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Tuna fishing 6/8 and 6/9

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Got an email from a buddy the week before I was heading to the beach house wanting to know if I was interested in going offshore 6/8.  Needless to say, it did not take much thinking to say yes!  Since I knew we had a 3 day weather window, I decided to drag my boat down and do some inshore fishing later in the week.

Met up with Dave and Korey the night before to prep the boat.  I had the honors of prepping and brining 2 bags of ballyhoo, then assist changes leaders on some of the rods.  Loaded 100 lbs of ice in the boat and called it quits.

Up Monday morning at 3:30 and at the Oregon Inlet boat ramp at 4:15.  At that time, the darn parking lot was already 3/4 full.  Dropped the outriggers in the mounts, launched the boat, and joined the parade with 30-40 boats following the charter fleet out the inlet.  Cleared the bar and pointed the bow southeast, heading for the Point, 40 miles away.

sunrise 6-8.jpg

Waves were not too bad, especially since we were in a 27 ft Albemarle.  This is one heavy darn boat and just crushes the swells.  The only downside is she is a little "tender" due to the steep deadrise - my guess around 24 degrees.

Water temp about 10 miles out was 74.5.  As we approached the Point, I was constantly watching the water temp and there was not break what so ever!  Temp now 74.8.  Dropped lines in at 7:15 in 350 ft depth and worked over the 100 fathom line.  Water was clear and not dirty.  Worked this area for almost 2 hours with no sniffs and none of the other boats near us looked like they were doing much.  Decided then to work our way north to a feature called the Tuna Hole.

Got in the vicinity of the Hole and something hits a Sterling Widetracker.  Korey starts cranking, then the line goes slack.  He notices there is no spray where the spreader bar should be.  Gets the line to the boat and the darn line is cut clean in front of the swivel!  Not sure if the line had a nick or if a wahoo hit above the snap swivel, but that was an expensive loss.  Replaced the Widetracker with a regular spreader bar and started trolling the general area again.  

Dave sees a pod of porpoises (the first real sign of life we have seen all day) and trolls over to them.

porpoises.jpg

We were able to troll along side of them and behind hoping a tuna was below them.  Nothing.  Got a little in front of them and let them catch up to us; still nothing.  Make another pass behind them and FISH ON!  Something hit the other Widetracker.  Dave jumps on that rod while Korey and I clear the other lines as this fish is peeling line at a good clip.

dave cranking.jpg

By the time all other rods are moved out of the way, this fish has taken 75-100 yards of line and is just starting to slow down.  At this point we are thinking big yellowfin or maybe a bigeye. 

I have the honor of piloting the boat and pull the throttle back just enough so we are maintaining minimum headway since this fish is still taking line.  When it has not really slowed down after a few more minutes, I suggest we either turn towards the fish or start backing down.  Korey and Dave opted to back down.  So, we spend the next 5 minutes in reverse, getting line back a little at a time.  Dave has the spreader bar close enough we can just begin to see it under water when the line goes slack....DAMMIT!  Reel the spreader bar in and the darn factory crimp on the trailing hook broke!  Big time disapointment!

Reset the lines and troll over the same general area and get another fish on in about 20 minutes.  My turn to crank and I got my fish to the boat....darn blackfin!  It is now just a little after 12 noon and Dave notices the alternator is only putting out 11.5 volts instead of 13.4 volts.  We decided to play it safe, store the gear, and head for home before we lost all electrical.  Made it back and voltage came back up to normal.  Did a quick check once on the trailer and the drive belt was looking a little worn.  So..we get the boat ready so Dave can head back to northern Virginia and I head to the beach to join my wife.

We are on the beach with another family we run around with, along with their boys and friend from school.  One of the boys was talking about all the work his dad had done to their boat the last few weeks and I kinda gave him a hard time that he needed to get his dad down here now and go fishing tomorrow, as the weather was supposed to be even better.  Stayed on the beach another hour, the  back to the house to cook dinner and get everything straight to go to the beach with the wife the next day.

We are eating dinner and my phone rings...it is Steve, the boy's dad.  He says "I understand you want to go fishing...we are loading the boat now and will be down tonight."  Oh-oh.  My wife heard the whole conversation and thankfully said it was ok to go...YES!

