11-04-2005, 09:26 PM
Another Big E report
Others have covered the boat and major pieces of the trip so I thought would add some color to some of the other parts of the trip before starting my fishing report.
Making bait -- We stopped at a rig about 25 miles from Freeport to catch bait and I heard several people complaining about spending time and effort in the sloppy seas to catch bait. I think everyone saw the importance of live bait when we hit the rigs for Ajs, snapper, and grouper the next morning.
Trevala rods -- I guess these may be one of those love 'em or hate 'em topic. Through all the marketing hoopla I had concerns on how well they would perform so I jumped at the offer to use the loaner rigs with a Saltist 30 that Roy's provided on the first drift at Gunnison. I got bit on my second or third drop by a 8-10# BkFT which and used the rig for about a hour to catch 2 or 3 more BkFT. IMO, the rods are great to make the knife jigs dance and get bit but are lacking in the fish fighting department. Also, the stripper guides on the spinning rods seem a little small and there is a good bit of line slap when using larger spinners -- specifically a 9500 on Bret's 30-65# Trevala. However, I was very impressed with how easy the Saltist 30 was to jig but just wish it would have been on a rod with a little faster action.
I started with Trevala/Saltist combo for a few BkFT and tried jigging with Tib12 with a 6oz diamond jig but didn't get bit after a hour so moved on to poppers for a small BkFT or two. I also tried floating a Frenzy Flyer for a while but wasn't feeling well so hit the rack from about 3:00 and missed the best YFT bite of the night. I got back on deck about daylight and it wasn't long before the Captain made the announcement we where going to make the 2-3 hour run to the AJ grounds in the 600 blocks of West Cameron. Eat a little breakfast the jump back in bed.
Rig hoping on Saturday
Get my 50S rigged up with a sow rig and pin on a jumbo hardtail but decide to downsize baits after 15 or 20 minutes of watching others pull up Ajs and Grouper. Get a nice bite after sending a hand-size hardtail down to the bottom which turned out to be a 15# scamp. I lose another bait and then get cut off on the rig legs. The live bait was running low so I put on 3 hook deep drop rig and catch a nice 15-16# snapper on a loin from a quarter of a BkFT. I fish the 3-hook rig for about an hour with nothing else to show but rising blood pressure from the tangles so I went back to a sow rig and moved to the bow boat but run out of time.
Saturday Night Tuna
We get to the Magnolia about dark and it was too late to troll so put up the 50Ws. The crew on Magnolia told the Capt. Frank to stay a mile away and he tried sweet talking them into 200 yards but decided to just leave as he didn't want to get black listed. We arrived at Redhawk about 30 minutes to an hour later to see a few fish working. I started working a popper but couldn't get bit while Glav & others are getting bendo on flyers, poppers, jigs, etc. About 11 PM decided to take a little break and catch a few winks in the galley when my nap is interrupted by someone with spinner problems. Get that straighten out in short order and decide I might as well start casting again. After a couple of casts get a big eruption on GT clone, HOOKUP. Others had been hooking fish on poppers and have them swim right to the boat and roll belly up but I was not so lucky. The fish found on top, then sounded, took me up the rail a little, back to starboard corner and then across the stern before finally settling down on the port corner in death circles. I didn't have enough drag to lift the fish and had to palm the spool to get to deep color. After a few more circles had the brute on top but the first mate thought he was a little green and didn't stick him with the gaff (they had already lost a gaff and broke/damaged a couple others). I love to say I landed the fish but unfortunately something spooked him and the line parted as he ran directly under the boat into wheels/rudder. All that said I wasn't that disappointed to lose the fish as I had a ball with him and we both fought well. I had the leader on the rod so I guess you could consider it a legal catch but just wish I would have gotten my popper back. It would have been nice to see what he would have weighted since I think it would have been right at the century mark but he was definitely my biggest popper fish.
Take walk to get a little rest and see how everyone is doing before tying on another leader & popper. After a few cast I notice that I have a lot more back play on my reel than I should. I closer inspection reveals that only 2 of the 6 teeth on the anti-reverse appear to be catching the dogs so I shelf the Penn and pick Rick's Saltiga/United Monster Mag combo. Cast the Saltiga for what seems like forever (probably close to an hour) before get another hit but the line breaks at the knot as soon I put some pressure on the fish. Stripper the leader and popper off my Penn to rerig the Saltiga and Freeman & I take turns with the Saltiga but never have anymore hits. I did have an impromptu casting contest with Vick and show him a properly rigged spinner will typically outcast a convention rig (his LX 2sp and monster mag) by 10 or 20 yards.
Finally the part several of you have been waiting 5 days for....
About 4:00 or so I notice a flyer by the boat and try to grab the net but Vick beats me to it and scoops it up. After a brief discussion I manage to wrangle the flyer away from him (thanks again Vick) but don't have my bait stick on deck so Bret offers his Int 20 and Predator combo. I pinned it on and float it out on the port side just up the rail from Rex who is at the stern and had been fighting his fish for about 20 minutes. Get it out about 50 yards when something starts taking line, HOOKUP... I’m just forward of the bait tank when the fish decides I need to visit the bow. Other than a brief scare when the line got close the hull I make to the pulpit w/o much problems as everyone was gracious and gave me a big berth. Early in the fight reach for low gear a couple of times only to remember that it’s single, Doh. I see Bret on the bow about the time the circles start so I ask what full drag is and hear 30# as the answer. Hmmm, bump the lever a little past strike and make a little progress using the rail as I switch from port to starboard and back before settling in on the starboard side for the remainder of the fight. At color I throw the lever almost full and pull hard for a couple of circles but he pops up just out of Jamal’s reach with the gaff. I tell Jamal one time and the first gaff hits home, then another. The deckies bring him over the rail onto the deck as I get my first good look and think that’s not a bad fish for 60# line. Bret snaps a couple pictures for me on the stern before dropping it in the slush box.
Watch as Rex continues fighting is fish only to get cut off by another and Bellyup lands his. Captain says we have to head for port in about 15 minutes so I shower before hitting the rack.
All in all it was a good trip, with good numbers and quality. However, for me the best part of the trip was meeting everyone from the boards and seeing how well their real life personality matched their board personas.
• Big Poppers
• Live flyers
• Live hardtails for grouper and AJs – wish we would have had more for the tuna.
• Butterfly jigs.
• IMO, Trevala rods for fighting fish
• Less than 16oz of weight and/or using light rods (<50#) while rig hoping – caused to many tangles
• Fake Flyers – I think these only accounted for 1 or 2 fish.