What a great trip!!!
The Slap Shot is a 36' Wellcraft -owned by Frank Vu- powered by trip Y-250's.
The crew was me, Frank, TJ (minnow), Michael (North Tx. Fiberglass), and Jim (wacker) who handled Captain duties (very well btw while also putting some great Dorado in the boat).
We left Dallas around 4 p.m. on Monday heading to Freeport to meet Jim at the dock around 8 a.m. on Tuesday. Frank had the dock launch the boat full of gas when we arrived and after loading, left the dock right at 10:30 heading for Gunnison! We had a fuel bladder and 10 gas cans on board to make this run.
Jim said he hadn't had much luck making bait this year, but out of the 3 stops we made, we filled the live well with perfect tuna crack, lots of 6" hard tails and sardines that mostly survived the pounding miles to Gunnison.
Because we made 3 bait stops, we arrived at Gunnison about 20 minutes after sundown, so we scrapped plans on trolling the floater and prepared for the night of yellow fin and dorado action that would come.
Hot stick for the trip was TJ. He boated fish on poppers, jigs, live and dead bait, chunks, and, he and Frank hooked up YFT's trolling an OTI prototype stick bait and Wombat popper on the move back to the rig after a drift!
We caught a few black fin tuna, but the YFT and Dorado were thick around this rig, and we only kept the latter except for just a few BFT that Michael and Frank used for occasional chunking.
The hot baits were topwater and subsurface hard baits when the tuna would not hit the poppers.
The jigging was great because the fish were holding relatively shallow right under the bait between 80' and 200'. The current was perfect and 200g jigs were all you needed to reach the fish. But, the weather and current was in constant change the whole night ranging from almost no wind/no current, to blowing to flat to blowing again. We made drifts from 3 different sides of Gunnison through the night!
All of the YFT's averaged about 75 lbs with the smallest about 60 and the biggest about 85. It was a great school that stayed active the entire night except for one slow period from 2:30 a.m. till about 4 a.m. At 4:30, the surface started erupting with crashes and that was the main topwater bite that everyone was waiting on. These YFT's inhaled big poppers so deep, that we had to leave some of the poppers in the fish until we got to the cleaning tables. OTI wombat and komodo caught fish, as well as Michael catching a beautiful 80lb'er on a tuna hunter he had left over from a previous trip.
When we first started fishing, I could not buy a fish on artificials, but I wasn't going to use bait or chunk, so I was pretty much just gaffing fish for everyone else!
I could catch black fin on jigs, but I wanted YFT so I just kept changing lures until I found what they wanted. Right about midnight I finally found what the YFT wanted. I started throwing a 90g sub-surface flying fish imitator similar to a Baby Renboh, but the color was pink and silver.
First cast it got slammed by a really nice 80lb YFT! After getting pics and finding a place in the box for the fish, I checked my leader. It had just a small place where my 80lb leader had just a slight scruff on it. I decided not to retie (when am I going to learn to slow down and retie after each fish regardless), and on the next cast immediately got hit again.
This tuna made a long initial run that took half of my 60lb OTI DepthFinder line. I fought back about half of that line and the fish took off again. I didn't expect this other run and had increased my drag a couple of clicks. Just when I thought the second run was over, pow! Fish gone, lesson learned. Retie after every fish.
Luckily I had another one of these lures and was able to hook up one of the many Dorado that kept checking out our boat about every hour through the night. This was a nice bull about 35-40 pounds that I saw swim out of nowhere to slam my lure about 15 yards from the boat. Great show of jumping before Jim sunk the gaff into it.
About an hour later, I hooked up with another YFT about 65-70 lbs and know that OTI will begin working on a prototype on a sinking, flying fish imitator to use when the YFT tuna do not want a top water lure.
Michael caught the last YFT tuna right after the morning topwater bite was in full action right around 4:30ish. We had no more room on the boat to store fish, so we drained the bait well, cut off the tuna's tail, and put it head first in the bait tank with ice.
We secured the gear and set off for the 4 1/2 hour ride back to the dock. The crew was excellent and lots of fun.
We hit the dock around 11 a.m., emptied the boat, cleaned the fish, and hit the road around 3:30 to Dallas. After dropping Michael off at his shop, I made it home around midnight and just fell into bed, with every part of my body just aching and burning! I wouldn't have it any other way!
If you have any questions about gear, tackle, or line, post them up and I'll answer the best that I can.
See pics below:
1. OTI Komodo inhaled!
2. Komodo, Nemo color
5. TJ w/prototype OTI stickbait