Today was a trip that evolved into one of the best offshore fishing trips I've ever been a part of. It's a long story, but 22 hours on a boat takes some time to explain. Dave and his son Drew had me chartered for a offshore tuna trip after taking a successful bass trip with me eariler this year. They are owners of a 2796 Hydra Sports with twins an ALLOT of fuel capacity. When planning the trip the option was to us my boat or to run theirs to give us more range and options. With the charter upcoming the reports from the Fishtails and the canyons had been stellar. The decision was made that if the weather window allowed we would run the 27' to the edge for some bluewater action. The plan was set, I spent the day rigging their outriggers up and they gathered the nessicary provisions. Our buddy boat for the trip would be Brian and Mike C in Brians 32' Luhrs.
The weather was looking fantastic "light and variable, seas 1-3, out to 1000 fathoms" The PERFECT FORECAST! The plan was a 2 am leave time out of Marion. Around 3 pm Dave calls me as I'm prepping my gear and pulling my safety gear off Riptide to supplement his existing gear. He says they were runnign the boat to get fuel and lost the starboard motor! They had hoped it was fuel related but a filter change said otherwise. The 27'er was DOA! Now we have a problem. My boat is dirty, has no fuel and is NOT ready for a charter, let alone a canyon run. I've run to the edge a half dozen times with friends but NEVER with a charter. After making a few calls to confirm some details I called Dave back to see if they were up to a small boat adventure. We would run Riptide to the canyons with the safety of Brians 32' nearby all day AND Capt Vin McCarthy coming out later in the morning with his new 41'er. With solid backup should there be an issue we decided to make the trip. It was nice knowing that if the going got tough or there was an issue I could transfer the guys to a smoother ride. But the forcast showed that wold likely not be an issue.
All the pieces were statrting to come together. Mike C and Jr showed up and my house and we turned too on Riptide to make it ready for the run. Fuel was topped to the filler cap, oil tanks filled to capacity plus extra onboard. More than normal safety gear was added. The fresh water tank was removed to add storage for the tons of fish we would catch
. Any and all non-essential items were removed and then the boat was given a good cleaning. We were ready.
At 2000 hours Mike C and I decide I should launch out of Falmouth and run with Brians boat. I aggree and call Dave. At 0200 Dave arrives at my house with Drew and we load the boat with their gear. They are VERY excited since they have never fished offshore (but have done allot of offshore cruising in pleasure boats) The idea of fishing the bright blue waters was keeping us all from sleeping. Add to that neither of them had ever landed a tuna the stage was set for one heck of a day.
The run out was uneventfull. I ran with Brian and took the lead when Brians spotlight went out. We cruised at 30 kts in the light chop. For 3 hours we, along with 7-8 other boats steamed towards the edge of the earth. As we neared the edge all the boats vectored towards their hopefull hotspot. Ours was a 74-78 degree break about 3 miles from W. Atlantis. At 9 miles from the edge my temp guage spikes and I knew we were there. There was a nice weedline and some nice rips so it was LINE IN! Drew took the wheel and I showed Dave how to set a spread. We worked the area for 20 minuntes as we discussed the fighting order, rules for a hook-up and all the other essential stuff they had hoped to use later on their boat. As I was telling them the need to always watch the spread we had our first visitor. I saw what I had hoped to see, BILLFISH IN THE SPREAD!!!! I saw the thin shape up behind a ballyhoo. Great I though a white marlin in the spread. I grabed the rod and began to tease the fish. THen the REST OF THE FISH CAME UP! BLUE MARLIN, BLUE MARLIN! The whole bill and a HUGE dorsal fin were slicing and cutting behind the hoo. I teased and teased for several minutes but the fish would not take. It was interested, but either my lack of marlin knowledge or its lack of appitite kept us from hooking a fairly large marlin (I can't give a size since i have no blue marlin expeirience, but its dorsal fin was 18-20" out of the water)
With the blue finally out of sight we worked the area for another half hour with no joy. Brian called to tell us they had on 30# Longfin in the boat and that they were winning the bet for who's buying dinner. We headed to the west while they worked east. We werein constant contact but the intel was slow. About 7 miles to the west I got huge stike on a wire rigged ballyhoo. I gotthem specificly to keep a wahoo on rather than pulling all mono. However the teeth on the hoo went through the single strand wire with little effort and we were still fighting the curse.
