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This was one of the first 60 hour trips Dolphin Docks ran to Hoover/Diana which is about 130 miles East-South East of Port A. About 15 anglers from the Allcoast board signed on for the trip in August 2002 and thus Texas Allcoast Gathering 2002 (TAG02) was born.

Day one:
It was about 9ish when we finally got to Floater, pitch black except for the rig lights and those on the boat, about 85 degrees and the ocean was the calmest that I have ever seen. At the fringe of the lights you could see eruptions of water from where flying fish just became evening snack for tuna. The only words that I can use to describe it are AMAZING and UNBELIVEABLE. TJ and I start fished bait on straight tie 50#, me with a live pinfish and he with a dead sardine. After what seems like hours (really only about 10-20 minutes) I abandoned the pinfish and tried a one of the Popsicle flyers. First drifted nose hooked and then butt hooked and twitched without any success while watching the tourists hooked up with blackfin on the rented spinners & small poppers.
At this point I had enough and picked up my big Penn spinner with 80# spectra and a short 50# TBG topshot with a blue mackerel BPS surface cruiser I had tied on during the trip out. After a couple of casts was hooked up and brought a 5-8# blackfin to gaff which was donated to chunk / food pool. This continued for a few more until I got one with some shoulders which took about 50 yards at 10# drag straight down. I started pumping and winding but felt the hooks come unbuttoned and then was slammed again, pump and wind some more then nothing. When I got the plug to the surface I had my answer to what just happened. Both hooks were missing, the stock split rings could not handle the load of the extra palm pressure against the spool. *** Note to anyone that's going to fish tuna on poppers no matter the brand: change the hooks and split rings to something you know will handle the drag your going to use. ***
About this time a deckhand gives me a live flyer that I immediate pin to TJ’s virgin 50# bait rod (Tiagra 20 on a Badfish CJBF60XH). I’m still not sure how I ended up with his rod instead on my own virgin 50# outfit, heat of the battle I guess??? A gentle underhand lob and about 30 seconds later the line comes tight and HOOKUP, after a really short fight of just dominating the fish a 20-25# blackfin is gaffed.
What to do now? Live flyer = fish, unfortunately no more live flyers. The washtub sized boils off the bow answers the question fairly quickly so I’m back to the poppers but the one I have tied on is out of commission and my tackle bag is in the cabin. TJ tells me to use his Kaikon 3000 with 40# on a GFTR 700M with red and clear Hydro tiger. I couple of cast later I’m getting range I need to get back in the hot zone and pick up a small YFT and a couple a more blackfins. I make a long cast to a boil straight off the bow but have a mother of a backlash. After picking it out I start winding in slack but realize I have a fish on, another short fight and I see deep color. I start to call for a gaff when the fish sees the boat and takes the rest of 100 yards of 40# topshot and about 20 yards of the spectra. With some tug of war I get about 50 yards back, then lose all the mono again when the fish just stops. I’ve got dead weight about 100 yards down and I thought that I had been sharked. After what seems like an eternity (probably only 5 minutes) of pump and winding, then trying the rail (just to awkward for me), grinding with the rod on the rail – dam 6 to 1 gear ratios, and then finally back to pump and wind I see two big yellow sickles coming up tail first – it’s tail wrapped. Two gaff shots later a solid 65-70# YFT hits the decks. I think the crew used two gaffs on all the bigger models to insure none were lost.
It’s about 11:30 now and I decide to get something to drink and cool off in the AC of the cabin. I end up taking a short nap and wake up to sound of the tail beat of a solid fish against the deck. Hit the bow again about 12:30 with a BPS MagZ popper in hand, this time making sure to get one that I had replaced the hooks and rings with heavier models. I tie it on to my spinner and cast or two later I’m on another solid YFT. The fish takes me from one side of the bow to the other and back again, then all the way down to the opposite side of stern before I get it to color. Big Jason (two deckhands named Jason) takes a shot with one of the two big hook gaffs but after a couple tail beats it gets ripped from his hands. With a look of disbelief he tells Capt Dean and Capt Ken what happen and the gaff is gone and they just give him a little sh** before laughing at him. I guess this is example of how pretty much everything is secondary when the fishing is hot as I’ve seen the deckhands on the Dolphin get a lot worst for a lot less. I get the fish back up to the top as they get the other big gaff ready and the largest fish of the trip hits the deck, a solid 75-80 pounds.
I grab a couple of bottles of water for the Allcoasters on bow and take a break to just watch the show. I see Etan hooked up on his 80# rig , Flounder chunking iron, Earl having his Yummee smacked out of the water, and Tom, Soo & TJ bowed up on fish with the poppers – everyone on board is having a really good time. I break out of my daze and start fishing again but we are about ¾ of mile from the rig and the fish that are around aren’t that aggressive. They would just follow the poppers to the boat but not hit them and then mill around for a few seconds before heading back out into the deep blue. Capt Dean can see what going on and moves the boat back close to the rig and the bite is back on. I catch another blackfin or two before hooking up with another good YFT. It’s about 3:00 AM now and I’m fairly tired. Capt Dean remembers he suppose to be taking some video and grabs the video camera. Wouldn’t you know the footage he gets of me is when my form is at it’s worst and I’m getting my butt kicked by a fish. He actually gets a shot of me having the rod butt slip off my belt which lets the tip whack one of the deckhands on the either head, shoulder, or gaff. His only comment on the video was “Oh, somebody is getting tired”. Soo also coins a new phase from this little episode: kung fu fishing. I finally wrestle the 60# YFT to gaff.
After another break I catch flyer in Tom’s net and pin it on my new bait rod, TLD20II with 50# on a Badfish CJBF65XH pitch it out. After a long soak I’m hooked up with another decent fish but it’s no match for the tackle. The fish is so green that the deckhands had trouble gaffing it because is doing fast 5-foot circle on the top of the water. The gaff hits home and another big blackfin of about 25# hits the decks. It’s about 4:00 AM now and I decide to turn in with 3 60-80# YFT, 2 20# YFT, 2 20-25# blackfin, and another 6-8 smaller blackfin. The fishing slowed down and one by one the tired but happy Allcoasters trade their rods for what comfort they could find in a shower or a bunk.
Day two:
Wake to the smell of breakfast about 8:00 AM, eat something but since we’re trolling around I decide to go back to sleep. The day is fairly uneventful as it seems that we are trolling when I’m awake until we hit a week line about 7:00 PM thats holding a few dolphin. Fish bait for dolphin a while but they aren’t interested in what I’m offering so I go have supper.
Back to floater a little after dark but the seas are up a little and fishing it fairly slow until about 10:00 or so. I had to ditch the mono topshot because the crappy spiderwire keeps air knotting on me and I had cut back about 40 yards of it. I pick up another blackfin and hookup on what feels like another solid YFT but I break the line at deep color while palming the spool losing not only the fish but also my hot popper the only of one of that model I have. I tied on a purple and black yozuri surface cruiser and start catching few fish after changing the way I was working it a little. I get another good blackfin and a couple of smaller ones by 1:15. I hook another good YFT and a solid 50#er hits the deck about 1:30. I decide to stop fishing on a high note with a limit of YFT (4 between 50-80#, 2 about 20#) and about 12-15 blackfin. About 2:10 we crank up and head for home.
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