Wednesday, September 3, 2008

It's been a while since I've posted anything so I figured I'd give a couple quick offshore updates. On August 23rd, I did Alan from Chatham a favor and took a charter of his east for some tuna. Alan runs a small boat so when he has a request for 4 or more patrons it makes sense to have me run my boat as everyone can fit aboard the 31 Edgewater with ease. All of my expenses are covered for these trips so really I get a free day on the water, even if I can't reel anything in. I moored the boat down in Chatham overnight and we rolled out early in the AM. The seas were flat and we had lines in by first light. Unfortunately this would prove to be completely unnecessary. We worked our way around the shipping lanes for most for the morning and settled into fishing a pod of whales with scattered tuna and aTON of boats. This was the closest I had ever come to combat fishing. Guys were literally threatening to KILL each other over the radio. It was insanity and I had never heard the fleet so violent. On top of the close quarters, the entire area was covered in weeds. Despite radio reports of scattered hookups, we elected to get the heck out of the fleet and work our way south east towards the Sword. By mid afternoon, we had not experienced any action and morale was low. We worked our way through a massive pod of feeding humpbacks with no love and no indication of fish for hours. Tons of bait, birds and whales, but no fish. I couldn't figure it out. By 4pm, I had resigned myself to the fate of a skunk. The first offshore skunk on the new boat had to happen eventually and this would be the day. I felt pretty bad. This event was a component of a bachelor party and this dudes buddies really wanted to get the groom-to-be tight to a bluefin and I hadn't come though. But alas, we were saved by Posiedon's compassion. An outrigger clip snapped and we heard the whining drag of a tiagra and finally it was game time. The bachelor was strapped in and did battle with what turned out to be a laughably small tuna of 35 pounds! Our smallest bluefin of the year. It didn't matter to him though so I was pleased. He came to catch a tuna and we got one. We managed to squeak one out on that trip.

This Sunday I went east of Chatham again with my dad, Sam and his dad for another shot at the bluefins. We headed out of waquoit in darkness and crossed a slightly sloppy sound. Forecast offshore was for seas 2-4 with 10-15 knots SW wind dying completely by 2PM. No issue for the 31 foot boat. Well, forecast was wrong. We rounded the tip of monomoy and were faced with a stiff 20 knot sustained wind. Fortunately at this point the seas were still managable. We headed northeast and went lines in on bait in roughly 150 feet of water. The sounder showed life, there were whales, and I was optimistic, but the wind was cranked and the seas were building. By 7AM we were in 5 foot seas with the random 7 footer thrown in for good measure. The bars would occasionally snap off the riggers when a wave would break on them, and there were weeds everywhere. Not looking good, but still there were whales and bait. When the waves reached a point that the rigs could no longer run currectly in the churned up seas, I turned to the SE so that they would run down the face of the swells. As I did so, Sam mentioned that he saw a splash towards the west. I looked up and sure enough, one spash turned into two, which turned into three, and then an all out tuna feed. Not little guys either these fish were 150 pound class and hungry. I grabbed the spinning ron and pointed the boat in the direction of the fish. It was then that I made a critical mistake. In an effort to get to the fish before the feed ended, I pushed the throttles up slightly, this instantly caused both riggers lines to snap out. In the rough seas the bars that were previously on the riggers quickly crossed with the flatlines. SHIT. Tuna feed going on and no functional bars in the spread. I handed the spinning rod off to Sam's dad while Sam and I worked on the tangle. My father put the boat right up to the school but Sam's dad, having not casted the heavy spinning rig, was not able to get the metal into the feed. The tuna were down and we never really got an offering into them. By the time we had our gear back in order 4 boats were circling us like sharks. We had had a great opportunity and we had missed out.
With tuna fishing, rare is the second opportunity, and with the terrible conditions I figured we had blown our one chance for the day we put out the rigs and worked the area for an hour with notihing but weeds. We headed back to the east but the growing seas, with occasional breaking 10 footers, had me worried. The wind was supposed to let up but it was already much worse than forecasted and it was intensifying. With that I headed the boat in the direction of home, content to get off the water early and fishless, lick my wounds, and hope for better mojo next time. There would be no shame in this skunk. The weather was just too much to effectively fish in. Again, as I gave up hope and pushed the boat to the west, an outrigger snapped and drag peeled off a 50 wide. Fish on! We strapped in Sam's dad and he made short work of an 80 pound fish. The fish processed and the crew appeased, I headed west for what would be a wet and miserable ride home. The 31 road dirty through 6 foot standing seas at monomoy. I had to take her of plane and blast through at an angle and still waves broke over the bow. It was brutal. Still, despite a good drenching, I would have rather been out there than anywhere else.
So we remain undefeated east of chatham this year, despite running four trips on days when most of the fleet didn't get a bite and squeaking out one trip with a very marginal fish. Still, it's as we BFC folks always say, a marginal hook up is better than no hook up at all. And I might even go so far as to say that a marginal hookup can at times be better than a solid hookup, especially when you've really had to put in your time and work hard for it, but I'll let you men ponder that one and decide for yourselves. :)

In other news the schools of false albacore and bonito are making their presence felt in cape waters. I'll be taking next thursday and friday off to go after the small tunas with the fly rod. If your interested in joining me on this quest for glory, give me a ring at 978 501-6438.

Solid hookups boys! Stay safe, and keep the lines tight and the lips packed heavy.


Jesse Lance Robbins said...

sir, great report as usual. i can only imagine morale when the lines tangled amidst the blitz. poseidon chuckled at that, no doubt.

i'd be down for your fly rod run, but i'm taking off for jackson hole next saturday early am. i want hookups brother.

hallas said...

Keith nice post, glad to hear you made it back safely. I'm living in NYC next month we should get together and catch something!

Steve "low tide" Hallas

Keith said...

Hallas you animal! Definately give me a call. I will put that fishy smell back on your fingers...

Hope school is going well Low Tide.