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Random thoughts of an old blue water fisherman

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Random thoughts of an old blue water fisherman

Old 06-06-2016, 11:14 AM
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Default Random thoughts of an old blue water fisherman

It's late at night and I can't sleep, so why not write down some some personal observations on the sport I love so much:

• Live bait beats everything else, hands down, if you are where the fish are. If you are having to hunt fish, artificials and/or rigged dead baits are the order of the day

• I believe you should use the heaviest tackle practical for your intended target.

• I believe (in fact I KNOW) that, when trolling, inboard diesels raise fish much better than outboards, however…….

• …I believe that an outboard-powered boat can close the gap with diesels by pulling dredges, daisy-chain teasers, and birds in front of your lures. (I have won several club tournaments with baits positioned behind a teaser chain consisting of a giant Merritt bird, followed by five small Merritt birds, followed by a big C&H Lure, followed by five more small Merritt birds, with a 16’ no-name marlin lure pulling up the rear. Another member of my club came by me one time and said it looked like my boat was being chased by a ticked-off Loch Ness monster. They are the ones who nick named my teaser chain “Nine Miles of Bad Road!”)

• I believe that circle hooks have their place when using live bait and chunk bait, but J hooks are far superior for use when trolling artificials and rigged dead bait.

• I believe that research is the key to successful blue water fishing, and that most aspiring blue water fishermen who head out of port bound for a specific location based on magazine articles about that area are destined to spend a long, boring day trolling dead water. (For example, every yahoo that can pull a boat has read that the Nipple is a “hot spot” for blue water fish off the Panhandle; or that the Big Rock is the place to go off the North Carolina coast; or Wood’s Wall off Key West – that’s where they are hell bent to fish, regardless of conditions.) Personally, I bent over backwards to establish friendships with several charter and private boat captains who fish offshore every day and I never headed offshore without getting their opinion on where to go. I also subscribed to Roffers, and when fishing a tournament, hired an airplane to do a flyover and locate weed lines and tuna schools.

• Along those lines, I believe that a successful blue water captain is very serious about the sport, and he/she expects his/her crew to be just as serious and know exactly what their individual jobs are in deploying baits, clearing lines, fighting fish, and landing fish. Personally, I’m the nicest, most congenial guy in the world, but if you f--- up and cost me a quality fish, you are going to hear about it!

• I believe that when shopping for a new boat, bigger is almost always better!

• I believe that any captain that heads offshore without an EPIRB and a liferaft is gambling with the lives of his passengers.

• In terms of weather, I believe that discretion is the better part of valor when it comes to picking your days to venture offshore.

• Finally, I believe that catching a blue marlin from a small boat is one of the greatest accomplishments in all of sports, and anyone who has done so should be very proud of the accomplishment.
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Old 06-06-2016, 12:39 PM
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Originally Posted by GAHUNTER View Post
Finally, I believe that catching a blue marlin from a small boat is one of the greatest accomplishments in all of sports, and anyone who has done so should be very proud of the accomplishment.
Thank you for the kind words. I share your love for the sport, but lying awake at night thinking about it .... not so much. We do agree on most things, but I cant' give away any secrets.
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Old 06-06-2016, 12:45 PM
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Thanks for sharing Capt.. I too spend many long nights thinking about fishing!
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Old 06-06-2016, 01:56 PM
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Hey Captain,

Thanks for taking your time to share some insights that might take a long, long time to figure out on one's own.

That is a lot of writing. Here is your Rx to get you to sleep.

A glass of warm milk, and a tumbler of Ardbeg.

Repeat as needed, skip the warm milk.
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Old 06-06-2016, 03:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Pez Vela View Post


Thank you for the kind words. I share your love for the sport, but lying awake at night thinking about it .... not so much. We do agree on most things, but I cant' give away any secrets.
Is that a TLD? Nice work
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Old 06-06-2016, 04:02 PM
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Originally Posted by trejsic.mejsic View Post
Hey Captain,

Thanks for taking your time to share some insights that might take a long, long time to figure out on one's own.

That is a lot of writing. Here is your Rx to get you to sleep.

A glass of warm milk, and a tumbler of Ardbeg.

