Tuna gone wild report

Posted on by mike


     This will be an easy report to write as just about every day was the same.  I started out on the 12th and ended up on the 23rd. The trip on the 23rd with the Scarborough group was one of the couple of trips that was different. And it was so due to no fog and the 4-6’ seas not the 2-4 the weather guessers had it at. I could only do 13 knots and not pound to bad. It took over two hours to make it to a very close in spot for some yellows. It started off pretty good with livebait coming easy. The only bad part was the sharks were there in force along with the tuna. They wouldn’t eat a livebait they would wait until you hooked a tuna and then bum rush him like he was on the wrong street in the city. We got lucky on the first one the second tuna we only got half and the next two we lost everything. You had to keep both engines in gear and the waves would still push you backwards several feet with every wave. With the nasty seas and shark army we ran north as best we could and got on the troll since we couldn’t run. And picked away at the Wahoo, jacks and blackfin on the troll. We ended the day with salt in our ears and noses and a very good box of wahoo, yellowfin, blackfin and jacks to show for it. Even though the wahoo fishing was stellar we paid the price to catch them.

    Now this next trip sticks in my head not because of how good we did but because it shows how much a bad decision can cost. So I will take the blame for this day. I had Scott Winkler and crew in from North Louisiana for this one. The bait came very easy and I was thinking it was going to be rum drinks early today. Well on the way to the spot of choice we hit the dirty water that pushed out overnight. First mistake didn’t look at the water charts. Ok now problem we will just switch to plan B. We ran down the break looking for any open water fish while heading to plan B. Now here is where I make the wrong move. About three miles from our destination it is north of the dirty water line. (Later found out the clean water was a mile north of the rig)So I had no choice but to run LONG to get to some fish. We finally pulled up to the backup stop to the backup stop. The bait was a little bigger out there so we got a few more and was not that worried as it was a full moon and the bite is generally a midday bite. And it was we picked one up about 60lbs right away and then we had to wait for the next bite. With the day picking away and only one fish to show for it. I decided to get more bait and live chum the fish and make them bite. While making bait for the third time some fish came up and we pulled out and got a bite from a 75-80lb fish right away. Perfect they are going to turn on right, well not so much. Then to add insult to an already tough day. I got line in my wheel and had to jump in and take my prop off sixty something miles offshore. I don’t pray much except in situations such as this one. But someone must have been listening because it went as smoothly as possible. After that I tucked my tail and ran for the barn with our two fish at least they were solid fish. Rum drinks didn’t come early this day but they still came to ease the pain and frustration.

     Now the rest of the days during this string were pretty much all from the same mold. We would wait until we had a little bit of light to maybe catch that stray log that the radar missed. Then we would run through the fog which had been the worst of the year. Once we got offshore it was the same fishing as in the summer. We would make bait drop the riggers and livebait fish the tuna. The standard setup was 60lb mainline and 60lb fluro. I did change out my hooks and have been using the Eagle Claw L2004 5/0 circle hook. It’s a bronze hook and once it’s in them it doesn’t come out. We didn’t have one pulled hook in a bunch of hookups. The downside to this hook is you have to use pliers to get it out. It really hooks and holds. The arrival of the first livebait of the year has to be the happiest time of the year.  No more nasty cutting board and chum cutting just good clean gentlemanly tuna fishing. The tuna cooperated just like they should. A lot of people got to catch there first yellowfin and then catch them till they said no more. It’s a great feeling when your customers for the day look at you and say lets go home we have more    than enough fish. There is something very satisfying to leave them snapping. This is how it went for eight days perfect weather and perfect fishing, Life is good. The only deviation to this schedule was a couple of blue marlin that tried to see what the fuss was all about. None were landed only a very brief hookup with a topwater lure on a 350 plus. Probably a good thing the hooks didn’t hold. I did end one day with a very accomplished fly fisherman  Bo Mason that has fished all over with a flyrod but doubted you could catch a snapper on a fly. After I told him about the IGFA records set on my boat on them he wanted to give it a shot. So on the way home we made a pit stop and gave him the drill and well, the snapper ate the fly as good as the tuna ate livebait that day. It was a very good string of trips. And I should be back at it after the little blow this weekend.


