Chapter 2: The thrill of battle with big game fish!
Offshore fishing = "Experience fishing"
I have experienced offshore fishing several times in the waters off places like Louisiana and Florida, but the single experience I enjoyed most was fishing for tuna offshore from Venice, Louisiana. When you think of big game fishing, swordfish is one of the catches that often comes to mind, and though the experience may be unequaled in terms of the size of the fish and the adventure on the high seas, when it comes to eating, tuna is surely the best (Everyone knows how much we Japanese love tuna!). Depending on the type, tuna can range in size from about 60 cm to up to three meters in length, and it's said that they swim at speeds of up to 80 km/h. So, I'm sure you can imagine what an exciting experience it is to have such a fish hit your lure and run with it. For me, few things can match the anticipation and excitement of taking a boat offshore in search of big game fish. Out on the waves, you put all your strength into casting a big lure out from the boat again and again. Since tuna is not a fish that is easy to get a hit from, it is hard to put into words the excitement when that big strike does come. Once hooked, the tuna swims with all its might to escape the angler's trap. It becomes a one-on-one showdown and with a large fish, it may take more than an hour of fighting to finally land it on board. Of course, it is a fight that the angler may well lose with a broken line or the like. To tell the truth, fishing itself is like a spiritual or ascetic activity. But, it's offshore fishing that offers the most chances of getting that one big catch you will never forget. That sense of accomplishment may be why so many of us otherwise serious adults get hooked on this sport of angling. In America, I was often told that "freshwater bass fishing and other inshore fishing is 'fun fishing,' offshore fishing is 'experience fishing.' " I certainly agree with that analysis.
I always remember to thankfully receive the blessings of the sea and the fish it gives us, and the sashimi from the tuna I worked so hard to catch was truly delicious!
A shift from large inboard sport fishing boats to fast outboards
The boat we used for that offshore tuna fishing was a 39-ft. center console boat mounted with three Yamaha F350 outboards, or what is sometimes called an SKA (Southern Kingfish Association) tournament type high-speed center console boat. To find tuna, it was fitted with a large-screen GPS fish-finder and radar, and we used signs like flocks of birds over the water and the schools of small fish that tuna prey on. In the past, the principle style of offshore fishing was done by trolling with a large inboard-powered boat with a cabin and equipped with fighting chairs. However, because of the slower cruising speed of that type of large boat, it was common to sleep on board the night before and then leave port for the fishing spot very early in the morning. Of course, there are many anglers that still fish in that style, but the trend today is to use high-speed center console boats. Since these boats are about twice as fast as inboards, if you are joining a tournament for example, you have the speed to get to the fishing grounds with a normal early morning start. The high-speed boats are also considerably smaller and can be handled by fewer people, which make them more economical because there is no need for a large crew. What's more, I personally prefer casting to trolling as I find it a more interesting way to fish. Probably a lot of anglers feel the same way. While a fighting chair is necessary for bringing in a very large fish like a marlin, the trend today, particularly for younger anglers and those up into their 50s with the strength to do so, is to fish standing regardless of whether you are casting or trolling.
For reasons like these, there are a growing number of boat users who enjoy fishing that are trading in their 50- to 60-ft. class inboard boats that used to be the mainstream and switching to 36- to 42-ft. class center console boats. Today, sales of larger boats with outboard motors continue to be strong in the U.S. market.