Repeat as needed, skip the warm milk.
Ambien works well, too, but I really didn't care to go to sleep. I really, really enjoy reflecting on my years of fishing, and when I write something like the above, hundreds of memories come flooding back on each bullet point to fill the room with sublime joy! For example, when I wrote about Nine Miles of Bad Road:

We were fishing in my 28' Pro-Line in a Pro-Line owners tournament sponsored by Adventure Marine. We were trolling a slick 40 miles south of Destin in good looking water with only one medium dolphin to show for our efforts. That's when my fishing partner of the day introduced me to his version of "The Road." He said, "let's try something," and reached into his bag. First out came the big bird; then the five small birds, then a marlin lure, followed by five more birds, and another marlin lure. The damn thing was 20 feet long!

He then proceeded to attach the contraption to my swivel-base downrigger, and to carefully feed the thing out. Once deployed, he swiveled the 48" boom to ninety degrees. There I stood in disbelief, as I watched what appeared to be a wide-open, 20' chain saw blade churn up the water behind the boat. "Oh well" I thought, " It can't hurt!" As I positioned a red and white Islander Sail Lure/ballyhoo combo off the short rigger just behind the mix-master device churning the ocean.

Well it didn't take long for something to happen. I was at the helm, half asleep, when I heard a noise like my gears grinding in one of my engines. Concerned I ran to the cockpit to survey the situation, but the noise was gone. Everything looked normal: the engines were purring; the lures all popping as designed; the downrigger holding the teaser contraption was deployed at a 45-degree angle; the -- wait a minunte! Forty-five degrees? wasn't it deployed at 90 degrees just a few minutes ago?

"Hey", I yelled at my partner, "I think the teaser got hit by a fish!" But before he could respond, the rod holding the Islander Sail Lure positioned behind "The Road"went off like a like a gunshot, and a white marlin took to the air. Five minutes later, the first (but not the last) white ever caught off Nine Miles of Bad Road swam happily away after being released.

Ironically, when we came to the weigh-in flying a marlin release flag, no one cared, since there was no award for billfish in this tournament! I was told that they didn't want to encourage their owners, who were mostly families, to take "risks" in their boats. But we won the Dolphin Award with a 15 pounder. Shame, shame, shame on them!
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Old 06-06-2016, 04:41 PM
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Originally Posted by GAHUNTER View Post
It's late at night and I can't sleep, so why not write down some some personal observations on the sport I love so much:

• Live bait beats everything else, hands down, if you are where the fish are. If you are having to hunt fish, artificials and/or rigged dead baits are the order of the day

• I believe you should use the heaviest tackle practical for your intended target.

• I believe (in fact I KNOW) that, when trolling, inboard diesels raise fish much better than outboards, however…….

• …I believe that an outboard-powered boat can close the gap with diesels by pulling dredges, daisy-chain teasers, and birds in front of your lures. (I have won several club tournaments with baits positioned behind a teaser chain consisting of a giant Merritt bird, followed by five small Merritt birds, followed by a big C&H Lure, followed by five more small Merritt birds, with a 16’ no-name marlin lure pulling up the rear. Another member of my club came by me one time and said it looked like my boat was being chased by a ticked-off Loch Ness monster. They are the ones who nick named my teaser chain “Nine Miles of Bad Road!”)

• I believe that circle hooks have their place when using live bait and chunk bait, but J hooks are far superior for use when trolling artificials and rigged dead bait.

• I believe that research is the key to successful blue water fishing, and that most aspiring blue water fishermen who head out of port bound for a specific location based on magazine articles about that area are destined to spend a long, boring day trolling dead water. (For example, every yahoo that can pull a boat has read that the Nipple is a “hot spot” for blue water fish off the Panhandle; or that the Big Rock is the place to go off the North Carolina coast; or Wood’s Wall off Key West – that’s where they are hell bent to fish, regardless of conditions.) Personally, I bent over backwards to establish friendships with several charter and private boat captains who fish offshore every day and I never headed offshore without getting their opinion on where to go. I also subscribed to Roffers, and when fishing a tournament, hired an airplane to do a flyover and locate weed lines and tuna schools.

• Along those lines, I believe that a successful blue water captain is very serious about the sport, and he/she expects his/her crew to be just as serious and know exactly what their individual jobs are in deploying baits, clearing lines, fighting fish, and landing fish. Personally, I’m the nicest, most congenial guy in the world, but if you f--- up and cost me a quality fish, you are going to hear about it!

• I believe that when shopping for a new boat, bigger is almost always better!

• I believe that any captain that heads offshore without an EPIRB and a liferaft is gambling with the lives of his passengers.

