Fishing

A pious man explained to his followers: “It is evil to take lives and noble to save them. Each day I pledge to save a hundred lives. I drop my net in the lake and scoop a hundred fishes. I place the fishes on the bank, where they flop and twirl. ‘Don’t be scared,’ I tell those fishes. ‘I am saving you from drowning.’ Soon enough, the fishes grow calm and lie still. Yet, sad to say, I am always too late. The fishes expire. And because it is evil to waste anything, I take those dead fishes to market and I sell them for a good price. With the money I receive, I buy more nets so I can save more fishes.”

– Amy Tan, Saving Fish from Drowning

Lake Isabal, Guatemala Езерото Изабал, Гватемала

Lake Isabal, Guatemala
Езерото Изабал, Гватемала

Fishing- an ancient practice dating back to prehistoric times and still widely practiced today in small coastal communities throughout the world, is extremely important to us, aboard S/V Fata Morgana. It is a way to get precious proteins and fresh food while far away from the market, in the wild and off the grid. It’s a way to survive while at sea or near remote areas, where shopping for food is impossible.

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To fish while sailing Ivo uses the most popular and simple fishing technique- trolling- letting between 100 and 150 feet of line (depending on the weather and sea condition) baited with lures behind the boat, in an area clean of bubbles but close enough to the boat’s wake.

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Ivo has a bunch of different fishing rods and reels aboard but he usually uses the two biggest ones equipped with wire 1-2 feet leaders, which prevents the fish from cutting the line with their teeth. He has one 60lb line and one 80lb line connected to strong snap swivels, to allow a quick change of pre-rigged leaders.

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The hooks he usually uses are from 2/0 to 5/0 and he normally uses shallow or deep-diver plugs and spinners for lures- they imitate real fish. There are many ways to make your own lures out of all sorts of discarded materials like empty toothpaste containers and pieces of cloth or plastic etc. and they are as effective as the lures you get in the stores.

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Ivo attaches one fishing rod on each side of the boat in the two very convenient handles and he started tying them up with a line, after a huge barracuda took off with his best most expensive tackle one unlucky day.

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He usually catches fish when the speed of the boat is more than 3 and less than 7 knots.

Ivo caught a fish Иво хванал риба

Ivo caught a fish
Иво хванал риба

So far, Ivo has caught many tunies and bonitos, kingfish, mackerel, yellow fin tuna, mahi mahi (dorado), mahogany snapper and of course thousands of barracudas, which we no longer eat, even though they are tasty, because of ciguatera poisoning danger.

Ivo with a small Dorado Иво с дорадо

Ivo with a small Dorado
Иво с дорадо

 

The tunas, kingfish, mackerel, and dorado Ivo catches in deep waters away from shore, the snappers he catches in shallow 30-60 feet waters near the shore.

Ivo the fisherman Иво е голям рибач...

Ivo the fisherman
Иво е голям рибач…

Once he caught a shark and released it back in the water.

reef shark

reef shark

On many occasions sharks ate half or most of the fish hooked on Ivo’s hook before he could pull it out of the water.

Ivo with the huge King Mackerel half eaten by sharks.

Ivo with the huge King Mackerel half eaten by sharks.

The most fish Ivo caught around Mexico’s east coast.

Mira and her Birthday Gifts

Mira and her Birthday Gifts

Around Puerto Rico and Cuba he caught the most of our favorite mahogany snappers.

Mira also wanted a picture with the fish Мира също искаше да се снима с рибата...

Mira also wanted a picture with the fish
Мира също искаше да се снима с рибата…

When at anchor, Ivo likes to go spearfishing with his spear gun or Hawaiian sling and sometimes catches groupers, snappers and lobsters.

Иво лови лангусти с харпун

Иво лови лангусти с харпун

Then, it’s his job the clean the fish. Head, middle bone, tail, guts, skin- everything goes back in the water, only the fillets are left.

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Mira prepares the fish.

When we bring a big 30-pound tuna aboard, Mira needs to prepare it at least 10 times in variety of ways.

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With tunas and tuna-family fish (bonitos, tunies etc.) and other red and pink meat fish Mira makes sushi maki rolls. A friend named Krasi, who lives in Italy and is a professional sushi shef thought her how to make it.

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The maki rolls are easy to make and extremely tasty if you have the correct ingredients. You can also improvise and substitute ingredients, like Mira has done plenty of times (like using regular not special sushi rice), but the result will not be the same.

Продукти за суши

Продукти за суши

To make her best sushi recipe, Mira uses Sushi Rice, Sheets of Seaweed, 2 tbs Vinegar and a Sushi Rolling Mat. For the Filling: Raw Tuna, Avocado, Philadelphia Cream Cheese, and Roasted White Sesame Seeds.

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Another favorite tuna recipe is Curry Flavored Tuna, by another friend back in St Martin- Raphael. He though Mira how to cut stripes from the meat, roll them in curry powder and then very quickly sauté them in butter, so that the meat inside remains raw and only slightly cooked on the outside.

Туна с къри

Curry flavored tuna= Туна с къри

Yet another tasty tuna recipe is Baked Tuna in Tomato Sauce. Mira fries big chunks of the meat in butter and adds a can of tomato sauce, herbs and lots of garlic to simmer with the meat for 10-15 minutes. Great with white rice on the side.

