Trip #28 - Atlantis Canyon (9/2 - 9/3 2001)
This trip, number 28 of the 2001 season, was easily the most adventurous, arduous, and ambitious that I've ever undertaken. With the promise of good weather by NOAA, and following the sons two soccer games, I headed to Red Top Tackle Shop to buy five flats of butterfish and a pail of chum. This would sustain the two boats making this run, during the overnight chunking. For all intents and purposes, that purchase committed us to this adventure!
The noontime backyard captains meeting had us pondering offshore chart number 63F, Captain Segull's Offshore Fishing Chart number OF1003, and temperature charts from Bluewater Fishfinder as we ate grilled Nathans hot dogs. We cut butterfish, preparing for chunking.
By 3 PM, we were heavily loading The Kilimanjaro with tuna fishing gear, and lots of extras, just for the canyons. The equipment included eight blocks of ice, emergency bottled water, two EPIRBS, five light tuna outfits, Braid fighting harness and Brute Buster belt, the 50 pound Berkley digital scale, lighter rods for Dorado, sleeping bags, extra clothing, a livewell full of Killies, two gaffs, a camcorder with two fully charged batteries, a waterproof camera and spare film, a couple of spare Penn 133H reels (just in case), Larry's two electric reels, four extra gallons of outboard oil, and several waypoints for destinations at Atlantis Canyon. Larry has Parkinson's disease, so the electric reels are a great asset to him.
After a final confirmation with Tony about the rendezvous spot, Larry, Sean, and I left the Yarmouth dock at 5PM on Sunday, September 2, 2001. The run south was glorious and comfortable with small seas. The previously barbecued chicken dinner was especially tasty watching red full moon rise out of the east, and a beautiful sunset to the west. Soon the cell phone display read "no service", it was another reminder of the magnitude of this journey.
We rendezvoused with Tony and Andrew of the Maria Sofia, at the fifty-fathom line, and proceeded to Atlantis canyon together. This part of the trip was done under the full moon and a sky painted with stars. The radar clearly displayed the offshore high flyers, and we took extra care not to intercept them.
While chumming and chunking throughout the night, we fished whole butterfish. About an hour or two into the night, I had a decent size Dorado (Mahi Mahi). It was pretty quiet however, with only a few more Mahi until daybreak. It was a sight to see a few Mahi come up to the boat, glowing under the moonlight. Larry was hit in the head that night by a flying fish, while I slept in my sleeping bag on the forward deck. It was an exciting, scary, and yet beautiful night, sleeping under the canon stars. Sleep was in shorts bursts, between times when Larry didn't fire up the electric reels. Meanwhile, Tony and Andrew fished bait farther south in substantially deeper canyon waters. They had about the same results throughout the night.
Just before first light, I fired up the engines, turned on the cockpit spreaders and cockpit lights and readied the five TLD-25s for high speed trolling. Larry and I both thought that the first drop off, where contour lines went 80, 90, and 100 fathoms, would be a worthwhile staring point, where the water temperature was 74.6. Soon into the troll, as we passed a high flyer marking offshore lobster gear, I jigged a small feathered lure and got a whale of a hit from a decent Mahi. It cart wheeled eight feet off the water, and fought tenaciously. Minutes later, we put him in the fishbox, but not before he bathed us all in blood. We readied another rod for Mahi and Sean repeated the Mahi stunt at the next flyer. So, about ten minutes of trolling puts two Mahi in the box, not a bad start.
Then minutes later, the TLD-25 screams, signaling a tuna! I grabbed the rod, battled for perhaps fifteen minutes. Despite not yet seeing the knot of the Bimini Twist, we could identify the fish as a Longfin Albacore. Amazing . eight feet of lure leader, twenty feet of terminal leader, two feet of doubled line, and with the Bimini still in the water, we could still identify the fish! This swimming pool blue clear water was like none I had ever seen here in the northeast. As the 'core spiraled upward, it grew larger and larger. Sean sinks the gaff into a 42 pounder, and we've got our first warm water tuna ever on board Kilimanjaro. Like most of our welcomed finned guests, Mr. 'core sprays the boat with blood, but it too goes into the forward box. Out go the lines again, and soon we're tight with another tuna. Larry orders us to bring him a cooler, to be used as a seat in the rear of the cockpit, and slugs it out with our second 'core. Sean and I make Larry proud, as we wire, and gaff, the longfin; the trio takes a crimson shower, dress the fish, and stuff him into the starboard fishbox. Two in the box, and the sun is barely up. We lose the blue, white, and silver C&H 2.5 ounce jet head to another fish, presumably a 'core, that is still swimming south with a lure rigged at the prior days soccer game! We replace it with a small four inch blue and white Boon jet head. Soon we take another Mahi, and then Sean connects with Longfin number four. We land him, our third on board. Though it was the smallest of the three, it was great that each of us had one. All too soon, its time to head home.
Twenty miles into the run home from Atlantis, we hit an area of 74 degree water and a weed patch that you dream of. Larry threatens mutiny if I don't stop the boat. Too bad we couldn't keep the lures clean, as there were large tuna busting in the area, and several Mahi nipped at our lures.
At 5 PM on Monday September 3, it was wonderful to step onto a stationary dock. It had been twenty-four hours on a center console, 94 nautical miles from home (approximately 74 nautical miles from land). All in all, an outstanding first trip south aboard the Kilimanjaro, and a bonus that it was to the canyons!