New Electronics for the SalmonHawk

After the show from Anacortes on Saturday, Nelly and Robbo couldn't wait to get out of our makeshift studio Skagit Orca provided by Master Marine.  You see they were going fishing in the 4th annual Anacortes Salmon Derby.  I on the other hand couldn't wait to get out of there for an entirely different reason, I was headed to my boat to watch as Travis Jorgensen and his brother installed my new Lowrance Broadband Radar, HDS-10, and Structure Scan.  I have almost been as excited to see what my new structure scan can do as I have been for July to roll around so we can go albie fishing. 

 

Lowrance Broadband Radar

GPS Antenna

In today's world of fishing, having the right electronics set-up is almost as crucial as having a fishing rod on the boat.  In fact, I believe that if I had to choose, I would choose the electronics.  I could always fish with a hand line if I had to but being able to locate fish and structure makes me an even more effective fisherman.  With the new structure scan, I can now locate fish, bait, and structure to my left or right, I have a broader view of what's going on in the water. 

Turning on my new unit for the first time.

Check out the clarity and color on the HDS-10.

I should be able to read a salmon's mind  with my new 1kw thru-hull transducer.

A special thanks to Mike Campbell from Lowrance for getting me steered in the right direction with my now complete electronics package and as always, a special thanks to Lowrance for supporting The Outdoor Line.  Now that Travis is done with the install, it is my turn to start pushing buttons and entering waypoints. I am as excited to light a stogie and start playing with my new weapon tonight as I will be to take my first albacore trip this year.

Travis and his brother did a great job installing my electronics.  They have a real knowledge and a passion for all things boating.  If you have a need or want to have some real professionals out to make the switch to Lowrance then email Travis at sivart9705@yahoo.com  

The SalmonHawk proudly displaying her new Lowrance banner up top.

Anacortes Derby

We finished off this past week with a live broadcast from the Anacortes Derby on Saturday morning and then jumped in Tom Nelson's boat after the show to fish the remainder of the derby in the San Juans. 1000 tickets were sold in just 9 days for this event and I'm guess-timating that 350 boats participated in the weekend long derby. Local participation by the Port of Anacortes, the Fidalgo Chapter of the Puget Sound Anglers, many of the local businesses, and the fact that Anacortes is flat-out a nice place to spend a weekend is why this derby is such a huge success.

Our lodging in Anacortes was provided by the Anaco Bay Inn, a very clean and quiet hotel a short distance from Cap Sante Marina. Welcome to Anacortes…lets get started! 

Jay Field of the Fidalgo Puget Sound Anglers chapter does an excellent job of chairing the event and starts off the evening with a quick presentation that includes charts of fishing areas in the islands and an introduction of his next venture, the high stakes Dash One Invitational to be held July 1st and 2nd in the Rosario Strait. The event boasts a $100,000 payout for first place!

Next up is Tom Nelson from The Outdoor Line with his "Dirty Downrigger Tricks" presentation.

John Keizer from SaltPatrol.com finished off the evening with more fishing techniques and what's this…a photo of Baby Nelly at age one with a bottle of Pautzke Baby Krill. 800 people now understand why Tom is so hopelessly addicted to salmon fishing.

After broadcasting The Outdoor Line live from a 27' Skagit Orca supplied by Master Marine Services in Mount Vernon Tom and I jumped in his boat and raced off to one of my old salmon haunts on the north side of Orcas Island. With spotty fishing reports from the islands leading up to the derby my plan was to fish herring and cover a lot of water. We didn't waiver from this game plan and it payed off.

It's pretty hard to fish my favorite San Juan blackmouth presentation, cut plug herring, at these speeds so we opted to use "worms in the hood", aka herring in a helmet. We yanked 10 and 13 pound blackmouth from a rocky and downrigger-ball-eating reef that was holding quite a bit of bait and missed a few more bites in the process. Not much screwing around here folks, as you've got to be on the downrigger switch's constantly to effectively work the blackmouth-holding crevices and drops in this neck of the woods or risk loosing downrigger balls and maybe even a downrigger if you're not careful. 

We ran three downriggers in the "canyonlands" and one of them was a Cannon that could be set to track the bottom. Tom would set the ball 5 feet off the bottom and watch the rigger do it's thang. I steered the boat along the edge of one of the rocky humps and the downrigger tracked the bottom perfectly. WHAMO…FISH ON!  

