Triple Threat for Triple Tail

The weather was right so we decided to pull together a crew and head to the rigs in search of tuna.  We put out the word but could not scratch together a four man crew so it was just me, Allen and Stephen.  We figured if the US Women’s Gymnastics Team could pick their own name (“The Final Five”) we could, too.  So we dub this crew, Team Triple Threat.

We consulted FishTrac and Roffers and it was clear that blue water was far away so we settled in for a long run.  When we did find rigs in blue water there just did not seem to be a lot of activity, so we kept moving.  We ended up way southwest with Tuna busting the surface in nasty green water.  We chunked, we live baited, we trolled, but the bite was slow and completely died overnight despite the full moon.  We only had one decent bite and the fish came unhooked before we got it to the boat.  We were in good company with several other boats seeming to have much the same experience.

We tried some other rigs and found another in green water with a decent bite going on.  Saw a couple of other boats hooking up on live baits, but our live bait had not held up.  Lots of dead ones and just a few left to try. Bridled up the biggest hard tail in the live well and boom, we were on.  Let him eat it and take line for perhaps 30-45 seconds and then brought the line tight.  Fought the fish for a couple minutes and then it came unbuttoned.  When we reeled the line back in we found the hard tail was still on the hook and you could see it had been bitten and held on to, but never swallowed.   I guess next time I need to let the fish eat it even longer.

We were out of live bait and strangely the fish were completely ignoring our nice fresh chunk.  We had caught some blackfin, skippies, and small yellowfin, but it was just not our day for Tuna.  A bit frustrated we decided to start back toward home in hopes of finding a good rip to fish on the way.

On the way out we had run across a  debris line from the Mississippi in lovely river water.

3 Tail Habitat

We had worked some schools of tuna nearby picking up some blackfin, skippies, bonita etc… but nothing exciting enough to hold our attention. There was a huge shark lurking among them and it was tempting to try to hook it up, but it was not a Mako and the idea of fighting it for a couple hours was not something we wanted to embrace.

Checking the debris line we found it was loaded up with triple tail.  That is when Team Triple Threat let its colors shine.  Using highly unconventional tactics we set about selecting a few of these fish for the ice box.  Allen struck first putting a nice one in the box.

Allen 3Tail2

This was a nice specimen that was literally hand fed the jig.

I jumped in and found a second volunteer.

Me and Allen with Tripple Tail Thumbs up

But Stephen did not feel we were being adequately selective so he went moose hunting and dipped this one out of the fish tank.

Stephen with Moose 3Tail Close

I am astounded that triple tail are not extinct.  I do believe they are the most docile, least spooky, most incredibly willing to die species on the planet.

On the way home we found a bit of a rip and light weed line and pulled some small tuna off it, but never found what we were looking for.  What amazes me about this trip is that despite a really long run and failure to catch the target species, we just had a great time.  Those triple tail were a blast, the weather was great, company superb and it was just awesome to be on the water.  Beats work any day!

One last shot of Team Triple Threat back at the dock.

All 3 3Tail

The payoff was pan fried triple tail dinner.

3Tail Dinner

Straight forward preparation.  Dipped in flour, salt and pepper and seared in a cast iron skillet with olive oil and butter.  A great salad and tomatoes caprese for accompaniment along with your beverage of choice.

Next time, we will get those tuna!  Until then, catch em up.

 

Exumas 2016 — It’s not always a fishing trip

Had a great opportunity to meet up with some old friends on their boat in the Exumas.  I have been to the Bahamas, but this as a first to visit the Exumas chain of islands and they did not disappoint.  If you have ever been to Great Bahama or many of the other islands you may have an impression like I did of low lying flat islands.  A lot like flat Florida and its barrier islands.  The Exumas chain, though, is rocky with some pretty good elevation.  Not mountains, but a comfortable geography with rocky islands where you can get a view of the beautiful scenery.

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I flew out on a Cessna from  Ft. Lauderdale and had a quick stop in the Berry Islands to clear customs and immigration.

