Cubera 2012 Finale
I have no idea what happened this month. Traditionally we have a great Cubera bite in September but everyone seemed to want to fish in August this year. I’m not sure why this is especially with a full moon coming up this weekend. The congregations of fish have done the bulk of their spawning ritual and now they are on the feed trying to recover their strength after their yearly ordeal. Oh well, it is what it is!
Jorge had already booked his second trip for this season. Devon was out of commission for this run, so I phoned up my buddy, “Uncle Al”, to come work the mate position. Al is Devon‘s uncle, which is where his nickname “Uncle Al” comes from. We met up at the usual time and Jorge arrived solo on this occasion. He brought along his own rod and reel, a nice bent butt with an International 70 loaded with 150# Power Pro. A bit of overkill but if he is more comfortable with his own gear, he is welcome to bring it.
We turned The BEAST out and made our way to grab a few quick Hardtails for backup bait. That happened with relative ease and in short order the Zuke 300’s were running for our Cricket patch. Although Uncle Al and I are, for lack of better terms, a senior crew, we managed to grab enough bugs in a reasonable time. Uncle Al may have a few years on Devon but he is still a bug snatching maniac. Since Jorge also brought along a custom jigging rod with 65# braid on a nice shiny Shimano Stella reel, we decided to give the “Grunt & Sweat” wreck a tryout.
We arrived at the G&S and made several drops but only had 1 or 2 bumps and lost a couple of the jig hooks. I made the decision to try another wreck but the same thing seemed to be the case at that area as well. OK! We headed south to Nastyville and made 1 or 2 drops with the jigs. There was nothing doing on the jigs that night. Darkness was still about 45 minutes away, but I told Al to go ahead and drop a cricket. The sonar was pretty much blank as we made several drifts but as the darkness settled in the screen became more active. Each pass showed more and more marks. Boom! Al yells that we have a bite but Jorge was not on his game and before he could get to the rod it came unglued. Another couple of passes and the bait gets crashed again. This time I cranked down on the fish and as Jorge got to the rod, the tipped popped up signaling another miss. We kept making passes sliding deeper and shallower and I decided to stay around the drift that produced the first 2 bites. The sonar screen was lit up like the “Jones’” neighborhood at Christmas. The next bite was so fast that the rod doubled over and snapped to attention so fast no one had a chance to react. Jorge was on station at the rod when the next bite came. Bite… let go… drop back… bite… let go… hold… a few tense seconds and Bada Bing! The line comes tight and the rod is bending toward the water when, you guessed it, once again the fish came unpinned. What the H? These must be smaller “buck” snapper because we lost two baits totally, one bait came up covered in fang punctures, and this last one was almost torn in half.
The searching for active fish was over. Adjusting the drifts was easy because, surprisingly, we had the whole area to ourselves that night. I made an adjustment that worked out perfectly and I had now honed in on the same drift line that had been producing the bites. A couple of short, uneventful drifts went by. I had them pegged and at this stage in the game there was no need to make long drifts. On the next drift I saw the active fish on the sonar and told Jorge to stand guard. Kaplooey! This was not a bite like we had been having. This was Big Mama! She bent the rod tip to the water and was stripping drag. That was a feat in itself because 2 drifts earlier I checked his drag and I couldn’t pull the 150# braid off the reel with my hands. OMG Bro! This fish may break our boat record of 76#’s. About 6 or 7 minutes into the fight and Jorge figures he has the fish off the bottom far enough so he backs off on the drag about ¼. After another 2 to 3 minutes and 2 more solid runs, the line goes limp. NO WAY! Yes way! She is gone! When we brought the terminal rig to the surface we did a quick inspection to find that Big Mama had straightened out our 4X strength hooks. She was obviously hooked up solid. This was the classical “damned if you do and damned if you don’t” scenario on drag settings. If we wouldn’t have had the drag tight she would’ve taken us to the bottom and cut us off. Having the drag a bit too tight can cause other failures, as was our case. Loosening the drag after moving the fish well off the bottom was the correct thing to do but the damage was already done. All I can say is that this fish was a behemoth.