Notice the scrape marks on my 13 pound blackmouth. This fish was obviously rooting around on the bottom for his meals. 

My cell phone was ringing all day about big fish being taken by lucky anglers and back at the derby tent we were greeted by some really nice blackie's on ice. Ralph Thomas's winning fish, on the right, weighed an amazing 27.48 pounds. On Saturday morning I talked about how the best anglers in the San Juans work the islands rocky structure to score fish and that's exactly how Ralph and his comrades scored this hawg. They worked a rockpile near Obstruction Island for a couple hours on Saturday morning before scoring this fish. Way to go guys!

Just one of the many great things that the members of the Fidalgo PSA Chapter do is include the kids in this fishing event. Each one of these lucky kids went home with a brand new rod and reel perfect for salmon fishing.

Ralph Thomas can afford to buy quite a few rods with his first place check of $15,000. We just might be seeing Ralph and his fishing partners in the Dash One in July.

Congressman Norm Dicks, who is also a fanatic salmon fisherman, is presented with an award for his many contributions to sportfishing here in Washington. Norm weighed in a 17 plus pound blackmouth in the derby, his biggest blackmouth ever!

Last but not least, local angling legend Pete Nelson finishes off the event by singing the song "Mountain Dew" to tent full of over a thousand people. 

I can't say enough about this great event, which is for me also somewhat of a homecoming. I got my saltwater guiding career started in the San Juans in the mid-90's and learned so much from fishing around some truly outstanding fisherman. Fishing around people like Mike Dunnigan, the Aggergaards, the Lindermans, Larry Carpenter, Rod Nau, Kirk Hawley, and Pete Nelson, to name a few, can only make you a better fisherman. You can bet I'll be back again next year!

Fishing the Anacortes Salmon Derby!!!

What's the difference between a "derby" and a "tournament'?

I won't bore you with the dictionary definition of these two words but the Anacortes Salmon Derby sure has a "Big time" feel to it! For those that have not had the opportunity to attend or compete in this event, let me tell you: this is a first-class operation all the way!

You had to act quickly if you wanted to hit the 2010 edition of this stop on the Northwest Salmon Derby Series. Anacortes hit it's cap of 1000 tickets in just ten days!  The "Sold out" status of salmon derbies is as surprising to me as it is consistent. If you are planning to attend any of these derbies, my advice would be to get your tickets as soon as they go on sale!

It's the venue that sets Anacortes apart from most other events as the gang at Cap Sante Boat Haven  rolls out the red carpet and a circus tent! The tent acts as a headquarters and is large enough to seat 800 anglers!

The weekend-long Anacortes Salmon Derby kicks off Friday night with a "Captains Meeting" complete with a few fishing seminars, safety info and a review of the rules. Saturday morning, we broadcast "The Outdoor Line" live from Cap Sante and it was slow torture watching all the boats leave the harbor. Once we were off the air at 9 o'clock we grabbed the cell phones to wrangle  some hotspot info and we were off!

When we finally arrived, Team Lowrance was already working hard aboard Capt. John Keizer's Salt Patrol SeaHawk.  

 

We made our first drag along Sucia Island and it was a beautiful San Juan Saturday morning!  

Not a derby winner by any stretch of the imagination, but it's nice to get on the board with a dandy ten pounder!  

Robbo Endsley came right back at me with a chunky 13 pounder, but you're going to have to read his blog to see those picas! Fish caught  during the derby must be called in via VHF radio and word quickly spread of a 27 pounder taken in Rosario Strait. Robbo and I chuckled to each other about the fact that our total fish box weight of 23 pounds didn't come close to that specimen!

Sunday at noon marked the close of the derby and the top four fish are displayed on ice outside the tent. The smallest of these jumbos is over 23 lbs!  

27.45 pounds would be the top fish in the 2010 Anacortes Salmon Derby and this king is a fine fish anywhere, anyplace, anytime! 

  

Derby Chairman Jay Field congratulates the winner of the youth division and all the kids under 14 who entered the event walked away with a brand-new rod and reel. 

 

His young daughter nearly hidden by the winner's check for $15,000, Ralph Thomas of Tacoma is all smiles. It's a long drive from Tacoma to Anacortes and I'll bet he was grinning all the way! 

The Northwest Salmon Derby Series is just heating up with the next event in Portland, Oregon.  "Salmon Quest" kicks off  April 17 and gives you a shot at some Columbia river spring chinook.