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The airport at Great Harbour isn’t exactly O’Hare.

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From there it was on to Staniel Cay to meet my buddies.

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The guys picked me up and we headed out to the boat.  It was great staying anchored out each night and just moving around each day to see some different places, snorkel, swim, and enjoy the incredible white sand beaches.

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Snorkeling in Thunderball Grotto (famous from James Bond and Splash movies) was a blast.

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Feeding the pigs that live on Pig Beach (They were clearly delighted):

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Snorkeling with a grey angel.

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A little hike near Bell Rock.  Views were great.

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This is Rachel’s Bubble Bath.  Waves come over the rocks into this pool and create a flood of bubbles like in a hot tub.

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Cocktails as we enjoyed the sunset from the bridge of the boat.  This shot was taken just a second or two before the green flash.  I had never seen the green flash before, but boldly predicted we would all see it this day, and we did!  Even a broken clock is right twice a day 🙂

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We also checked out some of the local residences.  This in Johnny Depp’s house on his own private island.  He needs to fight for this in the divorce!

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Johnny’s place is way understated compared to some neighbors like The Aga Khan with his massive island estate (I think he spent about $100 million on it) and this little compound:

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Three full size windmills, a solar field, the main house, five guest houses, multiple private beaches and pools, a private marina, golf course and tennis court and, of course, a float plane and hanger.  Who could do without that?

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Unfortunately, I did not get an invitation to move to that island so I reluctantly packed my bags and headed home to our own little slice of paradise.

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As a thank you for my buddies I got them custom powder coated Yeti Ramblers from Precision Powder Coating near Dallas, TX.  I don’t usually like to deal with people from Dallas since I am a die hard Washington Redskins fan, but I have to say they did a great job and treated me like a native.

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Hope you enjoyed my little travel log.  Back soon with another fishing report or how to.  Until then, catch ’em up!

Tuna, Storms, The Man in the Blue Suit, and a Broken Nose

Sorry I have not posted a blog in a few weeks. I was able to take some time to visit some old friends on their boat for a trip to the Bahamas and neglected my blog duties.  I’ll post up about that trip soon, but today is about this week’s trip to the Gulf of Mexico Oil rigs in the successful pursuit of the man in the blue suit.

Me, Allen, Frenchy and newcomer, Stephen, loaded up FN PAIR-A-DICE and left Destin on Sunday headed southwest, deep into the oil fields of the central Gulf of Mexico.  All the elements were there for a good trip and we were in need of some screaming drags.

We arrived at our ultimate destination at about 1 AM and were quickly on the fish.  Blackfin and yellowfin were active and biting.  I was the first to get a YFT to the boat and had a blast doing it, using spin tackle and a live flying fish that made the mistake of getting too close to the boat.

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OK, so we knew we would be eating well, the pressure was off.  We were consistently getting bites as the sun peered through the early morning clouds.  Allen landed a nice one.

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And so did Frenchy.

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But we were also frustratingly hooking up and losing some fish, too.  I hung a really nice one and after ten minutes or so, as it surged away from the boat, I got cut off.  Not sure what happened, perhaps it hit the leader with its tail, but that was my hundred pounder, gone.  Allen and Frenchy missed a few as well, but it was Stephen that seemed snake bit.  He must have had six fish come unbuttoned.  But, he did ultimately get his revenge.

We pushed away from the rig to troll a bit and look for a rip that was supposed to be in the area.  I must have dosed off a bit, but woke up to screaming drags, as the boys had a double header going.

Stephen put a nice YFT in the boat and broke his curse!

Stephen YFT 5

Allen made sure the gaff shot would count.

Frenchy capped it off with a nice skipjack.

Frenchy Skipjack2

Stephen, however, was not done.  Lines back in, another lap around the rig and Stephen is holding on for dear life as literally a thousand yards of line melts off the 50W.  We are all laser focused on a big tuna, but what comes careening out of the water is the man in the blue suit!  It is grey hounding out there in the distance, right between the legs of the rig.  I don’t know about everyone else, but I was pretty sure this was going to end fast with the line broken off on the rig.