• In terms of weather, I believe that discretion is the better part of valor when it comes to picking your days to venture offshore.

• Finally, I believe that catching a blue marlin from a small boat is one of the greatest accomplishments in all of sports, and anyone who has done so should be very proud of the accomplishment.
I am so happy this thread was created. I have spent so many nights thinking many of the same things. I know Bluewater fishermen are a little different. My wife thinks it is a sickness. But I know it is so much more. It's a calling from somewhere primeval in our dna. Thanks for sharing. I feel like we should be in a church basement talking about this. Just great.
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Old 06-06-2016, 04:42 PM
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Oh bigger is usually better but that's another thread for so many different forums
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Old 06-06-2016, 06:35 PM
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Just hooked and landed my first blue marlin this past week. Don't know if my boat is considered a small boat or not at 29 feet.

TLD 25 single speed 30b mono, fish was just about 7 feet long from tip of bill to fork and i estimated somewhere between 200-300lbs.
No crew just me and the wife who did an amazing job dealing with my chaotic directions.

Took 55 minutes from strike to release. Exhausted the hell out of me. One of the most amazing experiences of my life. I definitely am proud of both of us and feel it was an accomplishment

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Old 06-06-2016, 06:53 PM
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I've never had a problem sleeping after a day of fishing.

My suggestion for insomnia is more fishing.
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Old 06-06-2016, 07:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Ironworker View Post
I've never had a problem sleeping after a day of fishing.

My suggestion for insomnia is more fishing.
Without going into details, that's not really an option for me any more.
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Old 06-06-2016, 07:15 PM
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Originally Posted by GAHUNTER View Post
Without going into details, that's not really an option for me any more.
I feel for you. I dont know what you are going through but I wish you the best. Your post has summed up the thoughts of others so that means that we are all connected in this. Kindred with a love of the sea. Good luck.
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Old 06-06-2016, 07:26 PM
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Originally Posted by gsracer View Post
Just hooked and landed my first blue marlin this past week. Don't know if my boat is considered a small boat or not at 29 feet.

TLD 25 single speed 30b mono, fish was just about 7 feet long from tip of bill to fork and i estimated somewhere between 200-300lbs.
No crew just me and the wife who did an amazing job dealing with my chaotic directions.

Took 55 minutes from strike to release. Exhausted the hell out of me. One of the most amazing experiences of my life. I definitely am proud of both of us and feel it was an accomplishment

Attachment 671045

Attachment 671046


Video

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ArjCri4k5I
Most definitely a small boat catch, and short-handed on king mackerel tackle at that! WELL DONE!!

What did he hit? Where did you get him (let me guess, off Memory Rock)? Did you have to find your way back into West End in the dark (I don't envy you that task)? Were you staying at Bootle Bay or OBB?

Details, man. Details!!!
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Old 06-06-2016, 07:33 PM
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Great pics and video GS. Nice work.
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Old 06-06-2016, 07:53 PM
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Originally Posted by GAHUNTER View Post
Most definitely a small boat catch, and short-handed on king mackerel tackle at that! WELL DONE!!

What did he hit? Where did you get him (let me guess, off Memory Rock)? Did you have to find your way back into West End in the dark (I don't envy you that task)? Were you staying at Bootle Bay or OBB?

Details, man. Details!!!
Thanks guys...

We stayed at comically enough Blue marlin Cove. The night shot was from running back to the hotel from the canyons after striking out on yellowfin tuna which funny enough was the whole reason for the trip. But given the outcome ill take it. She hit a ballyhoo with a mold craft chugger head.

Heres the full report.

We trolled out past memory rock for about 6 hours without a single strike save for a few barracuda. Then around 2 pm we decided to pull in lines as we approached 900ft of water in front of memory rock. With the boat still in gear I started at the port rigger reeling in and my wife went to the starboard rigger, just as she went to grab the rod the release clip popped and nothing for about a 2 seconds then all of a sudden line started peeling of the reel like i have never seen. So much so i though the line was caught in the prop thats when i looked up and saw a blue marlin breaching the water.

