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Abaco, Bahama Adventure... friends, family, and fishing bonanza! 5/22/14 - 5/29/14

Kim and I were long overdue to get back to the Abaco's in the eastern Bahamas, and we missed last years trip as our 28' was delivered too late in the summer. We took our old 25' Bluewater to the Abaco's in 2012, but the weather and fishing were nothing short of terrible that whole trip. It was time to do this trip right.

After a brutal first half of 2014 on a personal level for us (losing my father in late February and then losing our pet in early May), this would be a trip focused on family, friendship, and a lot of fishing. We had my mom fly down into Marsh Harbour to meet us there the day we arrived and stay for a few days with us. We also had the great pleasure of having one of our closest friends along, our very own "Bluewater Pete" who would make the trip from Stuart over to the Abaco's and spend a couple days fishing there. Pete had never been to the Abaco's and was anxious to learn the area and run over for future trips over on his own boat.

Packed with 330 gallons of fuel, 30 gallons of fresh water, loads of trolling baits, and enough food and cocktails to feed an army, we left Stuart on Thursday May 22nd ready to make some serious memories. The wind for weeks prior was nothing short of brutal and it just started laying down the evening before our crossing. Timing is everything!!!

We packed up the boat at Pirate's Cove and off we went.



After a brief autopilot glitch which Pete was able to diagnose in under a minute, we were off to the races and were blessed with a calm and rapid shot across the gulfstream. Pete taking control of the gopro for the run over.




We went 60 miles up onto the Bahama Bank at White Sands Ridge and then made the 62 mile shot down to the south side of Great Sale Cay. To say the bank was flat calm would be an understatement. Glassy calm is more like it and we couldn't even tell where the horizon was during much of the trip across the bank. Simply amazing and we made 36 kts across the bank.





We made it across the bank and over to Spanish Cay in a couple hours to clear Bahamian Customs and get our fishing permits.


Then we continued down the Sea of Abaco and stopped to take a couple pictures with Treasure Cay Beach in the background. At this point we were about to pop out and around Whale Cay and back into the Sea Of Abaco again as to avoid the shallow water between Treasure Cay and Whale Cay. I don't personally care for passing through the narrow area near "Don't Rock".



Another 18 miles or so down the Sea Of Abaco and we arrived at the home we rented in Marsh Harbour. It was nice to have the boat right behind the house so I could keep a very close eye on it. (We were only about 3 miles from where the Venturesome's unfortunately had their boat stolen, so I was very nervous the whole time there about someone stealing our boat for the same engines).



The Sea Of Abaco is right in the background, with Elbow Cay and Lubber's right behind it about 3 miles across.


My mom arrived as we were unpacking everything off the boat. A quick decision was made to take the boat across to Elbow Cay to have dinner and cocktails at Firefly, which we all really enjoyed. They had a killer view of the sun setting down over Marsh Harbor.




My mom, Chick-a-dee, and I



The boat back behind the house.


We fished the next two days solely focusing on trying to catch Pete his first blue marlin before he left on Sunday, but unfortunately it was not meant to be. We didn't so much as have a dolphin or wahoo bite the first two days fishing. Very frustrating on my end as I wanted to put Pete and Kim on fish more than they could ever realize. We took the afternoon Saturday and took my mom down to snorkel around Sandy Cay just inside North Bar Channel. Pete was kind enough to jump in with my mom and swim around with her so she felt comfortable there given that the current was moving pretty good and we were moored up on the park balls. Mom absolutely loved it and was really thankful for the experience. Pete and I jumped in and went around seeing grouper, yellowtail, big mangroves, a stingray, and of all things a nice sized cubera snapper which we couldn't shoot since we were in the park boundaries. Still a great time!




After cleaning ourselves up and some cocktails, we walked over to Abaco Beach Resort (Boat Harbor Marina) and had a great farewell dinner of hogfish and several other goodies for Pete and my mom.


It was a pleasure having both of them share part of this trip with us and Kim and I were sad to see them go. They both shared a cab to Marsh Harbour Airport early Sunday morning, so Kim and I jumped in the boat and headed way offshore to try and score some dinner.