Capt. Mike

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Venice winter recap

Posted on by mike

With the winter season that was not the typical winter season starting to wind down. Well I say winding down it never really got started to wind down. There were a few flurries of big fish and some scattered ones to be had. The best way this winter season could be described as, fun fishing. Plenty of small yellowfin were to be had to make up for the lack of there older bigger brothers and sisters. My last group put it perfectly with the quote; I have never bass fished for yellowfin tuna before. Pretty much all winter I shifted gears and went with what mother ocean had decided to throw our way. I made some adjustments in tackle and lures and pretty much fished for the tuna the same way you would fish for largemouth bass chasing shad. It definitely made things fun since it was hands on. When a fish was lost there was no accusing looks. It was man I should have waited to set the hook or I knew I should have sped the retrieve up. The lighter tackle was just much more fun to use. Some days we could have caught a few more fish by using more standard methods and did so. But quickly switched back due to the fun factor which is what it’s about anyway.
My trip with Matt Paulk brought the fun factor into things. We went on a big fish search that was not to be. With the onslaught of kings and sharks that day. We switched over to topwater lures and jigs and fished for the fun of it. Suddenly even kingfish became fun instead of just a nusicence. When they are in the 20-45lb class it’s a fun fish. It makes a perfect target for throwing topwaters at. After that trip I fished my next seven or eight trips the same way. Well except no kingfish we just made more runs to the floaters and beat up on the smaller yellowfin and on most days had no problem with getting a nice box of the smaller yellowfin and a few blackfin along with tons of released blackfin

I told you I switched out my tackle to better accommodate the smaller fish. I went with 30-50lb braid on Quantum Cabo 50’s. On 20-30lb. spinning rods. Never once were we undergunned or felt at a disadvantage with the light line and tackle. I do have a shameless plug for some gear that I got to use while filming an episode of Addictive Fishing with Blair Wiggins. We used Blair’s line of rods and reels from Wright McGill. The rods were powerful light and had great action. I was very impressed with them. So much that I went to ****’s to try and pick a couple up. The jigging tackle was pretty standard with 300 gram rods and 160-270 gram flutter jigs color didn’t make a difference. But they kept the fish coming in when the yellows went down. Also on thing that helped the catch is a lure I discovered last year before the spill. It perfectly matches the hatch right now. The lure is a Japanese import from Tackle House and it’s called a Flitz it’s pretty small but can still be cast a mile with traditional topwater rods with heavier braid. The other lure is the new Shimano Waxwing and a DOA swimming mullet lure they really seemed to like those three the best.
Now that the cold weather should be behind us the tuna should fall into hopefully an early summer pattern. We have had a springtime pattern for about two months. The one real exciting thing is that the tinker mackerel have stared to show. They are a little to small to fish right now but at least they are here. It shouldn’t be long until they become the goto bait.
Capt. Mike

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Were Back and the fish are hungry and waiting

Posted on by mike

After a long summer of hell caused by BP. There was some light at the end of the tunnel on Wednesday the 6th of October NOAA finally opened some water that we could tuna fish in. The day was spent on the phone and computer sending out emails and making phone calls. On the 8th I had the Steins in from Missisouri for some mangrove snapper fishing. This trip was planned for the summer but had to be put on hold and they still wanted to do it so the tuna would have to wait for another day. Everything went perfect the mangroves were fighting over the pieces of cut poagie that the red snapper let get down farther than a foot under the surface. Even with 40lb fluro we were able to win more than we lost and ended up with 25 mangroves from 5-11lbs and our 10 red snapper from 8-15lbs. With plenty of fish onboard we pointed the bow at the pass and headed home early. What a great feeling to finally be doing what I do, FISH.
On the 9th and 10th I had a long time client come in with a crew of all stars as Marsad put it. They had a marathon drive from Miami to make it to the dock for Saturday morning but they made it on time. Marsad wrote a report of the trip and I can’t top it so I will cheat a little bit and cut and paste it.