I worked another mile or so and found some 80.5 degree water. There were a bunch of fliers and allot of dolphin around. Dave and Drew loved watching the dolphin ride the bow wake as we trolled along. As we worked the fliers we started a steady pick of peanut mahi around 5-7#. It was nice to see then rush out from the fliers in the clear blue water. They were all lit up and at times would greyhound into our spread and smash all the lures. This turned out to be good practice for Dave an Drew and they would need it late in the day.
As we pot hopped the fliers suddenly a BIG splash came on my left flatline. It was my home made green machine bar. This was NO little mahi! The fish took line and then put on a great air show. After a short battle I gaffed Daves nice bull mahi!
With a REAL fish finally in the box we kept working the area. I heard other on the radio looking for the warm water we had and I knew if we pounded the area we would eventually hit paydirt. We couldn't just run all over so I pounded and pounded the area for several hours with only peanut mahi and another HUGE wahoo strike (cut one of my bars to ribbons) to show for it.
At 1430 Brian called and we discussed the turnback time. They wanted to fish their way back while I wanted a little more time where we were. I told them we would head back around 3 or 4. We decided amongst ourselves we would fish to fish till 3 or untill the 3 rigged ballyhoo were gone whichever came first. At 1450 my green machine bar blew up and the 30VSW began to dump line. I knew this was no mahi. Drew grabbed the rod and did battle. After a solid effort on both sides I stuck the gaff in Drews first tuna. A nice lit up yellowfin.
High fives all around Dave was pumped to see Drew land such a sweet fish. After that we all aggreed that yellows come in schools and we needed to make "one more pass" on the flier we were working. This is when the real story starts!
I adjust the spread to an all green machine spread. Bars, chugger chains and birds/singles but all green machines. I swing wide on the flier and it happens, a HUGE CRASH!.....FISH ON!..... DOUBLE! More crashes and misses we are in them big time. I finally pull the throttles back and let the guys work the two 60# class yellows to the boat. clean gaffs and we are in the mix. I go from a 8 rod spread to a 5 and the guys adjust them as I swing for my MOB near the flier. Then yellows start busting ahead of us right on my MOB! I line up the school and we all watch the spread. CRASH! Fish on! I tell the guys not to touch the rod but just hang on. I pin the throttles and go hard left, then hard right. Come on, come on! Off the throttles, On the throttles, left, right.. eat damn it! CRASH! DOUBLE, SMASH! WOLFPACK!!!!! TRIPLE! The other rods are being crushed and missed, the spread is being destroyed! When we are out of the zone there are three rods still with fish on. All are half empty and screaming line out. We all grab a rod and get to work. Dave gets his to the boat first so I put my rod in the holder and land his fish. He hleps me land mine and then we both get Drews. GET THE SPREAD OUT NOW!!!! We worked all day for this it's out time now!
The tuna are STILL busting on top, mahi are fleeing for their lives and several hammerhead sharks are finning around this flier. Bait is getting mauled and my guys are running the spread like seasoned pros. All that peanut mahi practice is paying dividends. The spread is out, Dave is tweaking it I line up for another pass. Then a monster hole opens up where my home made chugger/green machine chain used to be. Daves new rod (Penn 30GLD) is dumping 40# Big Game like no tomorrow. I try to hook up a few more fish, but Dave calls to me in a nervous tone and says maybe we should focus on this one. I look and the 30 GLD's 500 yards is now 250 and going FAST. I set the drags a bit light on the new reels so I tell Dave to push them up a bit and see if the fish slows. IT doesn't. I tell Drew to clear the spread and get all the rods in. Dave is harness in and the fish is still going. Full drag (18#) and the fish has us down to 150 yards and dropping. Drew gets my clear and I spin the boat. Bow first we chase the fish. Dave is still loosing line! I tell him look at the reel, be in high gear and focus on cranking and levelwinding the line and nothing else. I ask him if he is ready, he nods and I push up the throttles. We are really moving after this fish and for the first time Dave is gaining line back. He is sweating bullets and cranking like a mad man when I finally slow the boat down. We got back all but 100 yards. Now we have line on the reel, but we are dangerously close tothe flier and one good run will cut us off. I manuver the boat to get between the fish and the flier while Dave tried uselessly to gain line. For 30 minutes Dave goes up and down, back and forth with this fish. I look down 60+ feet and can see the bright body and the long yellow fins. Dave just can't lift this fish on this gear.
