IT is often said that two heads are better than one when trying to come up with a solution to a perplexing problem. So, if two heads are better than one then how good would it be for a fish to have three tails rather than one?
Well actually there is such a species and it lives up here in our tropical waters – the Lobotes surinamensis - more commonly know as the triple-tail or jumping cod. As its common name suggests, a triple-tail appears to have a three-lobed tail as both its dorsal and anal fins are very rounded in shape and set well back and close to the tail. According to the Australian Museum, triple-tails can grow to a metre in length and 15kg in weight.
Having fished the waters around Darwin for the past 30 years, many (including myself) would have thought that over that period I'd have seen the odd triple-tail landed. Yet surprisingly it was only earlier this year that I finally saw one come aboard. It happened some months ago while on a jig trip out wide. We were blasting along in the big Eliminator when in the distance I saw a large tree stump floating in the middle of nowhere. Usually I just drive straight past them but on this occasion I thought we'd check it out and see if there might be any of these mythical debris-dwelling fish hanging around.
Sure enough, there were seven of these odd looking critters swimming around on their sides and doing a great impression of appearing like bits of floating weed. The first cast of a Gulp soft plastic got nailed by the biggest one which would have been around 3 kilos. However, after a torrid fight lasting a couple of minutes the hooks pulled out – bugger! A few casts later a much smaller one was hooked and landed and we got our first close up view of these prehistoric looking fish. After a quick photo it was dropped back in the drink to join its mates and we continued on our run out to North Gutter.
A close-up of the aptly named triple-tail landed on a Gulp soft plastic. Pic: Peter Zeroni
After that trip I had a chat with a couple of mates who have caught the odd triple-tail and they said if we ever landed a decent one to keep it as they make for excellent tucker. Well on the very next jig trip we came across yet another floating tree stump and hanging under it were two solid triple-tails. Once again the first cast of a Gulp at the stump got crunched and before too long one of them was in the net. I said to my mate Stocko who landed it, "Not sure if these fish mate for life but maybe we should put it back with the other one?" Quick as a flash he said, "B***s**t Pete ... they be can be reacquainted in the esky as we're keeping this one for the pan!"
Well the next cast got nailed too, which meant dinner that night was well and truly sorted - for the record they both cooked up magnificently.
So if you ever up north and come across some floating debris out wide, check it out as there might be a triple-tail treat under there just waiting for a well placed lure.
A feisty triple-tail is lead towards the net. In the background you can see the floating tree stump which this and another TT was hanging around. Pic: Peter Zeroni