Belfast Telegraph

World's fastest fish reeled in by an angler from Ballymena

It can hit 70mph but Thomas stopped 'cheetah of the ocean' in its tracks

By Linda Stewart

Last year he landed a monster stingray in a Thai river - and now Thomas White has reeled in the fastest fish on the planet.

The Ballymena angling enthusiast is just home from a fishing trip off the coast of Costa Rica where he landed more than 40 Indo-Pacific sailfish over an eight-day period before releasing them back into the wild.

"This is the largest of the two subspecies of sailfish with adult fish weighing anywhere between 150 and 220lbs. With a top speed of 70mph, this pelagic missile leaves all other fish behind," he said.

"There is nothing that swims that can compete with the explosive speed of an adult sailfish."

Thomas went out with a group called Luna Tours, based at Quepos in Costa Rica.

"I fished for eight days in total, and to give myself the best chance I fished the four days before and the four days after the full moon," he said.

"On seven of my days I averaged between three and seven sailfish a day, but on the day after the full moon I hooked and landed an incredible 17 sailfish."

Thomas said these incredible fish, known as the cheetahs of the sea, are best caught by trawling six lines behind the moving boat loaded with bait fish.

"Once hooked, sails put up an awesome fight which can last anything from 15 minutes to over half an hour," he said.

"They are given a chance to recover in the water for a few minutes before they are brought into the boat for 10 or 15 seconds for a quick photo before being carefully put back into the water," said Thomas.

"With one hand holding the bill and the other holding the pectoral fin, they are towed along for a few minutes to help let water pass through their gills and re-oxygenate their blood."

Factfile

The Indo-Pacific sailfish is a large oceanic fish native to the tropical and temperate Indian and Pacific Oceans. These 'cheetahs of the sea' are able to sprint for short distances at 110kph.

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