Salmon Quest is followed on the tourney trail with a return to Anacortes for the inaugural  $100,000 Dash One Invitational,  July 1-2.

The Outdoor Line will be following along and reporting on these events as well as participating. We hope to see you out on the water!

 

Holding Waters

You feel the rush as your float dips under the surface; you come back hard on the rod and feel the first couple head shakes.  

You see the flash under the water of a chrome fish writhing back and forth trying to shake lose, you reel down and bury the hook good this time.  

Now he knows he’s hooked and he’s heading hell bent for the ocean.  

You desperately swing your rod tip up river and try to turn his head before he reaches the tailout.  

You’ve got no choice… and this is no ordinary fish, your guide jerks the anchor and the chase is on!  

Over the tailout and through the rapids below, as you try to keep your balance and composure.  

You send out a prayer and promise all sorts of things if you can just land this fish.  

Someone upstairs is listening as you make it through the boulder garden still attached.  

The long gravel bar ahead looks like a good place to wage battle if you can just hang on a little longer.  

Your thumbs are burning and forearms ache from the beast’s volley of screaming runs.  

Your guide drops anchor near shore and gives the order to hit the beach, everyone bails out as you try to gather yourself on the basketball sized rocks.  

You get your first glimpse of his tail and you swear it’s a foot across, with a fully intact adipose fin that only a fish this remarkable could have.  

You slowly gain line now as you make it down to the softer water, your guide is instructing something, but your heart is racing and you only hear about half of it.  

The fish turns his head towards shore as you start to get the upper hand; he gives one last valiant burst of speed to the opposite bank then turns back again.  

You lift on the rod and get his head up, your guide can barely fit his hand around the tail, he slides his other hand under the fish’s belly.  

You rush to his side and try to immerse yourself in the images of the beast’s beauty, hoping to burn the memories into your minds eye so you can conjure up the vision forever.  

A quick Kodak moment later and you release him back to the depths, letting him slide out through your finger tips as if you were longingly saying goodbye to a loved one, keeping contact to the very last second.  He slaps his tail on the water, splashing your face a little, and rockets away in a blink.  

A great battle it was, fought and won, not with a foe that you felt you must conquer, but with a kindred spirit, forever swishing his tail in the holding waters of your soul.

Robert Strong
www.ruckusoutfitters.com

Costa Rica Report

It was only natural for our partner Tom Nelson to fish for blackmouth the day before we left for Costa Rica and the day after we got back. Go figure…we're heading to Anacortes today to fish in the derby. I mean, the guys talking about dam counts at Bonneville Dam while we're humming around the Pacific ocean looking for sailfish. At least he got a little taste of the bluewater, however, and I think he liked what he saw. It still didn't keep him from talking about springers and blackmouth, but it's a start.

There was no question that Tom would start off in the hot seat on our boat the "Sunny One" and after missing an early bite from a sailfish that greyhounded into the spread for a free ballhoo snack he got a solid hookup on a big sail a little later in the day. 

Unfortunately the sail tail wrapped on it's first tailwalking spaz session and our crew recognized it immediately. Capt. Walton backed down on the fish as fast as he could and we grabbed a quick photo of Tom's first sailfish before it went back in the drink. I was more than impressed at how these guys handled these fish…true professionals!  

Tom's 100 plus pound sail comes aboard for a momentary snapshot before hitting the drink again. Check sailfish off the bucket list Tom!

Shortly after we released Tom's fish three sails appear in the spread and all hell breaks loose on deck. Walt is screaming something in Spanish from the bridge as our two mates hop around between the 9 different rods we have in the spread. One of the sails hit's so hard it breaks off, another has his attention on the teasers and mine hammers the shotgun rig a hundred yards behind the boat and goes "grape ape". Paul got some excellent video of this fish and I'll get it up on the site this week after I get back from Anacortes. My hair is standing on end thinking about it!

Robbie Tobeck is up next and it doesn't take long before he gets bit and hooks up on a ballhoo with another 100 pound sailfish that puts on a great fight. More of this on video also.

Here's a pic I grabbed from Tom's second sailfish on day two. This aerial display occurred about thirty minutes into the fight. The sail covered approximately 100 yards in less than five seconds. Not your average blackmouth!

I can't say enough about our crew. These guys worked their tails off all day long and literally never took a break. From running the gear to preparing an amazing lunch, these guys were awesome! The topper was when they raised the hydraulic engine cover and revealed lunch tied to the valve covers on the 450 horse Caterpillar engine. They treat every day like it's a tournament and the service in between was second to none!

