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May 09, 2011

By Doug Olander

Among the many species in the barracuda family (Sphyraenidae), the largest and most widespread is the great barracuda (Sphyraena barracuda) - which in the International Game Fish Association record book tops out with a tie between two all-tackle records: 84 pounds, 14 ounces, taken in 1991 from the Philippines, and 85 pounds taken at Christmas Island in 1992.Although no one knows how old such monsters are, a 40-pounder was aged at 18 years, according to Shaun Kadison, marine associate at the Florida Marine Research Institute¿' Marathon office in the Keys.
Are great barracuda worth eating? Depends whom you ask: Some say their flavor is superb; others will tell you it¿' mediocre. Are they safe to eat? Depends whom you ask: Some say never; others say any time; many respond that smaller fish offer minimal risk. Sorting it all out isn't easy.Leaving aside for a moment the issue of how eating barracuda can ravage a healthy body, consider their edibility. Most of the experienced professionals I spoke with, even in Florida, have partaken. D.O.A.¿' Mark Nichols:."¿'e eaten them, and they¿'e good."Capt.
Those who measure their fishing enthusiasm over decades rather than years may recall the once-famed Club Pacifico on Coiba. Great place with a fabulous location doing a bang-up business back in the early 1980s - until the government tossed out the gringos and put the facility off-limits to visitors.
Discover Coibas unlimited possibilities, from Marlin to Snook -served up any way you want them.
Once a doubting Thomas, Tom Yust¿' skepticism about circle hooks has quickly faded.¿"hat¿' about all I use anymore to live-bait marlin,¿"he says. Among the benefits, Yust cites two in particular. ¿"o more gut-hooked fish¿"taken on live baits with J-hooks; these marlin often come in dead.
Include among the wildlife you're likely to see on Coiba Island the two-legged kind. For many years a Panamanian penal colony, Coiba a decade or so ago was home to nearly 1,000 prisoners. Today that number¿' down to about 250, and talk of closing the island as a prison camp continues. Until then, however, you're certain to see a few prisoners up close and personal when you fly in (the landing strip¿' in the midst of the main camp): They eagerly function as your skycaps and carry all your gear to the waiting inflatable, glad to get a buck or two for a tip.
FishingCapt. David BaconWaveWalker ChartersSanta Barbara805-964-2046 or 805-895-3273www.wavewalker.comOperates year-round; charter rates for up to four to six passengers are $475 for a half-day, $600 for three-quarter day and $700 for a full day.A number of larger open-party boats also fish the Channel and its islands. For information on such trips, call these landings: Sea Landing in Santa Barbara, 805-963-3564; Hornet Sportfishing in Santa Barbara, 805-966-2212; C.I.S.C.O. Sportfishing in Oxnard, 805-985-8511; and Capt.
The swordfish had been hooked at 11:30 [a.m.]... At seven-thirty I passed the rod to Captain Dan. He was as eager to take it as I was to give it, and he began to work on the swordfish....
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