Almost every serious angler has a favourite quarry, a target fish, or wish-list of fish species that he would like to catch, catch on specific tackle, or catch at a certain target size . Well, I’ve harboured ambitions to catch a number of key species, ever since I was a kid fishing in Barry, South Wales. That list has evolved and grown since I took up game fishing as a serious hobby back in Oman in 2004. I’ve finally put pen to paper and formalised that list. I’ve decided that this is my “Bucket List” of fish; angling targets that I want to achieve before I hang up the tackle for good, someday in the (hopefully very distant) future …!
So, here it is:
The Bucket List Fish
The list is not exhaustive (I’m likely to add new targets to the list); in no particular order, nor does it have any real rhyme or reason behind the choices – some are fish species that I coveted when I was fishing in the UK, 35+ years ago, others are fish that were available in places that I’ve fished, but I either never caught, or hooked and lost. Most are premium game fish that would be on any anglers wish-list! Anyway, here’s a brief rationale of each choice, and an idea of what I’ll have to do to achieve each catch!
Bluefin Tuna – Since catching Yellowfin Tuna in Oman, I’ve always wondered what it would be like to catch one of these giants – probably the most powerful of the big fish. This is my No.1 target, but this one is going to be difficult to achieve. I’m not fussy, northern or southern varieties will suffice, so I probably need to fish New Zealand’s South Island or go to Nova Scotia! I need to catch this species before I get (too) old.
Yellowfin Tuna – I’d really like to catch a big one, 200lb+. There’s an outside chance of getting one near this size in Oman, but Mexico (Baja, Puerto Vallarta or the Revillagigedos Islands) is the best bet. I’d also like to catch a Yellowfin casting surface lures – Oman is definitely the place to achieve this goal, just need to make a visit when the tuna are busting flying fish at the surface.
Big Eye Tuna – In keeping with the above, I’d like to catch this as it is another of the giant tuna species. Madeira or the Canary Islands is a good starting point to catch this fish.
Dog Tooth Tuna – Just to complete the range of big tunas. This fish is intriguing and I want one. I don’t know where I will have a chance at one of these beasts, though.
Blue Marlin – Every serious game angler wants to catch “the man in the blue suite”. Enough said. My best chance for this species is likely to be in the Atlantic out of Madeira, or the Canary Islands (I may be able to pick up a Big Eye Tuna on the same trip), or the Pacific Ocean out of Mexico. Again, before I get (too) old.
Black Marlin – I’ve already caught a juvenile Black. But want to take a decent sized fish. The nearest location to me in Malaysia, with a good shot at decent fish, is Cairns in Oz. Ditto the age thing.
Striped Marlin – I want this species to go with the other key Marlins. My mates from Oman caught a bunch in the IGFA Cabo San Lucas tournament back in 2008. I want! I need to visit New Zealand, or Baja, Mexico (where I could also have a go for Rooster Fish ….. plus a myriad of other potential targets on my list).
Swordfish – Another of the big billfish. They look prehistoric, grow huge and fight like hell – a fight like a cross between a Marlin and a Tuna, by all accounts. Florida may be the place to achieve this catch. Another for a fit and strong person.
Narrow Barred Spanish Mackerel – I’ve been after one of these since my early days in Oman. I’ve had two hooked up and thrown the lure off Sifah, Oman. I’ve been bitten off numerous times whilst chasing Sailfish in Malaysia. My son got one in Rompin in 2008. I want one, too! Maybe this season at Rompin …..!!??
Wahoo – Big, fast, aggressive and powerful (and supposed to be good to eat), a beautiful looking fish. I’ve not yet fished in waters that hold this species, but definitely one that I want. I should have a chance at these in one of my future forays as they are quite abundant in certain areas.
Giant Trevally – Big, pugnacious and extremely tough. I want to tussle with one of these. There is a new fishery opened up for these at the Hallaniyat Islands in southern Oman, probably my best option. Socotra, Yemen, is also another future possibility. There is an outside chance of getting one of these off Rompin, too.
