Fishing Stories

Guadalupe Story Midway Story Part 1 Midway Story Part 2

Midway Island (Atoll) Part 2

     Again the peaceful clamor of the albatross below your window in the dawn hours, their bills rattling off as they bat them back and forth about 5 zillion times a second, then they face each other and try to outstretch their necks off. One after another, then anSeagul.jpg (15923 bytes) outstretched wing and another round of clamoring bill whacking and again to the neck stretching thing, it’s a riot!  We’re joined again this morning by Chris to fish outside the reef line for a shot at another record, Wahoo, Yellowtail or the jacks and trevallies.  Again on the Yorktown as it would be a more stable platform to fish from in these mornings swells. A slight chop had moved in overnight and there was a little bump.  Joined also this morning was a girlfriend of Hunters, Rio the daughters of one of the scientist living on the island, noted for his works on sea birds.  Trolling the Rapala CD-11 and 14 in the orange and gold colors they had done well for us before so out they went again. Soon another strike and a smaller yellowtail is fought, strong for it’s size we net it and practice CPR (Catch, Photo and Release) . A fine Green Job fish is next to be netted and soon a fair sized Trevally is captured on film.  We work to the outside a bit in hopes of an Kawakawa,  faster than a speeding bullet they are.  I backed the drag off a bit and a mid sized Skipjack 8-10lbs is first at the plug, it drives deep and hunters holds on, the fight lengthens and soon the enviable hands of the sea takes it’s toil, the weight no longer throbs at the end of the rod, it’s dead weight is brought up and a head remains.  The day is shortened by mal-de-mar for the girls and we head back in for lunch and an afternoon’s swim further down the beach to a area known as Rusty Bucket. At a corner of the island this jeweled beach is the home of hundreds of small fishes their tropical nature and looks appeals to both snorkelers of fisherman.  A 6 to 8 wt flyrod and a blue & white deceiver does the trick and several fish are released , a small jack and another.  The girls played and swam their hearts out, frolicking like kids on a deserted tropical beach and I changing patterns to pursue my pescadorial pleasures.   Just north 1 to 4 miles from the bulwark of the marina and still within the atoll’s ring is an expanse of shallows, maybe 5 to 15 ft. in depth broken by a serpentine of coral reefs, it’s black appearance stark against the emerald and white of the flats.  Either submerged or just above the surface they lay haven for the cruising trevally.  On hunt the following day we begun prowling amongst these reefs aboard the 26ft. catamaran, it’s shallow draft enabled us to get within casting range of the fish.  Chris explained that during what may be a spawning or schooling period the trevallies gather in the hundreds around these shallow reefs, casting to them with poppers or flys the action is dramatic and many times only short lived as these 100lb fish slide in and out of the sharp reefs for quick cutoffs. Or if your luck holds and the fish turns to the outside you’re able to run with it and have a chance.  Some have spent many hours in this chase.  We sighted a smaller Blue Trevally which was shy of the boat, then a 100lb beast which seemed to want to stay on the other side of the reef and finally swam out of sight.  The hunt proved fruitless for us for the big fish but it was beautiful day and I much enjoyed the time and scenery.  We did however land a smaller Blue Trevally on the troll, it’s mirrored silver sides and neon blue spots were delightful.   Rested in the afternoon and a spectacular dinner early evening at the restauant I left Hunter with friends and peddled down dark lanes to meet the boys at the marina for an night of drifting for Swordfish or whatever else ate the baits.  Last year, several 100 + Bluefin tunas were taken and a half dozen Swordfish were landed with about that many efforts at night fishing.  The boys were ready with the nylon cargo parachute to act as an sea anchor, they had it tied off with a buoy and polypropylene (floating) line attached to the backside center of the chute, when needed it could be pulled in backwards, collapsing the chute quickly. With it stowed away we would be able fight the fish under power.  Leaving the harbors entrance I had mentally prepared myself for that obscure feeling of drifting at sea at night. The drop-off were fishing that night was towards the north where most of the action had taken place over the last few days.GirlFishing.jpg (31171 bytes)  Though it was the windiest with maybe a 12-15 knot breeze and a 4-6 ft swell it seemed the best place to try.  