Unbelievably, the fish kept going past the rig and off into open water, but now we had a big belly in the line and about three quarters or more of the line off the reel.  Allen gets Stephen in the bow and starts working at the fish and we quickly had the line tight, straight to the fish again.  Things are looking up and Stephen settled in for the fight.

Stephen Fighting Marlin

It wasn’t long before Stephen had the fish at the boat for his first marlin tag and release.  Stephen was looking good, but the fish had a broken nose.  Not sure if that happened before or during the fight.  You can see it in the video.

Everyone smile for the camera!

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Monday got pretty stormy and we had to don the foul weather gear repeatedly, but there was the occasional promise of clear skies.

Rainbow

Monday night got downright sporty with rain coming across the deck sideways and lightning popping regularly.  We decided we had done well and it was time to beat a retreat so we packed up and started working toward home.

The Boys Navigating the Storms

Storms

The trip home was a slow slog, but the sun came out as we arrived at the docks and set about the business of scrubbing the boat and cleaning the fish.

Tuna and Marlin Flag

Now we enjoy the spoils.

Dinner

Recipe: Tuna steak coated with black sesame seeds.  Seared on grill for 2-3 minutes per side.  A squeeze of lemon or lime.  Serve with soy and wasabi for dipping.

Catch em up!

A Day Late and Short Tuna

Well, we were all geared up to fish the Ft. Walton Beach Sailfish Club Offshore Tournament, but the wrong engine parts showing up on the last day had us bowing out and going to Plan B. Legendary worked hard to get us back on the water, but we ended up being a day behind the tournament boats and just decided not to come back for the Saturday weigh in so that we could still get two nights on the water.

Crew this week was Me, Allen, The Wrench, and Cody, who drove in from Dalton GA. (Carpet Town USA!) We made the long run to the rigs Friday afternoon getting there in time for the evening bite.

Ensco Rig

The ride out was smooth and fast and our elation at finally being back on the water was matched only by the that of the Dolphin greeting us as we crossed the steps.  It’s pretty cool to see them fly 8-10 feet out of the water next to the boat like they are putting on a show at Sea World.  In the words of Herman Melville: “Huzza Porpoise!

Cody got his first real YFT on the evening bite.

Cody Tuna

The Blackfin bite was slow so it was tough to make chunk, but we were marking fish and working them with a combination of baits.  As the sun began to rise things picked up a bit and we put a few more in the boat.

Logan Tuna

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The clip is only 3 seconds, but here it is doing the death circle.

And one more!

John Tuna

What kills me is we were fishing light fluorocarbon leader and small hooks carefully concealed to entice the bite and one of these fish came to the boat with something like a 14/0 circle hook with 4-6 feet of perhaps 400# mono leader. Longliner?   We have been seeing them operating in the area.

Weather was slick calm each day, but breezy each night.  We moved around to several rigs looking for the bite, but had no more luck.

Nakika

We did find a nice weed line, but I think every boat in the ECBMC had fished up and down it twice so all they left us was some triple tail (which tasted great!) and some small mahi.

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So the best part on that line was catching the triple tail.  There were so many jacks and other bait fish the triple tail did not have a chance to eat the bait.  We are sneaky though.  When the triple tail went back under the grass mat we tossed a light jig right onto the mat over its head and let the jig slip through quietly right in front of it.  The jacks did not notice, but the triple tail was sold and ate it right off.   That’s the patented “fish under cover” approach 🙂

We did all agree that when we win the PowerBall, we are buying this to be our new mother ship.  I think we could fish anywhere with impunity.

Work Boat (2)

All in all a good trip with good people.  Boat is back on the water and we are catchin’ em up!

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Next Generation Fishing Action

We recently had the pleasure of a visit from no less than fifteen nieces, nephews, great nieces and great nephews.  It was a true Cousinpalooza! While the preponderance of sea sickness in the older generation does create pause for concern, the younger generation seemed like fertile ground from which to cull some new fisher men and women.  So we decided to set sail and see what kind of fishing action this new generation could summon.