туна с доматен сос и ориз

Tuna in tomato sauce-туна с доматен сос и ориз

The white fillet fish, like mahi mahi, mahogany snapper, even kingfish Mira would cut into steaks and throw on the BBQ with a bit of lemon-pepper salt for a quick roast- very quick!

Рибешки пържоли

Рибешки пържоли

Or bread them with egg-and-flower mixture. The breaded fish is Maya’s favorite fish recipe, because it tastes like chicken, and Maya doesn’t like fish much.

Панирано филе от снапър

Панирано филе от снапър

All you need for this is 2-3 eggs and a cup of flour with a bit of salt in it. Mira sometimes mixes the eggs and flower and makes a paste, then dips the fish steaks in it and fries them in butter or cooking oil until they become golden on the outside.

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The smaller fish Ivo brings speared from the reefs Mira fries with the skin and bones (only the scales and guts are removed). Lobsters she boils for a few minutes, not too long so they don’t get to hard and chewy.

Barracudas are said to be dangerous to eat, as they may use ciguatera poisoning. Yet, we have been eating the smaller barracudas in the Bahamas all the time without any problems.

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The only real danger of poisoning yourself is, if you eat any of the fish caught by Ivo and prepared by Mira without a cold beer on the side.

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Cheers!

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Biggest fish Ivo caught

Иво с риба тон

Иво с риба тон

ught- Tuna

 

Smallest fish came aboard and died in our kayak one night- Ballyhoo

Ballyhoo

Ballyhoo

Ugliest uneatable fish Ivo ever hooked- Remora

Remora

Remora

The most beautiful fish we ate (not tasty at all)- Angelfish

Иво с Angelfish

Иво с Angelfish

Our first big fish we caught and ate- shark

The shark we caught

The shark we caught

The smallest fishes we used to catch and eat a lot- grunts

Mira with fishes

Mira with fishes

The most dangerous fish we ate (very tasty)- Lionfish

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Lionfih-Риба Лъв

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Neptune, Thank You For The Fish !

After three weeks in Fajardo the time came to sail west. We set sail for Ponce, only about 60 miles away. The east winds behind us at about 20 knots, Fata Morgana was doing 7-8 knots, sometimes even 9, surfing down the waves.

Slowly, a black cloud appeared behind us and started catching up on us. The wind died briefly before the squall hit- rain and wind over 30 knots. The sails were wing-on-wing and Ivo decided that we wouldn’t reef in advance. And just when the wind started whizzing, a fish took the lure. Ivo started bringing in the fish, so Maya an me had to reef the sails and to keep the boat close to the wind at about 2 knots speed. A bit of panic aboard, and screaming at each other, the normal stuff…

Ivo bringing in a fish. Иво вади риба.

Ivo bringing in a fish.
Иво вади риба.

The fish took out half the line and it took Ivo an eternity to bring it in. Heavy. This is a good sign. And even before it was close we could tell what kind of fish it was by the red fins and tail- Mahogany Snapper- our favorite- white juicy flesh.

Ivo the fisherman Иво е голям рибач...

Ivo the fisherman
Иво е голям рибач…

The squall passed, the rain stopped, only the sea continued to be nervous for a few more minutes, after the weather was calm again, yet Ivo was still busy with the fishing rod. Finally, he brought in the fish-exhausted, bloody, almost dead from the long battle (the fish, not Ivo). Maya brought the hook and the medical alcohol we use as anesthetic for the fish. The anesthetic we put in their gills, they calm down, fall asleep and never wake up…

Mira also wanted a picture with the fish Мира също искаше да се снима с рибата...

Mira also wanted a picture with the fish
Мира също искаше да се снима с рибата…

All this happened about 200 meters from Cayo Santiago, also known as Isla de los Monos (The MOnkey Island), where we decided to stop for a day or two. We cleared the reef, furled the sails and dropped the hook.

Ivo fileting the fish Иво филира рибока

Ivo fileting the fish
Иво филира рибока

It was almost noon. Time for lunch. We had a big fish to fry. Ivo took care of it. A lonely dolphin who greeted us in the anchorage and a flock of about 6 frigatebirds shared the skin, guts, head and bones. We only kept the juicy filets.

 A frigatebird Фрегата


A frigatebird
Фрегата

During the course of the past one year and a half we caught about 10-12 of these snappers around Cuba, Mexico, The Bahamas and Puerto Rico and we tried different recipes: we barbequed them, we baked them in the oven with tomatoes and onions, we fried them. But we found that the tastiest is when I bread it with eggs and flower, served with white rice or mashed potatoes and cold beer. Even Maya who is very pretentious for food and usually doesn’t eat fish likes it this way and eats quite a bit (without beer). It became a tradition- every time we catch snapper I bread it. The other types of fish I prepare differently.

Snapper filets Филе от снапър

Snapper filets
Филе от снапър

Thus, we never know what will be the menu aboard Fata Morgana. Maybe breaded snapper, or sashimi, or mahi-mahi on the BBQ..? Whatever the Crazy One would spare. And we are always grateful to Him, provided it is NOT an ugly barracuda.

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Ivo enjoying the gifts of the sea

Neptune, thank you for the fish!

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