Big E 48 hour 6/01 - 6/03

Discussion in 'Offshore Fishing Reports' started by txseadog, May 16, 2006.

  1. txseadog

    txseadog Moderator

    675
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    Trip summary:
    The boat -- WOW. It's much, much more comfortable than any other party boat on the Texas coast. I can't see going back to Port A anytime soon.

    Wednesday night rig hopped about 90 miles SE of Freeport for snapper and usual suspects in 100' - 200' water. The weather and seas was beautiful and those soaking bait did OK but the fishing was a little slow.

    Thursday morning fished hard bottom spots in 150' - 300'. Snapper fishing was still slow but we did get large beeliners in the 2-3# range. Around lunch we stopped on a weed line for few chickens.

    Thursday night -- tuna fishing -- made it to Redhawk about 7'ish and pulled a mixed trolling spread for a few laps but didn't have any takers. Started drift fishing right after dark but the fish stayed deep for a while then came up to the chum and we finally started to land a few about 9pm or so. We were making 40 minutes or so drifts and we would pick up a couple of YFT and several blackfin each drift. It was a slow pick all night until a large fish was hooked about 4:15 which took about 1.5 hours to land. We made one more drift right after dawn for one more blackfin then made the 207 mile run home.
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    We finished the trip with 20 YFT most between 40-50# with one 100# fish, 87 blackfin boxed with about 10 - 15 of the large variety and many other donated to the chunk bucket.

    I finished with 3 YFT and 2 large blackfin -- 1 YFT on a popper, 1 Blackfin on jig, and the rest on chunks.


    Details:

    I got to Capt Elliots about 12:30 after a 5 hour drive down from DFW. I was setting the drags on my rods and got a surprise when Grescobia walks over the levee from eating lunch. After a few minutes catching up found out he jumped on as a spur of the moment decision. We met a few of the other anglers on the trip and then went to the office to finish paying for the trip and get the marching orders -- start boarding at 3 and depart about 4. As we finished getting our gear staged on the dock Glaveston1602 walks up.

    At the prescribed time we boarded by order of deposit – pick spot on the rail. After everyone finished picking their rail spot we could pick a bunk and stow our gear. Gres and I took the 2 spots closest to the bow and Glav took a one towards the stern. Capt Frank gave a quick safety rundown and went over the game plan. Since the tuna bite has been off at the closest floaters he wanted to run Southeast about 5 hours and rig hop for snapper and the other usual suspects in 100 - 200 foot of water Wednesday night & Thursday morning and then head to Redhawk to tuna fish Thursday night.

    The boat, WOW, was beyond my expectations -- clean, comfortable, quiet, and no diesel fumes. Each bunk has its own reading lamp, electrical outlet, thick foam mattress and privacy curtains. Three separate seating areas in the main cabin, the VIP section with aircraft style seating for 18 and a 42” plasma, another area with two 42” plasma TVs and bench seating for 25 – 30 and another bench area about the same size w/o the TV. The TV are nice on the long runs to tuna ground but I chose to sleep instead of watching movies or satellite TV. One cool thing was when we where snapper fishing Capt Frank would put the sonar image on the TVs in the bench area so you could look at the bottom structure and where the fish where holding in the water column.

    While standing in line to board we met someone on his first tuna trip and on the way out helped him get his gear ready and went over some tuna fishing basics. While discussing the finer points of his Tiaga 16 I noticed that the mono was binding on the crossbar and after closer inspection found his spectra was not packed tightly enough. We had him let almost all his spectra off the back on the boat with a small popper attach and crank it back on. You should have seen the look on his face when I told him it was just a rookie initiation exercise and we had a much easier way to pack spectra. Actually, this was much hard than I expected with the boat running 22 mph :) . Helped another with a bimini and then off to the bunk for a few hours sleep.

    First stop was rig in about 150’. It didn’t Glav16 long to leave the mayhem of the stern and join Gres and I on the bow. We where determined not to fish cut bait the first night and tried an assortment of jigs and other lures. The first couple of rigs where dead and we didn’t spend a lot of time fishing them before moving on and after a few hours we finally hit a rig with some life around it. Those soaking bait started filling theirs sacks with snapper and beeliners but the jigs where only producing jumbo hardtails and undersized AJs. After Gres got cut off on the rig a few times I send one of the hardtails down on my AJ rig but did not find anyone willing to bite. The rest of the night is pretty much a burr with one notable exception, Glav16 and I where both rewarded with some trophy sized beeliners while dropping diamond jigs to the bottom in 200’ of water. While captain was re-positioning the boat over a hard sport I decided I had enough fun for the night and hit the bunk about 2 leaving Gres and Glav16 on the bow. They later told me shortly after I left a school of jack cravelle came by they had fun landing 5 or 6 in the 15 – 20# range.

    Part II
    Woke up about 6:00 with the boat running, stumble out of the bunk room to greet the day and eat some breakfast
    It’s time to box some snapper for the wife so I tie a sow rig with a fluorocarbon leader and a 2 oz weight on my 30# rig. Gres, Glav16 and I took our spots on the bow and pulpit as we hit the first stop -- hard bottom in about 150’. There was a little current and it took a few minutes to determine how much line to let off to get into the zone about 100’ down. Most of the fish were small so we made a short run to another spot in about the same depth. Same drill here but Glav16 and I started picking up some trophy sized beeliners and box about 8-10 apiece. I also catch a short AJ that was pretty sporty on my 30# rig. Gres, however, was fishing a 2-hook dropper loop rig and had a case of small-fish-icitis. Gres ditches the 2-hook rig on the way to the next spot. We fished 1 or 2 more spots without anything noteworthy for me both hitting a cut-off rig that was holding beeliners of a smaller grade. Glav16 hooked something with shoulders that cut him off on the marker buoy.

