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“The Phat Cat is better than Sea World,” declares almost 5yr old Blake Pope as he has now returned from his first offshore adventure. Yes, McGolfer, BPitcher, Dr.Shark and Pope took the young man for the ride of his life. The trip also ruined his expectations for ventures to the deep.

The plan was to fish our way out on Saturday, but installing new electronics and allowing seas to fall a bit delayed our departure. Finally, after a few ups and downs we cleared the jetties around 4pm for some real ups and downs. Rick pointed the Phat Cat into the teeth of 3-5s as we hung on. We were desperate to make up lost time and get to Boomvang by nightfall, which was already unlikely to happen. Blake loved going up the face of the swells and pounding on the backside of them. The higher and harder, the better. “Let me know when a good one is coming,” exclaimed Blake. BAM! “That was a good one,” he would say with a big smile. We proceeded offshore and joked until we saw a forming weedline in the Campeche area. Dolphins began to rush the boat and Blake started making “Eeee, Eeee” sounds in an attempt to communicate with his fellow mammals. Dr. Shark explained they also made clicks and Blake tried these as well.

Blake’s smiles began to turn sour as night fell, we cleared Tequila/Sunrise and hit the 100 mile mark. We still had an hour to go and I was a little worried as my baby boy looked green. “The cheese I ate makes my belly hurt,” he said. A few minutes later we stopped for DS to relieve himself and Blake lost it. Cheese, melon and Gatorade decorated the Phat Cat’s deck. “I couldn’t stand it,” explained Blake.

We throttled back up and headed into the darkness of the Gulf as BPitcher pointed out the sunset to our west. “That is what it is about right there,” he said. Blake fell asleep as we pushed into seas that would make many land lovers question there faith, but knew the forecast was solid for falling seas throughout the night, which made his Papa feel better.

When the shroud of darkness was complete we saw what Rick called, “our rig.” Boomvang was illuminating the horizon and we were close. When we arrived jigs were dropped by BP and DS. They began killing the blackfin as I gaffed and cut chunks. There is no telling how many they caught before Rick decided to catch a few himself. We just released them after a while and started chunking. We would get a few pick ups and hoped for yellowfin, but just blacks. DS started throwing topwaters and nothings. Things looked bleak. I turned to the lights for flyers to see if that would get the yellows working. Before, I did I thought…”How is Blake?” As I turned to see him, I saw he was awake and staring at Boomvang. “What is that? Where are we?” said a mystified and glassy-eyed boy. “That is Boomvang,” I said. “What is it?” he continued. I tried to explain and asked how he was feeling. He said better, but never took his eyes off the enormous platform that appears to look like something off Encounters of the Third Kind. Rick was napping and I kick the Phat Cat in gear to ease back up to the BV. “Its coming towards us Papa!” exclaimed an anxious child with a uneasy shrill. “No I am going to it,” I said. “Don’t,” he replied.

We plugged away and trying to score fish. DS gave it his all and threw the book at them in pure DS fashion. I asked him where he put the fabled JuJu stick. “The **** thing snapped,” he said as BP laughed. I started looking for flyers again and found them holding just out of reach along with squid. “I have some flyers and squid over here.” I started. “Let me get one.” “Squid! Where?” said Blake. “Yeah, get one,” said the Doctor. “Yeah, get one,” confirmed Blake. “I have never seen one” I finally scooped up a flying fish and showed a now wide-eyed boy who cared less about the seas. He was amazed by the tuna, blood and now FLYING FISH! DS pinned the poor thing on a hook and deployed it to the deep. The bite had really shut down, but finally a pick up, but just another…you guessed it…blackfin. “We need to moved,” muttered a sad and disappointed Dr.Shark.

Rick got up and we decided to tried some more chunking to no avail. The decision was to try Nansen. We pulled up lines and headed to Nansen in snotty seas. DS looked like he was going to need medical attention by the time we got there….Old Man and the Sea!

I told Blake, as we approached, that we had ran all that way and wound up at Boomvang again. “No,” he said. “That is Nansen.” He pays attention. BPitcher starts jigging and gets a nice blue runner that I put out on a 30. Not long and the 30 sings for a moment…I pulled in a cleanly cut line. Barracudas! Long story short…we get some more blackfin off Nansen and lots of blackfin halves as sharks and cudas ate them up. DS, BP and Blake fall asleep as Rick and I watched the gray light peek through. Blake wakes up and says, “Wow, that is beautiful.” I was so glad he appreciated it all.

Rick and I rouse DS and BP to arms as we prepare to troll. DS gets out his Ballyhoo Kit and starts whittling ballyhoo buttholes and rigs some islanders. Rick and I rig some Pelagic Lures for wahoo and we start trolling. Crazy Shark is at the wheel and cuts off a sportfisher that spent the night on the buoy. Five minutes later a reel is screaming. I am standing there and I reel in a nice wahoo. “That is just like Bret’s wahoo,” explained Blake. A few seconds later and another reel starts screaming. Rick grabs it and the fish won’t slow down. “Did anyone adjust my drag?” asked Rick as he looked puzzled. “Look,” said Blake. We all are looking and Rick says, “Marlin! Get my harness.” I strap him in and Blake starts cheering, “Go Rick go, Go Rick go.” 15 minutes later and BP wires, bills and releases a lit up blue. We are all awake now! We had to radio the sportfisher during the fight so they don’t run over our fish. I am sure they were not happy. We just took a hoo and blue off the buoy they slept on all night.

We troll some more and wind our way back to Boomvang. One barracuda is landed by Shark and BP grabs the **** thing. Scared me. I thought I was going to have to explain to his father that we killed his son. We took off for Tequila. We troll there and DS picked up another hoo. We are all so exhausted that we can nearly stay awake. We decide to fish a few spots on the way in and never found anyone home. Not that we really cared.

We finally get back to port, fill back up, clean the boat/tackle/fish and finally us. Stink is an understatement. As we went to sleep, Blake asks, “can we go to Boomvang in the morning?” I have a feeling I will hear this for a while.” He has already asked me for a big reel for Boomvang for his 5th birthday this weekend. I can’t imagine how he would feel if we had got into the yellowfin. He would probably be glued to the Phat Cat and never want to leave.

Once again, thanks to Rick for the experience. I appreciate the opportunity to introduce my boy to my favorite pass-time. Not everyone gets baptized by fire, watches a blue greyhound, spends the night 130 miles out and witnesses dolphins, tuna, wahoo and sees a world of bluewater as he did his first shot out. RUINED. Also, a special thanks to Dr.Shark for the incredible hospitality, heifer dust steaks and of course, Dr.Shark antics. It was great! You are the best! BPitcher reminds me of me at his age. Young, enthusiastic and full of zeal for the gamesters offshore. Good guy and he has the makings of an excellent man of character. Pleasure to meet you! Finally, a special thanks to my boy. He has endured cold mornings on duck hunts, long days on the bays and now two days offshore. Not only does he not complain, but he begs for more. He only knows that his Papa loves him and wants him to have fun. He has no idea that he makes it all the more enjoyable for me. Doing what I love the most with the one I love the most. I am blessed. Maybe my final thanks should be to God.

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Sounds like you guys had an exhausting trip. I wish my father would have taken me out on an overnighter at the age of 5. That boy's hooked now. Marlin fever will set in real quick. I've had it for 30 years. I know Rick doesn't like billfish, but I bet he didn't complain about the blue. The seas were a little choppy this weekend as I found out Saturday morning. But, 3-5s are a lot better than 6-8s. Glad you guys got out on the big pond. There is nothing like it. Good luck to you on your next adventure.
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