Here's a little quacamole to get things started.

It's not over yet…Mahi sushimi after a killer lunch. These guys redefine service on a charter boat.

After some great fishing we meet up with our host Larry, owner of Stay in Costa Rica, who takes us around to a few of their properties to make plans for our Outdoor Line party next year. Here's Notorious B.T.N. envisioning his salmon-catching self in a rap video. "Bow chicka bow-wow!" 

House number one doesn't disappoint. "Nelly…we have to go. Nelly, come on!"

House number two.

House number three. This will be an Outdoor Line party to remember! 

Never a dull moment with these two! Tobeck finds a place to hide one of the teasers…

The "Hook Up" restaurant where we ate breakfast every morning. Another crew primes the pumps before heading out for the day.

We raised nine sails in basically a day and a half of offshore fishing in Los Suenos while we were there, landing four of them and a couple big dorado. Not bad fishing anywhere else, but definitely on the slow side for Los Suenos. All in all the billfish action in Costa Rica has been down this season because of our little friend El Nino, which has water temperatures hovering at around 88 degrees. I can attest to it's effect on the billfish, as we experienced the same thing in Panama 4 years ago.

One of our mates was telling me that a tournament hosted in early March of 2009 boasted 2500-plus sailfish landed in three days for approximately 100 boats and just 850 were landed this year in the same tournament. As I always like to say, "It is what it is", and if a bad day fishing in Los Suenos on an El Nino year is only raising four to five billfish that's pretty darned good in my book.

El Nino is expected to back off next year and you can bet the bite will return in force again once water temperatures receed back to the low 80's. 

In addition to our offshore experience we also had two seperate "Top 5" meals at Marisco's in nearby Jaco. We brought in fresh Spanish mackeral, grouper, and dorado and they prepared it for us several different ways. Pretty much one of those unbutton your pants and lay on the living room floor with a distended belly Thanksgiving-type meals and we topped it off with shrimp cocktail and ceviche.

I just found another one of my favorite places on earth! 

Billfish Number One and Sierra Number One and Bonita Number One and…

Yeah, I said it…

I told Tobeck last week that "I almost wish we were staying home to hit the springers rather than going to Costa Rica."

In retrospect, that might have been a short-sighted statement…

We've all seen pictures and heard the stories of the incredible fishing, scenery and weather in Central America, but for me those stories would remain on a page of a book or magazine.

Until now.

The purpose of the trip was essentially business as we are trying to bring this type of destination angling to the "salmonid-impaired". This is the malady that afflicts most  Northwesterners who will travel to fish salmon and steelhead, but nothing else. As a sufferer of this disease I volunteered to take the treatment and go cold turkey, fishing for blackmouth on Saturday and flying to Costa Rica the next day.

As we left the harbor we can see the Los Suenos Resort condos where we spent the night above the billfish fleet behind the breakwater.  

Paul Dent works his cigar as Robbie Tobeck and Robbo Endsley deploy camera in classic "Tourista" mode.  

Vertical jigging is the first drill of the day and I LOVE jigging! Here's my first ever Sierra Mackerel which fought like a hot 20-pound chinook!

It was a different species on every drop as this fine Mullet Snapper was the next to whack my jig!  

Now it was time to do some trolling and these Costa Ricans have their drill down and dialed in. Check out the bait cooler with rigged baits ready to rock!  

Paul Dent nailed this beautiful Dorado and it was as spectacular on the table as it was with its aerial displays during the fight.  

Finally the moment I had waited for literally all my life: A shot at a sailfish! We had a few appear in the spread of teasers but we finally hooked up and it was GAME ON!

The only thing I can compare the fight to was playing huge chinook with my father as a young child.  It's been a while since I was physically challenged by a fish.
I have no frame of reference to describe the leaping ability, athleticism and speed of these animals.

In one instant the sailfish was speeding along with the boat along the port side and I'm cranking as fast as I can, arms aching, striving to catch up. Suddenly the water explodes, far ahead of where the line angle had me thinking he was. Now in mid air, he turns and in three seconds he is on the opposite side of the boat, leaping again and I am as amazed as I am exhausted.
Finally, thankfully the splice appears and our deckhand is able to grab the leader with gloved hand and the fight is won and done.

