The Trash Fish
September 5th 2022 – Trash fish has always been a factor when fishing anywhere. A fish we do not want or a by-catch is referred to as a Trash Fish. Well in our case all scaled fish are fun to fight keep them or not. Our trash fish look a lot like, well, Trash! We have adopted a policy that was created at Dream Catcher Charters to pick up at least one piece of trash per trip/day. This day we got a whopper and may have saved some critters from a painful, meaningless death.
We had a 6 hour deep sea fishing charter this day. Things were pretty slow closer to shore so I met with my clients and suggested we pour the coal to it and go long even on the shorter day. I stopped about 3 miles short of the “wall” looking for a weed line that had been pretty steady at 750 ft. All of the flooding up in the mid west was finally having its affect on us here in Key West with the Pee Green water pushing further and further out from the Mississippi run off. The weed line and the Gulf Stream were WAY further out than it had been and so was the color change. This meant going even further out to find both.
Being a bit faster boat and on the run first thing in the morning there were no boats in front of us as we made our way to the South. Using my Garmin Fantom 56 Radar with some custom tailored bird settings I saw a flock of birds that were out of my naked eye reach. Picking up my Swarovski crystal binoculars I could barely make them out to confirm as I went Deeper and deeper till we were just about to Woods Wall. Then, there it was.. A visually stronger current that had gathered a massive weed line with it a decent color change. Oh… And BIRDS! Lots of them. It seems my run had paid off. I was right on top of the wall. Garrett got his anglers ready and as soon as we passed the line we were hooked up.
From there, it was text book trolling. Pull baits, wait for better sections of the weed line indicated by the birds and WhAM!. Some were short and some were just legal schoolies and some were heavy lifters. All were welcome action after sending it to the wall on a 6 hour day for our two anglers. Frankly the action was so good that I did not take many photos.
So, along this amazing weed line that provided us some great action with Mahi we saw plenty of “junk” gathered up in the weed. Trash comes in many forms. Some times it is boards, bamboo pieces, piece of rope, pallets, buckets, barrels and all sorts of stuff that really isn’t immediately harmful to the critters. In fact some of these pieces of trash are quite the eco culture of bait fish that have made a home right underneath. We see triple tails, almaco jacks, triggerfish and many many other species around this junk. Under all of those “snacks” are where the predators are hanging out to make easy meal of the critters. So, unless we see that the item might be strongly offensive, we just let it keep going down the current to the next boat looking for an easy target of fish.
I call this a gift from the bamboo ferry. I swear there is some fairytale creature on some distant shore that tosses pieces of 8-16ft long 3-6 inch thick bamboo in the water on the daily. As they drift along to parts unknown they pick up mollusks and bait fish along the way. Whoever this ferry is we thank you.
As we kept fishing the weed line seeing so much great “stuff” in the water we came across a huge load of net. This was NOT good. Best I could tell it was stretching across the water at least a boat length. Generally when we find netting it is balled up and wrapped up in the weed. Not this one. It was stretched out across the surface and down about 4 ft ready to kill again.
Netting Is DEADLY…… Even more deadly when it is being used to catch fish. When it gets loose the net become indiscriminate about who or what it kills. Whatever gets wrapped up in it will die a slow agonizing death hopefully before it becomes shark food. It’s truly tough to see a turtle or dolphin struggling in a net like this just to catch a breath as exhaustion wears on. The net gets heavier the more they struggle as it gets covered in weed. As the net cuts into their flesh with no one 23 miles off shore to help. Needless to say, it really sucks. We always pull a piece of trash from the water daily. We were super excited to get this piece dispose of it properly and call it our Trash Fish Trophy!
First thing we did was troll right by this massive fish attractor. As it turned out – No dice. Not a fish to be found under it. Very unusual for such a large target. So, I made a mark on my GPS knowing this thing would be drifting down current and I could find it again. I could not stop without pulling all my lines, so I waited till our next eat. Then it happened. About 1/2 mile past the net we got smashed. triple hook up on mahi. Garrett and I decided to take advantage of the lull while he cleaned up the slaughter mess pull all the lines and go get that net from the water. Our client was good with us using their time to get the killer out of the water.
The only reasons not to pull somthing like this from the water are merely excuses. The obvious tragedy of indsicriminant killing and then the possibility of someone getting it wrapped up in their props. Do what you can to see about taking care of the mess that happen out there, especially if its obviously going to have an impact like this would have.