After a great three days of fishing I decided it was time to hit the deer woods since I didn’t have any trips until Saturday. What a bummer as the big fish behind the shrimpboats went crazy and multiple fish over 200lbs were caught. Of well I had the next days to make up for it.
On the 16th I had the Murdock’s in for some hopefully big tuna fishing. I gave a prediction of what we would do for the day I was right except I was short by about 70lbs. I told them we would have a 150 yellowfin and about 11 blackfin. Our yellow only weighed about 80 or so. The day was fun with all of the blackfin you wanted to catch. And way too many sharks to go along with them. Just about the time you forgot about the sharks you would get bit and lock up the 50W with 130 mono and heavy drag to have it get smoked but the run would always end up with the heavy head thrashing of a pissed off shark. Of well reel in and tie on another hook.
17th I had Jay Powell and his son and two of his buddies onboard. What Jay wanted to really see is how we livebait tuna fish in the summer.
So the 50w’s were taken off and the Torsa 40’s went on. We left out of south pass and made bait easier than I can remember in a very long time. With the well full in about 10 minutes we were off. The first rig we could see tuna busting when we were about a half mile away. Perfect or so I thought we only managed a cuda while the tuna were busting all around us. Well Jay started leaning at that point. It doesn’t matter how many fish are there if they don’t bite what you are offering leave. The next rig south was a complete dud. The one after that was a little better with Jay catching his first yellowfin. A nice 50-60lb summertime model. At that point it was either turn north and let the boys get some snapper and cobia or hit one more. I opted to hit one more rig, another lesson don’t get frustrated and give up to soon. The next rig was a good as it gets. As I pulled back the throttles I saw a nice fish bust. I threw a bait on its head and we tight. A second rod had a livebait pinned on it and it was immediately eaten. In the next 45 minutes there was never more than 20 seconds with out a fish on. Everyone caught there first tuna and bonus dolphin. We could have really put a hurting on the tuna if the 15lb dolphin would leave us alone. Out of the chaos we landed 7 yellowfin from 35-70 and 5 dolphin from 10- 15lb. You know everyone is tired when they decided to skip the easy snapper fishing on the way home. Not a bad day for three 14 year olds a father.
18th and 19th I had Franklin and his crew in from South Carolina. I have fished with these guys for about five or so years now. They are the magic group that every captain has. No matter how bad the bite is they always make them bite. There mojo was not needed for this trip but I am sure it helped. I gave them the option of chase big fish and get anywhere from one to four shots plus some blackfin. Or we can run long and fish the 30-70lb fish and a few dolphin. The run for numbers was made and of course we did the same route as the day before. The only twist was the first spot gave us a 75lb yellowfin instead of our cuda from the day before. With that fish on ice we made a beeline for the hot rig from the day before. Once again it was just like taking candy from a baby. We did 17 yellowfin from 30-70lbs on livebait and topwater lures. We traded two yellows for a huge uncut ribeye, 20 pounds of steak for 80 pounds of tuna on the hoof seems like a good trade to me. The workboat wanted fish and I wanted the ribeyes. We ended the day early with a legal limit of yellowfin along with three dolphin. A pattern was noticed in what would make the fish hit. They were so focused in on flying fish that you had to throw the bait up high and let it