Gulf Coast Fisherman Magazine VOL 40 No 2 SPRING 2016 - Page 7

by John N. Felsher TOOTHY TERRORS Love Em’ or Hate Em’ H undreds of birds dove into the cauldron of froth and spray erupting from the green water seemingly boiling as if frenzied piranhas ripped apart hapless baitfish caught in the maelstrom. Just outside the fray, anglers tossed baits at thousands of flashing shapes. Moments after each bait struck the seething water, each angler felt one powerful strike before the line went slack. “We have to go, fellas,” stated one of anglers. “We can’t fish in this. If we stay here, we’ll lose all our tackle.” This reaction repeats regularly all along the Gulf Coast as anglers encounter bluefish, sometimes called sea or marine piranhas, choppers and other names. Extremely popular gamefish along the upper East Coast, bluefish don’t attract much attention in Gulf of Mexico waters. When Gulf States sportsmen come across bluefish, they usually move quickly. Part of their unpopularity stems from a poor table reputation. While people in other states eat bluefish, few anglers along the Gulf Coast keep the bloody, oily fish for anything except bait or chum. “We have it so good on the Gulf Coast that people are spoiled,” commented Capt. Sonny Schindler with Shore Thing Fishing Charters (228-3422206, www.shorethingcharters.com) in Bay St. Louis, MS. “Many people on the Gulf Coast wouldn’t lower themselves to catch a bluefish, but I’m a firm believer that all fishing makes a person a better angler. I doubt anyone can find a fish of that size that fights as hard. When bluefish are biting, catch a few and have some fun with them. That’s what it’s all about.” Silvery with greenish-blue backs and mouths packed with razor teeth, bluefish roam the temperate and subtropical seas seeking anything they can devour. In the northern Atlantic Ocean, blues sometimes exceed 20 pounds, but typically run much smaller along the Gulf Coast. “Blues taken from Cape Hatteras, N.C. northward are the largest, sometimes exceeding three feet long and weighing well over 20 pounds,” explained Dr. Bob Shipp, (bobshipp.com) a marine biologist and author of “Dr. Bob Shipp’s Guide to Fishes of the Gulf of Mexico.” “South of Cape Hatteras, they are about half that size. A 5-pounder from the Gulf of Mexico is a rarity.” The all-tackle world record weighed 31.75 pounds, a fish caught off Cape Hatteras. Among the Gulf States, Florida comes in with the biggest state record, a 22.12-pounder, but it came from the Jensen Beach area on the Atlantic side of the state. The largest official Gulf bluefish weighed 21.88 pounds, a fish caught in Louisiana. Alabama comes in second with a 17.25-pound state record, followed by Texas with a 16.62-pounder and Mississippi close behind with a 16.27pound state record. “For most people on the Gulf Coast, bluefish are a nuisance,” advised Capt. Daryl Carpenter with Reel Screamers Guide Service (225-937-6288, www.reelscreamers.com) in Grand Isle, La. “When we’re fishing for trout or other species and bluefish show up, we normally leave because we can’t get a bait past them. I’ve had clients from the East Coast ask why we throw bluefish back. One regular customer from Fiji, fishes several days with us each year. He says where you’re from determines what you consider a delicacy. On his last day with us, we fill the boat with bluefish and bonito for him to ship home. My (Continued on page 14.) Large flocks of birds are often attracted to feeding bluefish. Anglers fish near the jetties lining Perdido Pass and is often a good place Photos by author. to catch bluefish. Toothy bluefish are sometimes called the “piranha of the seas” for good reason. APRIL • MAY • JUNE 2 0 1 6 7