YC Pulley Ridge, This Day Has 36 Hours
Brian tried to coax me into the fishing pool and I refused thinking that my luck had been used up when I won for biggest fish two weeks ago. My 28 pound golden tile fish has been completely consumed and was delicious! We fed 150 hungry campers a few days after the last trip, the best fish fry ever! I reconsidered the fishing pool ten minutes later and passed him a twenty.
I managed a few hours sleep after ensuring every possible detail was completely ready for the moment we arrived at the fishing grounds. I find I'm so excited that any small preparation not ready, will go over and over in my head till I give in and go up on deck to do it.
While motoring, I was able to dip net five ballyhoo and added them to my bait cooler. Staring at the water, waiting for something to happen seems to be a habit of mine. Kind of like a dog staring at the door all day waiting for mom and dad to come home...
Finally, the 36 hour fishing day was upon us and the game of "Fish every possible moment available had begun".
I managed to trick three or four fish sandwiches to the deck quickly, on the ten foot telephone pole rod I borrowed from Randy. It helped keep me out of some of the nearby tangles, by pointing forward past the pulpit, but it was too awkward and heavy to continue using. The overcast sky was perhaps contributing to a lackluster bite, but that all changed very soon and quality fish started to feed and feed and feed. My bait of choice, a half of a squid per hook, held on with a chunk of de-boned mackerel fillet, about two inches square, leaves lots of hook tip showing. If the squid gets torn off there is still a tasty bite left on the hook to munch on. I had brought a few sand tile fish, or "slippery ****," as they are fondly called by the crude and nasty, and used them for bait as well.
Queen snappers started showing on the deck, some in the 15- 20 pound range. I managed a 5 or 6 pound one before we drifted out of them, but fortunately they returned several times during both daytime fishing periods. Later in the day, my luck seemed to stall, so I changed tackle, freshened up my bait and my attitude and added a light. My luck changed and I got a grouper then a heavy bite and a fight to the surface, probably an amberjack, I thought. A beautiful big queen snapper floated up and a deft hook brought it to the deck. For an hour I relived the experience and before I knew it we were moving to the nighttime portion of the 36 hour fishing day.
Personally, fishing all night doesn't motivate me as much as it used to. The current was strong, the bite slow, so I slept for a few hours, waking miraculously just in time for the black fin tuna invasion. Jarvis, Eduardo and a few others were mauling them and soon my tally of tuna was capped at five. My first was 19 pounds, the rest all over 10. As the tuna bite was slowing, Eduardo was putting on a mutton catching demonstration, hauling pre dawn munchers up, one after the other. Jarvis was bouncing a jig hoping for a trophy grouper, but got rewarded with muttons and more tuna. I finally got the hang of drifting with my bait just off the bottom and nailed three nice mutts of my own.
The hot bite went on past sunrise and daylight deep drifting was next on the agenda. The bite was on and off, but very intense when the fish were eating. Big yellow edge groupers, black fin snappers, yellow eye snappers and lots of queen snappers flopped on the deck. I was told by a few that my queen was the biggest so far, but fishing the pulpit, I had no idea what other fish were in the boxes.
Jarvis was about 7 spots toward the stern from me and was hooked up on a big fish. He was stressing the electric reel to max and knowing how much he loves to win the pool, I thought he was hooked up to the money fish. Capt Greg was above him, coaxing him to pressure the fish, but I could tell Jarvis was reluctant. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a banana peel floated past the bow and floated right over to where his line touched the water and his fish headed toward the stern, Jarvis in hot pursuit. He had said earlier that he needed to catch a bunch of amberjacks and that is exactly what his trophy fish was. I felt his pain.
I brought a ten plus queen to the surface but it slipped the hook and swam home. I got tangled with my neighbor while fighting a fish and both rigs looked like it may have the lucky hookup on a decent size queen snapper. On closer inspection, it was my bait and hook, but it didn't seem to ease his pain. So I asked if he wanted the fish and gave it to him. He then went on to catch three or four more queens, go figure!
Everyone was hooking quality trophies, filling the rear fish boxes then starting on the front ones. During the final move, Jarvis got my attention from the stern, where he had a spinner with a huge chunk of bait on it. He was pointing at the bait, then at the water, the message was unmistakable and I blew a whole mouthful of coffee all over my best fishing shirt.
Our long fishing day was over, after a few hours of deep sleep we were at the dock around 4:30 AM and 31 totes of fish were handed out. It always feels like Christmas, but this time everyone got the full wish list. Heavy coolers were heaved on vehicles and another trip was in the books.
Jarvis and Eduardo had a massive pile of Pulley Ridge beauties to deal with and my queen snapper easily dismissed the only contender for the pool. I weighed it on two different scales and both registered at 24 pounds.
Now 12 of us are off to a Thai restaurant, Takara, in Marathon, to have them morph my tuna loins into something delicious!
Book a trip and live the dream!