At the hundred fathom drop-off we set up with two 130lb International outfits.  Unaccustomed to unseen horizon lines, black salty hazy skies and the rolling and rocking while cutting chucks of chum up and that wonderful whiff of diesel smoke from the generator that dreadful feeling crept into my mind and stomach.  I fixed my mind and eye on a star that hung in the sky and held on.  Using skipjacks as bait they were nose bridle rigged and mounted on 11/0’s with 600+ mono leader. We had hoped to attract large open-ocean squids to the boat with our boat lights and help supplement our limited bait supply, though they never showed.  The first bait went over the side with the light sticks attached to a depth of 180ft. the second bait went over and before it had sunk out of sight the Galapagos Sharks were on us. Two of our precious baits were gone far too quickly with only four remaining we pulled in the chute and ran only a short ways further off the shelf, a half mile or so away and set up again.  Last month I had drift fished for the swordfish off the Baja peninsula of Mexico, while fishing there all our squid baits were eaten up by other Giant squids in the water, their beak marks were about 3/4” and they were around 2 1/2 foot in length, maybe 5 pounds  While fishing here at Midway during our second drift several of our baits were also eaten by giant squids in the water only these were Giant Squids, their beak marks were as large as a man’s double-overed fist, with somewhat of a correlation in size of the beak marks that makes these squids at something like 5 to 6ft. bodies or larger and equal length tentacles, monsters of the deep.  With squid that large around there’s got to be some really, really big around.  With our dwindling bait supply down we used the last remaining bait left, a yellowfin tuna at around 8-10lbs.  With such a large bait I was afraid the hook would foul back into the head if had we nose bridle rigged it, so I ask Lincoln if when rigging it that we secure the 12/0 to the tail and let it hang head down, the thought being when the swordfish swallows the bait the hook would be able to lodge itself quickly and easily when pulled upon, but best laid plans of mice and man.  By 4.30 AM the swell had calmed down a bit and I still not feeling in top shape was resting on the couch in the salon.  Chris kept one eye propped open and saw the bite.  The swordfish had taken the bait and came up into the lights. All aboard scrambled to their position, Chris at the wheel, Lincoln retrieving the chute and I on the 130lb rod.  The fish had come up and swam towards the chute almost fowling itself amongst the shroud lines but it cleared and the fish circled back towards the transom, you could see the strange green light stick trailing behind.  Taking the heavy rod and reel out of the holder and climbing into the chair I tried to keep somewhat tension on the line but the fish hadn’t really bowed the rod much and not much feeling in the rod I keep putting slight pressure on the fish to keep thing taught but as it faced the boat and I at the wrong time tightened the line and out popped the bait.  It had never really been totally swallowed and the tail and hook were left hanging out. What a disappointment!  Retrieving the bait we found it scaled and bleached. Chris had a good look at it and guessed it at 250 or better, hard to see in the dark inky waters.  The day brightened in the east and we spent a half hour trolling but we were all pretty tired by then so we packed it in and headed for the barn in search of breakfast and a couple hours of rest.  Looking back I don’t think the fish had the bait fully digested and I just pulled the bait out, close but no cigar. Like I had said earlier in the day “it’s a game of 1/4 inches and the hook just failed to stick by that 1/4 inch”.  A midday’s rest some lunch, a bike ride and more swimming off a deserted beach with white powered sand and a bit of flyrod fishing for small jacks and other colorful wrasses or tropical fishes. JDswimming.jpg (24362 bytes)Our trip was drawing to the end I wanted Hunter to experience the sea again for the big game stuff.  We took our bike ride in the morning to the marina and joined Chris and Lincoln for a trip offshore.  Leaving the dock at 8:30 am we found the seas a refreshing 10-12 knots with a little bump.  What is nice about things here is you do not have to run any distance before your in the grounds.  Want Tuna, start fishing just outside the reef, want bigger tuna, just go a 1/4 mile further, want bigger tuna go another 1/4 mile out, want big tuna go another 1/2  mile out. They were sized depending on how much effort you wanted to exert.  