Here are a few pics from our Bluefin adventure the other day.
- Capt. Brant McMullan
Address: 65 Causeway Drive, Ocean Isle Beach, NC
Page 256 of 426
Yes its true. Yesterday, Team OIFC headed out on the road on a recon mission to check on rumors of a hot Bluefin bite taking place offshore of Cape Hatteras. Capt. Brant, Capt. Barrett, Capt. Jacob and myself loaded up the Yellowfin at 3am and hit the road in search of what we have coined "The Unicorn". We arrived in Morehead City around 6am and were off on a quick 80 mile trip north to the waters off of Diamond Shoals. Along the way, we stopped at a wreck to pick up a little ammo which Brant said was going to be our "secret weapon". At that point, I should have realized that Brant and Barrett, being the infamous masters of live bait fishing were up to something. We made short work of filling the livewell with huge bluefish, and then we were off to find the fish. When we got close to our destination, the VHF was alive with the Hatteras fleet hooked up and following a huge mass of Tuna's. It took us a little while to get set up so we put a traditional spread of ballyhoo out while we got our bearings. The bite seemed to slow down as we really got going and we all had the "day late, dollar short" feeling. That was not to be the case, as it turned out, they were just having a morning siesta... Around noon, we started marking huge pods of fish and started seeing Tuna's busting on the surface, at times by the dozens. We quickly learned that all you had to do was ride till you saw them on top or marked them on the bottom sounder and pitch out live bait. While the Tuna's made quick work of the live bait, we were on the bow casting Poppers for some topwater action. Capt. Jacob was the first to draw blood with a very respectable 100+ lb fish, caught on live bait. The action continued at a fevered pitch with several fish swirling and biting at the poppers while Brant and Barrett continued hooking fish after fish on live Bluefish. Finally late in the day, we managed to hook up on topwater with an explosive strike and two other fish on live bait for a triple header to cap off what ended up being one of the most explosive, consistant Bluefin Tuna bites we have experienced in a very long time. We headed back to Morehead with "mission accomplished" stirring in all of our minds. We ended the day with 4 fish boated and another 10-12 hookups. After having a good night of rest to decompress, I have to say, the most exciting part of the day was watching two brothers, who have mastered the skill of live bait fishing for King Mackerel, adapt that same technique and apply it to tuna to turn what could have been an average day into one of the coolest fishing trips I have been on.
In response to a letter I sent the commission...I recieved a phone call from the head of law enforcement...Jim Kelly...he was responding to my comment about the usual answer we get when calling the hot line to report possible violations. "We don't have a boat in the water today". I have talked to several folks that have reported this and have given up on making that phone call. Well, Jim Kelly has given us new information to follow to get a better response. He asked me to share it with you. First, call the hot line at 1-800-682-2632, regardless the answer they give you, ask for an incident number, write this number down. If you feel that no response was made to your incident, call Jim Kelly directly at (910) 796-7220. You must have an incident number in order for Mr. Kelly to follow up. Good luck and keep your eye out for bad apples. Violations are what ruins it for both commercial and recreational guys.
The recreational speckled trout fishery has been closed until June 1st. I support the closure in hopes that this will insure a stronger fishery in the near future. I fear that all of our efforts are in vain. Commercial gill netters are still allowed to set nets and keep 10% of so called bycatch of speckled trout. I do not agree with this at all. Speckled trout are not to be targeted, but if for some reason a few get caught they can keep them anyway. Sounds like a recipe for disaster, just like the Striper fishing in Oregon Inlet. Now what are they targeting? Mullet or Redfish? Mullet are suppose to be the main target, but coming from someone on the water nearly everyday. The mullet in our water right now are small, 6 to 8 inches. Those can't be of much value even if you had a gill net that would catch them. So the best target are the redfish, but again these fish are supposely not to be targeted. However, just in case a few do find the net, commercial guys are allowed 10 fish per day. Really that is not to bad, right? However, the method in which these fish are caught often result in a high mortality rate. Gill nets catch fish by trapping them behind the gill plates, often tearing and ripping the gills. With that said I am going to share a sad story with you that happens many more times than we hear about.