Maggie, Brett, and Lucas were up for the challenge.  Here they are taking control of the PAIR-A-DICE like the little pirates they are:

JR Captains at the helm

Everyone drove the boat and they worked as a team to get the boat into the fish zone. Brett bravely volunteered to take the first turn on the rod, with a bit of help from Dad.  And it paid, FISH ON!

Brett and Dad

Nice one Brett!
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Next up, sister Maggie.  It’s not long before she and Unc spot another lunker.

Maggie and Unc spot the fish

I think this smile just says it all:

Maggie is all smiles

Cousin Lu wants in on the action and not to be outdone, he catches a double header.  That’s right, two fish at a time!  Here is one of the monsters:

Lucas not so sure

I’m hoping this is the kind of trip that secures me angling partners to keep me fishing well into old age.  It was short, smooth, everyone caught fish (some of us caught two at a time!) and nobody got sick (not even the parents).

Next year we target King Fish and we are gonna catch em up!

Sometimes You Have to Work a Little Harder

This was just one of those trips.

Me, Allen, “The Wrench” (aka Logan), and newcomer Troy decided to cut out early on Friday and hit the rigs.  Weather was looking great and we figured those Tuna were just waiting for us to show up and feed them.  We spent the morning getting the boat provisioned and were off the dock about 1PM.  By 1:10 the starboard engine was overheating.  Are you kidding?  We had just replaced the impeller so we should be good.  I am beginning to think that bringing The Wrench is just bad luck and rather than being the solution for mechanical questions we were all asking: Is he the cause?

Well, this crew does not shrink in the face of adversity.  We started to work on the problem.  We pulled the impeller and found that it was badly damaged.  Hmm, it’s brand new.  That is not good.  Fortunately, we had a spare and we installed that.  Things were looking up.  We had water pumping again, but not with the volume we felt was optimal.  Did a bunch of trouble shooting and no obvious fixable problems.  The engine was being a bit finicky, but the temperature was within specs so we took a vote and decided to make the run (four hours behind schedule).

The ride to West Neptune was smooth sailing and all went well, but when we arrived it looked like the entire Gulf of Mexico fleet was there.  With the Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic in full swing, everyone was there looking for the winning tuna.

West Neptune

We saw a couple of boats hook up, but generally the bite was slow so we moved to Horn Mountain.  Same scene, same results.  We were getting some blackfin, but no yellowfin and the bite just was not on.  The dawn bite never happened so we consulted our Fish Track maps and decided the water looked good toward the South. There was a nice looking counter clockwise eddy just over the horizon.  We hit a drill ship and then on to Nakika and the water was electric blue but very little activity on the surface or showing on the depth finder.  Traffic thinned, but there were several big sportfishers live baiting for marlin and one of them caught the MGCBC winner there at Nakika.

We were getting frustrated and it was brutally hot so we decided to change things up and put out a trolling spread.  We started back North and found a nice rip, strangely, not being fished by anyone.  We were quickly back in the game.  A bull and a cow dolphin swam right by the boat on their way to check out our baits.  Seeing them coming by, we were on the rods when they struck.  Left long gets pummeled by the bull, but he isn’t hooked.  I back the drag off and drop the bait back and, just like in the manual, he turns back on the bait and eats it a second time.  FISH ON!  Woo Hoo!  And then the cow nails the shotgun.  We are doubled up!

Did I mention I love this stuff?  I do and this is what I dream about at night.  Not dragging baits along and a mystery fish eats one and somebody cranks it in on the 80 wide.  That’s not what it’s about.  It’s getting the right baits in the right place, seeing the fish come in to eat, and turning a missed strike into a fish on the line.  It’s a blast.

Finally the stink is off the boat and we have two nice gaffer dolphin in the fish box.  Mahi tacos baby!

