Even though the reports were not encouraging since the full moon last week, my son and our buddy Mark decided we cant catch them with the boat at the dock. With the weather window giving us a shot to make the trip, it was on. Erwin jr worked hard the day before, rerigging all the JOE SHUTES and checking the CANYON RUNNER spreader bars, putting all new leaders on the Shimano 30 and 50 and getting the Balyhoo prepped. Arriving at the marina at 1 am, I was shocked to hear the sail boats mast clanging, and to feel the wind in my face as hard as it was, I really thought “here we go again”. Checking with a few of the weather stations, it was still forcasted to lay down, so we loaded up the Scales n Tales and pulled away from my dock at 1:50am. I had figured a 3 hour ride in the darkness which would put us there around 5 am plenty of time to get the spread out before the sun would crack the eastern horizon. What a surprise (not really) when we cleared the hook. The NE on my beam made for a slower then expected ride out. The clear night and the shooting stars made for a spectacular sight the whole 95 miles. However, due to the rough seas, we were delayed almost a hour, arriving at 5;40am. Once there, we cleared the cockpit, and got some lines in the water. The darkness, had turned to a dull grey, and by time it turned to lavender, we had the first hit a a black n purple SHUTES. A quick check of that bait and it was back in the spread only to be hit once again by what looked like a fish in the 30lb range. This time the HOO was shreaded aand Erwin quickly got another one on the hook and back into the spread. This time it got bit while it was still in his hand and just like that we were 0 – 3!!! Im not saying what I am thinking, but just having 3 quick hits and not hooking any of them did not sit well with me. Mark was quiet as well and I knew what was going through his mind. Erwin re rigged the Shutes once again and we finally had the 9 rod spread set, and it looked good. SO making my turn and heading down sea, I was right on my track line that we got the hits a short time earlier. Thats when it happened, first the long rigger with the black and purple gets hit and that 50 starts singing, then the spreader bar gets crushed with a big fish, we all got to see that bite. Not slowing down, the port side green and yellow shute gets bite and the other canyon runner bar also get clobbered. WIth 4 rods singing a 5th rod down the middle, another Joe Shutes gets bit, 5 rods tight and only 3 of us. I slowed the boatand we all grabbed the rods that were still out and cleared all the lines. The last fish that chewed was the first to get off, and by time Erwin got on his fish the other starboard line went limp also. That was ok, we still had 3 on and now it was up to us to put some meat in the box. I realized right away that I did not have a small fish and a short order I had by fish near the boat and Mark put the gaff into a 130 lb BIG EYE !!! First one ever to get to ride on the Scales n Tales. As I was bleeding my fish, Mark was fighting his in the bow and Erwin in the stearn, perfect right? However as the battle raged on they did manage to cross and the men, without any yelling or hesitation made the appropriate move and neither fish came off. Mark’s fish was next to see what my deck looks like, as I hoisted him out of the clear blue water. With 2 unhappy fish in my boat, Erwin was having a harder time with his. Finally after about 30 minutes he got his close enough for Mark to stick him with the gaff as I took go pro videos. Erwin’s EYE was the biggest at over 160lbs. What a sight to have 3 great fish laying in the boat. The sun was long up as we admired the fish. WE also knew how lucky we were to be able to catch these fish. Next time I see a shooting star, I know what I will wish for!! After the fish were gilled and rinsed and iced we trolled without another hit for the next 5 hours. The weatherman got it right as the ocean really calmed down. WE made course for home by 11:15 am and were on my dock at 13:45 with a stop over a pod of porpoises to see if there were any BFT in the area. A trip that will last in our minds for a very long time…..
Had a number of charters for the fall run of the BFT. However due to the lack of fish, I cancelled all of them. It would be like robbing my money, some of the trips opted to wait and see if they show in October. others took blackfish and bass dates.
My last 2 weeks of fluke season was very dissapointing. With very few fluke to show for all of their hard work and the bucktail supply really getting low, we switched over to jigging bluefish. That turned out to be a great move, Bob (coffee grinder) Carlson hooked a real good fish on a pencil popper. This fish weighed in at Twin Lights Marina, pulled the scale down to 23lbs, and is the new leader in the Fisherman’s dream boat contest. A bass trip put some stripers in the boat, however they were well below the legal possesion size. They were caught on eels. I will be doing early morning bass trips the next few weeks, targeting bass on structure with hard baits. I know the fish are here, just need the right guys to fish for them. After we catch the bass, we can chase falsies, or bottom fish and bluefish or all of them.