Many of you have followed my fishing reports and know that a good redfish bite has been happening here in front of the OIFC. I have talked to several of you that have attempted fishing the canal and had limited success lately. I myself have had the same result. I just figured that maybe the redfish had just moved. Not the case. I was told by a good source that a gill net was set in the canal a few days ago and 200 redfish were netted. Now by law all but 10 fish must be released. However, most of these fish will probably die by the method in which they were caught. If this disgust you, then now is the time to voice your opinion. It is time to remove the gill nets from our backwaters. I have talked to many of you that express hatred toward gill nets, simply because of there destructive nature. I do sympathize with the commercial fisherman, but at what cost to our natural resources. Please express your views to the Executive Director of Marine Fisheries firstname.lastname@example.org,, Senate Bill.Rabon@ncleg.net, and the Governor's Office email@example.com. Thanks for your effort and support.
I sent out a mass email to all on our email list Monday morning. The update covered the Galapagos trip, job opportunities, upcoming events...... If you DID NOT get this email and you want to recieve future OIFC updates etc. via email, SUBSCRIBE TO THE OIFC EMAIL LIST BY CLICKING HERE.
Looking at upcoming fishing, may head up to Hatteras to get in on the Bluefin Tuna bite. This late Winter bite has been developing over the past few years and has become very popular with jiggers and poppers -- of course trolling yields bites as well. I'm going to assemble some OIFC staffers and maybe head that way soon. Stay tuned.
There is absolutely zero to report on the fishing front. But I do have my Sunday pictures of the progress (?) of the Ocean Isle Boat Ramp.
Also attached is a picture of the new kite fishing rod holder we now stock. Jeff and I ordered one and have stocked up on kite fishing tackle. When we were in Florida fishing the SKA Nationals we saw everyone was kite fishing, sometimes with multiple kites. I'm not proficient at it yet, but will be by fishing time. Capt. Brant and Capt. Steele are up to par on kite fishing, so you might want to check with them on tackle and tips.
Looks like the fish spanked us all yesterday. I talked to several folks who reported no action yesterday. I can't stand it! I took off after them again today in my kayak. This time I was prepared to do some paddling. I paddled into shallow creeks, pushing my way slowly through the flooded grass. The redfish will sometimes push way back into the grass and find open pockets of water. I had found some several days ago and was excited to see a couple of them bite. That did not happen today. I never bumped a fish, saw any running, or waking from my kayak. I was a bit disappointed that I never located a school in shallow water. I headed for the edges of oyster bars near deep water. I found my first fish there, then another, and finally a good one. I ended up catching five redfish today and the bite ended as quickly as it started. Every bite came on a rootbeer colored shrimp. I would imagine if you get a rootbeer or new penny gulp shrimp in front of one they will eat. I am just not sure where the big schools have gone that we were seeing last week? It was still fun to have a 25" redfish tow me around for a while. See ya on the water!
Though we didn't get any fishing in on our last day of the adventure to the Galapagos we still got a pretty awesome experience. On the final morning before we had to get on a plane for Guayaquil we all loaded up in taxis at the hotel and drove 30 minutes through the island to the highlands. It was cool seeing the countryside of San Cristobal and then ultimately getting to the giant tortoise sanctuary. We toured around the farm and saw many giant turtles and were able to get close to these enormous reptiles that were nearly 100 years old. Fun fact: Steven Spielburg was inspired by the appearance of the giant tortoise when visiting the Galapagos and the result was the creation of his biggest film to date E.T.
We made it back to the airport in time for our flight to Guayaquil where we said our good byes to Captain Braden and his crew. In Guayaquil our guide Julio Rosas was there to meet us once again. Julio is the man. He was truly a unique character that none of us will soon forget. He took several of us on a tour of the city and it seemed like he knew everyone and everyone knew him. If you ever needed to get something done and get it done quickly in the city of Guayaquil, Ecuador, Julio, the future mayor, is the guy. We all had dinner together at a local restuarant that last night with Julio as our guest. The next morning we were off to the airport and back to the good ol USA.