Finally I decide we need a new plan and I tell Dave I'm going to cause him to loose line. He's not happy but he has faith in me and braces as I drive away from the fish. We get some angle on the fish and Dave gets back on him. I tell him to gently lift with the harness so the line wont come off the reel as he pumps the fish. The slow gentle lifts work and he gains a few inches at a time. We get Dave Gatorade and a towel as the fight reaches the 45 minute mark. He's holding up and we are winning this battle. I tell him the longer the fight the more chance something can got wrong so resting is NOT AN OPTION! He works as hard as he can and I ready the boat for the end game. I have the bigger gaff out and I coach Drew on gaffing so he can back my up. We want this fish and I can't make a mistake. Finally Dave gets the fish near the boat and I get a clean shot. I bury the gaff and Drew backs me up with the smaller gaff. This fish is ours!!!!!! We lift it into the boat
Dave colapses on the boat.
Dave won a 50 minute battle on some light gear with a not so lite angry yellowfin. Prior to this trip niether Dave or Drew had ever landed a tuna now they are certainly ready to take their boat out and hone their skills.
The ride home was slightly more eventfull. Since the bite was wide open we lost track of time by "just a little" When we pulled up lines and readied the boat for the run home it was after 1800. I reached out to a friend of a friend with phone capabilies so he could give Mike C the heads up we were not going to make our time line. He called and advised Mike was notified and was awaiting our arrival to help with the fish.
We headed in and about 50 miles out from MV at 2100 (9pm) I had a situation that I have not had since grade school. You remember when you were in class and the PA system called your name and said "report tothe principals office" I had that same feeling when I heard over channel 16 "RIPTIDE CHARTERS this is COASTGUARD GROUP SE NEW ENGLAND PLEASE RESPOND!" OH OH, what did I do this time? I respond and we channel up to 22A.
CG: Is this RIPTIDE CHARTERS?
ME: YES SIR!!!
CG: Are you Capt. Terry Nugent?
ME: YES SIR!
CG: Do you have 2 parties on board with you
ME: YES SIR
CG: A female named Holly called concerned that her husband and son were supposed to be home at 1700 (5 pm)
I looked at Daveand asked what time did you tell your wife you'd be home? He replied around 5ish.
CG: Are you all right?
CG: What is your ETA?
ME: Approx 2 hours to Falmouth, can you advise the wife?
CG: AFFIMATIVE, THANK YOU CG OUT!
I looked at Dave and said "YOU ARE SOOOOOO DEAD, when you get home!"
When we hit cell coverage near the Hooter I gave Dave the phone. He called home and Drew and I just sat quietly while Dave took the "reaming of his life" I'm not surewhat his penalty for this one is, but he said in all his life he's never been in this much trouble with a woman! Than with a smile he said...."but it was SOOOOO worth it"
Final tally for the day a limit of YFT, a ton of peanut mahi and one nice bull. We had 2 wahoo cutoffs, a big blue marlin in the spread. We saw dolphin, mola, and hammerheads. It was a perfect day on all counts. The lures of choice, my home made Offshore Inovations Green Machine bars and some KILLER Ballyhoo from Capt. Eric at the Hook Up! By the end of the day the final spread had every lure in every position eaten at least once, a sure sign of a soild spread.
Overall just a fantastic day. Now before I start catching hell about running the Ritpide to the canyons, I'll toss out this disclaimer. We had several buddy boats around. Even when Mike and Brian headed in Seaker was in the area with his 41'er. The forecast for the day before AND the day after the trip was for light and variable winds and 1-3' seas. We had enought safety gear on the boat for three boats. I've made the run several times before. Dave and Drew were not new to boating. They have a new 28' cc and are new to sserious fishing, but they are competatve sailors and have owned and run boats over 40' for years. This is NOT... I REPEAT NOT! A trip for just anyone to take. The conditions were perfect. The window of opportunity just happend to line up with a killer bite that we knew about AND Dave's boat died the evening before we were to leave. Everything we lined up perfectly for me to be able to run my boat out there. This trip is a butt kicker, even under the best conditions. If you even THINK you want to try this, try this first. Go 24 hours without sleep, then on a day they are calling for 2-4's in Vinyard Sound spend the ENTIRE day NON-STOP running 30 kts from Gay Head to Woods Hole back and forth. Then don't catch any fish. That is the potential situation you WILL face. Then there is the chance it will get rough and you will spend twice that time slogging home in 6-8's. That is the reality of fishing the canyons in a Center Console. BUT IT ROCKS!!!!!