Date: August 18-21, 2014
Location: 80 miles offshore
Fish: 2 mahi/4 yft/ 4 lft
Largest:: 52" 82lbs
8 of us left at 5am Monday morning aboard the "Sea U II." We were fishing in the Hampton Offshore Invitational Tournament out of Oakland's Marina in Shinnecock. The tournament is an 8 day event to benefit the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Long Island NY. We fished the overnight category. In the 8 days of this event we are allowed to fish 2 overnighters. Leave at 5am and return no later than 7pm the following day.
Day 1, Monday. We ride out on smooth seas and make great time, getting to the fishing grounds about 8am. Radio chatter had a few fish being picked up here and there but by no means was the bite on. As the day went on our crew worked hard but nothing seemed to work. The highlight of the first day was the food. Chef Tony actually made real egg, ham and cheese breakfast sandwiches. He kept the food coming late into the night. I even ate some fruit in between my 2 huge meatball Parmesan heros.
Day 2, Tuesday. It looked like our luck was about to change. At 3am we were finally into some fish. We went 2 for 3 on yellowfins up to 66.5lbs. Little did we know that we were done for the day. Captain John did everything right but it just wasn't working. It makes it even harder to swallow when you hear that some boats landed multiple bigeye tunas while we can't even get a single knock down. Things are about to get a whole lot worse. In the movie the "Perfect Storm" Captain Billy Tyne informed his crew that they weren't heading home. They were going to the Flemish Cap. If you remember how the crew felt then, you can understand how we felt when due to the weather the Captain informed us we were going to do back to back overnighters. I wasn't physically or mentally ready to do this. When fishing feels like a job it takes on a very different feeling.
Day 3, Wednesday. I wake up with a splitting headache. I took some aspirin and off we went. We knew going into the day it was going to be "sporty" out there. East wind at 20 knots with 4-6 foot seas would make for a tough day and a lumpy night. I don't know of a crew that worked harder than us. The waters out there were covered in weeds. When you troll 14 lines you need to work non-stop to keep your lures weed free. As the day went on depression started to set in as we ended day 3 and all that we had to show for our efforts were 2 small mahi.
Day 4, Thursday. I couldn't sleep; everywhere you tried to lay down someone was snoring! I couldn't wait for my night shift to begin. I headed out to cut bait at 1:30am. The cool thing about being up at that time is you never know what you might see. I was able to net a flying fish, squid and a needle fish. There were tuna under the boat but we just couldn't get them to bite. I went back in around 4am to lay on the couch. I was quickly called back outside to the scream of FISH ON! With Tony Gatto on the line we landed a really nice yellowfin around 65 pounds. I was up next on the rod with my biggest yellow ever...72Lbs. Chris was up next with another big yellow. Morale on the boat was on the rise. We kept chunking when Chris comes tight again. This time we land a longfin albacore tuna. Not a great eating tuna but one that may put a few bucks in our pocket. We knew this was a big albie and we just might have turned this trip around with one fish. The bite quickly came to an end as we hooked into a small mako shark that we ending up breaking off at the boat. Once the chunking bite ended we got back up on the troll. We finally hooked up on the troll landing 3 small albies. We would end our fishing tournament with just 1 more small albie.
Back at the scales, we brought over our biggest yellow, albie and mahi.The first to get hoisted was the yellowfin, and the fish to beat was 82.5lbs. Our fish was 82lbs... I almost threw up. Next up was the albie, the fish to beat was 50 pounds. Our fish was 59.5 pounds. All of a sudden our miserable 4 days out at sea was quickly forgotten. The next up was our mahi. It weighed in at 11.23 pounds, putting us in 3rd place. Some how with 3 days left in the tournament we find ourselves on the board with a chance to win a couple of bucks. On top of that this tournament since its start has raised over 1 million dollars for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Long Island.
I will keep you posted. The tournament doesn't end until Sunday. Fingers crossed.
Yellow boat 12 million dollars
White boat 7 million dollars
Charlie making us laugh.
Me with my biggest yellow
Me and my mahi
Even though I may use the term me, offshore fishing is a team effort. Everyone has a job to do when a fish is on the line. I fished with a great crew..
Don't forget to check out the 2 quick videos I posted that gives you a small glimpse into the offshore scene