Thursday, May 24, 2007

the team in training - part 2

Continued from yesterday’s blog entry:

Upon hitting the drop off below the famous bank, Xtreme Caribbean Real Estate set out the big marlin lures hoping that we would finally get “a release”. A release is when you hook up and fight a blue marlin all the way to the boat and then release it alive. The mood was excellent even though it was a little choppy out in the Atlantic, and the boys were ready. We decided to fish a place that has been called “Frank’s Hole” which is a deep trench very close to the drop off. Frank Hark of overdraft is a famous fisherman here and had spent many tournament days looking for marlin there. We made north-south runs over the trench hoping to pull a big marlin out of the dark waters below, but nothing seemed to happen. On one of our last runs in before taking an easterly turn towards the bank I saw a piece of plywood floating several boat lengths away. I told the boys to stand by as I knew that mahi would be around it. Sure enough as we approached we could see the amazing blues and greens that always give the mahi (dolphin fish) away. Within seconds we had three 20-25 lb mahi mahi on the lines peeling off line and jumping behind the boat. We managed to land two and the third pulled free right beside the boat. These fish are so delicious and colourful that the mood became elevated once again.
“Lines back out” I shouted and we were fishing for marlin again very quickly. We had seen Frank’s boat “Overdraft” out earlier and called them with the GPS position of the ply so that they could come and catch some mahi mahi for their Jumby Bay guests. We didn’t have any bait and since we were only using artificial lures the chances of catching more mahi was pretty slim. The situation at “the bank” was very unusual with no birds or typical schools of little tuna. We fished there for several hours hoping to find a big blue. After all this was our all time best spot for finding blue marlin and so far we had nothing to show for it. Back and forth from the 3500 depths towards the shallow bank and nothing was spotted at all. The boys were very hungry and choppa and francis actually had cut a small fillet of mahi mahi, dropped it into some vinegar and salad dressing and were having a pre-lunch snack. Tony and John didn’t feel like trying some of the boy’s sushi and chose to wait a little longer for lunch.
Later lunch came and passed and we still had no sign of a marlin……or anything else for that matter. The seas got rougher and we started getting pretty wet. Coming from way upwind of us a small boat was spotted by Tony appearing now and again as it crested the big atlantic waves. These French fishermen were crazy. Fishing illegally 60 miles from home in little open boats was normal for them, but no antiguan would dream of doing the same. I kept an eye on them and noticed them stop way off in the distance South of the bank. I told Big John that we would go have a closer inspection in case they were fishing a hidden FAD out there. As we got closer I saw them pulling huge mahi mahi into the boat and told the boys to get ready. We didn’t see any FAD buoys or anything else floating which would tell us why these mahi mahi were here, but once our lines started screaming we knew something must be close. We ended up losing one of the fish but landed a nice wahoo. The fishermen waved us off as if to say that this was their special spot. Just looking at their French fishing registration made me a little agrivated but actually being told to leave the area almost made me laugh out loud. I made sure we got even closer on the next pass and then we saw the object in the water. It was a huge piece of semi submerged natural rubber and the fish were congregating all around it and the French fishermen. We hooked up with another wahoo and the French guys decided to pull out in case I had called the coast guard. We made several more passes hooking up with crazed wahoo one after another. We had no bait and were using large marlin lures which made us lose many of our hookups. Big John had ordered a very special lure from California which took weeks to get here just in preparation for the tournament this weekend. The massive lure made by Black Bart was very similar to the Grander Candy that he had gotten the year before. We had so much luck with the Grander Candy that we were hoping for great things with this lure until it got bitten clean off by a wahoo. The wahoo’s teeth are the shapest of any fish in the sea and one had hit the line above the leader cutting the entire thing off. John was devastated, and I tried to remind him that this was all part of fishing. It can be an incredibly expensive and frustrating game. We landed another wahoo close to big chunk of flotsam and trolled off a little further on the next run. As had been happening over the past hour at regular intervals we got a fast strike very similar to the rest, but this one didn’t slow down. The boys shouted “MARLIN” and I saw it slashing the water about a hundred yards behind the boat. Choppa was quickly in the harness and fighting while the others quickly brought in the other lines. I turned towards the fish and we were fighting. Tony held on to the back of his harness and quietly coached him while Choppa struggled with the blue marlin. This was something that we had waited for three days of fishing for and were all very excited. The fish was well behaved and within 30 minutes we had the marlin near the boat.
Big John grabbed the 25 foot long 300 lb test leader and brought the fish alongside and grabbed the bill. As he did that the fish went ballistic thrashing about and hitting the side of the boat.
John who is a good few pounds over 200lbs himself was getting thrown about like a lightweight, and all of us were happy it was not us in such a close battle with a blue marlin.
Its sharp bill has been known to so terrible damage, and we let it chill out before I tried to get the hook. Francis took photos and I finally took the hook out. The fish was very tired and we put the boat in gear so that we could pull the fish though some water in order to revive it a bit. The colour started becoming more vibrant and we knew it was ready to swim off again free to fight another day. WE estimated the fish to be about 200 lbs and were all delighted to have had such a good opportunity to practice catching a beautiful blue just days before the tournament. We went back to the GPS spot I had marked where the flotsam was and decided to go for a swim. We had heard our neighbors call sign on the VHF radio earlier and called them to let them know where we were. They were 3 miles away and coming to find this thing. While we waited for them we swam with the object. The wahoo circled all around the boat below and thousands of small fish tucked close together hoping to avoid the inevitable. There were huge triggerfish and triple tail too. The mahi mahi had moved on but we were sure there were other fish nearby too. Once back on board we were very satisfied and although we could have stayed longer catching more…we decided to head home charged and ready for this weekend’s action.

Team Xtreme Caribbean Real Estate was on top once again.