Report: GEM 2006 Port Fourchon, La.

Discussion in 'Offshore Fishing Reports' started by Ragman, Nov 22, 2006.

  1. Ragman

    Ragman Moderator

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    Gulf Exploration Mission (GEM) 2006
    Port Fourchon, Louisiana, November 18-21
    Captained by Steve Tomeny on the Caribbean Sea

    With varying wave forecasts up to 14 footers, we made the trip a go on Thursday morning and most all of the crew set out on the long drive to Fourchon with high hopes of a changing forecast and many drag-screaming events!

    McGolfer (Rick), North Texas Fiberglass (Michael), and I (Ragman) left Michael’s shop in Denton at 6:30 a.m. for the 11 hour drive to the boat. Michael offered to pull his enclosed trailer with his F-250 which enabled Rick to bring almost a tenth of his gear, and we still had room for mine and Michael’s gear. That truck pulled the trailer very well, and accommodated all of our extra coolers, rods and reels, gear bags, milk crates, bed rolls etc.

    We met Grescobia (John) near Alexandria, La. early in the afternoon, and knew that DrShark (Vance), DrFishalot (Vic), Neill were on the road. Deep Sea Gull (Tony), bighead (Bert), and jedi243 (Jeremy) rounded out this year’s crew.

    L to R: Tony, Vic, Neil, Rick, Vance, John, Michael:

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    Around 6 p.m., everyone met up at Capt Tomeny’s bunkhouse to unload our gear and left at 7 p.m. to eat dinner at Griffin’s Family Seafood. I had the fried shrimp dinner and the best tea I’ve had in a long time.

    Back at the bunkhouse (across the street from the boat) by 9 p.m., we all caught up with each other, introduced the new people, and admired and discussed everyone’s gear. I made sure everyone knew that they could use at anytime all of the Ocean Tackle Int’l prototype rods, jigging and topwater, as well as the prototype topwater lures and flying fish we had brought for the trip. Rick had put Kaikon reels on the rods so that jigging and topwater fishing could be done easily. Look for the reports from the others to see how they did, but I think the 5 ½ and 6 foot jigging rods were a hit, the Sea Dragon topwater lure did really well, and the 7 foot spinner caught many tuna, but as suspected, we will strengthen that model to a true 50# blank before we offer it.

    There was a lot of concern that the boat wasn’t going to hold all of our gear, but I did my best charter master impression trying to keep everyone positive since we had not yet actually been on the boat yet! LOL I chalked it up to pre-trip excitement and the building anxiousness of just getting on the boat and departing!

    The Captain came over about 10:30 that night and we agreed to meet at 6 a.m. Saturday, load our gear and depart by 6:30.

    The boat was much bigger on the inside (so we had plenty of room), and I think that we are just getting used to how really large the Big E is compared to most head boats. The Caribbean Sea is a 65 footer that had 10 comfortable (long) bunks and except for enough rod holders, and the boat was laid out really well for this trip. Some had brought milk crates so we did have plenty of rod storage. We’d find out later how well she’d handle up to 12 foot seas, but we had almost 10,000 pounds of ice, 10 fisherman, 3 crew members, a butt-load of gear, and leaving at 7 a.m., a plan to make bait at 30 miles out then head towards the Greens Canyon area, with the Brutus floater the first stop.

    During our drive down to Fourchon, Rick was able to access the internet wave forecast sites and we knew Saturday through at least Sunday late morning was going to be fishable, but Sunday night on was not looking good at all. Though some forecasts called for 5-7’s, most called for 8-9’s and possibly 10-12’s Sunday afternoon and it might be REALLY blowing Monday a.m.

    The first bait stop didn’t do much, but we filled the tank quickly at the second buoy stop. Vic and Neill even had 6-7 hard tails each coming on a single sabiki drop!

    We left that buoy planning to arrive at the first floater around 3:30, 90 minutes before sunset, and troll the area until we would begin drifting. Nothing but cudas on the troll, so the Captain set up for drifts just as the sun set.

    We have to thank Frenzy Tackle for the huge box of Flying fish, Angry poppers, 80 and 60 pound fluorocarbon, sabikis, hooks, and especially for the Get Angry t-shirts that Capt Seaner supplied for us. Late into Sunday morning, the flying fish were THE only lure that had a chance of hooking up (2 ½ hour window)!

    Also, thanks to Granddad’s Tackle for the 2 spreader bars they sent for the trip!

    The great thing about this boat is that you had access to the full boat to fight your fish. The beam being almost 13 feet was great, but the bow was perfect for throwing topwater and surface iron too! Even with all 10 fishermen, we always had plenty of room and never felt crowded fishing or fighting or even sleeping. Jiggers and Chunkers stayed on the starboard side, while the topwater and surface iron guys fished from the port side. Everyone did a great team effort in tuna shuffling so that during the entire night, only 1 fish was lost due to a tangle.

