St. Croix


Jonathan Roldan – BAJA BEAT

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Friday, September 27, 2019
C.P.R. for FISH

A man’s junk
No, not THAT junk!

I’m talking about fishing junk. And there’s a lot to be said about one man’s junk being another man’s treasure, so to speak.

For instance, let’s talk about “junk fish.” I hear it almost every day when our fishing clients come back.

“We had a good day, but also caught a lot of junk fish too. Fun, but can’t eat ’em!”

“Man, the junk fish were all over us today!”

By that they usually mean species like bonito, jack crevalle, barracuda needlefish, triggerfish and the like.

They can be really fun to catch and make great sport.

However, rather than quickly unhooking them and tossing them back into the water, there’s things to be done with them that can give you a completely different perspective on some of these species.

Let me preface by saying I’m all for catch-and-release. By all means, if you’re not going to eat it and make good use of it, let it go to fight another day and make babies.

However, if one happens to die on you or for some reason you have to take it aboard, there are ways to turn lemons into margaritas.

For instance, it’s an eat-and-be-eaten world down there. Everybody eats everyone else in the underwater foodchain.

Chunked “junk fish” tossed into your chum line can get the fish going and bring them into feed mode. Especially dark meated and bloody fish like bonito or jack crevalle are very oily and leave a great scent in the water.

Besides, they are also very firm and sinewy and will stay nicely on a chunk hook.

You can take a whole bonito, jack, barracuda or other species…maybe one of the smaller ones…

If it’s still alive have a heavy rig ready to go.

I like to cut one of the fins and also put some small cuts in the flanks.

Send it back down deep with sufficient lead on a dropper loop and a stout rod and your drag set tight.

It will go down there and swim irregularly like the wounded fish that it is. The cuts will emit some blood and scent.

Mr. Grouper and Mr. Dog Tooth snapper have big mouths and just love sucking down a tasty whole fish like that! Better hold on!

This will also work if the fish is dead.

Similarly, dead fish can be tied to the transom of the boat on a short rope. Again with some deep cuts in the flanks. Slow trolling, these fish leaves a nice scent in your prop wash.

I’ve been trolling like this many times. With live bait lines out behind the boat, I’ve looked down and seen dorado three feet behind the boat actually taking chunks of the dead fish we are dragging.

I quietly show my clients and point down in the water and have them slowly bring the live bait close into the prop wash and BANG! FISH ON!

You can do the same thing with strips of dead junk fish trolled behind the boat with a swivel and leader. It will often get bit when other lures or bait are ignored.

One trick was taught to me many many years ago by the the owner of the old Doorknob lure company. He told me to actually pin a strip of dead fish onto the hook of the trolled lure.

A greasy, oily piece like the belly meat of a bonito, mackerel, jack or barracuda adds a lot of scent to the water — plus it wiggles when trolled and it entices fish to bite the lure and hold onto that flavor of fresh meat.

You can take a combination of dead junk fish and grind it and mash it up as well. I would take it home and freeze it with the end of a rope frozen into the gooey mess.

I would then take it fishing and hang it over the side of the boat. As the boat rises and falls in the water, the big chunk slowly melts and the mashed chum (blood guts and all) slowly dissipate into the water.

By the way, this is also a good way to attract bait to the boat if you’re catching finbait with a Lucky Joe or Sabiki rig!

One last thing I will often do with a junk fish that regretfully gets killed.

I always keep a bottle of the hottest burn-your-butt hot sauce in my tackle box.

When a sea lion comes around and starts creating a nuisance, I don’t wanna hurt it permanently. I just want the animal to go away and bug someone else’s boat.

I’ll take that junk fish and put hot sauce in it and heave it like a football at the sea lion. He/ she grabs it like they pulled another fast one on me. They might toss it in the air a bit thinking to rub my nose in it.

Then they dive.

I count…5…4…3…2…. I know that bugger sealion is chomping down.

BAM…up he comes barking and yapping and flipping all around with a mouth of spice he’s never had before! And he goes swimming off!

Like I said, I don’t wanna hurt any animal permanently or unnecessarily but this is kinda funny. Beats the old days with seal bombs and wrist rockets.

Oh… and it works great on seagulls and pelicans too! Just a drop of hot sauce on a piece of bait. Hehehehehe….

* * *

Jonathan can be reached at his Tailhunter Sportfishing Fleet in La Paz at

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