Me, I was not after the tunas, allot of people love them, to me their just pigs, beautifully colored, strong and bloody they just pull hard.  I really do enjoy the splash and adrenaline the marlins put on so we opted for them and ran another miles out to the drop-off before putting them in.  Unfortunately getting crossways in the  trough on the first tack, which I didn’t think was that bad Hunter took ill, all her enthusiasm left her and she found the couch to her liking and I decided not to let her suffer any longer we pulled them back in and ran to the harbor.  In a half hour we were back at the dock and she felt much better, leaving her with friends we headed back out again.  Back in the grounds in another half hour (which was great to be there so quickly) we again dumped them in and made another tack. By now it was 10:00 am and we were scheduled to fly out at 6:00 p.m. that evening so I told the boys I had to be back by 2:00 to allow me some time to pack, etc.   It didn’t take long, the first Blue hit the jig within 10 minutes.  Because of the abundance of skipjack in the area we stayed with the darker blues, purples or other tuna colored type lures.  Bang! the fish came on the starboard flat line and was about 200lbs.  I like fishing in the chair, many people have never experienced the power that a chair can provide and it’s awesome.  Back off the reel’s drag a little bit to get the rod out of the holder, dump it into the chair’s gimbal, snap the bucket's clips to the reels lugs, brace yourself with your legs straighten against the foot rest, slide the drag lever up to strike and hang on!  The rod takes a heavy bow and it all comes together. The line tightens, the reels sings, the engines roar, the fish explodes in a furry of white water, tailwalking across the wake trying to rid itself of that barb in it’s mouth, it dives and explodes again out for another run. Ahhhh - the thrill of it all, the steady practiced winding, dropping with the swell to gain added line and thumbing the spool for added drag, it all shortened the battle.  Alongside the boat we added two tags to it’s back one for the Billfish Foundation the other for NOAA and a quick release. That’s one, another fifteen minutes and we had another follow by a monster, it was big, you could see it’s pecks lit up neon blue from a hundred feet away.  It was big, 500, 800, something like that, maybe even bigger, it was big.  Just eyeballing the jig it stayed with us for a full minute then dropped out of sight.  We were in the zone, they were here.  We took another tack and worked back over the same water again.  Bang, the long rigger goes off and it’s another rat about 250lbs which we double tagged and released quickly.  In all my days of offshore fishing I have never seen the professionalism that Lincoln provided as he organized the cockpit after a hook-up, Methodically he brought in the each outfit, unsnapped each leader from the swivel, rolled up the leader and stowed the lure and hook away for the protection from anyone getting hurt. Quickly before you knew it the cockpit was clean and efficient, rods were up and out of the way, lures safely away and the business of catching and releasing the fish was paramount.  It was a pleasure to see and become part of. we had let that fish go and returned back to trolling in just a few minutes, Lincoln amazed me with his eyesight, we hadn’t been back in the water a minute when he retrieved the starboard flat line again, he’d seen a fray in the line a hundred feet away just above the double line knot.  Quickly cutting out the bad section he retied a plate double knot and had the lure back in the water within minutes. Quick and efficient.  It was nice to fish with such professionalism.  Another ten minutes or so and we had raised a forth fish in the pattern. Under the long rigger again it followed for a few minutes before deciding it wasn’t to his liking and dropped out.  Over the past week while we were there at least one or two blue marlin were hooked each day in the afternoon and here it was only a little after noon and we had already raised four fish, caught and released two of them.  Such fishing deserves credit and to me Midway ranks up there with the best of them.  Calling it a early day we returned back to the dock by 2:00 p.m. where I met Hunter and we said our good bye’s toTrophyCloseUp.jpg (35549 bytes) the crew.  After packing our things we took another bike ride to the beach for a last minute swim in the warm sea.  The little snow white Ferry Terns hovering over your head, albatross zooming by in their aerial display of aeronautics, crystal clear water teaming with tropical fishes.  The life.  I will be going back again next June, want to join us? Give me a call.   

Best of luck when you get out.
John Doughty