We were hearing reports of smaller yellowfin tuna offshore so we fueled the boat up, fired up the 12 KW radar, and headed ESE off Elbow Cay until we found our first pack of birds about 19 miles off Hopetown in an area on the charts they refer to as "the Wonderlands". As we approached the school I felt real confident there were yellowfin under the birds, so I started re-rigging all our 50's with long 80 lb flourocarbon wind-on leaders and sent a couple cedar plugs out almost 300' behind the boat. It only took a couple decent passes and the rigger came down hard and the 50 started crying a bit. Jackpot, our first fish of the trip is FINALLY on and Kim went to work on it. A short time later the beautiful sight of Kim's very first yellowfin tuna was hanging at the end of our gaff. Chick-a-dee couldn't have been much more proud, and I was really happy for her.



We worked those birds a while more and pulled a gaffer cow dolphin out of the same pack.


On the way in we found another big pack of birds and scored several big blackfins and skipjacks which we released, and Kim got another yellowfin as well. A great day and we were thrilled to have fresh sashimi for the rest of the week.


Fresh yellowfin and wahoo sashimi with toasted sesame seeds and soy. YUM!!!


Monday morning Kim and I headed back out in search of either her first blue or white marlin. There was a bit more chop offshore, but it was still quite fishable. We worked an area about 9 miles offshore call "the Thumbprint" and we found an area just offshore of there that was looking really nice, with sargassum, flying fish, a few of the right birds dipping around steadily. I was just telling Kim that this area looks great and not 3 minutes later our long shotgun lure starts screaming on the hardtop. I look back and see a nice gaffer dolphin jump. Then just a few seconds later our rigger bait gets nailed and I see another gaffer dolphin jumping. Gotta love a double header, but it got much more interesting when Kim reeled up her fish from the shotgun rod and it took on a darker blue color with stripes and an impressive set of dentures. A gaff to the gills and Kim had just scored her first ever wahoo!!!



I boated a nice gaffer dolphin right after gaffing her wahoo, and now we had some more meat for sashimi and dinner at home. About 5 minutes after staring to work that same area a big wahoo detonated onto our rigger Islander/ballyhoo combo and took it all with him. The drag never even peeped, just cut clean off in one swift bite! We boated another gaffer dolphin a short time later, and jumped off a nice gaffer a bit after that. We still had yet to raise a marlin into our spread the whole week, but we were pretty content with our bycatch.


Tuesday we woke up and were hell bent on finding either a blue or white marlin for Kim, but despite working many great areas trolling for 7 hours straight, we totally whiffed the day without a single bite. At least the weather was beautiful out there and we were entertained for a good chunk of the morning with frigate birds flying around and feeding with schools of spotted porpoises.

Wednesday would be our last day to spend in Abaco before leaving early Thursday morning and heading back to Stuart. Since Kim was an amazing sport and was OK with fishing all day, every day we were in Abaco, I was never able to take her to any of the out islands to sight-see, have lunch, etc.. I told her when we woke up Wednesday morning that we were only fishing the morning half day and then I was taking her somewhere special for lunch. Yeah, NO PRESSURE to find a blue or white marlin in the last 1/2 day of fishing when you haven't even raised one all week. :banghead:banghead:banghead :grin :rotflmao

We ran out of Tilloo Cut and started working the 1200'-1400' edge down towards North Bar Channel and then out offshore around "the bridge". There was a bit of wind chop, but it made for a good looking spread. We worked our way around the bend and I found some birds with the radar just inside the edge, and trolled in to check them out. There we found an area that looked absolutly beautiful with plenty of birds, the right temperature, and small tunas busting all around. The bait was moving around a bit but staying in the same overall area, so I marked the spot and just started pounding the area out relentlessly. It was really looking nice there, and it was probably about our 15th pass through the zone when all hell broke loose. I turned around to do my usual glace at the spread when I see a marlin pile onto our right rigger lure. We hooked him immediately and and a nice white marlin goes airborne. At the same time another marlin comes hauling through the spread at warp speed and nails the left flatline lure, hooks up for about 3 seconds, then the rod springs up and he was gone (or so I thought). About 5 seconds after that, the center shotgun rod on the hardtop starts screaming like a chainsaw and I see another real nice marlin jumping away from us for the horizon. Yes, we went from not raising one all week to hooking up a double header at the same time!!!!

