Sunday, February 11, 2018

American Angler 14-Day 2018

Nineteen anglers arrived at 5:30 a.m. January 25th to sign in with Lori at the American Angler's office.  I brought the breakfast cookies and Lori provided the coffee to get us through the loading process.  By 7:00 a.m. we were on our way to the bait receiver.  I put my reels on rods and others set up their staterooms.  I was assigned Number 13 and Stateroom L.

Our Captain, Ray, gave a safety seminar and said to settle in.  Weather would be choppy but not bad since we were traveling south but the weather should be calm when we arrive in four days.  Our crew for the trip included Jordan, Rocko, David, and Brad with Josh and Action in the Galley.

During the next four days, some of us participated in a cribbage tournament, some took naps, others organized tackle plus we had wahoo and tuna seminars to break up the travel time.  As for the cribbage tournament, Ron won first place and the reel.  At least I wasn't dead last this year.

We did a drive-by of Clarion Island on Monday and saw a large boat (possibly a dive boat) anchored just outside the camp.  We continued on to Hurricane Bank with an arrival time of 3:00 a.m. Tuesday morning.  The Red Rooster III and Royal Polaris were already anchored up on the bank.  We also encountered a longliner fishing the bank as well. 

We trolled around dragging Mauraders.  We caught 5 wahoo, 3 of those fish were troll fish.  Ray anchored up and we fished for tuna all day.  Late in the day Gordo was rewarded with a 115 pound yellowfin tuna.  It was a tough day for all.  5 wahoo and 1 tuna for 19 anglers.

I got up at 2:45 a.m. and headed out on deck.  Several others were already fishing.  I picked up my Penn 50SW, spooled with 130# Berkley Pro Spec Fluorocarbon top shot with an 9/0 Eagle Claw 2005 circle hook.  I decided to try chunk fishing until sunrise.  Around 4:45 a.m. the lunar eclipse began and by 5:30 a.m. we were in a total eclipse which continued until the sun came up and blocked out the moon's silhouette.  Five smaller tuna were caught - Gordo, Glenn and Charlie were lucky enough to catch one.

The lunar eclipse seemed to shut off the bite so Ray pulled anchor and trolled around for wahoo.  I caught one large wahoo on a medium orange and black Maurader attached to 100 pound Berkley Big Game monofiliment on my Penn 30 VSX reel.  By 1:00 p.m. we had 10 wahoo and 1 large mako shark (beheaded and chunked) so Ray decided it was time to make a move - a long move to join the Intrepid.

Thursday morning we arrived back at the island.  Ray quickly toured the area and anchored up in the buffer zone around 10 a.m.  We started fishing, catching a few small 25# to 40# tuna.  Around noon, some nicer models moved in.  I picked up my Penn 50SW spooled with 130# Pro Spec Fluorocarbon and rubber-banded a balloon to the line 15 feet up from the hook then pinned on a sardine and launched the balloon off the stern corner.  I set my drags at 25 pounds at strike.  Around noon I hooked a mean fish that took me around the boat a couple times and required Brad to push my lever up to full in order to land the fish.  This was the first time I had ever had my reel at full while fighting a fish.  The yellowfin tuna that came over the rail was a fat butterball that weighed 204.5 pounds.

The kite was producing well, quickly going through numbers 1 through 12 before the bite shut off.  Flyers for bait were the ticket and 3 cows were produced - a 245 pounder for Charlie, a 217 pounder for Doc and a 213 pounder for Planet.  By day's end we had landed 34 tuna for the day. 

After dinner we tried to make bait but with a full moon (a blue moon at that) it was impossible.  We anchored close to the island for a calm night's sleep. We finally had had a decent day, although not great for everyone.

Friday morning Ray moved the boat to the fishing grounds and anchored so we could start fishing by 5 a.m.  At 9 a.m. we checked in with the camp then went back to fishing.   It was my turn on the kite, number 13.  I was optimistic as the kite had produced 3 cows already.  I hooked up and fought a mean fish that felt like a heavy one, however, when it came to gaff we saw that it was a 100 pounder hooked in the side.  It was disappointing based on the fight that fish put up.  I went back to fishing the bobber balloon on my Penn 50SW and around noon, I was rewarded with another cow tuna - this one weighing 209.5 pounds.

Although fishing was slow, I was having a good trip considering the conditions.  I only have 3 fish - two tuna over 200 pounds and one large wahoo.  We ended the day with 31 tuna and 2 wahoo for the day and another 2 cows for a total of 6 cows for the trip. 

Saturday morning started early again but the fishing was even slower producing only 8 tuna before a quick moving squall moved through blowing 40 knots, side driving rain which sent the fish deep.  We trolled around looking everywhere but the tuna were gone.  We trolled around for 15 wahoo we barely got through the ravenous white tip sharks.  I managed one wahoo on a green and pink Salas 6XJr. jig with a heavy treble hook.  Gallagher had one wahoo that the white tips took all but the head.  What a sight.  Unfortunately, that was it for the day.

Sunday morning, and our last, found us around the island trolling for wahoo as we headed towards home.  The white tips were thick here as well.  We hit an area that produced 24 wahoo, two wahoo were mine on the same jig plus I caught one 60 pound yellowfin tuna on that 6XJr. jig on 50 pound Berkley monofilament line.  We called it a trip at 11:45 a.m. and pulled the jigs in and broke down gear.  Fortunately, flat calm weather was predicted for the entire four days of travel.

I caught 5 yellowfin tuna and 4 wahoo for the trip.  I was lucky particularly since this was my last long trip.  It's time for me to fish closer to home from now on.  We filled our travel days with a Super Bowl Raffle, a doubles Cribbage Tournament (won by Eric and Ben), watching movies, playing gin, reading and lots of eating.

We reached dock at 5:30 a.m. Thursday morning, February 8th.  We unloaded gear then the fish - all 78 tuna and 51 wahoo for 19 passengers.  Some passengers only had one fish for the trip so I gave one of my 200 pounders to Mark to share with Ralph Mickkleson and another to Big John.  Shig came down to take the other 200 pounder, a 100 pounder and two wahoo.  I had Fisherman's Processing process two wahoo and the 60 pound tuna for me.  I dropped off half of my filets with Tim Boyer on my way home.

We enjoyed sashimi and seared tuna my first night home and chipotle wahoo kabobs the second night.  Thanks Sean and Fisherman's Processing for taking such great care with my fish.