Yesterday, we had Doctors John Graves and Hamish Small from VIMS with us. This was one of our dedicated young-of-the-year bluefin tuna hunts. Basically, it is running offshore and pulling Spanish mackerel gear. We did have some marlin baits from the outriggers. It was little spoons off of the transom, small planers and inline sinkers. Sometimes we catch a bunch, sometimes just a few, sometimes none. This was the latter. Most of the time, we will catch a bunch of small blackfin tuna. Didn’t catch any of those either. What we did catch were dolphin, jacks, frigate tuna, skipjack tuna, a yellowfin tuna. The yellowfin were numerous yesterday and they like eating those little spoons. Yellowfin tuna on Spanish mackerel gear is impressive. It typically does not end well. We never got spooled but were close a few times. Typically, those little hooks just pull. We did manage to boat one of the yellowfin. I thought we were lucky but Stan Simmerman said it just requires the right angler on the rod.
The boats around us really fishing had a good day. Marlin fishing was really slow. A few were caught. Most switched over to a very good tuna bite and most everyone had a good catch of yellowfin tuna. Skipjack were numerous and both bigeyes and longfins were caught. Good numbers of nice wahoo were also caught. This was mostly in the 300s-400s on the 4 line, 50-100 fathoms. Out deeper, there were weed lines holding dolphin and some boats loaded up on them. We did this for a bit seeing if we could find some baby bluefin in the grass and caught dolphin and jacks. With the tuna and wahoo bite going on, most boats left the dolphin alone. Boats who dropped for swordfish were successful. When were back at the fuel dock, there was a steady flow of tuna, wahoo and swordfish going by. Good time to be offshore Virginia.
This past Saturday, we did a very short inshore trip. We caught some very nice Spanish mackerel along the oceanfront. We broke off our one king mackerel…don’t ask. We managed not to catch any of the cobia we saw…really don’t ask.
Sunday we went marlin fishing. Keeping in theme, we didn’t catch any. We did catch skipjack, dolphin and a couple of yellowfin tuna including the first ever for Taylor Simmerman.
Tonight, I had dinner with two IGFA Fishing Hall of Fame members: Dr. John Graves and, all the way from Australia, new inductee Dr. Julian Pepperell. John pointed out that we were three IGFA Conservation Award holders.
We solved striped bass, menhaden and all other ASMFC issues. We moved out into the Atlantic and fixed all ICCAT species and then moved on to the Pacific. The food was good, the world-wide fish tales were better.
After dinner, I went out on my dock and caught a bunch of speckled trout, silver perch, and shrimp.
Trolled plugs inshore the past two days. Caught cobia, red drum, a small amberjack, false albacore, spadefish, Spanish, 2 small kings, and a ton and a half ribbonfish. Saw a tarpon about 2 miles south of the Sandbridge pier. Some big kings were caught.
We were going to do a day swordfish trip yesterday but decided to stay inshore and try for a king mackerel instead. The swordfish bite has been good and some nice kings have been caught. It was slick calm and there was a lot of life along the beach. We hooked up as soon as we put some plugs out. It was a cobia. Not big enough to gaff but those plugs in a net are a mess. I told the guys to net it or to just open the tuna door and drag it in. While thinking about it, the cobia made another run and they managed to break it off. Well there went that plug. Put the boat in gear and we’re hooked up again. Another cobia… no it’s the same cobia now with two plugs. I got both my plugs back. We saw flying fish, a couple of big manta rays, and we did catch one small dolphin. We caught all the ribbon fish we wanted. Schools of false albacore were busting the surface. We caught plenty of those. We weren’t cobia fishing but we did see some. I had a group of 8 following a jig I had cast to them but they didn’t bite. We did catch another cobia on the troll. We did manage to catch a single king mackerel. The fleet caught a number of them and a 50 pounder was weighed in. Ours was a bit smaller than that. A 300 pound bigeye was brought in from offshore and a boat who did go swordfishing yesterday texted us photos of the 3 nice swords they had caught out of 5 bites.
I went out Friday morning to anchor on a hill during a little NE blow. I found lake Chesapeake. I also found a whole lot of sharks. Little bluefish were plentiful also. Mix in with the toothy critters were a few cobia. I didn’t catch any big ones.
Sunday, we went offshore to try to catch a marlin. We had Congressman Rob Wittman working the cockpit. In his earlier life, he was a charter boat mate. He still has those skills. He picked up one of our marlin on a flatline. It was lake Atlantic out there. We caught a nice gaffer dolphin that put on a good show so I was clicking away with my camera upstairs. After our first white marlin, I checked to see what kind of shots I had gotten of those two fish. I got a no data card message. It was back home in the card reader in my computer. I have to have a spare with me…nope. The whole reason to go billfishing is to get those acrobatic fish photos. I thought abought telling the crew that we had to go back in but fearing violence I decided to just keep fishing. We had shots at 3 whites. Pulled one off, got the other two. We saw a blue marlin but did not get a bite. We were north of the Norfolk in 500 fathoms.
Two days of slick calm conditions with some fish to catch….good weekend.
We ran out to try for a swordfish yesterday. We spent a beautiful night at the Norfolk Canyon without any bites. We had dropped some mackerel rigs down to try and get some tinker mackerel for swordfish baits. We caught blueline tilefish and sea bass. This morning, we went on the troll and some good action. Bigeyes blew up on us and we held on to one. The leader was up a number of times. My angler was spent. I’m not sure he’s recovered yet. The tuna seemed fine and the hook eventually pulled. We had a number of visits by white marlin. While dropping back pin-rigged, chin-weighted, skirted ballyhoo on 50-wides with the clickers on, we managed a 100 percent failure to hook-up rate. Laughing their tales off at us, a couple of marlin got sloppy and managed to hook themselves. There seem to be plenty of billfish around to target them but as long as these tuna hang around, everyone wants them. We did catch a couple of nice yellowfin and a few gaffer dolphin before calling it a day before noon. The marlin catchers were newbies and went swimming back at the dock.
We ran out to the Norfolk Canyon area after tuna yesterday. While putting lines out, we had a double hook-up. Shortly after that, we caught 3 singles and a mako shark (released). That was it for our hook-ups for the day. Crew did great, no lost fish, made every bite count. We saw a white marlin but it did not bite anything. In general, it was a slow day of tuna fishing. I think we were the top boat. There were some dolphin and a few white and blue marlin caught. A lot of boats in the area. Slick calm all day. Pilot whales, porpoise, and baitfish on the surface but few bites among the fleet.
Ran out for a short trip this morning and was back in time for Father’s Day lunch. Caught 2 cobia, broke off a 3rd. Second day in a row that I’ve let one get around the chum pot. You think that I would learn. All cobia catches are being reported to VMRC as required now.
On a side note for those that have not heard: the boats that fished the Norfolk Canyon area this weekend had good catches of dolphin, white and blue marlin, and what has everyone excited…yellowfin tuna. Some boats were in early with limits of tuna. The tuna ranged from too small to keep up to 80 pounds, so a wide range is out there.
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I went chumming for a few hours today. Caught 5 cobia, missed some others, and let the biggest one break me off around the chum pot.