Man, what a trip. I'm still knocking on wood at this point but it's hard to believe you can travel half way around the world with all kinds of unknowns and at the end everything exceeds expectations and generally runs smooth.
The fishing was phenomenal by most standards. However from those who have experience fishing the Galapagos, I understand the action we found was relatively slow. If that's as slow as it gets, I can't imagine what hot fishing would be like. For the 4 days of fishing our crew managed to raise approximately 148 striped marlin, catch and release 31 and all 16 anglers in our group caught at lease one stripe marlin. 6 of our anglers caught their first marlin in the Galapagos.
Guayaquil, Ecuador was a pleasant surprise. The city was big, very clean, and the people were extremely courteous and prideful of their country. Our guide in the city, Julio Rosas, was superb. We had no problems at the airport or getting around town thanks to him. The hotel Oro Verde was extremely nice resembling a 5 star US hotel. Everything and everyone was on time. No unmet expectations.
The Galapagos was incredible. The wildlife, climate, and people were all first class. The hotel Miconia couldn't have been positioned better overlooking the harbour and fishing fleet that were being guarded by dedicated sea lions. The hotel had everything we needed including a great restaurant and quality rooms. Captain Braden runs one heck of a fishing operation. Even in such a remote location with supplies at a premium he managed to put together top knotch equipment and crews. The boats are perfect for the style of fishing that is most common there. This is a unique piece of dirt in the middle of the Pacific Ocean that remains undisturbed by human habitation. I feel like we just scratched the surface of what the Galapagos has to offer as there are several other islands in the chain that I understand are equally impressive.
There is little I would change about our trip to the Galapagos. I would be interested in seeing more of the islands and maybe I'd add a day to explore in between the fishing. On the fishing side, I would once again bring a few tricks from home as sometimes when you go to a place where the fishing is so good on average that the locals don't have to try too hard with their techniques to produce. However, if the fish aren't cooperating it may take a little convincing to get them going. We've always said some of the best fishermen in the world come from Ocean Isle Beach, NC for the simple reason that we have to try a lot harder to catch fish here than most anywhere else.
The Galapagos is a MUST SEE destination in my book. If you enjoy adventure, billfishing, and amazing wildlife you owe it to yourself to visit this place. I am currently working on plans for next year's Traveling Fisherman. The plan is to have several different trips planned to various locations in order to give potential travelers a choice. While I'm excited to find new exotic fishing destinations I am confident it will be difficult to top the Galapagos. I would like to hear from anyone out there who has an input or an idea on a good location for us to consider for next year. With the success of the last couple Traveling Fisherman trips abroad I hope we have built a reputation for organizing quality fishing adventures to unique locations. Next year will be a banner year for the Traveling Fisherman so if you have interest in joining our groups please stay tuned for destination announcements and then contact me with interest. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for trip information or ideas for future destinations.
Lastly I want to acknowledge and once again thank the group of Traveling Fisherman we had this year. All but two anglers from last year's Panama trip made the Galapagos trip this year. This has become a tight knit group and your company has been joy to be around. We've seen some pretty incredible sights together, told a lot of stories, and even managed to catch a few fish in between. This year we added a few new faces to the gang and you guys certainly provided an energetic spark and entertainment for everyone. I hope everyone enjoyed this adventure as much I and I can't wait to experience the next adventure with you.
That's it folks, the story of the Traveling Fisherman Galapagos 2011. I hope you enjoyed the step by step recap of our adventure. Next time instead of reading about it, hopefully you can join us and be part of it. Signing off. Pics and vids to come next week.
