Yankee Capts. Three Day African Pompano Invasion!
Big Al was in fine form, ripping a beauty of a cobia out of the water, then a lunker of a king mackerel and a few muttons on his 10 foot beanpole, er, telephone pole of a rod. Yells would go up from the stern whenever an, OOOO or AHHH moment dictated. Two big black fin tunas were caught on the bottom, at the very first drop, one was a 25 pounder! At the fish toss, I was strategically located near Ariel, a keen fish statistician with NOAA. He's often present at the dock to greet us and record various data on our catch, so I could see (but not remember) the weight and length of the fish he was checking.
Two guys were jigging only, for the whole trip and netted a tuna, a mutton and saw action throughout the trip. At the bow, Rob was dealing with a bit of queasiness, but persisted through it, meeting the challenge of his wife goading a grouper to submission and then mauling a manly mutton of his own, his first ever! Good job.
Sharks were outrageous at some spots and virtually wrecked what would have been honey holes. Even reeling at top speed could not protect, from the inevitable inhalation of your prize catch, by Jaws. I lost at least four great fish to sharks and ripped one mutton to the surface so fast that his cheeks were flapping, his guts were missing and his scales were missing. It was actually hot to the touch and half baked from the friction! The new cook, Gerald, simply lopped off it's head for soup, then threw the rest on a huge Cuban roll for lunch, bones and all, but I never got any!!!
Jim, Nick and I were at the bow, dealing with trying to focus on fishing, while enjoying the beauty of a full moon, vivid sunrises and sunsets and gabbing about an upcoming charter we will be on next week. They were using threadfin herring with success, I had mostly fresh goggs and frozen flyers. The goggs were the go to bait for most of the trip, but the last night, an invasion of baby flying fish gave me a few in my dip net that really turned the tide.
I had a one inch piece of my only full grown flyer at the bottom and in no time I was fighting a mule of a fish. He was kicking hard, taking worrisome lengths of line off my reel, after I would gain a bit on him. I was perilously tempted to halt him, by locking up the spinning spool with my thumb, but that has ended in disaster in the past for me, too many times. Broken line, knots, or a fish hook pulled are the rewards for a drag set too tight. Groupers will "rock you up" in bottom structure, muttons, not so much, but they are such strong fighters that you need to let them run and buck around to wear themselves out, especially in shallow water. I won the battle and a 31" bad boy, 15 pounds plus, was my prize. I added a few others beauties, for a total of nine muttons and then it was sunrise city, final spot of the trip.
My very last flyer got chunked up into one inch pieces, for economy. Nick, behind me was busily shifting gears on his twelve speed reel, grinding the heck out of the poor thing, squealing sounds emitting from the innards. "Got another yellow tail, Nick?" I asked. He grunted and the mate poured more oil on the smoking reel. A couple African pompanos had been bagged at the stern, so it was no surprise when Nick finally triumphed over a shiny prize pompano of his own, on a frozen flyer head..
My five fresh flyer chunks had bagged me two lovely porgies, a shark cut off and a mystery muncher, can't remember what it was. I was just finished minimalizing Nick, for his bragging/complaining about the *** kicking his pompano gave him, when my line started to slowly spool from my reel. The next few minutes are a blur of various ninja, fish fighting techniques I learned online, as a fight ensued that would leave me eating my words about Nick's earlier whining/boasting. This monster was a mixed bag of tricks, running like a big shark, then pounding like a mutton, dragging to bottom like a grouper or an amberjack, then finally giving ground and fighting to the very end at the gaff. A 90 centimeter (about three feet) 16.46 pound African pompano was my prize, and that puppy is going to get eaten on our four day, Yankee Captains charter on Tuesday.
There were five of these majestic fish caught, I think mine was the largest, but their unique dish shaped body, ensures a butt kicking battle, I know I hurt in a few new spots today.
Thanks Capt. Greg, you kept us occupied and happily making memories. The mates, Lyndon Matt and Ryan, (standing in for Brian) made life easy on deck and Gerald, in the galley was overcoming the challenges of his first Yankee Capts. fisherman feeding frenzy, breakfast, lunch and dinner.
We head home to Nova Scotia soon, after one more adventure on the YC, then off we go till November.
Thanks for reading