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A fish story to sink teeth into

July 7, 2008 | 11:48 am

At Outposts, we rarely shy from a fishing story -- no matter what grotesqueness looms in the details. This one involves Virginia angler John Calvert Jr., who last Monday caught a 279.6-pound halibut off Homer, Alaska, to earn a top monthly prize of $1,000 and vault to the overall lead in the annual Homer Halibut Jackpot Derby, which ends Sept. 30.

Calvert hooked the "barn door" on his final cast, after gobbling the gooey dislodged eyeball of a previous halibut catch --because a crewman promised that doing so would bring him luck.

This ritual -- or prank? -- is new to me. I do know that many fishermen believe eating the heart of your first tuna will make future trips more fruitful. In fact, I once witnessed a young teenager chew on the heart of an albacore, then smile through red teeth as others laughed and slapped thighs. The proud dad let his son wash the mess down with beer.

Another sight I'll never forget was during a nighttime shark-fishing trip in the mid-'80s, before conservation ethics kicked in. A fisherman cut the beating heart from a large, freshly caught blue shark, carefully pinned it onto his hook, flung the pulsating organ into the dark ocean and hooked an even larger shark.

Opinions? Do such practices really bring luck, and what others exist? Are these fishermen superstitious, sadistic or merely good-natured? Is there hope for a world in which such people live?

Please chime in. And remember -- we're a family newspaper/website!

-- Pete Thomas


Photo courtesy of Homer, Alaska, Chamber of Commerce