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We worked the rip all the way back to Nakika and picked up several more dolphin in the process.  We tried bump trolling a large rainbow runner around the rig for a bit, but he drew no interest so, still not marking tuna or seeing any surface activity, we decided to head back to West Neptune for the evening bite.

En route we see a little something floating on the water so we circle back to check it out thinking perhaps we can pick up a triple tail.  When we pull up it looks like a small piece of carpet backing or something.  It’s basically about the size of a six foot 2X6 and it just has a few little fish on it, including a triple tail that is only about five inches long.  We toss in a jig just to see what is there and a wolf pack of mid size dolphin come cruising up from the deep.  We were all quickly hooking up on jigs, top waters, live baits and cut bait.  The fish were not huge, but they were not chicken dolphin either so we were having fun. Troy is dropping a jig deep in hopes of finding a wahoo and I am tossing a topwater for dolphin when a wahoo comes rocketing across the water and makes a 90 degree turn to nail my topwater.

Awesome, topwater wahoo on spin, that just does not happen every day.  With a light mono leader I am keen to get this fish in the boat and fortunately the take was close to the boat and the fish was not big enough to run off too much line.  We had him with the perfect gaff shot and in the box within just a few minutes.  Wahoo!

With a box full of dolphin and a bonus wahoo, we got underway again and moved over to West Neptune.  Things there started slow, but we did get a tuna bite on chunk early on. While it pulled the hook it did motivate us to kept at it.  Sharks were in the area and making it tough but we were eeking out a living on some nice blackfin and the occasional yellowfin bite. Troy finally broke the ice and put the first YFT in the boat.

Troys Tuna Close up

Troys Tuna Close

Troys Tuna

That is his first and you have got to love the smile!

We kept picking away and working around the sharks and Logan was rewarded with another nice YFT.

Logans Tuna

Between YFT we were also catching some nice BFT.  We had three over 18# with Allen tacking the trophy at 25.5#.  That’s pretty much a stud for a blackfin.

With a tough bite and a long trip back to Destin in front of us we decided to start the trip home in the dark in hopes of an early morning Wahoo bite closer to home.  We had the wahoo spread out at first light but no interest in the first hour or so so we switched up to a high speed spread.  That was the trick.  Troy whacked this bad boy in short order:

Troys Wahoo

This time his smile was not as pronounced.  I think 48 hours with only about three of it sleeping was beginning to take its toll.

We put the high speed spread back out and trolled another 30-45 minutes but we were all bushed and had a full fish box so we decided to head for the hill.  Fortunately, the fish were not done with us.  As Logan started cranking on one of the reels it got slammed again.  Wahooo!  This one is a better class and is dumping line off the reel, but Logan gets him turned around.  Allen sinks the gaff and we have some icing for our cake.

Logans Wahoo

Logans Wahoo Close

Even a tired crew can smile at this fish.  We iced her down, got cleaned up a bit and put up the flags.

Flags

This was a tough trip to get going.  It almost did not happen.  Then when we did get on the water, the fishing just was not on fire.  But we stuck with it and put together a nice mixed bag of fish.  It all came right in the end and we felt a little prouder of our effort for the way we worked to bring it together.  And as a reward, we got some sweet meat:

Wahoo Steak

And at several houses some feasts ensued.

Wahoo Dinner

Tuna Dinner

I’ll get some more how to’s up as soon as fishing slows down.  If you like what you are reading click on the link to “register” in the right margin and sign up to follow the blog.

In the mean time, hope you all get out there and catch em up!

Circle Hook Rigged Ballyhoo

You have lots of options for baits when trolling, but one of the most productive is a rigged ballyhoo.  There are lots of ways you can rig your ballyhoo.  The first choice is what kind of hook you will use.  You can rig a j-hook or a circle hook. The advantages of a circle hook rig include:

  • It’s the law when tournament fishing
  • It’s a requirement for all tournaments when fishing natural baits
  • Circle hooks save fish so you or others can catch them again

Circle hooks are designed to catch in the corner of a fish’s mouth so that the fish does not get gut hooked.  See, like this:

Baitmasters

This makes releases easy.  It also gives you a fighting chance on toothy critters even though you may be fishing a mono or flouro leader.

