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(Adapted from Wikipedia)
Big Game Fishing, often referred to as “Offshore Sport fishing”, “Offshore Game fishing”, or “Blue-Water Fishing” is a form of recreational fishing, targeting large fish renowned for their sporting qualities, such as tuna and marlin.
Big Game Fishing started as a sport after the invention of the motor boat. Charles Frederick Holder, a marine biologist and early conservationist, is credited with founding the sport in 1898. He went on to publish many articles and books on the subject, noted for their combination of accurate scientific detail with exciting narratives. Purpose-built game fishing boats appeared early in the 20th century.
The “Billfish” (broadbill, swordfish, marlin and sailfish), larger tunas (bluefin, yellowfin and bigeye) and sharks (mako, great white, tiger, hammerhead and other large species) are the main species recognized as Big Game Fish, with many anglers considering the Atlantic Tarpon also a big game species.
Smaller game fish, such as dolphin/dorado, wahoo, smaller tuna species such as albacore and skipjack tuna, plus barracuda, are commonly caught as by-catch or taken deliberately for use as live or dead bait.
Historically most of the locations where the sport was developed, such as Avalon, California, Florida, Bimini in the Bahamas, Cairns, Australia, Northern New Zealand, Wedgeport in Nova Scotia and Kona in Hawaii, benefited from the presence of large numbers of game fish relatively close to shore, within range of the boats of that era.
As the vessels used for sport fishing became larger, faster, longer-ranged and more seaworthy, Big Game species are now pursued on grounds ranging from 60 or 70 miles` distance from port, such as the submarine canyons of the United States continental shelf, to hundreds of miles as in the case of the San Diego long range fishery, where large live-aboard vessels range far out into the Pacific searching for tuna schools.
Today Big Game fishing is carried out from sports in tropical and temperate coasts practically worldwide.
Once a fish is properly hooked on a line, a somewhat tricky task since the fish initially often nibbles only partly hook, the fishermen attempts to reel it in. The captain assists by maneuvering the boat so that the fish remains behind the boat, while other members of the crew race to reel in the other lines so as to avoid tangling with the angler reeling in the fish.
|Most of the time, the fishing line used for sport fishing has a breaking strain less than the maximum for the type of fish that you try to catch. The fishing reels therefore have sophisticated drag mechanisms which allow the line to escape if the fish pulls on it, but keep the specified tension on the line. When hooked, most fish will circulate in different directions, and when they are not pulling away from the boat, the fisherman can take the opportunity to reel in some of the line. Eventually, if the fish tires and has not broken the line, they will be reeled in; however, the challenge does not end there. Hauling a heavy, powerful, and still very much alive fish on board the boat represents a considerable challenge, unless the fish is tagged and released. Strategies include: gaffing, pulling it in with one’s hands, and if it is a smallish game fish, a net.|
The fish can be fought with or without a game-chair. With a game-chair, the angler sits in a specially designed chair at the stern of the boat, and places the butt of the rod into a gimbaled mount. Most rods used in this manner are quite long. The older and more classic models had straight rod butts. More Contemporary models have bent rod butts, which give a more convenient angle for fighting the fish when the rod is placed in the mount. With large fish, this can still represent a considerable challenge, but “stand-up” game fishing, without the assistance of a chair and with the seat mount replaced by a harness, requires a good deal of strength and endurance, as well as body mass.