The 'Cuda Cometh
This is the time of year when the barracuda start migrating into our Southern California inshore waters. From Oxnard to San Diego, once the fish affectionately know as "slime" move in, there's a frenzy for anglers to board local 1/2- and 3/4-day party boats.
Barries are excellent fighters on light tackle fishing live bait. Last season, for the first time in decades, party-boat crews had their passengers fly-line live sardines and anchovies using short wire leaders for the toothy 'cuda. I hadn't seen these leaders in decades. But sure enough a lot of limits occurred on my own Owner Hooks Fishing Schools Charters using the wire leaders.
I'll match these near bite-proof leaders with 12- to 20-pound monofilament line and a "hot" live bait. Occasionally, I'll add a very small 1/2-ounce sliding egg sinker if the barracuda are feeding below the surface.
So how should we take care of our catch of these "saltwater gar"? First of all, try to keep the barries standing up straight in the gunny sacks on the party-boat decks. If these fish are bent, the flesh will soften in that spot quickly.
For that same concern the sacks need to be kept wet constantly by the deckhands. Don't hesitate to nudge the crew to hose down your sack of 'cuda.
Barracuda can be either filleted or steaked-out. My favorite preparation is to smoke these fish in a combination of a soy sauce and brown-sugar marinade. After you smoke your "slime," chill it down for a few hours.
Smoked barracuda is excellent, served chilled. Or, mash it up with mayonnaise and you have an outstanding 'cuda salad. It's slightly stronger than tuna, but it's very tasty and a great lunch or appetizer alternative.
If you need to release your fish, please don't grab them. That "slime" is a protective coating that wards off bacterial infections. If you grab the barracuda with bare hands - or worse yet, a cloth towel – you remove that protective slime coat and leave the barrie vulnerable for invasive infection.
Also know that local homeless shelters are down over 40% for contributions of useable protein. They'll prepare barracuda numerous ways to feed the less fortunate. Transport your 'cuda on ice if you wish to donate them.
Good luck. – Ronnie
about the author
Ronnie Kovach is one of the foremost outdoor personalities in the nation – a self-made entrepreneur and independent businessman who's also a best-selling author of five books, a longtime radio host on Angels Baseball Radio Network and TV host on FOX Sports West.