    This was my first trip using a spinning rig for topwater and after the first night, I’m totally convinced that this is the best rig for chasing tuna with topwater lures.

    I used a Stella SW8000 with 65# solid spectra on a 7 foot GUSA Monster Mag blank that Txseadog wrapped for me. IMO, the perfect topwater rig for the Gulf! I had plenty of drag, rod pull to control the fish, and I could easily, without that much effort, cast my 1 ½ - 3 oz. lures past the lights into the darkness.

    My first tuna on this rig, about 65-70 #’s, came to gaff in about 7 minutes!!! After the tuna’s first drag-screaming run of about 90 yards, I dialed up the drag to about 22 lbs and just short-stroked the fish in. It was really amazing and I was not as worn out as usual. That tuna hit an OTI’s topwater lure called the Sea Dragon. The lure’s 4x hooks are attached to swivels which are all linked with steel wire thru, perfect out of the box.

    Tony had not hooked up yet late into the night, so I offered him the OTI Sea Dragon that was green/white with black tiger stripes as the “magic bait”, LOL!

    Tony No Catch:

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    There was something special about that lure because every time I saw him coming down the rail from the bow after that, he was hooked up and bowed over fighting nice yellow fins! Later that night/morning, when the YFT’s would only hit live flyers, just as the bite started to turn on, I got hooked up on 3 consecutive casts, but all 3 came unbuttoned. I believe that lure caught 6 or 7 yellow fins (four different guys) before the trip ended.

    Tony Catch:

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    We made multiple drifts past that rig and we caught Yellow fin tuna on every pass! Some drifts were too close to the rig and some started on the wrong side, but the Captain was working these areas because he had marked many big fish there during our trolling session when we first arrived. He had marked a large sea mount rising from the bottom, 1040 meters, to about 200 meters from the surface and that’s where we picked up the tuna that stayed with us during our drifts.

    All but about 2 or 3 people had caught yellow fin before midnight, but only about 13 or 14 black fin were caught the entire night. Pesky barracuda were there as well as a couple of nice dorado and a huge rainbow runner too, but only 1 shark! Those cudas were responsible for some head-only tuna coming on board.

    Around 2 a.m., we set up for what would be the last drift, but for some reason, the yellow fin stayed with us until sunrise!!! We were catching them on topwater (GT’s, Surface cruisers, flying fish, Angry poppers etc), chunk (the biggest tuna were caught this way up to 90 lbs by Rick), live flyers, surface iron, swim baits occasionally, and even a woodchopper by John!

    John is one of the most flexible fishermen I’ve ever fished with! He would catch a YFT on iron, then immediately switch to topwater, or swim bait, or chunk, then after catching another tuna, switch to a live flyer! It seemed he was always hooked up with a fish! I even held his line one time for him on the bow, so he could undo a backlash with a fish on! When he got the fish to the gaff, we were amazed that he had caught two tuna, black fin and yellow fin, on one jig, each on a separate assist hook! LMAO

    Back to the tuna staying with us. We constantly saw them around the boat cruising like sharks, breaching, or hunting flyers. The captain never had to make another drift because we had a ton of yellow fin with us that last 5 hours. We could see them right next to the boat, busting flyers almost past the lights, cruising and jumping outside the lights, it was really amazing. But, they became solely focused on live flyers around 3 a.m. They were so picky that the crew stopped chumming and focused only on getting flyers for each of the fishermen still up that late. If you had a live flyer, you were guaranteed of a hook up, guaranteed! Whether you got the yellow fin to the boat was up to you. Many came unbuttoned, had line breaks, had knot breaks, or reel malfunctions.

    At about 4:30, with only about 2-3 fishermen, I was trying to get Neill his first yellow fin. He had lost a couple due to line breakage, but the crew was still hunting a flyer for him. I’m rigging up a new bait, when I look down and at my feet is the fattest, liveliest flyer ever! I scoop him up and hand him to Neill. I had told him to add a ¼ oz rubber core sinker about 8 feet up his line and he took the flyer and sent him off. We saw many tuna immediately swim up to it, but shy off we guess because they saw the hook. But once the flyer drifted outside the lights, I think about 125 yards, hook up! Neill fought this one for about 45 minutes, but finally saw color and both deckhands sank a gaff into a nice 65-70 pound yellow fin! Neill was tired, but I think happy.

    Michael was the genius of that early morning slow pick. He rigged up a Frenzy flyer and instead of blind casting, he waited to see the yellow fin chasing/busting flying fish. He immediately cast as close to the explosion as possible and almost every time, he hooked up and the drag was screaming! Brilliant! I’m sure he’ll tell more in his report, but that was the best thing I learned this trip, especially during a picky bite. Instead of tiring yourself out with all that blind casting, focus on seeing, then casting to, blow ups while “matching the hatch”.