We lift the big sailfish aboard and my first billfish is in the books. We estimated this specimen at 120 pounds!  

I had heard of the dockside tradition of first-time successful billfishermen, but I had no idea that Tobeck and Endsley had planned a "dockside baptism" for me.

I now know what a few NFL linebackers felt like when Robbie Tobeck "earholed" them on a double team block. I was in the drink in a flash and I didn't have a problem with it!  

It will be next March before I see a Costa Rica sunrise again and I sincerely hope you can join us on the Outdoor Line Billfish Bonanza at Los Suenos Resort in March 2011!

I promise you it will be an experience you'll never, ever forget!

The Key to a Happy Family

My wife doesn't ask too much of me, but when she does ask something I try to make it happen. There has been one request however that I just haven't been able to get done, at least not until now.  What was the request?  She simply wanted to be able to park her car in the garage. 

I always thought this "ask" was going a little too far. Aren't garages are for storing stuff such as fishing gear and crab pots?  Heck, we have a driveway for her car and part of it is covered.  What more could she ask for?

Well thanks to her frequent "requests" and my embarrassment from opening the garage in front of the neighbors, I decided to do something about it.

Against my better judgement, I took a trip to Lowe's and decided to buy some garage shelving and some hooks to hang things on.  You know, get things off the floor so she could, of all things, park her car in the garage. 

After about a year, I finally decided it was time to put those shelves together and hang the hooks that I had bought a Lowes.  I would've gotten to it sooner but I was fishing.  Anyway, with my 10 year old son Madden's help I was able to put together the shelves.  The hooks however proved to be a different story.  Sure, I hung a few but I also put a few holes in the wall to boot. You see, I am one of those guys that envisions himself as actually having the ability to do something with a tool, even though deep down inside I know better. 

Discouraged, I had to tell Sonya that here dream of parking in the garage on a cold winter night just wasn't possible.  The very next night when I returned form a day of fishing Sonya had a list of companies that will come out and organize your garage waiting for me.  Gotta love her persistence!

I went through the list and WAMO!!  I found the perfect solution.  The Man Garage,  that's right, The Man Garage.  What other company would know what a man needs from his garage.  I mean that's the only space we get in the house and now she wants to park her car in it.  I called Phil at The Man Garage and he came right out, asked some questions, took some measurements, and scheduled an install date.  Three weeks later, my wife can fit her car in the garage.  All is happy at the Tobeck house.

Hey Mason and Madden, you see this?  Let's make sure this is how it stays.

Have I ever mentioned how much I love Mustad Hooks?   

Can't wait to splash these pots.

 

Shifting Gears, A Return to the Bluewater

The gang from the Outdoor Line packs up and heads south to Costa Rica on Sunday to scout out the location of our 2011 Outdoor Line Billfish Tournament. Robbie Tobeck had an excellent trip to Los Suenos just after he retired from the NFL and I've had numerous friends and customers tell me it's "The" place in Central America for both offshore and inshore action. A 5 star resort that close to the best bluewater fishing in the world…damn straight I need to take a "scouting" trip!

Don't get me wrong, I still love salmon and steelhead, but there's just something about a fish that swims as fast as most cars drive that really fires me up. Just to make a point I ran a quick Google search on the inter-webs this morning with the following parameters and this is what I found:

Sailfish Swimming Speed: "In speed trials carried out at Long Key Fishing Camp in Florida, one sailfish was measured at 68 miles per hour (110 kilometers per hour), based on taking out 100 yards of line in three seconds (Martin 2008). This is the highest speed reliably reported in a fish. However, the fish was leaping while its speed was timed, so it does not completely represent swimming speed." Wikipedia 

Marlin Swimming Speed: "Marlins are among the swiftest fish and greatest leapers. While the sailfish are commonly regarded as the fastest swimming fish, the blue marlin offers strong competition. It is one of the few fish that can swim fast enough to eat tuna species on a regular basis. In fact, marlins can attain speeds of up to 50 MPH (80 km/h). Furthermore, when they are hooked on a line, they struggle heroically, sometimes jumping more than 40 times." www.science.jrank.org

Wahoo Swimming Speed: "Wahoo can swim up to 80 km/h (50 mph), Firestein and Walters, 1969. They are one of the fastest fish in the sea." Wikipedia

I was going to search for dorado, tuna, and roosterfish swimming speeds, but A.D.D. set in during the middle of my search and I immediately began packing my tackle and bags to head south. I've seen dorado hit the spread so fast it's a wonder they don't knock themselves out when they hammer the lures and my first roosterfish took me nearly thirty minutes to land on heavy spinning gear. It was only 12 pounds! 

