November 3/4, 2007
36 hour trip
This 36 hour offshore fishing trip by the partyboat Capt. John, "The National Partyboat of Texas", had a number of "WOW" factors. First was the ideal weather and sea conditions - fairly calm on the way out, about four feet for a few hours, from around 11 PM Saturday to about 3 AM Sunday. The calming to about two feet was followed by near slicked off from noon on. This was about as good as these fall-thru-winter 36 hour trips experience. This means, don't always count on it being this calm.
Leaving Galveston's Pier 19 Saturday morning, Capt. Tony Langston pointed the boat's twin hulls in a southerly direction after passing the end of the south jetty. Aboard as the second captain was Capt. Mike Malloy.
Our first stop Saturday afternoon was at a rock formation about 90 miles out in 220 ft. of water that rose 60 ft. off the bottom. Other than a few vermilion snappers, a rockhind grouper, several lane snappers and blue runners, fishing was a bit slow. Leaving the area a little after three, a run farther offshore began for the overnight tuna fishing. After a run of about ten miles, a stop was made at a drifting shrimpboat, the "Good News" out of Brownsville. While an anchored shrimpboat would have been better, it was worth taking a shot since you never know what's swimming in the area. The bad news was that the "Good News" wasn't holding any tuna, kingfish, ling, wahoo, etc. that we hoped for. It looked good, though, rocking gently in the calm, blue, 280 ft. of water below it about 100 nautical miles offshore.
After leaving the "Good News", the final run to the tuna fishing area started. Shortly after six, we were at the Gunnison Spar production platform, about 147 statute miles to the SSE of The Island in 3,150 ft. of water.
Before the tuna fishing began, Capt. Langston gave about a ten minute talk about the various fishing methods that regularly work on yellowfin and blackfin tuna. This short meeting with all 36 fishermen was held on the sundeck of the Capt. John. He also covered a few safety do's and don't's, especially about the use and overhand casting those productive top water poppers. Safety is always a No. 1 priority, and at close to 150 miles offshore, it really ramps up.
The trip's greatest surprise occurred seconds after fishing started at Gunnison. Brad Aldrich had cast a 7 ounce Shimano Butterfly Long far behind the boat; suddenly, his reel's drag screamed and an estimated 350# blue marlin broke the surface, thrashing its head in plain sight, about 150-175 ft. off the port stern corner. Then it was gone - either the hook pulled or possibly the marlin had the jig body in its jaws but not the hooks. Whatever happened, it was definitely some short term excitement that once again illustrates that anything can happen out there.
During the overnight period, numerous drifts were made from alongside the Gunnison spar to about three miles downcurrent. Blackfin tuna were there in numbers, along with deep running and surface busting yellowfin tuna. Using chrome diamond jigs, butterfly jigs, tuna hunter jigs or Spanish sardines, 234 blackfin tuna were decked overnight. The heaviest went about 18#. The 11 yellowfin taken included 2 of 18#, 4 of 50-70# and 3 going 85-90#, with a really nice 106 pounder topping it all off.
That 106# yellowfin hit a freelined blackfin chunk bait about 15 ft. off the stern, about 10 feet down. Once again, it was that Aldrich guy stealing the show. Remember, he's the guy who had the marlin on earlier. After six times around the boat, he finally got it to gaff about a half hour of so after the hookup at the port bow area. He was about as worn out as that yellowfin, but did recover.
Some last points about this yellowfin tuna fishing - make sure you and your tackle are up to the fight these great fish bring with them. I had changed my spin rod from a shorter jigging stick to a longer casting model which was recommended to me by one of my fishing friends. It was a case of this new rod not having enough backbone to first solidly set the hooks on my 8 inch, 6 ounce Tuna Hunter popper. Its splash and bunker color pattern generated the strikes but two were lost after coming unbuttoned. One, after about 3 seconds, the other after about a 100 yard dive deep. The third, an estimated 70#, was lost when a short, quick surge was made at boat side and the rod was "bottomed out", still lacking enough backbone to help turn the tuna. That's the way it goes, even with many years of offshore experience, I made a basic tackle mistake that cost me a least a couple of those yellowfin. Pull on your rod with at least 20 lb. of drag pressure applied, especially directly below you, as with a yellowfin at boatside during the final stages of the battle. When I checked this new rod out with 20# of drag on my Shimano Stella FA 20000, the pull was in a horizontal direction. I let the rod lie to me about its capability. Fish running out and away is a lot different than pulling straight down near boat side where you need a rod with pulling power to somewhat lead or direct a big fish. That particular rod, by a well known manufacturer, wasn't at fault, my application was...make sure all the components of your combination are up to the task of taking on these yellowfin tuna.
