Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Bluefin Blues

For those few who fish for a living, or have careers and family lives that give them frequent opportunities to pursue big fish, another day blue water fishing is no big deal. For the rest of us, limited by jobs, family commitments, financial obligations that don't involve chasing fish, so on and so forth, those opportunities come few and far between, so we hope to make them count. At this point in my life, I get to fish offshore when the planets align. I know I'm spending money that should be spent on a myriad of other needs, and am grateful that the worst I get from my wife is a somewhat reproachful look as I inform her of my planned endeavor. Recently, I've come to accept that I might also suffer a bout of seasickness (this has been affecting me more and more).

Our sport is called fishing, and that doesn't always guarantee catching. Despite my understanding of the nature of the pursuit and the chances of this trip actually being "The One," I can't help but get excited by the possibilities each and every time out. Thus I eagerly awaited my shot this fall to tackle some big bluefin on stand-up spinning gear. I fished bluefin for the first time two years ago, on a day where I landed 69" and 72" fish standing with heavier conventional gear. It was a blast, so when my buddy Mark asked me if I wanted to go lighter with spinning outfits, speed jigging and popping, I had to say yes. We were going to fish with Capt. Jack Sprengel of East Coast Charters, an angler recognized as one of the best at this type of fishing in the North East. We would go on a day of his choosing to optimize our chances of landing what some consider to be the apex sport fish.

After a long wait, Mark finally got the call from Jack, and we met up at 3:45am to put us on the water well before dawn out of Green Harbor Mass. Just a few days prior, Jack had put his guys on 8 fish, and conditions our day were almost identical. To up the odds, we were fishing in a pack, with one of Jack's mates running his smaller Contender and 2 other boats. Mr. Ron Z was out, and we were set to send his RonZ jigs down to hook some big tuna.

We ran across from Green Harbor to the east side of P-Town. Dawn broke to settling seas and birds in every direction. We began jogging, scanning the waters and sonar for signs of bluefin. We marked a pair on the bottom and let loose with metal butterfly jigs and RonZ soft plastics. No hits. Not to worry, the conditions looked promising. Several minke whales broke around us, and I saw a tuna erupt a few hundred yards off our starboard. I felt exhilarated and....queasy. You've got to be (expletive) me! The last few years I've been having occasional bouts of seasickness. Not good when fishing is your #1 hobby. Despite the calming seas, it appears this is going to be one of those days. I warn the guys that I'm going down, but let them know I'll be vertical the moment we mark fish.

The next several hours were spent slowly motoring down the Cape with no sign of bluefin. I was curled up in the bow on a cushion, half dozing and listening to the hum of the twin outboards. I could hear the conversations in the boat and over the radio, all focused on where these fish had gone, and couldn't really bring myself to get up. Eventually a call comes across that our scout boat, off on their own, has hooked into a bluefin. The rpm's pick up and soon were making a hard run to their location. This kicks in some adrenalin, and I'm back on my feet. We get to their location and begin marking bait. Turns are diving and we are working jigs. Problem is, we're not marking fish. They were there, and now gone.

As we near the end of the tide, conversations over the radio turn to heading towards home. We decide to continue working west of Truro with our ears open for reports on the way in. We hit another location with lots of bait and birds, but still no marks. We fish the last of a slack tide and begin our run back across to Green harbor. Needless to say, I'm pretty disappointed. As a top notch captain, Jack was feeling it as well. Ten hours out with no fish, and seasickness to boot! The plain fact is, that's fishing, especially for a target like bluefin these days. As far as we could tell, Jack's mate running the Contender boated the only fish out there, a 44 incher. We covered 100 miles of water. The fish just weren't there.

So, I spent a lot of money, caught no fish, and spent a good portion of the day feeling too crappy to fully enjoy the time out with the guys on the boat. I could end this with, "That's fishing " However, Jack having promised us a shot and being the captain he is, will be taking us back out to have a go at that light tackle bluefin. Now I've got a reason to get all excited again! That's fishing.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Sobering Article

Most anybody stumbling across my site has probably read something about declining fish stocks. For those of us in CT, the following article is pretty sobering. Migratory Fish in Trouble chronicles some of the recent declines in the CT River watershed. It's worth a read.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

My Favorite Time of Year!

Well folks, I've been sitting around waiting for something really exciting or for some great fishing before posting, but it just hasn't happened. Don't get me wrong, the fishing has been really good, both on the LIS and the freshwater with some nice bass and early pike thrown in. I've had friends that have had season high trips for everything from bass to albies, stripers and tog, in the last few weeks. Problem is, my schedule and luck have both left me wanting. Fishing is always great, but catching consistently does involve fishing in the same manner. Spending time on the water is critical to understanding bite patterns, which change constantly. You can't expect to go out once every week or so and always rack 'em up. The best of days on paper can still produce a tough bite, and that has been my story throughout September. I followed up my last albie post with another trip that week, this time with Jack and my brother Doug. It was a tough day, following a previous evening that had been lit up. We worked HARD for a few stripers, an albie and some blues. Several boats ended up getting shut out fishing from Plum Gut all the way east of Watch Hill. Just one of those mornings. I rebounded a bit the following week on one of the Blackhawk night trips (as I write this, they are heading out on one of the three October trips...), scoring numerous bass including 3 bill pool winner $$$. A weekend later, and I'm again working to pick of a few largemouths while hoping for pike. All things considered, I still got to fish in September, just in-between all the other stuff like job, family, etc. The great thing about fishing is that the next trip and possible fish of a lifetime looms just over the horizon : )
PS - If anyone found a fishgrip attached to a bowfin floating in the old outflow, that would be mine! (Pictured just before droping the fish and grip in the drink!)