The video below shows you one way to rig a ballyhoo with a circle hook. There are lots of ways to do this.  I made this one up (probably the same as some others have done) and like the way it works.  I think it’s what we caught our first blue marlin with on FN Pair-A-Dice.

I note in the video we are rigging this up as a pitch bait. (This is a good video on how to pitch bait.)  We put it on a heavy spin rod and pitch it at fish we see in the spread.  I also like to “prospect” with this rod and bait. I think I learned this approach from an article in Saltwater Sportsman or Marlin Magazine.  You drop the bait back into the spread with the bail open and it looks like an injured bait falling out of the school.  I can’t tell you how often we have gotten hits while rearranging baits in the spread. There is no question it draws the attention of hungry predators.

You can use this same rig as a trolled bait.  The one in the video is “naked.”  That just means it does not have a skirt on it. One thing I like about this particular circle hook rig is it simple to add a skirt.  Just drop it on over the wire before you attach the hook.  It looks and runs great.

One disadvantage of a circle hook rig is that you may miss some hookups if the fish does not eat the entire bait (Known as a short strike).  For that reason I tend to like to rig smaller baits like pee wee or dink size ballyhoo. That said, for billfish, you will never miss a hook up based on this rigging vs a j-hook rig.  You can rig up a horse ballyhoo with this system and if you get a hit from a billfish I think your odds of hooking up are as good or better than any other hook or rig.  The billfish is going to take this bait, turn it around, and take it in its mouth head (hook) first.  As the line comes tight, that circle hook will find the corner of the mouth and you will get a nice solid hookup.

So, rig up your circle hooks and try it out.  Now go catch ’em up.

 

FN PAIR-A-DICE WINS SWORD FIGHT

Well, we had never caught a sword so we decided it was time.  Me, Allen and special guest Ferdi loaded up the FN Pair-A-Dice Monday and headed south to try our hand.  Ferdi is over visiting from Germany and he was a good man to have along and the only one of the three of us to ever catch a sword before so we welcomed his experienced hand.

The weather was wonderful and we had a great afternoon run to the swordfish grounds.  We got there early enough to troll before sunset in hopes of a wahoo or billfish.  We had one knockdown on the Moldcraft Wide Range, but never saw the fish.  Other than that it was quiet, but the sunset was spectacular and reminded us there are many reasons we like to be on the water, other than just the great northern Gulf of Mexico fishing.

Sunset Trolling

Sunset and Boat

We had our satellite report from FishTrack.com so the crew studied the report and agreed on the right place to put out our swordfish spread.  Fish Track is a cool service (They are not a sponsor.  I am not getting paid by them etc…., but they are letting me try out the service) similar to Bluewater Supermap, Hiltons, RipCharts, or Roffers (All of which I use and like).  These services are extremely helpful in identifying the best places to target fish and help save you fuel by giving you advance intelligence on where to go.  I will do a blog on these at a later date.

So we set up our drift in a slow current under 1 mile per hour with baits in the water by 9:00 PM.  We had the underwater light on, but other than three or four of the biggest flying fish I have ever seen, there was not a lot of bait showing up.  A little after 10:00 PM, the clicker started going off slowly on the 50 wide deployed off the bow. I got on it, started to reel up the slack in the line and FISH ON!  While I was hooked up, it did not feel like much of a fish and I did not know if it was a sword.  A few minutes later, however, whatever it was realized it was hooked and start peeling 50 lb test off the reel with impunity.  Now I knew it was either a good size shark or sword and I was in for a long fight.