Now i would be lying if i told you the next 60 seconds where nothing short of chaos. My wife who can fish but is not experienced did a stellar job clearing lines and following my chaotic directions driving the boat. All the line on the TLD 25 was stripped to the spool by the time we where able to start chasing down the fish and start making some headway on the fish. After a few jumps she went deep and i began winching her up foot by foot. By the time i got half the line back in the reel she made another run and took quite a bit of what i had made up. After about 55 minutes i was able to get her up to the boat. What an experience and what an amazing animal. Sadly and with much regret i was not able to get the bent hook out of her bill and was worried about her health so i cut the leader and released here. It was truly one of the most awe inspiring experiences of my life.

I will say this and don't care if it make me sound like any less of a man, i have never seen a big blue marlin up close and it truly saddened me to see this amazing animal so exhausted and near death however from what i can tell we dragged here along side of the boat for a bit and she swam away albeit slowly. I truly hope she made it and is swimming around out there in all her glory.
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Old 06-06-2016, 09:07 PM
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Originally Posted by dell30rb View Post
Is that a TLD? Nice work
Funny you should ask. That fish started out on a straight TLD25 and when that one locked up and blew out the reel seat we up we moved up to the 2-speed 20/30 Beastmaster shown in the first pic. The story goes on and on, but you get the picture ... no pun intended.
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Old 06-07-2016, 05:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Pez Vela View Post
Funny you should ask. That fish started out on a straight TLD25 and when that one locked up and blew out the reel seat we up we moved up to the 2-speed 20/30 Beastmaster shown in the first pic. The story goes on and on, but you get the picture ... no pun intended.
Guys, I owned a lot of TLDs over the years, and they were great -- for king mackerel, bottom fish and even as my go-to for West Palm winter sailfish. But if there was even an outside chance at a blue marlin or a slammer yellowfin crashing the party, in came the TLDs, and out go the 50-wides.

I learned my lesson on wahoo when one of my 25s got smoked by what might have been the biggest wahoo ever to strike a lure behind my boat (we'll never know, but my sister boat got a 93-pounder in the same place, that same day -- only they were smart enough to have deployed 80W Internationals).

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Old 06-07-2016, 06:15 AM
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Originally Posted by GAHUNTER View Post
I learned my lesson on wahoo when one of my 25s got smoked by what might have been the biggest wahoo ever to strike a lure behind my boat ...
Many fish come over the rail, but it's the ones you never see that we all remember the best. Having the right gear in the water is always a challenge. And how many times have we had the heavy stuff out with one lighter rig, only to have it go off and get obliterated. Over the years, I've thought a lot about it, and I actually think that's one of the reasons the sport is so addicting. If it weren't for the "one that got away," our determination might never be the same. The adrenaline rush comes back just with the re-telling of the story, and I bet you have a few more.
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Old 06-07-2016, 06:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Pez Vela View Post
Many fish come over the rail, but it's the ones you never see that we all remember the best. Having the right gear in the water is always a challenge. And how many times have we had the heavy stuff out with one lighter rig, only to have it go off and get obliterated. Over the years, I've thought a lot about it, and I actually think that's one of the reasons the sport is so addicting. If it weren't for the "one that got away," our determination might never be the same. The adrenaline rush comes back just with the re-telling of the story, and I bet you have a few more.


Your are right: some of my most vivid memories are of those that got away! Over and over again, I go over the scene of the crime in my mind, and try to decipher how the suspect escaped captivity.
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Old 06-07-2016, 09:32 AM
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Growing up in Orange Beach, AL in the late 80s/early 90s (born in '83) I got to witness the infancy of the pelagic fishery that has only recently begun to garner respect from the talking heads of the big game world. I deckhanded on as many boats as I could in high school in college because in my mind I got to go fishing for free! I remember stories from some of the old captains down here about getting spooled on 50s and even 80s without knowing what they hooked. For years everyone assumed it was the rare 1000 pounder or maybe a big shark until someone actually hauled in that first 600+ lb bluefin and it all made sense. Then people starting catching marlin over 500 regularly, and now it seems like 700 is the number to get to win a kill tournament. Alabama is currently the only Gulf state whose record Blue Marlin isn't over 1000, and I bet that will go down in the next year or two.

My problem is I got married, started a business and now have two kids under 2 years old so the overnight trips have become few and far between lately but it hasn't dampened my love of big game fishing and to be honest the thought of having my own sporty to take my kids fishing (real fishing!) is one of the big motivators for me these days when I struggle to even pay my bills some months. I can't wait to get both of them out there to just see some of the amazing things you come across so far offshore, practically in another world from what we can see from the beach. Keep these stories coming, I need to live vicariously through all of y'all for a few more years!
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