning, cooking and eating a pelagic on the open sea that’s hard to match.

We probably caught about 12 fish between Newport and St. Thomas. We boated and cooked three. Almost all were the stunningly beautiful Mahi Mahi also known as Dorado and Dolphin Fish (not the porpoise type of dolphin).


Every time the call of “Fish On” was shouted out from the cockpit, a chaotic set of activities ensued that engaged the whole crew: “where’s my phone, can you get a video”, “It’s diving down”, “It’s bigger than the last one”, “how will we get it aboard”, “Watch the line, it tangled around your foot”. “Shoot, the vodka spray bottle just spilt all over”, “How will we fillet it”, “does someone have the gaff”, “its gorgeous”, “wait, we’re not ready to bring it on board”, “I’ll gaff it, you spray the gills with vodka”, “the spray bottle broke, ok just pour it on the gills”, “does that really work, does it kill them or just make them drunk”, “wow, that did work”, “where’s the fillet knife”, “I don’t want to watch”, “oh that’s not so bad, I thought you’d have to cut the head off”, “don’t drop the bucket completely in, it’ll be really hard to get out”, “more water over here, there’s blood on the console”, “that’s not as much meat as I expected”, “I thought there’d be more blood”, “how will we cook it”, “it pulled hard when it dove”, “cook it longer than last time”, “well, it tastes pretty good”.

We’ve been using a simple set up: a YoYo (just a plastic hoop that the line is attached to and wrapped around; paracord is attached to the YoYo, we create a loop in the paracord and tie in a section of bungy cord (this takes the shock of the initial strike, kind of serves the same purpose as the flexible top part of a fishing rod), a swivel is used to attach the paracord to a 300lb test mono fishing line. We use a 25 yard set up on the windward side and a 50 yard set up on the leeward side. To this line we attach another swivel then a 100 lb mono leader to a lure. We have a couple of different types of lures: a cedar plug (exactly what it sounds like, how it catches fish I’ll never know), feathers, and a lure with a plastic skirt that is supposed to imitate a squid. Nothing looks like anything in the sea, so how they attract fish is a mystery.


It’s crazy and I wouldn’t recommend it to any sailor but we’ll never stop doing it.




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2 Comments


Tony Huber
Dec 10, 2022

You guys need to write a book about your adventures. I think it's rather hilarious if that was actually the conversation you had during fishing. Nothing been than fresh fish for dinner. Enjoy.

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Kris B
Dec 10, 2022

Wow, complicated and impressive! Beautiful fish but better to look at then eat....😁

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