    Sunday morning light came and since the weather reports kept getting worse, we decided to make a move north for the day, while trolling, to a rig in about 250 meters of water. Captain Tomeny had caught tuna at this rig before, but it would give us some time to rest, heal some bumps and bruises that some had gotten from falling and/or fighting big fish, and check the forecasts again.

    During the 2 ½ hour troll to the next rig, besides a couple of barracuda, nothing knocked down the spread. We were trolling in solid 5-6’s, but not sure that had anything to do with it. Vance was adamant in watching the spread. As he put it, “We’re in the middle of where it happens, if it’s happening!”.

    I slept for the first time since we departed, and the pitching of the boat while in a soft bunk made for fine shut eye. We tied to the rig for some AJ drops, but the trips lone shark was all that anyone caught. I slept more here, but Vance woke me as it was time to determine where to go or what to do next.

    I saw most everyone was asleep as I made my way up top to discuss with Captain Tomeny. The forecast for Sunday night into Monday morning had worsen to possible 10-12’s and I made the call to head in.

    As disappointed as I was, I knew many of the others would be disappointed just as much. But, it was the right call.

    We had a few guys that really took a banging Saturday night and early Sunday morning. In the boxes were 29 yellow fin tuna from 40#-90#s, dorado, and one rainbow runner, so we almost limited out on YFT during the one nights full fishing (not counting boat limit). All but one person had boated a great yellow fin, especially Bert who on his first trip finally, after many frustrating misses, boated a beautiful 60ish YFT on a flyer.

    [​IMG]

    Though the boat could have handled 12 footers, there was too great a risk to fish that night at the floater, especially after the crew had stayed up all night with us on Saturday without any sleep.

    The Captain refunded 1/3 of our trip cost, plus unused fuel and did not charge us for the second night’s use of the bunkhouse.

    Captain Tomeny, besides Capt Frank, is one of the best Captains I’ve fished with. He’s a genuinely nice guy, easily accessible, easy going, and treated his crew extremely well.

    Matt and Lane were the best deckhands we’ve ever experienced! These young guys were knowledgeable, had great attitudes, anticipated what we needed, kept a great chum line going, while also hunting live flying fish so hard that it put DrShark’s first trip Big E’s efforts to shame! LMAO!

    We did not lose even one fish to missed gaffing and I think they really had fun fishing with us. That’s what they said anyway. Good luck to Matt on getting your Captain’s liscense in the next few months!

    We want to thank Texas Outdoor Organizers and Willie for all of their efforts to make this trip happen. You all don’t know how tough it is to first find 8-10 people that will commit to a 3 day trip, send deposit money, and then have to find a boat with a crew (and open date) to accommodate us and what we want to do. Everything came off without a hitch, except the weather.

    There are always ‘things’ unforeseen that are and will happen on open as well as charter trips. But it’s how the group pulls together to work through all of it that makes these trips great.

    Michael, Bert, John, Jeremy (new nickname is Rainman –he’s a numbers savant), and Vance were all first timers to the GEM trip and each had a great attitude, learned, but also taught things, and more than pulled their weight to make the trip, in my mind, a great success. Not only the fish that we caught, but the new friends and fishing buddies made as well.

    I'll post the rest of the pics in the next reply.
     
  2. Ragman

    Ragman Moderator

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    Michael in the Salon:

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    Fishing at the stern with plenty of room:

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    Rick hooked up with one of his many YFT:

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    John's double, you can see a bft and yft on each assist:

    [​IMG]
     

  3. Ragman

    Ragman Moderator

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    Neil's first:

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    Matt and Lane in the wheelhouse:

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    Bow of the Caribbean Sea back at the dock:

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    Jeremy, Rick, Neil, Vic, Bert, Tony, Michael:

    [​IMG]
     
  4. ksong

    ksong SPONSOR

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    Tom,
    Thanks for the report. Your report convinced me to ask TOO to make a charter arrangement for East Coast fishermen. :)
    Most East Coast fishermen seldom experience tuna popping though tuna jigging is very popular, and some are very excited about the trip.
    This trip is going to be mainly jigging and popping trip.
     
  5. Deep_Sea_Gull

    Deep_Sea_Gull Lifetime Supporting Members

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    I want to point out the side passage ways on the boat. Take another look at Neil's fish. You can see the port side of the boat looking from the bow towards the stern. Loads of room to fish and walk.
    This is a great report Tom. I'll add some more pictures next week when I have access to something more than dial-up.
     
  6. MrBill

    MrBill Senior Member

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    Nice report. You said that some lines broke. Which brand? What reel had the Problem? Did the other's that were sleeping when you made the call to come in wake up at the dock? If so, I bet that was a surprise. Thanks for the report.
     