The BEAST fell so quiet that you could’ve heard a mouse peeing on cotton. Several minutes passed and then we discussed what happened in detail. We came to the conclusion that you can’t win ‘em all. We made several more drifts and Jorge began losing focus allowing his bait to drag on the bottom, hanging up 3 rigs and losing the lead. He was totally dejected at this point and was ready to call it a night. Hold on! The sonar is going quiet and the bite has slowed down but I had a good feeling. C’mon Jorge, one more drift. I don’t know why I had that feeling but I’m glad he said OK. About 1 minute into the last drift and the rod tip bumps. Jorge remains calm and the tip bumps again. Easy does it! The 3rd bump and the rod tip pulls down past the gunnels, and Jorge makes 5 or 6 hard cranks on the reel. Hooked up! This was our average respectable fish and Jorge took the battle over and won this fight.
Jorge thanked me for insisting on that last drift and we called it a night. We went 1 for 6 but we had action through most of the night. I’ve replayed that night over and over in my mind and came to some conclusions. There was nothing much I would’ve done differently to catch that big fish, but I have come up with some ideas to eliminate those missed hook ups.
The season will probably draw to an end after this weekend’s moon phase. With no plans for this week, Devon and I will be putting up the gear next week and turning our focus towards live baiting for Dolphin, Sails and Kings. That was apparently our Cubera 2012 Finale’. It’s all good! A fitting end with the big fish that got away. Keep looking over your shoulder, Big Mama, because we’re coming after you again next year!
Beautiful fish! way to stay with it. Thats always my problem "one more drop" sometimes its the best one. Great report
Great story and a damn nice cubera. Good job Captain.
Nice report capt,never fail to grab my attention,but I have a question on how to fish for them.When drifting over your spot do u have your reel in freespool and on the bottom?Or are u on strike and drift your bait a fee feet off the bottom.Im asking because in your report you mentioned that you guys couldnt get to the rod in time to set the hook and another time you mentioned that Jorge lost his focus and started to snag the bottom.Just wondering thanks.
Dang Jim, what are you trying to do? Make my stories average? LOL Great write up. Next year I want to jump aboard with you and write a story.. Hammer style
Anyone that is interested in catching one of these things owes it to themselves to go with the Beast, he definitely has it dialed in better than anyone else!
Originally Posted by Reef Bandit
You have a contingency of followers :bandwagon that I could only hope for.
Average? :nono That would never happen. You are the Ace :Spittingcoffee when it comes to fishing reports. There is no way I could ever compete :hail with your satirical reports. You put a spin :spin on your reports that reveals your twisted :devil thinking.
Having you and me together :hairraiser on one of our trips next year? I pity the customers who would agree :huh to that one! Could they handle both of us :willynilly at the same time? BUT... you will have to sign a contractual agreement regarding the portrayal :idiot of the salty old Captain in your report.
One question!?! :shrug Will I have to wear a mask from then on?
Originally Posted by The BEAST
Good catching Jim
Sorry I missed your questions, "bite my bait".
Originally Posted by bite my bait
I'm not sure what you are referring to when you asked if I leave it in free spool. If you leave your reel in free spool while drifting you would be paying out line continuously while the bait sat on the bottom in one spot. No... we don't leave our reels in free spool. We leave our reels on strike so we can control the line and rig properly.
What I was referring to when I spoke of Jorge losing his focus; is simply that, he and other anglers as well, try to stay tight to the bottom especially if we pick up a bite down there. If I mark some structure, I tell the angler or mate to crank it up X amount of cranks. It's quite obvious that if they don't, are too slow, or drop it back before I tell them to, it will result in a snagged rig. Maybe 25% of our bites come from the near bottom area. It all depends on where the actively feeding fish are and that changes throughout the night.
We don't set the hook since the rod is generally stationed in Rodney (rod holder). You must stay alert if you are on the rod. The bite of a Cubera is somewhat different than a normal bottom bite. Cubera have massive teeth and crushers which make short work of even the largest bug. Devon and I have a visual idea of what actually happens during the bite.
Having good equipment (GPS, sonar, rods, reels, line, terminal rigs) and the complete knowledge of it are a key ingredient to success. Knowing the often overlooked minor details of that equipment can make a major difference! Cubera fishing can be as simple or as involved as you want it to be, just like any other type of fishing. Knowledge and technique will trump effort and luck every time!
Thanks for the response,I see that you are a very knowledgeable capt.Well what I meant by freespool was not leaving the setup in Rodney but keeping the setup in your hand and lightly let out the line while in freespool,the same way you would mutton fish (avoid the sinker from bouncing)I guess its a whole different ballgame with cuberas.I hope I can charter you next cuberas season