Great Barracuda – I’ve caught plenty of ‘cudas, but never a Great. The first fish that we caught on our boat Sirocco, in Oman, was a nice sized Great ‘Cuda, caught by my mate Mike DeVries. This is another culprit that is a distinct possibility when fishing for Sailfish off Rompin, Malaysia.
Talang Queenfish – Another of the fairly common fish that eluded me in Oman (a year after I left, big Queens in the 10-12kg appeared in large numbers off Muscat for one season). A decent size, aggressive looking, good fighters. Once again, these fish turn up now and again at Rompin.
Permit – One of the hard fighting fish that can be caught from the shore. A favourite target on the fly for my mate Kamal in South Oman. They look good, take lures, and fight hard in the shallows. One that I may be able to pick up in future trips too Oman ….. or maybe Socotra, Yemen ….??
Rooster Fish – Great looking, big, hard fighting fish that can be caught right off the beach and in the surf. They look so exotic that I want one. Central America, with Mexico the most likely location. I need to do a combined Striped Marlin / Rooster Fish trip ……. Wifey, you listening??
Guitar Fish – These can grow huge (6’+ long) and can be caught off the beach in Southern Oman. I like the idea of catching a big fish off of the beach. I saw a decent one get broken off in the wash in Ras Madrakha in January 2005; I specifically targeted these fish in my “Return to Oman” in 2008, but only managed to catch a small specimen.
Cod – The British all tackle record (boat & shore) was caught off Cold Knap Point in my home town of Barry, South Wales, in 1966, a fish of 44lb 8oz(I believe that this fish has now been super-ceded by a larger, boat caught specimen, but is still the UK shore record). As a junior angler, I remember going to a neighbour’s house to see the “massive“ 15lb cod that he’d caught and being awe inspired …!! This should be a fairly easy target to achieve when I’m back in the UK. One that I can catch when I’m a little older … a retirement target!
Thornback Ray – Another British fish. I always wanted to get one of these because they were one of the few common fish that grew to any size in the UK, and could be caught from the shore. Like the cod, this is a relatively easy target for when I’m old and grey(er).
Common Skate – A boyhood dream. A fish that grew to 100lb+ in UK waters. They catch them (and release) regularly off Oban in West Scotland. I went to Oban doing fieldwork in my University days. Looks like I’ll need to return to achieve this target.
Sharks (UK) – I’ve been fascinated by sharks since I was a boy, after watching “Blue Water, White” death (about the search to film the Great White Shark); seeing sharks brought to port in Looe, Cornwall, and reading the Shark Attack File. I want to catch a 100lb+ Blue shark and Porbeagle Shark, and I think that I can do this from West Wales. It would be nice to catch “ton-up” fish in Wales.
Mako Shark – A big, mean, fighter. One of the top game fish, and a must-have shark. Maybe New Zealand for this one.
Toman (Giant Snakehead) – This is one of the native Malaysian predatory freshwater fish. Its aggressive and readily takes lures. This is one of the few freshwater fish that I’ve really fancied catching. I should be able to pick one of these up soon, maybe even this coming weekend as I am going to fish the waters of the “Jurassic Angling Park”. Watch this space ……!
Patin (Catfish) – One of the larger native species of omniverous catfish in Malaysia. As I’ve started to do more freshwater fishing, this one is definitely achievable.
Salmon – Any species. A decent sized fish, looks good, fights well and tastes great. Alaska / Canada is probably the best option to achive a number of different species of salmon.
Trout – Another retirement target. I’d also like to learn to light-tackle fly fish. So this might be the perfect opportunity.
So that’s it, The List, an eclectic mix of pelagic and bottom fish, predators and opportunists, blue water and muddy water, tropical/subtropical and temperate species! Twenty six species in all. It’s going to take quite a bit of travelling, $$ and plenty of blood, sweat, tears and luck to complete this list. Wifey, can you hear me???
Finally, since fishing in Kuala Rompin, for sailfish, I started to want to catch a sailfish on a popper/surface lure. I started to put some dedicated time into popper fishing after my eldest son caught 2 fish on popper in the 2011 season. I put a bit of effort in during two trips in 2012 and managed to catch a fish on popper on successive trips, the target being achieved on 05.08.12: