The first thing we do on an offshore passage once the sails are set and we’re all settled into the rhythm of life at sea, is we put a fishing line in the water. We love fresh fish! Who doesn’t?
Even though we love to eat fish, we are not fanatical fishermen. We only catch fish for the pot. It is not a sport for us, so when we put the lines out, we don’t mess around. The handline we use is simple, if not rudimentary, but it is very effective. We catch fish almost 100% of the time that we put a line in the water. Guaranteed!
Our handline is made with a high quality 4mm nylon chord terminated with a swivel. The lure (always a blue cedar plug) has a nylon filament leader which is then attached to the heavy duty swivel. The handline is anchored to the stanchion on the back of the boat with a shock absorber (bungie chord) and trolled about 90ft (twice the length of the boat) behind the boat.
Once a fish takes the lure, the shock absorber will stretch until the limit of the shock absorber is reached and the load is transferred to the taught handline. The shock of the line pulling tight will set the hook.
This lure was hit so many times that the paint has worn off. It is time to be retired!
Once a fish is hooked, you simply pull the fish to the boat by hand. The line is thick enough so that you do not generally need gloves and if it does give some fight, the best is to wrap the line around the stanchion until the fish stops fighting and comes back up to the surface. Once we bring the fish onboard, we spritz some rum in the gills with a spray bottle.
That kills the fish almost immediately which avoids the need to beat the fish to death with blood and guts flying all over the place. Now it’s time for the crew to take a swig of rum as a reward for the hard work of hauling our food in for the day!
We usually gut the fish right on the aft deck right by the outdoor shower where we can rinse the mess away into the ocean.
With a hand-line, we don’t even have to slow down the boat. In the video you can see that we are sailing at about 10-12 knots at the time while we’re hauling the fish in. Usually the bigger and more feisty fish will put up a bit of fight but in that case we simply put the line on the winch and haul it in.
This website waaycool.com has similar hand-lines.