Finicky Tuna Demand Subtle Presentation – Or Not

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The Dog Days of Winter

  • Got out last week and hit the rigs in search of Wahoo and Tuna. ¬†This was the first time I have ever had a dog along for an overnighter, but it turns out he is an avid angler.

That is Milo, he is Frenchy’s pup, and he was full on fishing the entire trip. Every time he heard a reel clicker he was on it. In this video he shows his technique for subduing uncooperative tuna!

I especially like the way he takes a bite and spits it out on the deck ūüôā Reminded me of Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield.

We did not tear ’em up, but we found some fish and turned a bit of success into a new recipe we dubbed¬†At√ļn del Mediterr√°neo. ¬†It was good!

The tuna is just seared in a bit of olive oil with a dash of salt, pepper and cardamon.  Served over brown rice with a cold sauce of fresh diced tomatoes, lemon, olive oil, salt, parsley, green onions, capers, and olives. On the side, big juicy grapes and fresh steamed broccoli.  Yum!


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Weather looked good last week and when Frenchy proposed we head for the rigs, I jumped at the chance. ¬†It’s not often you get a forecast like this in February.

The crew was me, Frenchy, Allen, Manfred, Chris and, of course, Milo.

We headed to the fixed platforms on the shelf looking for wahoo.  We had one nice strike on the large Yo Zuri, but all we had to show for it was some missing paint and a nice impression of some very sharp wahoo teeth.

We bounced south by Marlin and Ram Powell checking there for Tuna and Wahoo, but no love.  Water was ugly and had river weeds floating in it.  67 degrees.  We moved south to Horn and picked up a decent blackfin bite, but no yellowfin activity and the water was cold and green.  We moved south to Ensco DS 8505 and the water there was a balmy 74 and we picked up several smaller yellowfin in short order.

Manfred is a lean mean jiggin’ machine. ¬†Like the Energizer Bunny he just keeps on going. ¬†I don’t know how he does it, but he supplied us with a bunch of blackfin that we converted into chunk bait trying to trade up to yellowfin. ¬†He also jigged up at least one yellowfin, maybe more. Chris took first shift at the chunk duty.

While we were finding some fish, the size was not what we were hoping for.  Our friend Nick was in another boat working Nakika and some of the other ships and rigs in the area and they were having the same challenge.

We tried Q5000, a rig I had never seen before.  Milo was on duty inspecting operations.

We had lots of fun and it was great to have a chance to do an overnighter this time of year, but with fuel low we decided to head for the hill.

Hope you enjoyed the report. ¬†Until next time, Catch ’em Up!

Deep Drop Rig

The other day I blogged about a recent trip we took to do deep drop.  You can read that here and check out the grouper, tile fish and bass we caught: http://www.bluewaterhowto.com/?p=495

I was asked about the rigs we were using to catch those fish so I created a short video to show you how to make them up. ¬†They are pretty simple and while you can buy them already made up, it’s a lot cheaper to do yourself.


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Once you do that you will get an email (make sure it’s not in your spam folder) that asks you to confirm you want to follow the blog. ¬†Do that by Jan 30 and you are registered.

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Here is the video of building the deep drop rig. ¬†I had a little help from my K9 buddy. ¬†He didn’t seem very impressed.

For deep drop, you really need an electric reel.  Cranking up five to eight pounds of weight 800 feet to check your bait would get old really fast. These used to be particularly expensive, but they have come down in price significantly in the last couple of years.  You can get some really nice ones, but you can also go budget.  I have a Diawa Tanacum Bull 1000 that is really nice but relatively lower priced.  I also have a Fish Winch that is at the low end of the price spectrum, but that I have found to be like the turtle, slow and steady.

The rod on the Fish Winch is just a trolling rod with roller guides. ¬†Works fine and I switch it back and forth between trolling and deep drop so I don’t need two separate rods. ¬†The one on the Tanacum is a really nice dedicated deep drop rod my wife bought me and you can also see in the picture a kite rod (also a gift from my wife. She keeps me well outfitted!). This allows me to switch the Tanacum over for kite fishing duty rather than having two separate reels.

Hope that all helps you to get out there and catch ’em up.

P.S. Please enter your email address over on the right margin to subscribe and register for a chance to win your free custom powder coated and etched Yeti cup on January 30.  Good luck!

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.

IMG_1163

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.

IMG_1176

And so did Frenchy.

IMG_1171

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!

Marlin Release_Moment(6)

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!

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.