Having put the snafu behind me, we left Bayhead in a star filled night. The ride east was uneventful and very calm as we arrived well before the crack of dawn. We trolled a 4 rod spread in the dark as we readied the lures and meat for deployment. Capt Scott, Capt Di, Anthony, Tom and myself anticipated the first bite as we put out the 9 rod spread. Before I could get the near flat line in the clip the starboard long rigger let loose. It was like slow motion as Anthony yelled we just got bit and as I looked up my mind was saying, I should have checked the release clip. In a split second, the rod doubled over and the reel was screaming and I realized we had a good fish on. Capt Di got on the rod first as she held tight as we cleared the cockpit. This fish took alot of line and it was not a 40lb long fin that we were expecting. After a lengthy tug of war, Capt Di gave the rod to Anthony to try and catch this fish. He did well, but tired too as we finally got to see the fish in the crystal clear water. I was able to get the fish close enough that Capt Scott got one gaff into the gills of this big fish. With the help of anothe gaff, we lifted this “big eye” onto the deck!! Welcome to the Recovery room Mr. Bigeye, you just made our day. High fives were all around as we got our spread back into the water. Fresh coffee and eggs on toasted english muffins with sausage and cheese only made the earyy morning more enjoyable. The weather was superb. We never got another bite until later in the morning when we boated a nice Mahi. It was decided to plot a course back to Manasquan and enjoy the great sea conditions on the journey back to port. A few rum n cokes on the ride west was the icing on the cake to a very good trip once again with Tom on his recovery room.
Coming off a very slow trip, and me having taken a few days off, I was not sure what to find. Reports are not encouraging, but the weather is great for where I planned on fishing. It started off slow, but we had a decent pick as a few keepers were making the hotel on every drift. Jumpimg from spot to spot, Matt came tight to a good fish. I could see his St Croix Legend bend with the tell tale headshake. All I wanted was to see this fish. After a good fight, Matt had a best fish in the boat. Quick with the scale, it weighed in at 10lbs 3 ounces. The men kept fishing hard and hotel was near capacity when Matt hooked another good one. Finally, after another great battle, we put a great fish on the deck. This one weighed in at 10 lbs 8 ounces. 2 mats in one day!!!! All the guys did great as they all had their limits plus, only keeping the good ones. Just when I thought it might be over, they have a trip like this. I cant say it enough, fluking is about working hard if you want to put a real good catch together. These guys work hard!!!!
Brian and his crew were onboard in super weather. Finally we had what we needed, on the first drift, Bob using “My F%@(*@ Rod” hooked a good one. After some very tense moments and a very good fight, he had the 3rd “mat” in my boat this year. Fishing slowed after that and it was not until I made a big move that we got onto some fish. By the trips end they had a box full of some very decent fluke. Bill Hasko and his crew found steady fishing with some nice fish but not giants. Big Rich Swisstack along with ST Croix Rep Dave Colley were on board only to find 4-6 NE. The water was still clean and they manage to put together a very nice catch in very tough conditions with Swiss boating a very nice 8lber. Zeme and the “A”team had their worst trip of the year as the fish had lockjaw in all of my spots. Bill Brymer just caught bad luck as the fluke were still in the shut down mode. They did manage 3 keepers. They did manage to take home some sweet white meat as we swtich over to Porgies, Croakers and Kingfish.
This week found the toughest fluking of the year for me, the weather was all over the place and it affected my spots big time. Zempe’s crew did limit out once again and the rest of the crew managed to take home enough meat for some meals for all.
First shark trip of the year and the weather could not have been better. The recent hot bite had slowed the last few days, but we were confident that we could get Jerry and his crew into some fish. It took over 4 hours to get the first bite, and when the hook pulled, dissappointment was all around. However a shortime later they came tight again and a cool looking hammerhead was landed. After the release, it happened. A big hammerhead came very close to the boat, the far line got bit, which turned out to be a very large Mako, that rolled in the line. We really could not talk about that big fish because the near got bit and when Jeff came tight, knew we had a nice fish on. After a very well fought fight by Jeff, Erwin jr stuck the dart in the Mako’s gill, which took the life right out of this fish. Check out the pic’s on my site. A great trip in every aspect.
On a day where the weather was as good as it gets, Pete Daly and his wife Bobbi along with their nephews came out tryin for some fluke. The lack of drift made it tough, however Pete managed a couple of good fish and by then end of the day they had enough for a few nice meals. The boys did great as did Bobbi, the small fish made up for the lack of size. Matty had the next one and fishing through one of worst storms of the summer, filled the hotel to the brim with decent fluke, no big fish, ,just quality keepers. Keith Starin found very tough conditions as we caught more bass then fluke and Zemp and the “A” team also was dealt a blow by mother nature and finally had a slow trip in very rough conditions.
Started out with AL Gallo and his guys who pulled on some very good fish in super sea conditions and filled the hotel with the tasty white meat, no giants, but solid fish. Again, these guys provthat if you are willing to work hard, you can catch. Westfield Fd was next with Tony putting a hurt on some very good fluke and the guys taking home some very nice fish. Then Josh and his family were next where only Josh’s wife wanted to jig, no surprise she caught the 2 big fish., Zemp and the “A”team closed out the week with another super catch with numerous fish over 5lbs to Franks, 8lber.