They have excellent offshore gear on the 32' sportfisher we're going to be on for two days and we're throwing in some of our own gear for the half day we have scheduled for inshore species on Monday. I'm packing two heavy spinning rods for poppers and swim baits and a jigging stick with a high speed reel for dropping iron to the bottom. Bringing my own gear on these trips is a habit I have yet to break.

Back in January in Panama I deployed a 6.5" Sebile Magic Swimmer in silver one afternoon for "something different" and a much needed rest for my arms, tired and battered from days of hucking huge poppers into the surf on heavy gear. I thought I'd be safe in the back of the boat. Maybe check out some of the amazing tropical scenery, guzzle down some libations, and go thru the motions for a couple hours while the guys work their butts off with the poppers on the bow. Boy, was I wrong!

The hard plastic jointed lure was getting chased, swatted, and hammered on just about every cast. In just a couple hours I landed a roosterfish, multiple jacks, and several Cubera snapper on the crazy swimming lure while the guys with the usually-productive poppers caught nothing. On one cast a small herd of big, and I mean big roosterfish chased the lure all the way to my rod tip. So much for taking a break.

We ran back to the mother ship at dark and I left my rod with the lure attached to it on deck for the night. When I woke up the next morning the Magic Swimmer was gone. Strangely enough none of our Panamanian captains or crew knew anything about the missing lure. These guys fish out here every day and apparently they saw something they liked and, of course, I only had one of them. 

Outdoor Emporium in Seattle happened to have three of them in stock yesterday and I bought them all. This time they won't leave my sight! 

Sebile's Magic Swimmer, the best inshore lure on the planet!

In addition to the Magic Swimmer's my tackle bag will also contain an assortment of butterfly jigs, Cabo Killers, poppers, and soft plastic swim baits with jig heads. The soft swim baits are great for dorado and tuna and inshore species gobble them up. The only problem with the inshore fishes is that nine bites of out ten they cut the tail off, thus the effectiveness of the jointed hard plastic lure.

By this time next week I'll no-doubtedly have an assortment of bluewater photos for ya'all to digest and perhaps another lure will emerge as "the best lure on the planet"…or at least my planet.

The Bass Pro and Ordinary Joe

Two hours into my latest habit of not catching fish, I stared across the slough at a wake caused by a fish trying to fly and failing miserably. The result was impressive though, and the concussion captured my attention. It again leaped from the brown water, arched its back, flicked its tail then slapped back into the water. It was huge, bigger than huge. It was the Kraken…or a horribly lost salmon that was going to be even more horribly disappointed when it reached the muddy reeds at the end of the slough and not clear spawning waters.

It was a good 20 yards beyond my cast, naturally, but despite the impossibility of me tricking it into a bite, such sightings provide boosts and improve concentration. Sponsored speed boats racing around corners hinder concentration. I had heard the hum before I saw the boat that eventually flashed by me leaving a wake that lapped at my boots. Moments like this are the worst possible time to realize your boots have lost their ability to keep water out because you’re now out fishing with wet socks and you probably don’t have $130 saved up specifically to buy new boots.

It was a challenge, a duel.

As he pulled next to a mess of tree limbs in the water, the Kraken leapt, signaling the start. I was fighting for all the unsponsored river-walkers that watch shows looking for tips only to hear nuggets like, “Find what works for you.” Thanks man. Enjoy sifting through your free gear looking for “what works” while I buy mine without a hope of returning it.
 
I gear up at the sale rack, $1.99 lures that beg the question, are they on sale because an even better model has replaced this good model and I get a quality lure at a great price? Or have new studies revealed the lure cannot possibly work because of a smelting accident that fouled it up at a molecular level, which is worse than bad.

But I wouldn’t know. The Bass Elite dude scrambling around the delta in search of big fish and getting my feet wet with the water displaced by his super boat would. Its his job to know, and he’ll get a lot of money if he does.

He switched rods, I hooked a tree limb.

He drifted and poked every nook that might have a bass, I slipped and splashed my other foot into the water.

After 15 minutes, I could only hope for a tie in the duel. There was nothing to indicate I would hook anything but debris, which is usually how things are right before a hook-up, but I wasn’t sure that would happen.

