Trip 21 Dialed in at Hydrographer Date: 8/10 8/11
While Tony hosted Chris and Derik, the Kilimanjaro had the crew of Mike, Brian, and me. Having found outstanding fishing the weekend prior, of course we returned to Hydrographer Canyon, with high expectations, hundreds of pounds of ice, repaired and replenished tackle. We feared cooler water temperatures at the edge, but the day before departure, the satellite temperature charts showed warm water pervading the entire canyon. If anything, we might want to work slightly west of the canyon, to find cooler water for tuna.
With choppy conditions in Nantucket sound, we were hopeful that the offshore waters would be tolerable, like the forecast predicted. Around eight miles past Sankaty, things began to calm, and we knew we were bound for the edge. The more we ran, the kinder the seas, and when we arrived at Hydro_1, the northern tip of the canyon, the water was near slick calm. We could see bait fish scurrying under clumps of Sargasso weed, in he calm conditions. Occasionally we saw bait spraying out of the water, and it looked like we were going to be in the ball game.
Wanting to visually see a perfect spread, I opted to run the high speed squid bars from the outriggers, at 30 degrees, but still place them quite far back. Next in the 'V' pattern were the big birds with a green machine on the starboard side, and a blue and white eight inch jet on the port. Two cedar plugs were run from the flat lines, as they proved deadly the week prior. Finally, a swimming ballyhoo was run on the WWB (Way Way Back). With a visually apparent correct spread, we were ready for business.
We confirmed that the eastern edge of the canyon was too warm for tuna, and we weren't ready to target marlin - just yet, so we headed across the ditch, in search of the temperature break. In 73 ish degree water, we had a multiple hook up of small yellowfin. We kept one 28 incher, which we customarily do with the first keeper, released another small keeper as well as a couple of shorts. We continued trolling and observing bait. On the second hookup, had what looked like a 40 pounder boatside. The leader broke, near the hook, as I stubbornly did nott give enough, when the fish wanted to go. Later, we landed a 40-ish pounder, and at night, with the spreader lights on, heading to the night anchorage, we had another quadruple hookup of small fish. This confirmed my suspicion that tuna could be caught trolling at night - more experimentation to come!
Since conditions were so pond-like, we were able to raft the two boats together, and share chunking duties for the night, between six anglers. We chose an area near jumping baitfish, where we had previously caught fish. The camaraderie of six anglers was a welcomed treat, though most of us retired for the evening after a few hours, as nothing was doing. Derik and Mike kept night watch, and continued chunking. Finally, Deriks 30 pound outfit wailed, the the arrival of a hefty fish. All six of us got fired up when he put an 80 pound yellowfin in the boat, on the head portion of a butterfish chunk. Since the stationary baits were somewhat quiet, I thought it would be worth drifting a head chunk, trying to match the drift rate of the chunks. On my first attempt, I was rewarded with a yellowfin of perhaps thirty-five pounds. By now, everyone on both boats was actively working the night shift! We had occasional squid, and small baitfish dart in and out of the lights throughout the night. We also had the company of a small dorado for much of the night, as shown in the fishing picture section of this web site. Occasionally we could see tuna cruising well down in the water column, so we felt we were in the ballgame.
Derik had a couple of mishaps on spinning gear,
as the live killies sure brought action. I
got my first ever yellowfin on a spinning rod - around a ten pound fish, on a seven foot
Fenwick Pacificstick Royalle with a Penn 6500SS, on twenty pound test line. After several pictures, he was released. Brian used one of Deriks select killies,
tossed him out on his brand new spinning rod/reel, with 30 pound test line, a bimini and 50 pound Jinkai leader,
attached using a Bristol knot. In no time, he was duking it out with a good
yellowfin, that took him all over both boats, around the engines, and even towed the
rafted pair of boats near a high flyer! His
gear held, despite what looked like certain doom, and Mike gaffed the forty pounder,
putting four fish in the Kilimanjaros fish box.
Derik had a couple of mishaps on spinning gear, as the live killies sure brought action. I got my first ever yellowfin on a spinning rod - around a ten pound fish, on a seven foot Fenwick Pacificstick Royalle with a Penn 6500SS, on twenty pound test line. After several pictures, he was released. Brian used one of Deriks select killies, tossed him out on his brand new spinning rod/reel, with 30 pound test line, a bimini and 50 pound Jinkai leader, attached using a Bristol knot. In no time, he was duking it out with a good yellowfin, that took him all over both boats, around the engines, and even towed the rafted pair of boats near a high flyer! His gear held, despite what looked like certain doom, and Mike gaffed the forty pounder, putting four fish in the Kilimanjaros fish box.
All too soon, false light came. We quickly put away the night gear, untied from Tony, and prepared for the morning troll. In the area of our overnight stay, the 76-ish degree water provided no action for either boat, on the troll. We headed north, looking for cooler water, and found life a solo whale, quite few birds, and bait, in the 72 to 74 degree break. The boat named Skipjack, captained by Larry, contacted us on the radio, and joined in, fishing this break. While he was able to get some yellowfin, and eventually a nice bigeye, Tony and I were still quiet. I wanted to venture down the west canyon wall, but found temperatures too high. We turned north again, this time passing north of Skipjack, looking for more action and cooler water, in the 71/72 degree range. That is when I paid close attention to the rigs, waiting for the inevitable onslaught. Five rods sung out, announcing that the Kilimanjaro was back in business. No more small fish, from this point on, and it didnt take long to reach out limit of yellows. The two highlights of the morning were:
(1) The tuna and marlin double, with the marlin coming on the swimming hoo, way, way back. It broke the line just before depleting the TLD-25 of all the 40 pound test. Tests at home confirm that a near empty spool, results in excessive resistance, causing the line to break. Ill remember to lessen the drag, when we next get a screamer like this one, and well resort to chasing the fish sooner. If only the darn tuna didn't distract us! Still, to see a leaping billfish way off in the distance got our adrenaline flowing.
(2) Our first sextuplet hookup of yellowfin. Although we lost one high speed spreader in the mayhem, we did boat three or four of the fish, as we reached our limit.
As it neared 11 AM, all of us were pooped, and ready to head for the barn. What a trip, great lessons learned, incredible action, and quite a mess of fish to haul up the ramp, back at the dock. However, I can't wait to return, to try some special lures and techniques for wahoo, marlin, and bigeye.