- 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 🙂 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 Atún del Mediterráneo. 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!
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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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.
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We knew things were good when a mahi free jumped right in the boat. If that fish was in an Olympic jumping competition it would have gotten a ten for form as its jump was pure poetry in motion. I wish I had a video. What a beautiful display, but it ended with a bit of a thud on the deck. Its luck was not all bad though as we quickly released it in hopes of catching it in more conventional fashion on a future trip after it puts on a few pounds.
Wahoo fishing got off to a quick start with the first fish on literally within 90 seconds of putting the first bait in the water. Man that fish made me look like a pro. I pulled back the throttle and said, “This is the place. Let’s start here.” Bam, fish on! It was like I had X-Ray vision. O.K., I was just plain lucky.
Here are a couple of shots of Allen with his quick start wahoo. That is going to taste great.
The sunset cruise to the sword grounds was nice and smooth. Sunset was beautiful and just as it faded to dark, we had a pod of porpoise come up to check us out. It was pretty cool. Video embedded below, but I noticed these are not embedding in the emails that go to blog followers so I added a link as well (or you can just view directly in the blog at: (http://www.bluewaterhowto.com))
We set up for sword fish just after dark and things were quiet until the moon came up at about 9:30. As soon as the moon came over the horizon we were hooked up. The fish came up to the surface and was streaking along towing the disco light through the darkness. Allen was on the rod and it seemed like a solid fish, but then it was gone. The hook and bait came back to the boat in good condition so it seems we were never really hooked to the fish. May have been wrapped around the bill or the fish may have just been holding the bait. Disappointing, but at least we were getting some action.
We redeployed the baits and were soon catching some z’s and storing up energy for the sword fights of which we dreamed. We were the only boat anywhere in the area without a single blip on the radar. I love mid week fishing.
About 11:30 the 80W goes off. Again, the fish is up on the surface trailing the disco light through the dark. The rod was in the bow and the fish was bee-lining it back around the transom to the other side of the boat so I had to go from fast asleep to full on fire drill trying to prevent a break off.
I was able to get the rod around to the transom and get in good position to fight this fish. Allen was up and helping me get into a fighting belt. Unfortunately, I took my eye off the ball as I tried to get strapped in and something went horribly wrong as the fish surged and the 80lb mainline snapped with a large bang. Shit! Not sure if it crossed the other line that was still out, hit something on the transom, wrapped the tip or what, but the fight was over. Not sure how big this fish was, but have you ever tried to break 80lb test line? It ain’t easy and this fish did it like it was dental floss.
I have been several times with zero bites. One or two bites a night is a good night. We had blown the first two with no guaranty of another. A little depressing, and it was disturbing our sleep with no reward.
We redeployed the baits and settled in for another nap. I was in the bow and Allen was in the cockpit when the transom rod started screaming drag. I got up yelling “Allen!” as I headed aft, but he was fast asleep. A few more exclamations and he was up and on the rod, alert as if it were high noon!
The fish put up a good fight, but Allen was on the job.
It was now occurring to me that there were just two of us and no flying gaff or harpoon. It might turn out to be a bit of a challenge to land this fish. Note to self, bring flying gaff next time! We were surprised when the fish came up that it was not as large as it seemed during the fight. On the smaller size, but this fish had heart. We had decided to release it to fight another day, but unfortunately it was bleeding profusely from the gills. This is one of the few times I have seen a circle hook catch deep in a fish rather than the corner of the mouth. Checking to make sure it met the legal limit we decided it was unlikely to survive so we brought it aboard and put it on ice.
Mission accomplished. Wahoo and swordfish in the boat. That was our goal.
As the sun came up we put out a spread and started looking for a weed line we had drifted through during the night. Water color was decent, but not great and no bites as we searched. When we finally found the line it was very scattered and presented a slow conversion from blue water to blue-green. We worked this for a while, clearing lines constantly, but had no luck so we packed up and headed north.
On the way home we put the high speed lures back out in search of another wahoo. We worked it for a while without any luck so we decided to change our position a bit and immediately saw a nice hoo skyrocket 12-15 feet out of the water scattering hundreds of flying fish. Again, I wish I had a video to share. That fish was a high octane hunter flying through the air like a jet fighter with its afterburners on. I swear you could see rippling muscles as his tail continued to pump in mid flight. The flying fish were in full on panic.
We brought the boat around pulling the baits through the kill zone and boom!, fish on. Yeehaw! Nice fish, now we have two wahoo in the box. My favorite fish to eat of any species, full stop.
We decided it was time to head home and get everything cleaned up so we stowed the gear and pushed the throttles down for the run back to the hill. On the way we ran across this interesting debris.
It looks to be a bulkhead, all from a boat and it has a coffin box for an EPIRB mounted on it. The hydrostatic release seems to have been tripped and the EPIRB released, but not any time soon as there was some growth on the debris and it was covered with small cobia and mahi. We played around for a bit catching a few of those and then continued on to home. We reported this to the Coast Guard primarily because it would suck for someone to hit that thing while running. Sounds like they were going to try to tow it in.
We flew the flags as we came through the pass.
Once we got the boat cleaned up (except for the squid that I apparently left in the fish box (yuck)), we set about making up that wahoo sashimi. The recipe is simple: Filet wahoo. Cut filet into small pieces. Eat after dipping in soy and wasabi. Lick lips. Pairs well with Ranger IPA 🙂
Great trip. Lots of fun. Good company. And watching that wahoo sky was worth the price of admission.
Until next time, catch em up!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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:
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.
Even a tired crew can smile at this fish. We iced her down, got cleaned up a bit and put up the 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:
And at several houses some feasts ensued.
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!