Monday, June 22, 2009

Evil Fish

Except for Pike, I suppose few fish I am apt to run into in the Northwest can be described as evil- which is actually a compliment in my book. I love nothing more than to throw a surface popper at a pod of bluefish and watch them race each other to blast it free. They also have a black pupil in a yellow sclera that follows your hand around, even when out of water, a good reason to invest in a boga grip and be patient when landing. I have never seen what a set of bluefish jaws could do to the human hand and I would prefer to not have to witness that, having seen that they can easily cut a mackeral in half. I recommend John Hershey's book "Blues" to provide a complete description of them for all their ferocity and beauty. They are marauders to anything smaller than themselves; the fact that they are candy to Mako sharks and bluefin tuna raises them even higher in my regard.

All that being said, I did discover the most vicious fish I have yet known while on my first Bahamanian bonefish trip a year ago. Capable of the kind of speed that you really just have to witness to believe, the barracuda sets a high standard. When wading across a flat, from a mile away in the morning calm, you can hear them rip through a school of bonefish, and if you're lucky see the roostertail of their dorsal fin. From such a distance the scattering sound of a large school of bones is like a large handul of pebbles thrown high into the air. I read somewhere that predator/prey evolution caused the north american antelope (a.k.a. pronghorn) to acquire its 55 mph speed. Its predator, now long extinct, was a cat-like speedster, much like a cheetah. Each stride of the antelope now is testimony to a shadowy fear no longer in existence. I would find myself squinting as I watched an antelope put on its afterburners, as I crossed Wyoming, to see if there was an apparition silouetted in the dust cloud, closing the distance. Without the cuda, there would be no bonefish, and we anglers would be all the poorer for it.

This video is taken of a good friend of mine, Vic, who at first unknowingly works a bone close for release, only to be surprised in a big way. I continued filming and the second segment follows. Be aware that even the guide was disturbed by this large cuda, which I estimate at over five feet and forty pounds. We treated the fish gingerly as we walked backwards, trying to get some distance from it. It wouldn't leave us alone until it got the head; that struck me as a matter of pride. Despite their best efforts, I doubt cuda get too many bones. Enjoy.

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