I have to say my wife came through again.  She bought me a full harness for my fishing belt a few months back and there was no way I could have managed the rod on this fish without it.  It was kicking my butt!  About an hour and fifteen minutes after hooking up we could finally see the disco light (also supplied by wife Lisa) attached to the leader flashing down in the water under the boat and had the leader in hand shortly thereafter.  I was relieved as I was running out of steam, but my heart sank when the fish surged away from the boat and the disco light faded into oblivion as the line once again began melting off the reel.  I honestly was not sure I had it in me to gain that line back, but the fish was tired too and I was able to get it to the boat a few minutes later.

We again had the leader. Ferdi was leader man and Allen was on the gaff, but with only three of us we did not have an extra hand to drive the boat and were dead in the water.  The fish took advantage of that, pulling the leader into the IPS units under the boat.  We could not get her out so we let go of the leader and backed off the drag and dropped the rod tip under the boat.  Just like on TV, she swam right out and the fight was back on. Once again she peeled off a good bit of line, but the disco light was still visible and it was clear she was wearing out.  I had her on the surface off the bow when she turned and made a mad dash for the IPS units.  Are you kidding me!?!  This fish is tired, but she knows how to make us work.  As Ferdi grabs the leader and tries to clear the fish I see her bill stick up behind the transom.  She has gone between the IPS units and come up behind the boat.  I’m yelling: “She’s off the transom, gaff that &!@#% now!” Boom! Ferdi has the gaff in her and Allen has the bill and she is over the rail and on the deck.  WooHoo!  First Sword and she is a nice one. Those guys did a great job getting that fish and we were all stoked.   Now its time for pictures and a celebratory adult beverage.

Sword 4

We got her on ice, set up a new drift and put the baits back out.  Speaking of bait, we were fishing Baitmasters circle hook rigged squid.  (Again, they are not a sponsor, are not paying me, etc…, it’s just where we ordered bait).  Gotta shout out to Baitmasters because their bait is always in great shape and holds up incredibly well.  Look at that circle hook right in the corner of the jaw and it was stuck because I was puttin’ the heat to that fish for more than an hour and a half.

Baitmasters

For a while, after we landed the sword, things were slow for us, but two other boats had hooked up within a minute or two of each other and were both in fights that would not end for two and a half and three and a half hours.  About 4:00 AM, the clicker starts going on Allen’s rod.  He feeds the fish and then starts reeling up the slack, but is not hooked up.  Or is he?  As the disco light comes into view, we see another big sword coming up with it, but she turns off and swims around the transom of the boat. She  had not eaten the bait, but she was thinking about it.  Within another minute or two there is a big hit on Ferdi’s rod, but no hook up.  He and Allen are working baits in the water trying to get that hookup, but the fish is gone and so is most of Ferdi’s squid.  I know one thing, if another sword was hooking up that night, I was not going to be the one to fight her!

Ferdi did have another hit, but it turned out to be a nice Blackfin Tuna.

BFT for Ferdi

This BFT was really strange.  It did not fight at all.  It didn’t swim to the boat either.  In fact it was like it never kicked its tail at all until it was in the boat.  It was like it just went limp.  Very odd.

At sunrise we put the trolling spread again and went in search of other quarry.  Things were slow for us but we had an unexpected, but very trusting little visitor.

Bird on Shoulder

Arr matey…, made me feel a bit like a pirate.  Allen did manage to get us a decent gaffer dolphin though to finish off the morning.

Allens Dolphin 2

Allens Dolphin

With a lot of work to clean the boat and fish, we decided to head back early.  So we flew the flags proudly as we entered the pass.

Flying the flags

Tonight we enjoyed the fruits of our labor.

Dinner

It was a fun trip.  It’s always neat to try something new and have it all come together.  As soon as the weather stops cooperating and I can’t go fishing for a week, I’ll get another “how to” blog up. Now that I am an expert experienced sword fisherman ;), I can blog the “how to” on that so you too can catch em up!   P.S. If you are enjoying reading the blog, please register to follow with the “Register” link in the right margin.

Mahi Maddness

Allen, Nate and Frenchy and I loaded up the FN Pair-A-Dice on Sunday and headed south. We awoke to some stiff winds, but since they were out of the North we had a manageable following sea for the run.  We could see from the satellite imagery there was blue water over DeSoto Canyon and what looked like some promising temperature changes.