hit the water hard. If you did that you would get an immediate bite 3 out of 4 tries. The 19th was a total repeat from the day before. Except the cudas were horrible along with the snake wahoo. We did box one wahoo that got greedy and didn’t cut us off. We couldn’t do anything right we had a double only to break one of and pull the hook on another. We did get revenge on a cow dolphin we, well I broke off trying to gaff it the day before. It now 1 in the afternoon with two yellows and two dolphin plus our wahoo in the box. The pressure was starting to build so I made a move I don’t know why I didn’t do earlier. But we moved over to a crewboat about 200 yards on the side of the rig. The first cast added another nice dolphin to the box. And the next ten livebaits added 10 more yellowfin. All in about a 20 minute timespan. Not a bad way to save the day. We ended the day with 12 yellowfin,3 dolphin, and a lonely wahoo.
On the 20th I had John Do in and we headed back to the spot from the last two days. I was expecting a repeat but Mother Ocean threw us a curveball with a nasty chop. The only thong biting was the cudas on livebaits. I had told John that jigs are not the best way to target yellowfin but I had to eat crow. Because without the jigs we might of come up empty handed. I know jigs will catch the smaller yellows the livebait is the best way to go about doing it. But on this day we caught 11 30-45lb yellowfin ALL ON JIGS. It helped to have excellent jig fisherman onboard to do it. As another boat with inferior jigs and jigging rods didn’t get on the bite like we did. No matter how long you do this you can always pick up a new trick or two.
With the off bite on livebait the following day with Matt Stone we decided to chase the shrimpboats. We started off boxing six or eight blackfin for bait and for eating fresh. Then we bounced around a couple more shrimpboats until we found the right one. The first yellow was a solid 90lb fish and everyone was in good spirits. Then we had to wade through a few more blackfin. Then we got the bite we were looking for. As the 50W was put into gear the fish was dumping it pretty good. A harness was put on Tate and the fight was on. We had to go through a few anglers but Andrew was the one to finish the fish off. Later back at Cypress Cove the fish weighed in at 174lbs. After that the bite died so we picked up and ran in to try for cobia. We managed one and then headed for the barn. Total for the day was 1 90lb and a 174 yellow and a 40lb cobia.
The last day of this string of trips was spent the same as the day before. Except the water was clean and we had 150 plus pound yellowfin boiling at our feet for the first part of the day. We pulled the hook on the first one broke the second one off. And did get the third bite into the boat a solid 90-100lb fish. We could have filled the boat it it’s gunnels with 15-20lb blacks but I was hunting big fish that day. Our next bite was as pretty as it could be. A 180 plus at a 2lb chunk of blackfin at the boat and screamed off. After about 20 minutes or so the fish settled down and I thought we would get him. The anglers fought the fish well. But we were robbed a major portion of the fish by a monster shark of some species. The head section weighed somewhere in the area of 120lbs or so. Once again the bite was over for the day but we stuck at it with no more love from the yellowfin. In the end we did put a few blacks in the box and not in the bait bucket.
It was a great run of trips with plenty of fish for everyone. I do have pictures but I will have to add them in later. I don’t have the computer skills to add them. So I will have to have my office manager (wife) pull them from the email. So now it’s off to the deer woods again. Until next time.
Capt. Mike

