This past Thursday, Friday and Saturday the weathermen said we were in for a big blow. I had repeat customers flying in from New York so I filled the fuel tanks on The BEAST so she would sit heavy and stable in the rough waters they had forecasted. We had booked, the Harbor Club again this year, for 3 days. Harbor #1 Charlie, #3 Yalkin and #7 Frank are regulars but this time, with plenty of forewarning, they brought along #6 Wally. Oh Lord, it didn’t take long to see why 1, 3, & 7 warned us! Let me make this short? Have you ever heard Andrew “Dice” Clay?
We met Thursday and the forecast was for 4-6′ seas. We took off and while we were catching some Hardtails, the 3 days of chiding, laughter, and antagonism, had begun. We loaded up one live well with Blue Runners and then powered up to cruise to a bait patch to collect some hoo’s. We arrived on a patch we had wanted to try and the hoo’s came up so thick we didn’t have to use the hook and line. A few throws of the net and the second live well was full.
I made the short jaunt out to the edge and the seas were lumpy. An occasional ground set of 5 footers but mostly a solid 3 foot chop. The winds were brisk out of the East. Devon set out a good spread and we began the day. The first fish came on the down rod and it was a nice 10# Blackfin. We reset and shortly thereafter we were covered up in schoolie Dolphin. We boated 3 out of 4 of these chubby lifters. The long rigger raised a Sailfish that was only window shopping. We missed several bites on the down rod for some reason and caught a small Barracuda. Then things slowed down. I took the guys to the “Grunt & Sweat” wreck, to let them wrestle a few AJ’s during the lull. The first drop was a triple header. 7 Amberjacks later and the guys were spent.
I saw a Sailfish flopper and minutes later it was surfing the waves off the bow. We pitched a bait in front of the Sailfish but he ignored it. After several attempts to entice it to feed, the Sail sounded into the depths. This prompted us to end the “time filler” fishing and get back in the game. A Sailfish rises to the left rigger and it is game on for Charlie. One jump and the Sail is free. Devon hurriedly reset the lines, a brief minute or 2 passes, and we have another Sailfish on. Wally jumps on the rod and loses the fish on the second jump! WOW! The cloud that hung over his head was incredible, as was the joking and laughing by his group. As the day closed, I saw a school of Tuna passing in the wave face. Devon heaved a small speed jig and got and strike but no hook up.
As we made our way home the laughter was flying from gunnel to gunnel. Frank, said it was the banana he ate for breakfast. We told him that we really didn’t believe in that superstitious stuff.
Day 2 and the Harbor Club arrives as usual, at 8:30. Oh My God, the day is starting off with a bang. As I am explaining to Yalkin, that it was going to be sporty because the conditions were going to be rougher than the previous day. I turned my eyes back toward the bow to see the Wally, Frank and Charlie, standing there eating bananas. OK guys? let’s test that superstition!
Well the bait was easy and the seas were rough. They were easily 6-7′ with recurring ground swells. I took my time getting across the rough, sloppy “edge”. I told Devon to set ’em up! A lone Frigate bird approaches the boat as Devon casts out the first bait. In a New York second, he feels the pick up. FISH ON! Frank, takes the rod, flips the bail and we are off to the races. This is a good fish! About 15 minutes later we see it is a nice Blackie. Yes sir. Devon wields a good gaff shot and Frank has a nice 30# Blackfin in the box.
We put out the baits and this time we manage to get all 4 surface lines going when a rigger sounds off. Yalkin takes his turn and this fish is a hoss. Time goes by before we see color. This is the big brother to the previous tuna. The fish feels the steel and Yalkin is on the boards with a very respectable 34# Blackfin.
I stayed in the area for a while but the school had moved on, so I worked deeper in search of some Dorado. We get teased by 2 micro schoolies that just tore up our baits. Just as we get readjusted, the flat line goes down and Frank once again gets the nod. Then the rigger goes down and Wally is at bat. Frank’s fish breaks the water and it’s a nice Cow. That must mean that Wally has the Bull. Yes he does! We landed both and we have a 20# Cow and a 30# Bull joining our Tuna in the fish box.
During the afternoon, we raised 5 Sailfish and hooked up 2. Charlie’s Sailfish came on the down rod. He fought his fish to the boat for the tag. The release came only a few seconds later when the leader broke. Shortly afterwards, Frank hooked up and he completed his catch for the tag, photo op, and release.
That pretty much summed up Day 2 with only one question remaining. How did Frank get so many turns on the rod? We laughed the whole day. There is never a lack of humor or conversation, with this crew!
Day 3, Saturday, and the weather is breezy but the seas laid down a foot or two. The Harbor Club arrives at the crack of 8:30 and start the day off by eating bananas. We did the same bait scenario and are off to the blue water. On all 3 days of fishing the water was clean and blue just off the edge.
First fish of the day came on the down rod and Wally brings up a 4′ Silky shark. We worked the area a bit more and made our way out to the Dolphin zone. 15 minutes in the area and a pair of schoolies come to visit. The fight was short and the fish were boxed. We continued on our hunt. Charlie wants a nice Dolphin to top off his trip, after catching a Sailfish the day before. As if on cue, the rigger goes down and we are on a good fish. Charlie takes the rod and it breaks the surface revealing itself. We think we have another one on when we realize the Dolphin is caught up in the other rigger. I told Devon to cut the line. As Charlie works the fish closer we see that we have cut the wrong line. Holy Crap! The line is tangled and knotted on Charlie’s hook! The fish is on the line we cut! OK. We pulled the hook up, grab the other line and quickly tie it to Charlie’s leader. Thankfully the fish was tired and posed little fight during this process. Charlie cranked the fish in and Devon struck her with the gaff. Charlie has his respectable 22# Cow!
I worked in towards the edge and then back out, time after time. The down rod goes off and Yalkin is working for several long minutes when we see color. What the heck is it? We are in 140′ and had the bait down to 70′. Yalkin just caught a 10# Mutton Snapper.
The down rod gets the nod again. This time it is a very strong fish and Wally is up. Several minutes later we’re still in a major battle. Finally, we see color! It’s a 37 pound “Donkey”. Give me a break. Wally is totally spent from fighting the fish and his nerves. Too funny!
The day continued on as we caught an 8# Skipjack, and the down rod found 3 Kingfish.
I throttled up The BEAST and headed for the barn. The Harbor Club had 3 good days of fishing and trust me when I tell you, there was never a dull moment while fishing with this crew!
I have to finish by saying thank you, to World Cat, for building such a capable, stable, fishing machine. That 3 day trip could’ve been miserable, instead, it will go down in the books as one of our most memorable.