Friday, Fish Day 4: Yesterday was a long one for the crews of the Patricia and Big Fish who made the long to the Black Sheep bank and got back to port just before dark. Today we got going on a more typical schedule departing the dock about 7am. All 4 boats headed east and spread out between the Rosa Banca and the Honey Hole. So far the Blue has been the most consistent boat, with The Big Fish a close second and the Jonamar and Patricia in a dead heat for last place. Captain Braden captains the Patricia and was well aware of this fact and declared early on that today would have a different result. The weather, of course, was once again perfect. With the last day of fishing ahead of us, we were all excited to make the most of it. Today's crews were:
The Big Fish: Captain Fernando
Patricia: Captain Braden
Blue: Captain Julio
Jonamar II: Captain Edwin
On board the Patricia we arrived to the Honey Hole first. Brant and I pulled out our bag of tricks as the pressure was on to help get Captain Braden out of the dog house. The morning started slow for all the boats. We had one Stripe Marlin come in the spread after about an hour that tormented us by following every teaser we had but he wouldn't take a bait. Today we varied the approach by running two hooked lures on the riggers, two teasers close, one lure near the teaser and one pitch bait ready to go. Also, we dropped back a small feather on the long line in case a tuna was nearby. The first strike of the day was on the feather which yielded a 30lb yellowfin tuna handled by Amy. The pressure was off, dinner was served! Just like clock work at 11:00am the action began on board the Patricia. For the rest of the day we had stripe marlin in the spread. Most fish that were raised were aggressive and and struck either or lures or pitch baits. We had a great day with the stripe marlin eventhough we should have caught several more than we did. For whatever reason we were definitely the hot boat today. Braden was on the fish and loving it. We got some great video and pics today as Brant was our underwater photographer. The Big Fish and Blue stuck with the marlin fishing all day but the Jonamar team opted to call it quits early and try out the jigging action. The final tally for today:
The Big Fish: 200 points +?
5 hook ups
1 stripe marlin catch
1 sea lion release!
Patricia: 1075 points
10 hook ups
5 stripe marlin catches
1 yellowfin tuna
Blue: 200 points
2 hook ups
1 stripe marlin catch
Jonamar II: 100 points
2 wahoo to the boat
Multiple wahoo and tuna lost to sea lions
Patricia takes the title today. What an awesome place this is. I hate to think tomorrow we're out of here. The plan is to have our host Ronnie pick up our bags and passports tomorrow morning and get us checked in for our flight at noon. While that's going on we're going to head to the highlands of San Cristobal and go check out the famed giant tortoises of the Galapagos. I think we're ready for a break from fishing but to leave this place tomorrow afternoon is going to be tough.
I'll be posting a trip wrap up tomorrow complete with fishing stats, general thoughts on the experience as a whole and plans for the future. I should have all the pics early next week and will post as many as I can.
It poured rain last night which sounded pretty neat coming through the tropical trees surrounding our hotel. The plan again for today was for 2 boats to make an extra long run about 68 miles to another bank called the Black Sheep. The name comes from the fact it's so far away from anything else, it's all on it's own. 8 of us woke up an hour early for a 6am departure. The rain brought a stiff easterly breeze this morning which made us think maybe making the long run wouldn't be in the cards today. Captain Braden met us outside the hotel and re-assured everyone it was just a land breeze and we were on as planned. The two boats making the long run were The Big Fish and Patricia. Blue and Jonamar II would be heading back to Rosa Banca at the normal time. Today's crews and boat assignments:
The Big Fish: Captain Fernando
Patricia: Captain Braden
Blue: Captain Julio
Jonamar II: Captain Edwin a.k.a. Richard Petty
I was on the Big Fish that headed to the Black Sheep bank. Talk about traveling where no man has traveled before, wow. Not only did we start on an island that is in the middle of nowhere, we left nowhere and went another 70 miles to the middle of the ocean. We left out of the harbor and headed around the opposite end of the island than we had been traveling the previous two days. The first 30 miles were flat riding behind the island and passing by Kicker Rock. The next 35 miles were a little bumpy but not too bad. The boats did well. We arrived to the bank and the feast or famine forecast looked to be leaning more towards famine as there were no signs of life on the bank. No birds, dolphin, or bait could be seen immediately. We were a little worried we may have made a mistake but despite the lack of signs of fish, they were there. In less than 10 minutes we had the first fish in the spread and it proceeded