Species: Diamond Turbot (Hypsopsetta guttulata)
Location: Del Mar Lagoon, California
Date: August 6, 2018
Do you ever read an unfamiliar word and sound it out in your head, ultimately arriving at a pronunciation you like? Well, with fish and fishing, it’s commonplace. Seeing strange fish names is the nature of the beast. As you read more articles, blogs, and books about fish, you’re likely to come up with your own interpretation of each one. This is just with common names, too. When it comes to scientific names, it gets even worse for the vast majority of the angling community not well-versed in Latin.
You might be wondering why I’m droning on about a dead language, and that’s fair.
Well, I can’t think of Diamond Turbot without thinking of this strange phenomenon of mispronunciation. For the life of me, I can’t remember which angler I was with who said it, but every time I read the name of this little flatfish, I think of a friend saying “Luke, have you ever caught a Diamond Turbow?”
Stifling a laugh, I replied, “You mean tur-butt?”
The “t” is not silent, mind you.
To answer the question, yes. I have caught a Diamond Turbot.
En route to Texas for tech school a few years ago, I stopped in San Diego for a week. My intention was to fish with Ben Cantrell, who had recently relocated down there. From a fish species standpoint, he lived in the most diverse part of the West Coast in an area I’d barely fished. I figured I could net a dozen new species or so while down there. I’d picked up 10 in my first three days, which meant I had picked most of the low-hanging fruit. I was down to some of the tougher targets, of which several were found in one of the only fishable lagoons in Southern California: Del Mar.
Since California is the worst, even this one tiny bastion of freedom in a sea of restrictions was loaded with arbitrary rules. Signage limited exactly where you could and couldn’t fish. There was no rhyme or reason for it. As with most of California’s arbitrary overregulation, it was indefensible. It was just how it was.
Ben made sure we lined up properly and began fishing. There were several species I hadn’t caught present, but I failed to hook up on anything new. Ben, meanwhile, caught a Corbina, a croaker species he’d caught numerous times and I hadn’t, but that’s how it goes … for me.
One of the other targets here was a Diamond Turbot, which Ben promised I’d get if I followed his prescribed method, casted to the right spot, and used a tiny hook. It worked flawlessly. I caught the cute little flatfish, snapped a picture, and proceeded to catch nothing else exciting for the rest of the day.
On the drive back to San Diego, traffic was surprisingly light, and once I turned on my turbot — sorry, turbo — we flew through the traffic.
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