Every now and then a local angler happily pulls up a fish, only to discover that what's on the hook was not what was expected.
This week there was plenty of excitement among fishermen at the news, and picture (above), of Captain Nat Chalkley landing a sizable cobia while chunking for stripers off the Elizabeth Islands. Cobia are found mostly in southern waters; the NOAA website lists their range as "from Texas to Virginia." They are reported to be good eating, and to be solitary-type fish, not often swimming in groups. According to Andy Nebreski, of On The Water magazine, every year there are 2 or 3 reports of a cobia landed in our area. You can find out more about Nat Chalkley's cobia encounter (he said it "definitely" put up more fight than a striped bass) here.
The cobia story got me thinking about other unusual fish that we occasionally see landed in our waters, so I've tried to put together a list here. They're in no particular order.
- Gray Triggerfish
- Northern Pufferfish (aka blowfish)
- Banded Rudderfish
- Crevalle Jack (Andy Nebreski calls these Jack Crevalle, and he has a fun account of landing one from Falmouth Heights in this week's Fishing News audio, posted above)
- Weakfish (or Squeteague)
- Sailfish (one was caught last year in the Cape Cod Canal!)
- Manatee - all right, yes, it's a mammal, but still, pretty amazing that it made its way to Cape Cod.
Most of our strange fish are rare only for being in our waters; more abundant to our south, they have wandered beyond their usual range.
Cape Cod has its unique situation to thank for these occasional vagrants. The Cape lies between the colder water to our north, which harbors cod and other cold-loving fish, and warmer southern waters. The Cape's landmass juts out to catch the northern push of the Gulf Stream current, which often carries these oddities toward us. Aren't we lucky to be fishing here?
Have a suggestion for another strange fish that belongs on this list? Leave it in the comments below, or tweet me @SteveJunkerWCAI.