We put lines in south of the 131 hole in decent looking water, but found no love.  There was little bait and no activity so we picked up and headed further Southwest where we found a poorly formed, but promising looking weed line.  It was not long before our baits were getting attacked by hungry mahi.  They were not huge, but we were picking off some nice gaffer size fish and having a good time.

3 Dolphin3 Sad Dolphin26# Dolphin

We were fishing a mix of ballyhoo and artificials and got hits on on both, but soon ran out of ballyhoo and had to go strictly to lure fishing.   Things slowed down mid day and the rip was getting hard to follow, but we stuck with it.  We were running a dredge rigged with ballyhoo and a big marlin lure over it on the left flat line.  We were hoping the dredge would lure a marlin in and then it would commit on the big plug that was following above and just behind.  When we got a big knock down on the flat line it looked like the plan had worked, but unfortunately the fish spit the hook without ever showing itself.  A couple of the ballyhoo on the dredge were gone though and one appeared to be bitten or broken in half so I think we had a bill in there wacking at them.  Would have been nice to hook her up, but it was not meant to be.

Late afternoon we ran across a large piece of plastic container in the water and it had four or five triple tail on it along with jacks and trigger fish.   We worked it hard and were able to get two of the triple tail, one of which was a keeper and will make a nice meal tomorrow.

IMG_0554

We tried a little deep drop before heading home, but the crew was tired and we did not stick with it.  We did pick up a small golden tile, but that was it.  So we packed it up and headed for the hill.

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The wind shifted south and laid down and the ride home was smooth sailing with Nate and Frenchy at the helm.

IMG_0556

Hope you enjoyed the report.  If you did, please register to follow the blog by clicking the register link over in the right margin.  And until next time, Catch em up!

 

How to Make The Perfect Gaff Shot

OK, now you have done everything right.  You got all you stuff together, remembered to bring the bait, got your buddies up early, made it to the fishing grounds despite the bad starter motor (you overcame adversity) and the fish actually ate the bait and got stuck by the hook.  You even reeled that baby all the way to the boat without pulling the hook, breaking the line, or otherwise succumbing to the myriad little disasters that are big game fishing: WooHoo!  NOT SO FAST.  As they say, it ain’t over ’til the fat lady sings and she ain’t gonna do that ’til you sink the gaff in that ‘ol girl and swing her into the boat.

Here is a great example of a really good gaff shot by Dustin aboard the FN Pair-A-Dice on a recent trip to the Gulf of Mexico oil platforms.  Take a look and a few of things to note are:

  1. how he brings the gaff in behind the leader,
  2. how he gets the fish near the head, and
  3. how he immediately brings the fish in the boat with one clean sweep.

By bringing the gaff in behind the leader he is protecting against the leader getting tangled on the gaff and getting cut or broken.  By immediately swinging the fish in the boat with one clean stroke he is avoiding the fish flipping off the gaff back into the water.  I have seen nice fish lost both ways, but not with Dustin on the gaff.

Also, if you can get the gaff in near the head you achieve two things.  First, if you can avoid the gaff hole in the flesh of the fish you won’t damage a good steak or filet. Second, you get better control of the fish. Gaff in the tail and you may have a tough time.  I recall a tuna pulling the gaff out of my hands (along with some skin) and my buddies laughed a lot about him swimming away with the gaff. In my defense, we did end up getting both the fish and the gaff.

This video from another FN Pair-A-Dice rig trip adventure is a bit longer and not as good a view of the gaff shot, but a good example of getting a big fish in the boat quickly.  That fish is about 80# and Nate got the incredible hulk look in his eye and just yanked it in.  Good job Nate!  If you’re squeamish, you might want to stop the video as soon as the fish is in the boat.  Man, we had to scrub that boat the next day!

Hope you enjoyed the videos and next time if you do it like Dustin and Nate you too can Catch em up!