Overall the offshore fishing was solid during this year’s Post-ASHRAE (big HVAC convention) trip. Most boats were raising 12 – 20 Sailfish a day and bringing to the boat 6 – 12 fish. Add to that a few nice Bull Dorado and good numbers of Yellowfin Tuna and you end up with pretty action packed days.
Now that was the gear boats, those trolling baits. The ‘Fly’ boats were another story. We seemed to be a little ‘snake bit’ and did not raise as many fish each day. The big trick for us was getting the fish teased up almost all the way to the back of the boat so we could lob our giant popper flies at them. It is not the prettiest fly fishing to a had, but any time you can take a fish on the surface with a fly rod is tops in our book. What is actually really fun about this way of going after the offshore species is that it becomes a great spectator sport when you are not the one holding the rod. The near misses, the sword-slashing, pulling the fly out of the open mouth and the ‘freight-train-through-the-fly-takes’ all combine to make some great heart stopping action for everyone on board.
There were not too many opportunities at fish for me over the three days, but this year I was able to make the right casts in a timely fashion and score two nice fish. Last year I scored the big fat zero. Boat-mates Mike Shea & Matt Bass each boated really nice Sailfish while fishing with me this year. We even came close to scoring a double hook-up on fly. As Matt was putting some heat on his fish after a series of jumps, one of the mates yelled out that there was a second fish lurking. Mike immediately tossed out his fly and had the second fish ‘bill’ his fly repeatedly right at him, not giving him the angle to set the hook. Very exciting stuff. Unfortunately our other fishing partner Dale DePriest, got blanked on the last day in a similar fashion. It was heart-breaking and exhilarating to watch all at the same time. The fish came at him billing and biting, each time Dale trying to get the hook into him. On the third miss, the fly was now at the boat and the fish sunk. Out of shear frustration, Dale picked up the fly and cast back out behind the boat and made one pop. The fish shot out from under the boat, engulfing the fly to a very excited chorus of screams from the peanut gallery. The excited crowd noise quickly turned that same ‘awe’ often heard in unison at golf matches as the put lips out of the hole. The fish came unbuttoned – knot failure. The teasers were let back out and immediately a fish jumped on them — with the now departed fly still in its mouth! Like the Three Stooges, we all madly tried to get a rod out of the rack and unstring it, but the fish vanished before we untangled things.
My moment of glory was having a large Wahoo (pictured below) come into the teasers, freight-training on the surface from thirty or forty yards from behind them. I did not waste a second and dumped the line and with one back cast chucked the fly out as far the big stick (13 weight) would allow. By this time the ‘Hoo had nailed the teaser and immediately turned ninety degrees and accelerated through my fly. No angler reaction necessary. Thanks to a long cast and no time to do any stripping, there was very little if any fly line to clear and the reel sang in new and unfamiliar tone as the first hundred yards melted away. The fish stopped for a second and I tried to get down and dirty with it, but the added pressure only jacked it up and off it went for another blistering run. It stopped a second time and I again tried to pressure it with similar results at which point the captain starting backing down hard to avoid being spooled.
This Wahoo was the very first to ever be caught on a fly out of this marina, and let me tell you that the hype about how fast they can run is under rated… unbelievable speed and every bit as strong as the Sailfish despite only being half the size. The 13 weight was doubled and the Tibor Pacific cranked down to Tarpon-mode or tighter and it seemed like it was in free spool. The only comparison I can make to the shear speed of a Wahoo would be the time Dale inadvertently launched his live crab from the old railroad bridge clear over US 1, snagging the wiper blade of a Northbound Lexus heading back to Miami at over 60 mph hour — although I was able to stop my ‘fish’.
Fly fishing the Bluewater may not be the most productive of methods to catch fish, but we all look forward to next year’s stories of trying for big fish with long rods.[nggallery id=1]