There are now 24 to go – but you may wonder “How the heck did Steve get to 976 without leaving the house?” No, I did not stock the guest bath – although it’s an idea. And I’ve already caught all the stuff that lives in my neighbor’s 3×3 decorative garden pond.
It was actually just plain old research. I don’t always know the exact species of everything I catch, although the fact I knew something was in Leporinus still frightens me. And so, when I catch things I can’t ID immediately, these go on an “unidentified” list, which at one stage earlier this year had been as high as 140. (And down to 3 as of last week.) When I have breaks between trips, I root through my library of fish books and pester scientists on the internet until I can pin it down. (I have always relied on the kindness of ichthyologists.) And so it was I added two species to the list, one from Namibia, the other from India, without leaving the house.
The two critters in question are –
Kob – (Argyrosomus inodorus) Namibia, March 2006 – This large member of the croaker family was a welcome surprise in the surf off Swakopmund. (Just a few miles from where Angelina Jolie gave birth, although I missed that. I could swear I saw Jenifer Aniston throwing a hissy fit on the beach, but it could have been a seal with distemper.) There are several closely-related species, but some recently-published papers helped me narrow it down and put it on the list.
Dusky Kob, Namibia
Deccan Mahseer (Tor kudree), India, November 2008 – This is one of the great gamefishes of the world, a wicked-fast predator that lives in roaring, rocky rivers. Due to the remarkable efforts of guide Bopanna Pattada, (www.mahseerangling.com), I was able to get a few of these hard-hitting beasts, despite being there in exactly the wrong time of year, all while avoiding food poisoning! Scientific references are scarce, but I was able to get help from a couple of biologists and pin it to Tor khudree.
Deccan Mahseer, India
And so my backlog is completely gone, and I will actually have to go out and catch something new to progress. The next 24 fish are all still swimming around out there, waiting; needing to be caught before September 1. Whether it be in high mountain lakes, tropical rivers, the open North Sea, or a hotel fountain, they are out there. It’s going to be a busy 90 days.
Speaking of which, the next major trip is now booked – it’s Oahu for three days in June. My great friend Wade Hamamoto and his frighteningly skilled daughter Jaime* will be taking me to their secret haunts throughout the island to find some of the Hawaiian beasts I have yet to capture – the elusive sharpjaw bonefish, the irritable scalloped hammerhead shark, the inscrutable Hawaiian ladyfish, and the reclusive but savage dragon eel, which can remove a human thumb in a single temper tantrum.
* Jaime is a lovely, super-intelligent 12 year old, but her angling skills are (irritatingly) amazing. Now, not that I’m competitive or anything, but it seems like every time I am hunting some oddball species, Wade sends me a photo of Jaime with a huge example of that particular creature. And, in these photos, she is always smiling that cute little smile. This might seem like a normal think for a 12 year-old girl to do, but I know she is secretly mocking me. It’s tough to get really irked at a 12 year-old girl, but I’m getting there fast.
For example, it took me years to catch a Picasso Triggerfish (The “Humahumanukunukuapuaa of Don Ho fame.) When presented with this information, an 8-year old Jaime simply said, “Oh, those things are easy. Do you want some help?” And then she caught about 6 of them. And smiled that cute little smile. I wanted to pepper-spray her, but her Dad is a lot bigger than I am. (And she routinely outfishes him as well.)
Jaime Hamamoto. She probably caught both fish in the picture.