I was going to hold off on this post and make it my last post about the trip, but people keep asking so I bumped it up.
Before setting out on this trip I was super pumped as I knew we would be going through some super fishy waters. Four years ago on our trip down with Party of Five I did my best but really didn’t know how to fish very well. I lost a ton of fish, or simply didn’t hook any. This time I was going through the same water with knowledge I had gained from a bunch of good fisherman I had been mentored under. I was excited to put those new practices in use and see if I could get some better results. So you be the judge, here are the official numbers.
1 Sailfish (over 6ft)
1 Albacore Tuna
1 Blackfin Tuna
1 Long Billed Spearfish (over 7ft)
4,654,286 Barracuda (stupid toothy bastards)
Disclaimer – Unfortunately I don’t have pictures of all the fish!
Fishing on a Nordhavn is a little different than our boat. She is big and there is no way you can hear the fishing rods from most spots on the boat. So fishing requires someone actually sitting monitoring the rods.
As I mentioned in my last post, Gray Matter also relies on hydraulics for some systems and this means the motor requires a certain RPM to generate enough pressure in the hydraulics. As a result, slowing the boat when a fish bites is a bit of a process. You can’t just pull the throttle to idle. Fishing really requires 2 people.
For about 1/2 the trip we ran 3 lines, but eventually dropped to 2. The third rod was up on the flybridge deck so it was a pain to hear and reel in. In this pic you can see the port rod and the 3rd line being just let out.
Sorry about the fuzzy picture. Quincy was taking the picture with our crap camera in low light. This was our fist nice Mahi-Mahi.
The third day out I heard a funny buzzing noise and realized it was the rod up on the flybridge peeling out line. By the time I let JM know and we got the boat slowed down, we were down to almost no line on the reel. It took about 20 min to reel in all that line and JM had to step in when I jamtarted out (my little girly arms were wore out). I was so excited when this fish finally showed up at the back of the boat. I was going to gaff it, but decided not to and just drug it aboard by the beak. This meant we could release it after some photos.
(For those that don’t know, a Gaff is a big metal hook on a pole. The gaff usually goes right through the fish leaving you no choice but to keep the fish. You can see the gaff in the fuzzy picture above.)
For those wondering. This is a Sailfish. A member of the Istiophoridae family (commonly called Marlin). Yes, they are edible and I think they are great eating. However, since it was only day 3 and we didn’t have anyone to share such a big fish with, we released him right after this photo. (I really wanted to keep him, but JM was the voice of reason)
We had a double strike of Mahi-Mahi between Turks and Caicos and Puerto Rico. I was supposed to be tending the rods but had fallen asleep. It was nice to be woke by both rods peeling out line.
Quincy reeled this one in. He complained that it made his arm hurt. I guess I’m not the only one with girly arms.
On our last full day before reaching Grenada the seas went completely glassy. Like swimming pool glassy. I half heartedly drug 2 lures, but didn’t expect to catch anything as I never do when the seas are that calm. Imagine my surprise when one of our reels started screaming off line in the late afternoon (I was sleeping again).
It took about 20 minutes of fighting before Katie took this photo as the fish arrived. Its hard to tell the size in this photo, but trust me we knew it was a monster. Right after this shot, he spotted the boat and began diving and trying to get under the boat and snap the line. He was pulling so hard we actually thought he might break the fishing rod as he bent it over in a U shape.
We decided to keep this one as we knew we were close to Grenada and we could share. I went out on the back deck and gaffed him while JM pulled from the line. I seriously underestimated how big the fish was and we had a heck of a time getting it aboard. However after a few minutes of fighting we got him drug into the cockpit and fed him a cocktail to calm him down (No, I’m not kidding. A little booze right on the gills completely stops the thrashing).
Here we are looking at the fin and bill so we could properly identify the fish. It turned out to be a “Long Billed Spearfish”, a fast growing member of the Marlin family.
This is the picture that really tells the story. To give you an idea of how big he was, both JM and I are over 6 feet tall and it took both of us to hold him up. The tip of his bill is only about 1” off the deck and you can see the tip of his tail touching the roof. Before you ask, no we didn’t have a fish scale. I estimated he was about 60-65lbs.
I filleted all the fish we caught on the trip, but I was actually scared to fillet this one. I had no idea how to actually fillet him and didn’t want to waste any. However, it turned out to be pretty easy as they are very similar to filleting a Mahi-Mahi. It took me just about an hour to completely fillet him and clean up the tools. Next time I would take the fillets off in three chunks instead of one large fillet. I’m not even sure how many meals he provided as Katie was whisking away the vacuumed bags as fast as I could fill them. She vac packed him in meal size bags and then put most in the freezer. We kept out a nice meal for that evening.
With all the filleting done, it was time to put the boys to work cleaning up the decks.
For anyone wondering, here is the approximate location of where we caught this fish. We were pretty much in the middle of nowhere. Martinique was the closest island but about 150 miles away.
While these are NOT technically fish and we didn’t catch them, I thought some people might enjoy these photos. The dolphins came out to play in the flat seas. They were so spectacular in the gin clear water. After this dolphin session I’m convinced that they love showing off for us humans. They were jumping over each other, surfing the bow wake and even flipping over to show us their tummies. The more we oohed and awed, they more they seemed to do it.
Based on pictures I could find on google these look like Stripped Dolphins. Although there are only a few in these pictures, the pod totaled about 20. They had literally surrounded the boat!