The engine of the PowerBait Boat fired up, and the duel was over. The Kraken leapt. It was over.

I went toe to trolling motor with one of the best, and I didn’t lose. Well, he could have caught an 8-pounder because he was down the shore from me, but I didn’t hear him yell, “hey, I caught a 8-pounder, Booyah!” like they do on the commercials and fishing shows, so I am going to assume he didn’t and continue to feel good about myself. I know he caught fish in other places, but for those fifteen minutes, we were the same. Except I had wet socks.

Jeff Lund
Teacher/Freelance Writer
Manteca, CA

Tuna Dog in Hatteras for More Bluefin!!!

By Del Stephens "Tuna Dog".  I'm back out in Hatteras fishing with the boys from Tuna Duck Sportfishing and it's a good thing we planned to stay in Hatteras for a week because the weather has been cold and extremely windy at times. Our blue fin tuna trip started out saturday morning to a wild bar crossing with breaking 10 footers on each side of us but once we got out into open water we ran east 20 miles to find some structure and start the hunt in 55 degree water. We were targeting blue fin tuna but we had a variety of tackle out to entice other species while we searched. Saturday was pretty quite as we only landed a small wahoo and a couple of false albacore.
 
Sunday morning we met at the boat and the conditions had deteriorated overnight so we decided to hold off for a better day.
 
Monday morning we awoke up to a slight breeze and the buoy was only showing 5 ft. seas so we had hopes of running offshore again.
 
Dick Crossley and Bud Hosner had heard the fishing was better to the north up and decided to book a charter out of Oregon Inlet while on their way down to meet us…We decided to stay with our skipper in Hatteras and met on the boat at 6:30am.

Dick and Bud arrive from Oregon Inlet in style.

A short 20 miles ride out over a smooth bar and we were soon deploying the heavy gear. We were fishing about an hour when Dick and Bud showed up after running south 45 miles to where we were working the warmer water. By 1:30pm we wondering if the blue fin tuna were still around as the day was turning out to be just a boat ride. The boys on the other boat had worked 5 miles back up the coast towards Oregon Inlet and about 2:00pm we had a radio call they had found the fish and were hooked up.

Dick Crossley with a nice 190 lb. blue fin tuna.

Dan Rooks, our skipper on the 50 ft. Tuna Duck, yelled down from the flybridge for us to quickly pull the gear and get ready to run. A short 20 minute run to where the boys on the Carolinian were hooked up and we were quickly putting the gear back out in eager anticipation. It was only a matter of a few minutes and we had a boil on the long rigger and our first blue fin tuna was hooked up. The mate grabbed one of the other rods jigging it up and down and number two was soon on the hook. My friend Anthony jumped in the fighting chair and after a 25 minute battle had the 142lb beast up beside the boat. We put two gaffs into the head and pulled it through the back door. A few high fives and his first blue fin was on the deck. Anthony was elated to see the fish on the deck and trembling from the hard fought battle.

 

Anthony with a nice 142 lb. BFT.

Fish number two broke off soon after the hook up but after getting everything in order we were back to trolling and it wasn't long before we had another double and this time my lovely bride, Weddy, was in the fighting chair. Pulling and tugging, the fish was giving and taking, and she was soon getting warm from the powerful tug of war going on just below the boat. The fish finally succumbed and came along side the boat ready to stick an orange tag in it's back before releasing.

 

Weddy's caught and tagged fish.

A few more fish were hooked and broke off before I had my chance in the chair.

The pandemonium was non stop for two hours on both boats and our partners on the other boat were in shock by the power of these magnificent fish. They hooked 9 fish and landed 2 while releasing one of them. Dick Crossley landed and kept a 190 pounder after almost a two hour battle and when he made it back to the house he was still shaky 4 hours later. The action for us was very similar hooking 8 fish and landing 3. We tagged and released 2 of them since the regulations only allow one fish per charter boat per day in North Carolina.

The action was intense and reminecent of my trip the year before. The key to this fishery is finding the fish but once you do the action can be incredible.

We arrived back at the dock 2 hours later than normal as our skipper was intent on each of us landing a fish and it was going to be a late night as we had to celebrate back at our beach house.

The weather today is too rough to fish so were resting and taking life easy waiting for our next opportunity to run offshore, we are here for a week and the forecast looks promising for later in the week and into the weekend, so things should get interesting again if yesterday was any indication.

More to follow once we get back on the water..
 
Del