May 7 2013

‘Mystery fish’ turns out to be 125-pound opah, a rare catch aboard Southern California half-day boat

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Anglers and crew aboard a Southern California half-day boat were astonished last week to see what the captain had reeled from the depths: a stunningly gorgeous moon-shaped denizen with a speckled body and bright-red fins.

It was an opah, a species more commonly found in tropical and sub-tropical waters much farther offshore. Opah catches are rare off California, and extremely rare in coastal waters. To have landed one of these pelagic beauties from a half-day boat, within view of the shore, might be unprecedented.

Opah2Capt. Jeff Patrick of the Western Pride hooked the 125-pound opah on a sardine at a depth of about 250 feet, while on a rockfish excursion out of Davey’s Locker Sportfishing in Newport Beach.

The “mystery fish” was so feisty that he thought he had hooked a shark. The fight lasted 45 minutes and at one point the captain contemplated cutting the line because the rockfish had stopped biting and he wanted to relocate to a more productive area.

Read the full story here.

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