It’s that time of year on the Panhandle. Cobia are migrating west along the beaches and the tournaments are in full swing. If you have never done this, it’s a unique fishery. It’s all sight fishing for big fish.
Boats move down the beaches with two, three, six, eight people in the tower looking for cruising fish. Towers range from thirty foot tall welded works of art costing tens of thousands of dollars to step ladders lashed to the bow of a jon boat. You do what you need to to participate in this adventure.
Once a fish is spotted an angler in the tower casts a bait to the fish. The bait of choice is a live eel. Failing that, a grunt, or pinfish, or other medium size bait fish. If that does not work, a jig, or a shrimp, or whatever works.
The captain may maneuver the boat following the fish for feet, yards, maybe miles while all the offerings are made until the fish eats or disappears under the waves. Once hooked up the rod is lowered down from the tower on a pulley system and retrieved by the angler in the cockpit and the fight engaged.
This week I was able to get out with the boys on InstiGator, a proven Cobia killing machine with a tournament winning and hardened crew. The trip did not disappoint, yielding this 61.7 pound beast for angler Big Rick.
While this was an awesome fish, the current first place fish is an astounding 98.8 pounds.
There was plenty to go around so I decided to pull together a little creole cobia treat for dinner.
Yum, that is some good fish. The recipe:
Garlic, onions, chives, chopped fresh tomatoes, bell pepper, chili pepper, celery, shrimp shells (remove after the sauce simmers for a while) a cup of wine and a cup and a half of water all sauteed and then simmered for about thirty minutes. Seasoned with salt, pepper and thyme. Fish is just dredged in flour and pepper and cooked for about four minutes with a bit of oil in a hot skillet and then put in the sauce to finish. Saute a few shrimp in the same pan and add to the mix. Garnish with green onion.
Hope you get out there and catch ’em up!
Sorry its been a while since I posted, but lots going on, most of which unfortunately has not involved fishing. I was prepping to get back on the water this spring and thought some folks might like a little primer on how to properly crimp a leader, so I made this little video. There are few things more frustrating than hooking up a nice fish only to have the crimp connection fail. I had it happen once on a nice tuna and have not allowed a repeat. Hope you find this video helpful.
In the video I eyeballed the right slot in the crimping tool to match the sleeve I was using. I have done a bunch so was pretty comfortable I had the right size. I highly recommend that you follow the recommendations on the packaging until you get the feel for the correct pairings of leaders to sleeves and sleeves to crimp tool slots. Its important to use the right sizes to assure a proper connection that is not so tight that it damages the leader, but tight enough to assure the connection will not slip under pressure.
Good luck out there, and catch ’em up!
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Well, I get real itchy when I can’t fish. Can’t sit still. Have to do something, and this winter was tough. Between windy and rainy weather and waiting on parts and mechanics, I had to find things to do other than fish.
I did all the usual boat and fishing tackle chores, my honey do’s around the house, some volunteer time, this blog, but still there was a hole to fill. So, I decided to do something nice for my wife for Christmas. Build something with my own two hands. I knew she would like that even if it turned out terrible. After all, this is the woman that bought me my deep drop rod and reel, my fishing kite, my jigging rod, even an awesome fillet knife set. In other words, she supports my addiction so seems fair I do something special for her.
Well, I have literally never none any woodworking. Perhaps a bit of rough carpentry, but nothing really challenging. So, why not just jump in head first? We had some plastic planters on the deck for vegetables and herbs and they were falling apart. What I knew she would like was a large wooden planter box to replace those.
No problem. I looked for plans for something like she needed, but nothing really hit the mark, so I sharpened my pencil and designed something myself.
If there are any woodworkers reading this, please stop now and come back when I post about fishing. You will laugh and snort your drink up and out your nose if you proceed. I can probably fool the rest of you and make you think I knew what I was doing. 🙂
So, I built this:
I was shocked, it actually came out square and did not collapse when I filled it with dirt!
Anyway, I gave her this for Christmas. It was quite a challenge assembling it on the deck while she was out on Christmas Eve and hiding it until the morning. She may have sneaked a peak, she isn’t telling.
She liked it so much she asked me to make a twin for Valentine’s Day. While I was flattered, I was not sure it was a repeatable exercise. Regardless, I decided to give it a shot. It all came together in the end. We call them “The Twins.”
I think I may have actually gotten some genes from my machinist grandfather that skipped my lawyer father’s generation.
For anyone interested in the detailed how to of the build, it’s all on video. Again, woodworkers of the world, please close your eyes.
Hope you enjoyed this on a rainy winter day and I hope you get out there and catch ’em up!
This summer I had the good fortune of catching my first swordfish. I blogged all about it in FN PAIR-A-DICE Wins Sword Fight. Click through on that link to see the full story and all the pics, but this is her:
Well, I decided that as a memento of that occasion I wanted to save the bill and do something cool with it. After a bit of research, I found an artist named RJ Boyle who does really great work painting swordfish bills. He is also an avid fisherman. My lovely bride then offered to pay to have him paint mine (she is awesome).
Pictures don’t really do it justice, but you get a much better sense from this short video I did. I had a blast finding the music to go with it!
Here are some pics as well. (OH, and over there —————> you sign up for free Yeti cup!
In order to do this I first had to prepare the bill. To do that I wrapped it in some chicken wire, tied a rope to it and threw it off my dock. There it stayed for a couple of months with all the creatures of the sea enjoying a wee feast. Occasionally, I pulled it out to see how it was getting along and to pull away pieces of loose flesh. The nieces and nephews loved these check-ins. The kids generally fall into two categories, the scientifically intrigued, and the squealers. I can tell you, it smells pretty nasty for a while.
After all the flesh was off it and it had spent plenty of time in the water I pulled it out and scrubbed it with soapy water with a dash of bleach. I then put it in the yard to bake in the sun for a couple of weeks. Washed it again and packed it in borax. Left it in the borax for a couple of weeks and it was good to go and lemony fresh.
I mailed it off to RJ and he called me when it was ready to paint to ask me generally what I wanted on it. I sent him a picture of the FN PAIR-A-DICE and he actually painted her on the bill. That made it extra special to me. He also painted on the weight and date of the catch. To see other bills by RJ Boyle, go here.
My next project is to build a proper mount for it. I started on that task, but have not been happy with what I put together so far. I really want to make sure I do it justice.
Before you go, please sign up to subscribe by entering your email over there —> in the box on the margin and then make sure you click the email in the link that will send you. If you are registered as an email follower on January 30, 2017 your name will be in the hat for the FREE custom powder coated and etched Yeti cup from Precision Powder Coating. You can read all the details here.
Good luck, and until next time, Catch ‘Em Up!
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.
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.
This was a nice specimen that was literally hand fed the jig.
I jumped in and found a second volunteer.
But Stephen did not feel we were being adequately selective so he went moose hunting and dipped this one out of the fish tank.
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.
The payoff was pan fried triple tail 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.
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.
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.
And so did Frenchy.
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!
Allen made sure the gaff shot would count.
Frenchy capped it off with a nice skipjack.
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.
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!
Monday got pretty stormy and we had to don the foul weather gear repeatedly, but there was the occasional promise of clear skies.
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 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.
Now we enjoy the spoils.
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!