Naked Sunfish Wrestling

Late summer in the South West of England brings the wonderful sunfish into the azure Cornish waters and I wait patiently for them. I adore sunfish.
They are regal and stately and beautiful and I sometimes wish I was one.

I see them occasionally while spear-fishing but its quite rare.
Its far more common though to spot one on the water’s surface from a boat. The dead give away sign being one of their fins sticking up high and proud and flopping from one side to the other.
This is why they are called sunfish apparently, because they’re basking in the sun.
The real reason why they wallow about on the surface is a subject of some debate.
Two plausible explanations are that they are indeed using the sun as a source of energy to warm up after a deep dive and the other being that they are inviting sea birds to come down to them and pick parasites off them.
Whichever it is, they certainly do come up to the surface and wallow about for hours on end and they seem to be peculiarly lethargic during these periods.
Which is where Rosco strikes and where naked sunfish wrestling takes on its meaning.

The aim of the game is to strip off starkers (very important this bit) and to position oneself on the bow of the boat and to get the skipper (usually my Dad) to creep up stealthily to the unsuspecting beast.
If all goes well one can approach to within mere feet of the fish and that’s when you’ve got to pounce. Before the fish can dive into the depths you’ve got to launch yourself off the boat and into the water and make a grab for it. The sunfish’s skin is rough and sand-papery just like a shark’s so I’ve suffered a few grazes but there’s no risk of being bitten.
Then, once you’ve grabbed the fish you need to wrestle it to the surface for the waiting photographer (usually my Dad).
Once the photograph has been taken the sunfish can be clubbed to death and gutted before being sold to the Chinese as an aphrodisiac……
Only joking! Ha ha!

Once the photo has been taken the sunfish can be released unharmed, probably to be eaten by a blue-shark a few days later… but that’s nature.
Naked sunfish wrestling.
A great way to get the bunny huggers wound up.

Ross Waters