Steve picks me up at 4:00 am and we are at the ramp at 4:30.  It is more full this morning than yesterday!!!  We had no real boat prep to do as it was ready to dunk...just remove the straps.  I jump in the truck and tell them to put one on boat and two on the dock to catch the boat.  Launched it in 2 minutes and I ended up parking in the grassy overflow over half mile away from the ramp.

Joined another parade heading out of the inlet with good water, this time in a 27 ft Grady White cuddy cabin.  Steve's son is driving the boat.  Him and his dad are having issues with the new chartplotter and want to pull over to set the waypoints.  I listened to this for a couple of minutes, then finally spoke up and told them the other 50 boats are going to the same place we are and just follow them!

As we get close to the Point (again), a good number of the rec boats peel off and head north a little to the Tuna Hole.  The discussion started again in the cabin and I finally asked "Where are the charter boats going - follow them!"  We end up back at the Point, same darn water conditions as the day before, except we have probably an additional 40 boats out here.  It reminded me of the old days rockfishing off the Va Beach ocean front where you could walk for miles on the water and never get your feet wet due to the number of boats.

We troll around for a few hours then finally get a hit.  James jumps on the rod and starts cranking.  Ends up boating a barely legal yellowfin, but this was his first offshore trip and he was stoked!

james tuna.jpg

Funny thing is I am the one that got the honors of leadering the fish.  Got it close to the boat and just snatched it over the transom.  Yup...the weakest guy on the boat at that!

We get everything back out and trolling again.  I am watching the rods and turn my back for a second, then hear a line pop out of the clip on the outrigger.  Spin around and see both lines have popped loose.  Figured grass must have got on the lure and when it popped loose, it jarred the other line free from the clip. 

James graps the outer most rod and starts reeling it in so we can reset it while I am looking at the other rod and see the tip pulse once, then again.  Great...it has grass on it too.  Then the tip bend over and stays over...fish on!  All this time Steve is looking behind the boat and suddenly yells SAILFISH!  Since James already reeled in one fish, he asks who wants it.  I said Steve could have first shot since it was his boat, so he jumped on the reel.  After a short fight, we get it boat side, and guess who is leadering the fish again????  Yup...yours truely!

sailfish.jpg

Snapped a couple of pictures of Steve's first sailfish, then got a healthy release.  Fish swam off with no ill effects other than 2 ballyhoo it ate.

Lines out one more time.  Circled back over the spot we caught the sailfish and have another strike!  Steve was already next to that rod, so 2 of us cleared lines and worked the wheel while the fourth person on the boat was trying to land a drone.  Needless to say, that damn drone led to some confusion in the cockpit.  Steve gets the fish close to the boat and I see it is a decent yellowfin. 

Since Steve is the only  other person that has done offshore fishing and knows how to leader a fish, I got the honors again to bring this one in.  Imagine me on the transom, with a gaff in one hand and taking wraps the best I can with my free hand, James driving the boat, and me yelling at the other guy to grab the other gaff to help out.  When I don't see him at the side with the gaff ready, I turn around and here he is putting shoes on.....WHAT???  What came out of my mouth at that point was not very nice, but the clean version was "forget the shoes and grab the gaff!"  At this point I was a little irritated, so I gaffed the fish myself and threw it in the cockpit.  I think adreneline had a lot to do with me being able to do it solo.

After that...the wind started picking up.  We had a good day, 2 yellowfin in the box and 1 sailfish release, so cleaned up and headed back to the dock.

The wind blew the next 4 days.  My boat never got wet!  I am gonna have to correct that problem real soon.

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Helluva a writeup.. you need to be writing for Marlin magazine..

Great trip!

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Thanks for the compliment!  It is fun trying to convey the excitement of the trip to those that don't get to do some of the things we are lucky to do.  

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Sounds like a great trip. Glad you got to go out and have fun. Some son-in-law had pity on me and brought me some tuna after he maxed out his freezer. They only got to fish a few hours before they reached the limit. I've done that once, and I'm ready to do it again.

Great write up and pictures.

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