May 17 Report
My normal Bermuda Report has been delayed because I was down in Grand
Cayman and Miami last week.
After catching my hundred pound wahoo a couple of years ago, I set my sights on another important quest……………No saltwater fisherman can feel complete without catching the gladiator of the sea – Swordie !! I admit that it would be much more special for me to catch swordie in Bermuda, but I am not too fussy – and so on Sunday evening (May 15) I headed offshore in Miami with Capt. Dean Panos and mate Vic on “Double D”. When it comes to catching swords, these guys are the sportfish version of Linda Greenlaw. But just to raise my odds I brought the ultimate good luck charm – Greg Larcher – with me. Greg flew all the way down from Baltimore just for the trip and he was still celebrating his very recent 40th birthday.
We left the marina in North Miami at 6:00 pm and headed to a buoy a couple
of miles offshore where we spent half an hour catching bait – we caught about 10 rainbow runner and a few jacks and a mackerel. The rainbows and jacks were put in the livebait wells and we then headed further offshore – about 19 miles out to get set-up. Before darkness we caught a 12 lb dolphin that swam by and then ate one of our squid swordie rigs. Shortly after dark the swordie action began – I battled a nice size sword for 25 minutes but it pulled-off just as we had the light in sight – Capt Dean reckoned it had just been bill-wrapped as the rainbow bait was still alive and more or less unscathed (physically anyway). So that was a big disappointment, but the best cure for disappointment is another bite – and we did not wait long. Greg was soon hooked-up and this time she stayed tight !! I got my first ever look at a live SWORDIE – it was about 100 lb and it kicked-up on the gaff and slashed Capt. Dean right across the chest with its sword – ripping
open his sweatshirt. Over the next two hours we incredibly got four more
bites and caught all four !!! (all were in the 50-70 lb class). We basically spent three hours plus doing nothing but battling swords – one after the other.
Greg and I could not believe it – the first night ever seeing a sword and we were FIVE FOR SIX – HOLY COW !!!!! Capt. Dean and Vic were pretty pumped up also – they catch a lot of swords, but FIVE in a night is an awesome catch by any standard. They are tough fish ! – pound for pound they pull much harder than a yellowfin tuna – one look at the stumpy base of a sword’s tail and you can see where all the power comes from. One sword that I caught jumped fully out of the water just 20 feet from the boat.
But the evening’s entertainment was not over – next we had a 200+ lb mako
shark cruise into the light. He terrorized us for 20 minutes before we finally hooked him – unfortunately after a brief battle the leader chewed-off – we are not sure what happened because we had several feet of wire leader on the shark rig (not enough I guess). At about 1:00 pm, we wound up the rigs and had yet another (a seventh) sword encounter. It was about 50 lb and it swam right up in the light – it was amazing to see a free swimming sword right there at the boat – swords swim like eels – this one was wagging its sword all over the place and making fast, agile turns – I was sure it was going to eat one of our livebaits, which we had right there, but this sword showed considerable interest but never bit. In the end we bailed out and cruised home at 25 knots; we got pulled over by
marine immigration police as we approached the inlet – they put the flashy
lights on us and all. My being a Bermudian generated some excitement and an
inspection of my Bermuda driver’s license, but the police were impressed
with the three swords (three is the bag limit) that we had spread out on
the deck and they let me go after I explained that my other official
documents (passport etc.) were back at the Mandarin Hotel. We arrived back
at the marina at 2:15 am – completely satisfied and way too buzzed from the
awesome experience to think about sleep. I fully recommend Capt. Dean Panos
– check out his website at www.doubledcharters.com.
So – what about the Bermuda Report? Well, back here in Bermuda the wahoo
and yellowfin fishing has been AWESOME. Tuna and a lot of bait (mackerel,
squid etc.) were plentiful on the backside of both banks, but the hotspot
during the first week of May was the Western turn of Argus – it was there
that chummers were getting 10-20 yellowfin per day, with most being in the
20-30 lb class – “De Mako” had 27 yellowfin one day and caught 16 the next
day. Capt. Pete Rans on “Overproof” had a great haul of wahoo, tuna and
dolphin on May 6, which included a 107 lb yellowfin taken on the troll. The
hot and cold wahoo bite on the SW edge continued – on May 6, “Challenger”
was on the Edge right at the end of the day when the bite turned on RED HOT
– they had four wahoo at 4:00 pm, but came home near nightfall with 23, and
they were a good class, including a pair of 70 pounders – PRETTY WORK !!!!
I ventured out on “Reel Addiction” on Sunday May 8 with Cragin, Forster and
Kevin Mello. Those in Bermuda may recall that it blew hard that weekend. We
were the only boat on the banks. I spent the whole day driving and looking
at huge walls of blue ocean and wishing I had stayed in my bed, and I
fought hard (successfully) to keep my morning pork pie snack at the lower
end of my esophagus. As for the fishing, we found a ton of bait on the NW
of both banks and some good wahoo action on the NW of Challenger bank – in
fact we should have stayed there and not gone over to Argus. In those
conditions we lost more strikes than fish we caught, but in the end our
catch was respectable – we boated 8 wahoo (with four in the 40 lb class)
and a 12 lb dolphin, a couple of blackfin tuna and a barracuda.
Since I have been away, I hear that the fishing has still been excellent,
and the best action still seems to be on the NW of both banks. “De Mako”
has been RED HOT and catching the biggest hauls of yellowfin (averaging in
the range of 10-15 per day). Brooks was out with Kevin Winter on “Playmate”
on Sunday (5/15) and caught 10 tuna. Most of the yellowfin being taken are
in the 30 lb class but there are some 40 pounders mixed in there also.
There have also been some BIG wahoo taken – on Friday (5/13) “De Mako” had 9 tuna and 5 wahoo, and the two biggest wahoo were 86 lb and 64 lb (there’s an awesome picture of the big wahoo on Mako’s website –www.fishbermuda.com. On the same day, “Overproof” caught an 85 lb wahoo on a half day trip.
Early last week, we had rough weather and a solid wahoo bite. On Tuesday
(5/10), “Challenger” had yet another haul of more than 20 wahoo, and “Sea
Wolfe” caught a dozen on a short trip.
I have not heard too much about marlin. I think “Challenger” had another
encounter with a big blue, and I heard a visiting boat released a small blue marlin. You can expect the charter boats to be putting in some more serious time in the deep starting in about 2-3 weeks (beginning of June). “De Mako” released a 45 lb white marlin taken in the chum on Saturday (5/14) – the white ate right off the transom and put on a terrific show on 16 lb test tackle – it was part of a GREAT trip that also included 13 yellowfin and, interestingly, an 18 lb rainbow runner.
So – if you have read this far – you know that you need to turn off the friggin computer and head offshore !!