On a cruise, whether on a sailboat or a motorboat, fishing is a rewarding activity and a great way to spend your free time, especially if you are not at the helm. It will also give you the opportunity to collect great anecdotes about the fights you’ve fought, what you’ve managed to catch and those who have escaped, and let’s not forget that it will also allow you to offer your guests a fresh dinner with good fish!
Although we do not claim to be professional fishermen, we can help you with some basic tips. On a boat, there are many ways to fish, while sailing, when crossing from island to island or at anchor, you can always have fun with a bit of gear on board!
Fishing for big fish
Equipment: You will need a short but strong rod and a reel big enough for trolling. It’s best to have a strong line in case you catch a very big, tough fish (isn’t it nice to dream?) Don’t forget the lures you’ll use to bait the fish. Choose some nice lures to attach to the end of your line, some look like edible fish the size of a sardine. Make sure you have a good knife, thick gloves, a bucket, a gaff and a small piece of thin rope in your tackle box to attach your rod to the boat.
The basics: Once you’re on board your boat, all you have to do is put your line in the water. Choose your brightest lure! Let your line hang out at the back of the boat, and remember to attach your rod. We advise you to leave in your wake a line 4 times the length of your boat and only when you are sailing between 2 and 4 knots, this is the ideal speed for trolling. The wake of the boat causes the water to swirl and fish will come and forage in the water. Make sure you put your ratchet on so you can hear if it bites. Birds diving in the water are good indicators of fish near the surface. Birds usually mean that predators are directing small fish to the surface to feed, so always follow the birds if you can.
It bites: Sometimes you can sit in the back for hours without a bite, but you might get lucky, in the right place at the right time! If you do get a bite, the first thing to do is to shoe, increase the drag on the reel to make it harder for the fish to swim. You must not stop the line from reeling out because a big fish would break it, but you can increase the drag to make it more tiring and bring the fish back more easily. This is what many anglers do. The game is to reel in the line when the fish gets tired and then struggle to hold it back as it spins in a last desperate attempt to dive for the bottom. That’s your fight. When you hear the line go, slow the boat down as much as you can. The hardest part is getting it to the surface. The usual technique is to pull the rod and lean back, then reel it in with all your strength. Hopefully the fish will soon be alongside the boat and one of your crew members will be able to catch it and bring it back on board!
Catching smaller fish
Equipment: Casting is fun! You need a slightly longer, thinner and more flexible rod and a smaller reel. Casting is basically casting and reeling out repeatedly while sailing or at anchor. Your line will be lighter and the lures will be smaller. You still need everything you need for trolling, but in a smaller size because you will be fishing for smaller fish.
The basics: Once you’ve dropped anchor to spend the evening near an island in the middle of nowhere and all that you can see it’s blue bordered with green, it’s a good time to fish! You can discreetly turn back because the arrival of your boat will have attracted the attention of the fish. You can also board your dinghy or a paddle and head a little further. Fish gather at changes in depth or topography. A secluded rock overlooking the sea is a natural meeting place if you are a fish. If you cast a line there, it should be good!
It bites: If you get a hit, it can go fast! If you’re fishing on the reef, it could be a reef fish, especially if you’ve left your bait drifting to the bottom before you come up. Reef fish are not good to eat, they can be contaminated with a toxin and give you Ciguatera, food poisoning, so let them go. Of course, you can also catch a nice carangue or snapper, perfect for the barbecue!