April 17, 2013
Bird-Eating Deep-Sea Dwellers Prove You Don't Know Everything About Fish Behavior
By Joe Cermele
The monkfish (pictured below) is definitely one of the most hideous looking fish in the ocean. But, if you frequent posh seafood joints, you might know that monkfish meat is very expensive and very delicious thanks to its lobster-like texture. It's not unheard of for a recreational angler to reel up one of these beasts while dropping on a wreck, but for the most part, monkfish live in water so deep that a baited hook rarely gets in front of them. Why then are researchers capturing monkfish with tiny seabirds called Dovekies in their stomachs? Because no matter how much you think you know about fish behavior, you don't know everything, and there are no hard-and-fast rules to feeding behavior.
According to this story on the Deep Sea News website, bird remains have been found in monkfish stomachs in the past. It's just that no one could figure out how they got there. Enter recent tagging study:
Recent tagging studies of monkfish have indicated that Monkfish sometimes swim vertically to the surface, especially during their spring and fall migrations. It is here, near the surface, where the territories of the monkfish and dovekies collide. Dovekies dive for food, often as deep as 100 ft, well into the range of the monkfish’s vertical migrations. And if you are a hungry monkfish swimming about, a chance meeting with a diving dovekie is a great way to score an easy snack.
So what's the point? How many times have you been out fishing and just for kicks toyed around with throwing a topwater lure or something completely opposite of what is supposed to be working based on season or behavior, but never actually pulled the trigger? One of the biggest flounder I ever caught was on a popper in 10 feet of water, and one of the heaviest smallmouths I ever caught was in 70 feet of water while deep-dropping for lake trout.