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Off Shore Report #4
Posted 04 September 2004 - 07:43 PM
"After pre-fishing on Wednesday and doing so well offshore my customers John’s two-day tuna trip on the fly looked like it was going to be an easy one to handle. I p/u’d John at his hotel at 0730 and we headed to the ramp at Falmouth. We got to the ramp and launched without issue. I headed to the area south of M/V that had been so productive the day before. Once we got into the sound the slop was worse than the forecast or I had anticipated. I told John, that East chop was always pretty sloppy. When we reached Cape Pogue and the slop was only getting worse I decided that a run 30 miles farther south was not going to be the right choice for the day. John agreed with the decision and we opted to fight the tuna another day.
I returned to Falmouth and we came up with an alternate plan. WE would swing by my house, gear up for albies and hit Buzzards Bay and inside along the islands. A stop for gear and we were launching in Bourne in no time.
The Bay was nice and calm and sheltered from the wind. We hit several spots at various locations and in various holes and found pods of albies working on bait. We also found plenty of other boats chasing them around. We were able to avoid the crowds, but the albies were able to avoid us. With dozens of great opportunities at these fish, we were just unable to get hooked up. We ran all over and used every trick in the book, but still no albies. Finally late in the day we found a pod of fish willing to eat our offerings. John had two hits and both fish charged the boat immediately and caused loose line. Poor John just could not gain line fast enough to avoid the slack and both fish were subsequently lost.
With the sun going down and tomorrow still ahead we decided to call it a day. We ran back to the ramp with only one bluefish to show for our substantial efforts. There were two bright points to the day. First that there was still tomorrow! Second, John and I got along great and even without catching fish we laughed and joked most of the day.
Final tally one 5-7# bluefish and a whole bunch of chances at albies that wouldn’t eat for us. When the fish are on ½” bait getting them to eat can often be a frustrating proposition. John is a first class angler and we had numerous clean shots, the fish were simple keyed in on the small bait and would have none of our offerings.
Overall, we were beaten, but not beat. WE had a great time together and the optimism level for the next day was high. I just hoped we would get offshore so I could get John on the tuna he both wanted and deserved.
DAY 2 (9/3)
Today I met John earlier (0600) and we headed to Falmouth for another attempt at the tuna. We had solid info on the fishing and a slew of other boats all heading to the same area to find the fish. We launched and found the sound to be much more comfortable than it had been the day before. We made good time as we past the Vineyard and steamed south.
AS we neared the area we hope to fish I was able to contact several of the other boats in the area. WE all discussed our intentions and planned to cover the most water we could. I was in the middle of two areas I hoped to try. With info still coming in from other boats I decided to put out 2 rigged ballyhoo and high speed troll them until we either located fish, got bit or got some solid intel from another boat that had found them.
I had no sooner set out the two baits when “Split” run by Josko and his guest Jeff G. advised they were on fish. They had seen a huge shark and had just been spooled by something they could not stop. The word was “we can’t even get the baits out before we get hit!” With that the hoo’s came in and we were running hard to their location about 5 miles away.
When we arrived there were others from our group there and some still en route. WE began to set up a chuck line intent on brining the tuna within fly range. Before long three cut offs told me that either sharks or bluefish we in the mix. A fourth strike yielded the answer in the form of a 7’ blue shark.
We continued our mission and before long John gets tight on the 10 wt. The screaming drag told me that it’s no blue shark. In good time John gets the fish boat side and I tail a sweet 15-20# bluefin and bring it in for pictures. My digital was at home, but fortunately John’s outstanding 6 Meg digital is ready to go. I snap a bunch of pictures and we release John’s first ever tuna back into the water. He is thrilled and I am so happy to have been able to get him out here after yesterday’s washout.
I continue with the chunking and John continues with a slow steady pick of fish. We are near “Split” and are amazed at how many fish are being caught just a few 100 feet away. Angler Jeff is unstoppable hooking 3-5 fish to our one! It’s clear the fish have set up on Splits chunk line and are not looking to leave. Fortunately we are able to get closer (by invitation) and add our kibble to the mix and pull a few more fish our way. The others in our group are not so lucky and find the picking a bit slow. They begin to move off to other areas or to troll in hopes of getting a better bit. After the other boats left, Split and I begin to draw in more and more fish. I began to mark pod of tuna directly under the boat. The bite turns on and John gets several more fish. We get broken off and miss several also.
John decides to take a break and offers me the rod. Not one to pass up a shot at a great bite of tuna I accept and start to cast. John doles out the chucks and pull the fish in even tighter for me. The tuna begin to feed with abandon. I hook up within two casts. I look and see Split is also tight. We land our fish and I make another cast. Bang! Another tuna on and screaming line off the 10 wt. In less than 6 casts I get bit 3-4 times. I am able to get 3 of the fish to the boat. The last one was the toughest since we had also drawn a 7-8’ blue shark in tight to the boat. The shark wanted the tuna almost as badly as I did. I was able to snatch the tuna by the tail as the shark was zeroing in on him. John was good enough to snap a few pics of me with the tuna and then we released the fish.
With close to a dozen fish between us John decided it was time to call it a day. Although the bite was still on he had a 5-hour ride ahead and we still had over an hour before we were on land. We packed up the boat and readied it for the ride home. We gave a HUGE thank you to Josko (Split) and Jeff for letting us share in their fish. Without them letting us in close I’m sure our catch would have been half of what it was. They were unbelievably gracious to let us fish so close to them. Thanks again guys!
The ride home was mostly a smooth and uneventful one. It always feels better when you’ve had a great day of fishing already. Back at the ramp we loaded up and headed home, not before hitting DQ for a victory ice cream though!
Final tally around a dozen school tuna on the fly. All the fish were around 15-20# and they were all released. We also got two blue sharks on spinning gear, both were small (around 6-7”) The tuna were caught by chunking butterfish to draw the tuna within range, then casting a 450gr RIO line out and letting it sink 10-20 seconds. The flies of choice were a small green and white epoxy sand eel pattern and a blue mackerel mush mouth. The rod and reel used was a 10 wt Redington NitQ and a Tibor Riptide loaded with 350 yards of 50# spectra. A 9’ 20# flouro leader was also used. The fish seemed willing to take the flies with various retrieves. John fished a slower shorter strip, while I used a long fast strip to get them excited. I think when they were near the boat it was just a matter of getting the fly in front of them. The water temp was 70.5 degrees and we were in 150’ of water.
Overall a fantastic day OTW. John was able to get not only his first tuna ever, but he was able to get several and all on the fly! They are one of the toughest, fastest fish in the ocean and they require allot of skill to land on the fly. When you have to clear 50-70’ of line off the deck as it zips away at 50 mph there is not room for error. A snag or a wrap on the line means a broken tippet. John handled the fish like a pro and was able to land the fish quickly enough that a live release was possible. I’d like to thank Josko and Jeff for their help and John for letting me in on the action. As much as a putting person on fish is a blast, getting tight once is a while still gets be excited! Thanks again to everyone that helped out today.
Capt. Terry Nugent
Posted 04 September 2004 - 07:53 PM
Posted 04 September 2004 - 08:16 PM
NYC, Jersey Shore, Eastern PA, occasionally Downeast Maine
Big fish don't get big by being stupid.