This was the trip that might not have been, but for the determined efforts of our crew. Saturday, Allen, Logan (aka “The Wrench”), and Dustin prepped the FN Pair-A-Dice for a two night run to the oil rigs south of Alabama. I got a free pass to attend Niece Bella’s 3rd Birthday. I definitely did not draw the short straw on that one. I arrived, hopped on and we were off with dreams of making the sunset bite.
While making bait outside the pass we got a line wrapped around a prop. Dustin donned the mask and over the side he went. No problem, he made quick work of getting us untangled. Unfortunately, when we tried to restart the engine, we got nada. The Wrench says he thinks it’s the starter and if we give it a good rap with a hammer or a wrench, it may break loose. OK, worth a try because we aren’t doing several hundred miles on one engine, that is for sure. So, in the absence of a hammer (cannot imagine why we don’t keep one of those on the boat), we rap on it a few times with the channel locks, no luck.
The Wrench says we can arc it with a screw driver. I do not volunteer for that duty, but Allen steps up and and takes on the task. Well it put on a good show, but it didn’t start the engine and I think the screw driver is screwed.
The Wrench, undeterred, says we can pull the starter off, hit it harder and get it going. Seemed scientific and having no better ideas, we all agree to that course of action. Admittedly, I had already resigned myself to going home and drinking beer, and with the possible exception of The Wrench, I think everyone else had as well. So Allen and The Wrench proceeded to remove the starter. No small feat with the limited tool kit we carry on board, but they got it off and proceeded to hit it much harder. Well, that left a mark:
But! Now when we turn the key, it engages. That is progress. So they bolt that baby back on, we all say a little prayer, turn the key and bam, she starts! We are going fishing, woohoo! Allen and The Wrench earn beers.
We’re late, but we are on the way. Everything is going great until the sun goes down and we flip on the radar. Are you kidding me? No radar. System is not finding it attached. So we stop, unplug everything, plug it all back in and try again. Nothing. Try finding bad cable connections, recycling etc… but all a no go. So we put a two man watch out and start gingerly along through the dark. The good news is the moon comes up bright and beautiful pretty early and we can see quite well so we just keep chugging along arriving at Petronius at about 10:30PM.
Word from the other boats there is that there are some Tuna, but tough to get. So we set up jigging and grab a few blackfin tuna, but we are not feeling it. We decide to check Marlin rig (1st image below) on the way to Horn Mountain (2nd image below).
Neither showed much activity so we pushed off Horn Mountain to The Noble Tom Madden Drill ship (shown below) that is working just a mile or so away.
Here we are marking fish all over the place and there are blackfin tuna (BFT) busting on the surface. So we get to the business of catching some tuna. We caught fish jigging and on top water and set up a sunrise chunk line. That paid with a nice 33 lb yellowfin tuna (YFT)wrangled by Allen:
We kept at it and the chunk yielded another nice bite, but unfortunately the fish broke off after a short fight. It was a clean cut through the leader, the price you pay for using light leaders. Things slowed down so we moved east to Ensco 8505. The Roff’s report showed a nice break in that area and it was right. Water went from blended blue to cobalt blue on the way over and the water around the rig was alive. BFT and Skip Jack Tuna were busting on the surface and the fish finder was lit up. We caught one skippy, but these fish were tough customers. We jigged every jig in the box and all the topwaters and they just were not interested.
We got the chunk line going again though and once again, Allen is hooked up. Nice fish with a great gaff shot by Dustin and another 33# YFT in the boat. We kept at it, but could not produce another bite. Not even a skippy or a BFT. So, we picked up and trolled over to Noble Globetrotter 1. She is located further south down the same color change.
It is going off at Globetrotter. There are BFT, Skippies and other baits all over the surface and showing all over the fish finder. As with the bite at Ensco 8505, though, they all have lock jaw for everything in our arsenal. We try every jig, every topwater, trolling and live baits. Nothing. Then we start seeing big YFT rolling on the surface. Not busting, not flying out of the water as usual, but lazily rolling on the surface. We ease over to them and see something none of us had ever seen before. A big YFT comes up and tries to eat a seagull sitting on the surface! Lucky seagull manages to escape, but it was like something from a PBS nature special. I wish I had that on tape.
Allen, going for the hat trick slings a topwater out there and boom, he is on. He works the fish almost to the boat in about five minutes, but when it sees the FN Pair-A-Dice it has its own ideas and dumps about 3/4 of the 80# braid off is Saragosa 18000. So Allen settles in for the fight:
This was a big fish and she was not cooperating. She drove straight down and Allen almost got spooled. He was working to get line back, but unfortunately he got cut off. The cut off was on the braid above the double line so not sure if she hit it with her tail or what, but the result is the same, no fish this time.
We were pretty much out of chunk and frustratingly unable to catch any BFT or Skippies so we decided to head back to Ensco and give it another try there at sunset. No luck at Ensco so back to Noble Tom Madden where Allen hooked up on a live bait. This one was a mid 50# YFT. So clearly Allen is the MVP of this trip and scores the hat trick.
Without any additional luck at the drill ship we started toward home and made a pit stop at Ram Powell (shown below). The crew was running out of steam:
The only interest we found there was a big barracuda. But we did find this on the way:
Tried jigging it and checked for triple tail, but no luck. Looks like it was perhaps a broken off FAD (Fish Attracting Device). Anyone else have any thoughts what it might have been? For sure home made and flying a plague flag 🙂
We made it back safely Monday afternoon, cleaned the boat and the fish and headed in to get some shut eye.
Saturday I was asking where the starter was, yesterday I pulled it off and took it in to be rebuilt. The Wrench is a good teacher. This was the reward.
Hope you enjoyed the report. Until next time, Catch Em Up!
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P.S.S. Tuna Burgers: