Wednesday, May 23, 2007

the team in training

Tuesday was the third marlin practice session for team Xtreme Caribbean Real Estate and the excitement as we left port was fever pitched. Tony, Big John, Francis, Choppa were all on hand with me to set out in search of the target species for the 41st annual Antigua Sport Fishing Tournament. Registration is just a few days away and although we didn’t release any marlin in our previous two practice runs, this morning we were more confident than ever. On our first practice run last week we went out in search of some FADs and managed to only find one. A FAD or a fish aggregating device is essentially an anchored bit of debris both floating and submerged which attracts a massive variety of small fish. They are usually set way out off-shore in secret locations usually in depths of about 2000 feet. This means that the average length of rope is usually 6000 feet (2000 meters). Wherever there are many small fish there will always be larger ones and FADs can be places of great excitement and bounty. Most are set illegally in our waters by fishermen from our neighboring French island; Guadeloupe. My dad and his friends caught 18 mahi mahi at a FAD several weeks ago in just 3 hours. Mahi Mahi was the special on all the menus in Antigua that week. Anyway, not only do Mahi Mahi hang out there but tuna, wahoo and even marlin too. While looking for a FAD which we had marked with our GPS last year, we managed to hook up with a small Blue Marlin. The fish which we estimated to be about 150 lbs jumped and thrashed a bit before releasing itself. Within seconds the fight was over. We searched for more FADS that we had marked a year earlier and of the 6 we looked for we only managed to locate one which didn’t seem to have any fish about it. We caught several cudas and one mahi by the time the day was over, but no marlin. The day managed to be productive in many ways and the practice was good for us all. Marlin fishing isn’t easy at all. Anyway on our second run after the party on Saturday night, we managed to leave after lunch in search of the same blue marlin target. We hooked up with a good wahoo way out in the deep which is usually more suited towards blue marlin than wahoo. We thought for sure that it was a marlin until the fish stopped peeling line off the reel. Once it slowed we knew it wasn’t a huge fish, and were quite surprised to see it was a wahoo as it came to the boat. We had started fishing at about 2 pm and it had been very slow most of the day. We were looking for blue marlin and hadn’t seen a sign of one at all. Just before sunset we spotted some frigate birds doing their acrobatic displays of unique flying fish catching and knew that there were bigger fish below. We approached and managed to hook up immediately expecting to find a mahi at the end once we had retrieved the line. Instead it was a massive Black Fin Tuna. Once we had landed it and bled it we were off at 35 knots back towards Jolly Harbour which was about 25 miles from us. Watching the setting sun from the sea has always been one of the things I love most….especially when you have fish to share up back at the dock. No marlin though and as the sun sank below the dark waves a tiny bit of unease set in about our poor marlin catching luck. We had to get one before the tournament in order to get the Xtreme morale back to its deserved level. Tuesday was our third practice day and the entire Xtreme Caribbean Real Estate team was ready. The plan was slightly different and we fished the plan as we usually do.
Very quickly we ran into action and later I will tell you about it. Check back early tomorrow morning and i will have filled you in on the days events.