I initially gave Kim the 50 lb rod with the first white marlin attached, but when the 2nd marlin hooked up on the 30, I knew that gear would be more manageable for her so I switched rods with her and sent her to the bow as I struggled to fight my white, clear the rest of the spread (including a dredge), and chase Kim's marlin down that was rapidly depleting the 30 lb line off the TLD25 she had it attached to. Wish I had the video rolling for that one! Kim's marlin was clearly larger than the first white we hooked, and I didn't get a great look at it during the first run due to a million things I was doing at once.

With the spread cleared, Kim is now on the bow with her rod doubled over as her marlin sounded straight for the bottom and seriously dug in. I've seen this before several times with blue marlin off Abaco, but never with whites. Meanwhile, off the side of the boat I'm bringing my white in closer when I feel something feel like it hits the line and POOF... my line is completely slack. I reel up the end of the mono top shot and it was clearly cut on an angle like a razor with no other chafe whatsoever. Unfortunately I'm pretty sure my white was prematurely set free by a wahoo that decided to help himself to eating my silver 200lb snap swivel 15' up the leader from the white. (there were 4 wahoo immediately caught by another boat that swooped in right after we hooked up in that exact area). My fish was now a memory, but Kim was still being worked up off the bow and she was putting some serious heat on her fish.


She was in need of a back harness badly, so I dug one out and fit it to her tiny frame. Now's where it gets interesting. As Kim continues to apply steady yet heavy pressure to this fish, she yells to me that "the reel's broke!" "OH ******, now what" immediately goes through my mind. I'll let the picture explain this one....


You can't make this up folks! Always enjoying a challenge, I told Kim to ignore it and keep focusing on steadily pressuring the fish. The marlin slowly started angling up slightly from down deep, but her fish never came up jumping as I had hoped it would so we could run it down quick. Instead about 5 minutes later, Kim feels slack and starts reeling for all she's worth to no avail. I punched the throttles at the same time on the boat to take the slack out but it was too little too late. Her fish had pulled the hooks and was gone. Feeling defeated and beaten, I put the fake smile on and and told Kim "Let's go out on a high note and head in to grab lunch". Kim immediately fired back with "NO, we're putting the spread back out!". There's many reasons I love that girl, that being just one of them!

We put the spread back out and started pounding those same numbers again. Shortly after, a nice 20 lb cow and larger bull came streaking in and ate out flatline bait behind the dredge and the rigger ballyhoo/Islander. I reeled her in quick, put a gaff to the dome and it was lights out. Kim was now tight to her largest dolphin to date. She expertly worked that in and a gaff to the throat was the end of him.



We decided to go out on a high note at that point and I pointed the boat towards North Bar Channel and brought Kim into Little Harbour to have lunch at a cool little shack I'd been to several times years back when I lived in Marsh called Pete's Pub and Gallery. Cool spot... http://petespubandgallery.com/





Had a great lunch, took some pictures, and headed back 10 miles through the Sea Of Abaco to Boat Harbor Marina to fuel up for the run back to Stuart in the morning.

We packed up and left Marsh Harbour in our wake Thursday morning as we picked up the throttles to 39 MPH and started heading NW back up the SOA, around Whale Cay, past Green Turtle Cay, up and around Center of the World Rock, back across the bank, and over to Stuart. We left Marsh at 8am on the nose, and pulled into St Lucie Inlet at 2:05pm.

In total this week we traveled/fished 959 miles and burn 560 gallons of gas, putting 64 hours on the engines. The fact that Kim landed her first two yellowfin tuna, her first wahoo, and fought her first marlin for a while was just icing on the cake for a great week. The weather was also perfect from start to finish for the entire week we were traveling.

What an amazing week that showed me just how much I love my family, friends, and the beautiful ocean and all her bounty that came with it. We'll get the marlin next time, just feel fortunate to be so blessed.


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