OK guys... Got a little shut eye and to my computer...
We had the boat loaded by 5pm Tuesday Feb 8 and got everyone speeched up and ready to go. There was some grumbling about the weather, especially after we had delayed through what looked like a slightly better window to get hammered with a northern our last day of fishing, but alas, the weather is a fickle comedian, and we could push her back no further...
Made terrible time getting to the E Gardens for the morning troll, so we did not stop along the way to try and make blue runners/ mackerel; also the live wells were full of primo perch my crew caught Tuesday morning, and I was a little worried about crowding them... Arrrived at the E Gardens right at grey light, and deployed the spread. Almost immediately we were hooked upand cheering, only to be disappointed to see a jumbo BFT hit the deck... During the troll stop caught another BFT and a couple small grouper. Redeployed with troll group two and had a pretty quick triple... BFT again that is, and once again caught various BFT and grouper jigging and baiting the slide. Basically I could continue writing that same sentence down until it got to the point that we stopped getting bit at all and did a few straight drifts for grouper.
Everything looked absolutely great on the sounder, the structure, the BFT and bonita all around... but there was not a single wahoo bite to be had... After some grouper tiles and a bunch of random bottom species, we decided to go to a rig to try to get a few of our bigger AJ out of the way, before going rock fishing for more medium models.
I set up the three rods on board (my TREX, another TREX, and an atd 50 all on beefy seekers) that might do the job and Lloyd's handline and headed to a rig. When we got there, The other TREX and Lloyd were instantly bit... with a 97# aj and a 70#... My TREX and Mike's ATD 5- had some reel bad juju on them for this trip, as we kept getting mowed down immediately after coming tight... sometimes that's just the way it happens with the swing of the boat and the position of the legs... but it sure is frustrating burning through that kind of tackle and losing those types of fish... Lost a couple that were easily in that chubeater class... But the handline kept producing and since we were consistently seeing small (50#-60#) fish coming up... spread out a few guys with medium heavy tackle also that were getting some... At the end of about 2 hours we had 27 of our 30 dd limit.... and went back to trolling...
The afternoon was even worse than the morning, and I believe we only had one bite on the troll for a small king... It was extremely frustrating to me, especially with all the fish I was marking, and knowing we had a great spread out with some of the best fishermen I know working it.
With The treat of the northern backing up even more, I called not going to Gunnison (full moon anyway) and spend the night bottom fishing and just trying some new spots (good idea on both accounts). Started out in 280 ft of water and had an epic bite on medium- small b-liners... Not small enough to leave mind you but 1-1.5# fish coming over the rails, almost all doubles.... Also The AJ were pissed at that rock too. We accidentally caught our last 3 in the first 10 minutes we were there, with a 70 or so eating a whole bonita on the bottom presented for a hopeful warsaw.
After about 2 hours we were about 50 shy of a boat limit, so I decided to try a different rock to see if we could mix it up with other fish while finishing it off.... Headed to a rock and got anchored in 525' hoping to see queen snapper biting in the moonlight like b liners... Nope just more bliners (slightly smaller) and ajs... had our limit about 1AM and was going to try one more deeper rock for the queens, but that rock decided to eat my anchor... Headed back to some rigs to tie up and try for almacos til morning, and the storm hit right when we got there...A crew boat needed to work the rig we chose so we decided to drift a shallow rock to the west of the gardens until morning, also to get us closer to home incase the storm didn't shift east...Wound up with a few big eyes, totates, porgys, and a hammerhead.
At first light started trolling around the rock, in 8 ft seas, with very little hope, after the day before and with the new weather.... but almost got dumped before a breakoff withing 10 minutes. One ridge of the rock was marking huge schools of fish like I was seeing the day before, and throughout the day, every time we came through those marks, we at least had a short bite. 12 hours and 150 baits later it was getting dark and we had 21 for probably 36 wahoo hooked and at least twice as many shorts... Final strike of the day was a triple and we got them all in an awesome finale. We never did get any giant skinnies, but for the conditions and how hard the fishing was this trip, I was elated. The second day when they were feeding, we really didn't get down with raiders, bombs, halcos, etc. as much as the first day, because the seas pretty much negated it.... but one guy watched a weehoo follow his bomb to the boat and another guy had a quick rip on a halco. I still think with optimal feeding conditions, and the righ seas for a slow drift we can make it work.
Anyway, Thanks to the awesome guys I get to work with, and some very adventurous fishermen we made a great trip out of one that started out so lackluster! We have already put one more of these wahoo experimentals in the books slated for between March 20-27 so hit me or the office (361-749-5597) up to jump on it, We dropped the max down to 15 on these 60s and it seemed to work great, but you need to hurry to get a spot!