to make fools out of us. Just a few minutes later the Captain Braden on Patricia comes on the radio and reports raising a triple but three whiffs by the crew. Between the two boats it was a tale of different days. I don't know what to attribute it to, but on board The Big Fish we had a very busy day with stripe marlin being raised all day long. It seemed like we had a bunch of multiples which created a chaotic cockpit. The Patricia couldn't seem to get it going after the first flurry and raised just a few fish all day. Despite all these guys working in the same operation, make no mistake there is significant competition among the Captains. These guys are motivated to catch more fish than their colleagues which works out good for the anglers. Back on board The Big Fish our biggest problem was a group of about 8 frigate birds that wouldn't leave us alone. They were aggressive, trying to eat baits first out of our spread and then actually out of the boat! The problem was every time we'd raise a marlin and drop a bally hoo back the frigates would swoop in and take the bait. After several encounters with birds, the good ol boy NC came out in Freeman and the birds were no longer a problem. In addition we decided to pull lures so the birds wouldn't bother our presentation. It worked as our hook up ratio improved in the afternoon. We fished late as the Patricia was trying to regain some honor but it wasn't to be on this day. The Big Fish was the hot boat today with numerous raises, fish hooked fought and lost and a few boated. Back on the Rosa Banca the action was similar to the first two days. Both boats released stripe marlin with the action occurring between 11:00 and 2:00 but overall it wasn't real hot. The results from today:
The Big Fish: 600 points (Stripe Marlin)
Patricia: 0 points (Stripe Marlin)
Blue: 400 points (Stripe Marlin)
Jonamar II: 200 points (Stripe Marlin)
Amy caught her first stripe marlin of the trip today. Now, Brant and Rube are the only two in the group not to catch a marlin. Tomorrow is our last day of fishing here at the Galapagos. While we are a little sad to see the end, we are also pretty worn out from going at it hard these last few days. The plan tomorrow is for all the boats to head back to the Rosa Banca for a grand finale. Captain Braden on the Patricia has sworn revenge. The McMullan's are on board the Patrica tomorrow so we're going to help Braden get back on top, or at least that's the plan. One more day to go.
Here are some pictures from Bryan Freeman on board The Big Fish.
No joke, I get sea sick in the bath tub!!! But I've found a ritual to prevent sea sickness. It works for me..I haven't got sick in a couple of years.....All thanks to Captain Chris Buroughs. It's really spelled Burrows, but I like aggravating Chris!
Here's my ritual. The night before I go out I'm very careful about what I eat. Nothing rich or greasy. I eat bland foods. I don't drink, so alcohol isn't a problem. If you do drink, don't the night before. I also put "the patch" on and eat ginger root. The ginger root tastes nasty. You only need to use a piece about the size of your fingernail. I slice mine as thin as a radish and slam it down with some soft drink.
The morning of the trip I eat a bowl of oat meat. It doesn't slosh around in your stomach. You need to eat, but not greasy foods.
For on the boat, I pack plenty of snacks, especially ginger snaps. I also take some frosted Mini Wheats and munch on them. I learned the Mini Wheat thing from Rube. You want to keep something on your stomach. I also take along plenty of water and some ginger ale.
That's my remedy in a nutshell and it has worked every time no matter the sea conditions. Also click on this link to check an article from Earth Sports. Good luck and don't let sea sickness keep you on shore.
I have taken my boat out of the water for bottom painting. This has forced me to go back to how I first started exploring and fishing our backwaters here at Ocean Isle Beach, NC. I brought out my Perception 9.0 Swifty kayak and started paddling down the waterway. Wow! The wind was making travel a bit difficult. I had my heart set on fishing despite the conditions, so I grinded it out. It took me much longer to get to the fishing grounds than it did to catch one. I had a nice 19" fish to the boat in just a few cast. A few more cast with out a bite...I decided to make a change in my lure selection. First cast with a new lure and thump! A nice redfish was headed for the kayak...or should I say my kayak was headed for a nice redfish. After a few minutes I had a 26&3/4 inch brute in the back of my kayak. I gave it a few more minutes, but the conditions were brutal. Besides dinner was in the box and I had a long paddle back to the house. It was still a blast and I needed the excercise! You can bet I will give this a try again once the conditions get more favorable. The fish are shallow and I aim to get in there with them. See ya on the water!
The pictures below are of the jigging done by the crew of the Jonamar today. The marlin pictures are coming soon.