  7. Deep_Sea_Gull

    Deep_Sea_Gull Lifetime Supporting Members

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    I had the Power Pro on Rick's Daiwa Saltiga Z 6000 GT get busted off from rubbing the boat hull. I think that we all knew well ahead of time that we were headed into port.
     
  8. Unfortunately it was very clear we wouldn't get the entire trip in. But, with several trips already cancelled this year, even for one good night of fishing I was more than ready for the trip. As it worked out, we got some Tuna, and yes we were all dissappointed by not being able to fish the entire 4 days. I look forward to next year's trip just to experience the entire GEM trip.
     
  9. ram

    ram Junior member

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    Geez you guys were lucky to get Steve himself. I have been with his outfit 8 times and never got to fish with him. And that Matt is a very fine young man you're lucky to have gotten him. I have fished with him several times dating back to 2002 and he keeps getting better and better each trip. I am really glad to hear he's going for capn's license, but do you know if he finished school?

    Tony Matt is one of the guys I told you to look for.
     
  10. Deep_Sea_Gull

    Deep_Sea_Gull Lifetime Supporting Members

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    I agree Ram. Matt will make a fine captain. I understood that he was "going for his license in a couple of weeks". He said that he had worked for Capn Tomeny for 8 years and was going to be running one of the boats next year.
    The white building across from the boats is the bunkhouse. It was spartan but clean. It suited our purposes to a tee.
    I would request Capn Steve when I booked a trip. He reminds me of Capn Johnny Greene.
     
  11. Deep_Sea_Gull

    Deep_Sea_Gull Lifetime Supporting Members

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    Here's Ragman with a tuna....
    [​IMG]
    Lane is shown in the background.

    We spent some time fishing this rig.
    [​IMG]

    Can you see that wind sock????
     
  12. LOL, did you see Tom's shirt after he let go of that Tuna? YUK! And those that know Tom know he likes to be clean and lean! HAHAHAHA.. Tom, I'm just ribbing you man, but in reality your shirt was... yellow with lots of red on it! ;)

    Tony, was that the first rig we fished when we trolled around it? The sea's don't look like they were the next morning when we tried to drift for bottom bites. Well, I think I answered my own question. That is the crew boat backed up against the rig that left about 8-9 o'clock that night, once we started our final drifts.
     
  13. Deep_Sea_Gull

    Deep_Sea_Gull Lifetime Supporting Members

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    LOL I did not post the shots of before and after Tom's picture. Yes, he was a little bloody.
    The rig is the one that had all the cudas we trolled up. I have some pictures of the ride in. They show the sea pretty well. I do not have them uploaded...
     
  14. Ragman

    Ragman Moderator

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    Yeah that shirt went in the trash after that pic!

    Kil- It was a great all-around bite, poppers, chunk, flyers, and even jigs. I think the most fish came on topwater, but the biggest fish came on the chunk or flyers.

    It was amazing that so many YFT's stayed with the boat that entire final drift, 5 hours! Definitely a lot of action.
     
  15. ksong

    ksong SPONSOR

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    Yeah that shirt went in the trash after that pic!

    Kil- It was a great all-around bite, poppers, chunk, flyers, and even jigs. I think the most fish came on topwater, but the biggest fish came on the chunk or flyers.

    It was amazing that so many YFT's stayed with the boat that entire final drift, 5 hours! Definitely a lot of action.
    Did anybody try West Coast style surface jigs ?

    If tuna stayed for 5 hours, chum must worked.
     
  16. Deep_Sea_Gull

    Deep_Sea_Gull Lifetime Supporting Members

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    I know that Grescobia had several blackfins on surface iron.

    Those yellow fins were almost totally dialed in on flying fish. They would only bite an artificial if it was thrown in on top of a live flyer they were trying to catch. The yellow fins were after the live flyers in swarms.
    One of the mates Matt was trying to get bit on a dead sardine. I tried to chum some tuna up for him with the sardines. I even tossed sardines into a group of tunas and got one to take a sardine. The rest were ignored.
     
  17. Kentucky Hog Hunter

    Kentucky Hog Hunter Junior member

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    Way to go guys.....

    I am a friend of Bert (BigHead)...... I was almost persuaded in coming down and going but couldn't do it this year.

    I live in Oregon and we chase salmon & steelhead year round and in the summer we fish the Salt hard for Albecore.....

    I have had the pleasure of fishing out of Venice La. twice in recent years and that place is awesome. You guys have a good thing going on down there and hopefully I can make one of these trips in the near future.

    Great job on the nice YFT Bighead and hope all is well for all of you during this holiday season.
     
  18. Grescobia

    Grescobia Senior Member

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    I tried the deep jigging but could only catch bft with that one excetion when I caught a bft and yft on the same jig. H.owever, I did catch a yft on surface iron ,chunk,flyingfish(live) a woodchopper(muskie lure)and a frenzy popper.