One of the major benefits of living on a small island in the middle of the sea is the daily availability of fresh fish. To emphasize that freshness Ibiza has a tradition of fishing that still includes the blowing of the conch to announce the daily arrival of the day's catch in a few of the island villages. In Santa Eulalia this ceremony used to take place under a tree known as the 'Fishermen's Tree' opposite the Bar Cosmi on the Paseo. In San Juan it still takes place on the road alongside the church on a daily basis. A part of the tradition that made the islands self sufficient since time immemorial. Nowadays the islands' fishing fleet have sadly been made largely obsolete by 'modern' methods which have largely raped the natural resource of our surrounding seas.
Drastic action to preserve the balance of nature is being discussed in all of the sea areas around most of Europe, as fishing technology has improved to the point of taking species, such as cod, to the point of extinction in the North Sea . Closer to home, the French fishing industry has received much negative press for fishing for the Blue Fin Tuna, south of Formentera, using aircraft to guide their fleets' nets to the biggest shoals, innocently using their historical migratory routes.
However, there is a third category of fishermen - almost as rare as the cod nowadays. Sports fishermen are an elite club of nature lovers who maintain their own set of rules of engagement, which are pretty much set in stone. There are probably no more than 200 members of this sport, the world's second most expensive sport/hobby (behind polo), but these few view their prey as potential gladiators and treat them with incredible respect.
Joko Steinfeldt was born in Croatia , but has chosen to spend most of his life in Asia and Spain . He is a highly respected member of this elite group and confirms that the reason that most of these 'fishermen' spend days releasing fish back to the sea, or days on end without a bite, in pursuit of the real monsters, is that "they do it because it's difficult". In this respect Joko is not referring to the cost of the equipment required to do battle with these enormously powerful aquatic fighting machines, but such 'rules' as those that require that the maximum strength of the fishing line that can be used in such a contest has a breaking strain of no more than 130 lbs. For any fish actually landed that is large enough to be reported to this fraternity of fish lovers (which will not weigh less than 150 kg) the final 30 feet of fishing line have to be sent to Central HQ, who check that the breaking strain of the line is below 130 lb, before the catch can be confirmed as 'fair' and entered into the records. In reality the various members of this small and widely flung community of 'fair' fisherman would normally have the word out within an hour of any new major catch to all within their elite.
The cardinal rule, however, is that this is a 'one-on-one' contest between a man with a fishing rod and a fish of normally unknown dimensions that must, by definition, weigh significantly more than the breaking strain of the connecting fishing line. Whenever it becomes apparent that the fisherman cannot master his fish it is a duty of his other crew members to cut the line, thus proclaiming the fish to be the victor. This doesn't always go down too well with many of those who are new to the sport; holding a rod connected to a fish the likes of which they had never previously imagined, but serves to illustrate the power of the feeling of adrenalin that must run through the veins in such a moment?
This is potentially the moment when a skillful fisherman outplays an extremely powerful and wily fish, in a contest that often lasts well over an hour and leaves both combatants exhausted. Honors are generally even at best, as these fish usually make their exit leaving a rueful fisherman dwelling on what might have been, but savoring a special experience between two gladiators one of whom live above and the other below the water upon which our planet thrives.
There are still hunters in our midst who strive to maintain the rules which date back to our early pre-civilization roots. The hunter-gatherer had to rely upon his initiative in catching or finding enough food every day to stay alive. Factory farming came later and reduced most of us to the point where saying grace before dinner seems a strange thing to do. The concept of 'hunter' is nowadays hard for most of us to understand, because we're trained into a belief that we are the dominant species on the planet - so all we need to do is go to the shop. Joko compares going fishing to catch a net full of small fish with shopping - he explains his vision of 'fishing' and 'fishermen' with the following anecdote - A previously dedicated barbell fisherman on the River Severn decided to find out for himself what 'Sports' fishing was all about. He came out to fish with Joko's team on his holiday three years running. He caught nothing the first two years, but returned to try again. On the last day of his third trip he hooked and landed an 852 lb Blue Fin Tuna off Gibraltar which is still a Spanish record to this day. Remember that's on a 130 lb line! - and probably the definition of patience... Combine that with fishing expeditions that often last well over 24 hours at a stretch and you have the definition of the determination required to match that of a prey that doesn't sleep.
Joko is also quick to point out that there's a lot more to this sport than casting a line from your yacht. The quality of teamwork and precision required to achieve this level in the art of fishing involves perfection throughout. He has scoured the planet to build a truly international team where, at the moment when that perfect specimen hits the hook, every team member knows his role and reacts to ensure that every ploy of the fish is anticipated and reacted to not only by the man with the rod in his hand, but also those controlling the boat. One mistake and the flimsy fishing line will snap. Earlier mistakes that are eradicated before the eventinclude silence on board (no loud music - not even sonar...) If you want to catch a wise old (big) fish you have to outsmart it too, and sound travels five times further underwater than it does above.
Joko summaries this as the three "P's" - Preparation, Presentation and Penetration. Preparation refers to the planning and timing of the route, ensuring that all of the necessary equipment is in top-notch condition and stacking the odds as far in one's favor as is 'sportingly' possible within the rules of engagement. Presentation refers to ensuring that your 'lure' looks even more realistic than the fish that it aims to emulate and Penetration ensures that the hook is as sharp, and the technique as perfect as possible to snare the fish when that rare opportunity to strike arises.
Joko's vessel, the Vega, is a big American Sports fishing boat and hard to miss amongst the yachts of Marina Botafoch, as one of the few that look like working boats and the only one of its kind in port. A superb 45 foot Hatteras with twin 500 HP Detroit diesels and fully rigged - she is the business if Sports fishing is your bag.
If it's not, but you relish a challenge against some of the few remaining adversaries that nature still has to offer - contact Joko Steinfeldt or his team in Marina Botafoch on 971 194 536 05 or 639 602 081 and meet some people who really understand that 60% of the planet's surface, and it's inhabitants, that we tend to forget about...
Other Marinas in Ibiza & Formentera
Ibiza Nueva, Eivissa
Sport marina Sant Antoní
Marina Santa Eularia
Marina Formentera Mar