    No more bottom fishing so the crew cut down the fish sacks and put them in the box as we started the run out to Redhawk. We hoped to hit some weed lines along the way so I replaced the sow rig with a 5” storm swimbait. I took a shower and jumped back in the bunk for some sleep until I felt the engines slow down on a thick patch of weeds. Get back on the bow and see a group of chicken mahi go by as we slide to a stop. Make a few casts to a larger solo fish that wasn’t interested in what I was offering but heading to stern where chickens were gathered. The swimbait was a little big for them so I grab Gres’s flipping stick and catch 4 on cut bait. We hit another weed patch along the way for 1 more chicken. I dropped a diamond jig in hopes of a wahoo but no one was home. Back in the bunk for some more sleep as we finish the run to the floater.

    We got to Redhawk about 7 and a few put out a mixed trolling spread as I decide to take in the show from the top deck and watch the sunset. Trolling was unproductive and the 3 of use moved to bow as we settled into a drift right at dusk. The tuna bite was almost non-existent until it was completely dark about 9. Gres and Glav16 were picking up a few small blackfin on jigs but I couldn’t buy a bite on jigs, poppers, chunks or live bait. Gres had the hot rod and landed a nice BkFT and a YFT on chunk before I ever got a hit. You could see some of the fish cruise into the slick and I dropped a diamond jig in front of a nice YFT which ate the jig and put on a show before the hook pulled about 30 – 45 seconds into the fight. I had another fish hit popper but couldn’t get the hooks in him. Gres catches another fish on a chunk as we finish the drift and we make him show exactly what he’s doing – deadheading a fresh chunk of blackfin with the hook well hidden about 75 yards out on a swivel and 4-5’ piece of flouro leader.

    As we start the next drift Glav16 and I rigged the same as Gres but he still is hot and his bait gets picked up while he’s getting a cup of coffee so I fight Glav16 for the rod ;-) but the line goes slack after a short fight. It’s about midnight now and I’m a tad frustrated as I crank in the line while making a few choice remarks about Gres’s monkey knots ;-). However, the hook had just pulled and we all have a good laugh at my expense. At this point I'm ready to try again and have Gres bless my bait which seems to work as I pick up 2 YFT in 40-50# range and a 20# blackfin on the next 3 of drifts on chunks. I will say the blackfin put up the best fight as the YFT where gaffed in maybe 3 minutes and it took about 5 minutes for the BkFT. I picked up my popper fish about 3:30 on “old faithful” which is a BPS Mag Z-pop with most of the finished chewed off.

    I ran into the gentlemen that we helped setup his tackle while getting a drink and found out he had been fishing at the stern with a diamond jig all night and only had a few BkYT so I told him how to re-rig and invited him to join us on the bow. I get him setup as we start the next drift and he gets picked up in an impressive way after 10 minutes or so. The fish took about 300 yards of line on the initial run and we had to move the TI16 drag lever to full to get the drag pressure right. We had adjusted the drag the day before while packing the spectra but it wasn’t generating the amount now which makes me think it may be one of the early ones that had the problems with the drags backing off with use. Anyway the fish is schooling him and gains about 100 yards of line back as a crowd forms. After about 30 minutes Capt Franks runs down the fish with the boat to shorten the fight. The fish is at color after about 45 minutes but the angler is spent and is having a hard time finishing the fight. The crew and I coach him when the fish starts circling but we can’t get anymore drag out of the reel and fight drags on for another 20 minutes or so until it makes a mistake and Capt Frank stick a gaff in him. Unfortunately, the gaff pulls out a fish is come over the rail and fall back in the water. Luckily, it’s still on and after a few more minutes the 2 gaffs go in and it hits the deck. We can still see a few similar sized fish in the lights but they didn’t want to bite. It’s breaking daylight as we make the 7-8 mile run back to the rig now for the final drift. We are marking fish but they don’t want to bite so we reel everything and start the 207 mile run home about 7 AM.


    Hit the jetty about 4 and the crew starts passing off everyone’s sacks of fish and blackfin as we make our way up the canal to the landing. After docking Glav16 and I wait for the initial mad rush off the boat to pass before unload our stuff and then start cleaning fish about 5:30PM. Cleanup with one of the dock hoses, change clothes, hit road about 7:00PM arrive home about midnight. Here are some final impressions.

    Pros:
    Boat – clean, comfortable accommodations (seating area, bunks, showers, and layout) and a fast 22 mph cruise
    Capt & crew – they hustled the whole time
    Weather – 1-2 seas until late the last night when it built to 3 - 4.
    Company – Glav16 and Gres were a pleasure to fish with

    Cons – only a few:
    Not really sure I like how the reef fish were handled – they were put in a sack the first night with ice but some of them seems mushy.
    More rod holders needed – IMO, they should move one of the sets of bench seats on the top deck under the canopy and add a tackle station with about 40 rod holders in it’s place.
    I didn’t take enough pictures.

    Overall it was a very enjoyable trip even with the fishing being slow at times.