Leaving the Gunnison spar Sunday morning, the run home began, with fishing stops along the way. We fished rocks, wrecks and platforms in 320 to 130 feet as we worked inshore. The trip's last stop about 72 miles to the south of Galveston wsa at a rock in 150 feet of slightly off color blue green water. The kingfish were getting their mail there. During the next 40 minutes or so, the scene was chaotic - multiple kingfish running in all directions resulted in some tangles and de-hookings. The loss of the stop was that a friend of the 106# yellowfin guy had the $700 rig used to fight that yellowfin ripped from his hands by a strike from a smoker kingfish! Somehow losing that $700 rod/reel/line combo trumps my 3 lost yellowfin...you can't win 'em all. When the anchor was pulled at this last stop in the run back to Pier 19, 28 kingfish, most 23 to 26#, with 3 of 29 to 31# had been decked and iced down in the fish boxes, and not nearly everyone was fishing for them.
The trip's catch totals were:
* 11 yellowfin tuna - two of 18 lbs., five of 30 to 75 lbs, three of 85-90, one of 106 lb.
* 234 blackfin tuna to 18#.
* 43 vermilion snapper to 4#
* 9 lane snapper to 4#
* 28 kingfish, most 23 to 26 lbs., 3 of 29-31 lbs.
* 2 rockhind grouper to 3 lbs.
* 9 gray triggerfish
* 2 bonito
* 4 barracuda, 12-14 lbs.
* 12 bluerunner
* 2 amberjack
Finis Cowan, Dickinson - 9 blackfin tuna and a 30 lb. smoker kingfish.
Hou-Chun Fan, Katy - 4 kingfish to 29 lb., 1 blackfin tuna, 2 yellowfin tuna of 60 and 80 lbs.(on chunk baits).
Steve Saur, Beaumont - 16 blackfin (diamond jig), 6 vermilion snapper and two triggerfish.
Kyle Johnson & his dad, Tom, Tyler - 3 kingfish and 21 blackfin tuna (chrome diamond jigs).
Nick Jones, Dallas, 1 amberjack, 2 kingfish and a 75 lb. yellowfin tuna.
Greg Moliere, Houston - 14 blackfin on a Shimano Butterfly Jig® in a black/purple color pattern and several vermilion snapper.
Luke Manion, Houston - blackfin tuna, vermilion snapper, kingfish to 26 lb. and a 55 lb. yellowfin tuna that ate a blackfin tuna chunk.
Chris Bonati, Memphis - blackfin tuna, vermilion snapper, amberjack and a 50 lb. yellowfin tuna that hit a jointed Rapala Countdown ® lure. His trip highlight was in the fight with that 50 lb. yellowfin. His line, among about five others, became tangled with the line of Brad Aldrich, whose 106# yellowfin made a lightning-quick run up the starboard side. During the pull-fest, Bonati's line was broken. When untangling the lines, the deckhand noticed one of them with a pull on the other end. The line was cautiously hand wrapped, Chris got another of his rods and Capt. Langston tied the two lines together with a blood knot and the fight was on again. That attention to what was going on by the deck crew and captain was the deal maker for this yellowfin coming to the gaff...teamwork.
These guys, from Austin, had a great trip:
Bill Maghielse - kingfish, 8 blackfin tuna (chrome diamond jig) and a 50# yellowfin tuna that hit a Tuna Hunter Topwater lure (blue/glow white).
Glen Van **** - kingfish and 25 blackfin tuna on a 6 ounce chrome diamond jig. His brother,
Lester Van **** - also with kingfish and 10 blackfin tuna.
Brad Aldrich - his trip was likely the most memorable of all the 36 fishermen aboard. He had an estimated 350# blue marlin on for a short time, boated the trip's heaviest yellowfin tuna of 106# after a hard fight. He then had his $700 rig used on that yellowfin go over the side while one of his friends was kingfishing with it; naturally, the friend will replace it. He also had a couple of kingfish to go along with his 2 yellowfin tuna, 30 and 106#, the trip's heaviest.
Patrick Lemire, Texas City - my contribution to the catch was minimal, to say the least, with 2 blackfin tuna on Tuna Hunter jigs and my story of that rod with not enough backbone that I hope is a lesson learned for all of us. There's always next time and that particular spin rod will be in Texas City on future yellowfin tuna hunts.
This 36 hour trip had great weather, sea conditions and fishing opportunities. The deck was worked with the efficiency of a first class NASCAR pit crew, headed up by Ben Arnold, along with Payton Martin, David Pitcher, John Webb. Victoria in the snack bar kept us all fed and watered.
Had about ten yellowfin tuna not been lost due to pulled hooks, broken lines, etc., my three lost being too great a contribution, the results would have been outstanding! As was said before, "You can't catch 'em all". But turning more hooked yellowfin into decked and iced down yellowfin is possible. To make your reservations on one or more of these 36 hour Capt. John trips, call the office today at 409-762-8808 or 713-223-4853. Come on out, you never know who's going to catch what on the Capt. John, "The National Partyboat of Texas".