Posted by: 1000fish | June 5, 2010

The Countdown to 1000 – “Ode to the Onespot Fringehead”


 Got another one. There are now 23 to go.

The new addition to the list is a Onespot Fringehead (Neoclinus uninotatus.) A fine but underrepresented species, its sad tale is recounted below.
The Onespot Fringehead
 (Please try to imagine this read by Morgan Freeman.)
Some fish are born into glamour, others are doomed to swim about in obscurity until they get eaten, likely by one of the glamorous fish. The mighty blue marlin, the majestic rainbow trout, the acrobatic tarpon; these grace the covers of magazines – and men spend fortunes small and large to pursue them across the globe. But the Onespot Fringehead will never inspire a Hemingway novel. (And not just because he’s dead.) Indeed, I am guessing that most of you have never heard of the Onespot Fringehead, or knew that it was a smallish member of the pikeblenny family that inhabits weedy inshore areas on the California coast. (Well, Dr. Johnson, you probably did.) Certainly, no one I know has a stuffed Onespot Fringehead above their fireplace.
 But it gets worse for this noble but poorly-marketed creature. It has a bratty cousin that gets vastly more publicity, because, well, the cousin has the coolest name of any fish ever. It is known as – and you can look this up – the Sarcastic Fringehead. No, it does not make use of stinging irony or pathos – it’s just mean. Although relatively small at 6-8 inches, the Sarcastic Fringehead is highly territorial and known to attack much larger animals, such as scuba divers. Much like the Detroit Lions, it never, ever wins – or even does well – but it also never gives up. So it is truly a shame that the ill-willed Sarcastic gets more attention. The Onespot is a much more attractive creature, with a lovely blue ocellus on its dorsal fin and a striking red anal fin that runs along half its body. And there is no record of a Onespot ever biting anyone larger than a prawn. And now, I have caught one, so it gets its 15 minutes of fame, perhaps longer for slow readers like my Aunt.
                                   The Sarcastic Fringehead – business end
So please, take a private moment today to honor the Onespot Fringehead.
And how, you may ask, did I encounter such a lovely specimen? This was solely due to the largesse and true friendship of one Mr. Jim Tolonen. Jim was the CFO of a French software company I worked at before a big German software company came in and performed the merger equivalent of May 1940. We discovered early on that we were both keen fishermen, and although much of his gear predates Joan Collins, he has outfished the heck out of me on a couple of scantly-publicized occasions. 
Jim is part owner of a motor yacht called the Four Play, and, as a big supporter of my quest for 1000, he has invited me along on a number of occasions. Finally, last Saturday the 5th, our schedules coincided and we headed out onto the deep. It was a bumpy and largely fish-free day, and the 7 hour trip to track down the Fringehead was a meandering total of 28 long miles. (14 miles out and 14 miles back, and then I caught the damn thing in the harbor, where we probably should have stayed all day.) 
So that’s the latest – the count is up to 977. And let’s make every June 5 Onespot Fringehead Appreciation Day! I hear they’re delicious.
Best fishes,
PS – Jaime Hamamoto, the 12 year-old Hawaiian fishing phenom and my arch-nemesis, has now hurt me far more than the Samoans ever will. See enclosed picture of a monstrous bonefish she caught last weekend. I will never see one this big. No one I know (except Jaime) has ever seen one this big, even in an aquarium. She sent it with this email, clearly mocking me  –
Hi Steve.
Is this one of the species you need to catch? I might be able to help you with this one.
See you soon,

                                             How the heck does she do this?


  1. […] man who facilitated my capture of the mighty yet under-recognized Onespot Fringehead last year. ) He is a great guy, but he is a bit more of a purist than I am, and he doesn’t totally get […]

  2. […] Jim Tolonen, January 2010. A top-notch angler, Jim is an expert fly-fisherman and also holds the world record on the sand sole. […]

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