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Posted on by mike

   This report is a glimpse into the life of every charter  fisherman in Venice right now. This story started out as a simple run down to Venice to do some routine maintenance on the boat. It turned out  that I would not get home until eight days later. Once I arrived at Cypress Cove it looked like someone had kicked an anthill. There were satellite trucks all over and media crews from all over the world were running around with cameras and microphones wanting a story. Well we gave them a story but it has now come back to bite us in the ass. We were all scared of what could happen if they closed our fishery. How would we pay our house and boat notes and feed our family and send our children to school. So unfortunately we gave them the story they wanted. With the threat of not having a source of income coming we all started running media trips to take them to see oil boom and different rookeries. Meanwhile as the stories started to hit the TV paper and newspapers around the world. The phone calls started to come in not to book charters but to cancel. Some of my cancellations were all the way into August. The story was the same thing we are not coming because of the oil, we can’t eat the fish,fishery is closed and any number of other oil related excuses.

   With the oil not hitting the beaches the media started to get antsy and started to get real pushy wanting the story of doom and gloom. Which simply wasn’t there all I managed to find was a little light sheen on the surface. Now after several days of this it started to get kind of old and stressfull being at the center of this with no information. It was time to go fishing. The 20-30 knot winds that had been hammering Venice finaly let up and dropped and we had mirror calm conditions. Perfect right, NO the clients I had canceled out. So here I am stressed out and perfect weather and no clients. A couple of other charter operations got out a put a whipping on the tuna. So the scramble was on to call some of my regular customers to come and get in on the great tuna fishing. I only had to make a couple of phone calls. Before Jared and his brother Schawn and Bret from Texas said were on the way. I rounded up Scott a hunting buddy from Mississippi to finish off our crew.

    I don’t think I have ever been more excited the day before a trip than I was this time. I iced the boat heavier than normal in anticipation of the slaughter that was to come. I went over everything. Then the ultimate oh s_ _ t I have no tackle down here. Remember this started out as a simple routine maintenance trip. But I was able to borrow some gear then I spent more time going over it and changing line and tying new leaders and hooks. With Scott’s help and a special guest appearance by the captain himself, Captain Morgan the rod work was done before the alarm clock went off.

    Finaly here is the story I have been building up to. Arrived at the marina and loaded the rods and the crew.  The conditions could not have been better. [img]http://www.forumpictureprocessor.com/pictureprocessor/images/DSC04660_1.jpg[/img]


           There was no horizon the surface just melted into the sky. We were on the lookout for oil slicks so the livewell pickups could be shut down but we never ran over a drop of oil.  We ran across several weedlins loaded with chicken dolphin. We didn’t bother to stop to pick any up since we had a date with the yellowfin. Once we got to the first rig the tuna were going nuts on the surface maybe they were jumping out of the water to escape the oil they heard was all over the gulf. We quickly made bait and pulled off to try our luck with them. After several perfect shots at them with poppers the livebaits went out and the first fish of the day was soon in the box. This was Schawn’s first yellowfin ever so the trip was a success. [img]http://www.forumpictureprocessor.com/pictureprocessor/images/IMG_1340_4.jpg[/img]




With the fish being very picky there we picked up and made an18 mile run to the southeast where we quickly picked up two right off the bat on live baits. [img]http://www.forumpictureprocessor.com/pictureprocessor/images/me%20&%20sean.jpg[/img]

           Then the key to the fish was found and we put it to good use. The only problem was we had to make more bait since we used exactly what they wanted up. Back to bait fishing: Luckily this rig had the absolute most perfect red tail scad on it. Here is a shot to show you how thick they were.




This rig would be our final stop the yellows were marking real thick on the sounder and the lack of man-o-war jellies and the small bait under them were no where to be seen. I forgot to mention it but this rig is about 15 NM from where the Horizon was anchored. The first fish came as I was letting it out and the second fish hit as I was putting it in the rigger. With them biting like that I didn’t even bother putting them in the riggers. We just fished them on flat lines. Before we knew it we had 13 yellow fin in the 35-60lb range in the box around 3PM so with 80 miles to the dock we cleaned up and headed north. The best part was when I had Scott throw the rest of the bait overboard it all ran under the boat and when we took off they had nowhere to hide and the tuna went nuts destroying them on the surface. On the way in we ran across another group of animals that didn’t know they should not be here because of the oil and it was a pod of whales. Not what you would expect in an oil polluted gulf. The amount of life right now offshore is amazing. Every rig we checked had yellow fin and there were open water schools of tuna from well offshore all the way to the pass. Every charter that has managed to put trips together has been able to box at least 10 yellow fin a trip. So people PLEASE DON’T CANCEL YOUR TRIPS YOU TRUSTED ME AND THE OTHER CAPTAINS YOU BOOKED SO CALL AND TRUST OUR JUDGEMENT NOW BEFORE YOU JUST CANCEL.

Capt. Mike



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