We are out exploring again and we are giving a few places we visited before a more complete look over. We sailed from Freeport, to the southern tip of Abaco yesterday. Well… to be completely fair we sailed half way when the wind stopped and we fired up the trusty Volvo diesel. We trolled lines most of the way, and had nary a bite.
The highlight of the trip over: Karen saw her first Green Flash. Like many people, she was a bit skeptical about the actual existence of this phenomenon she had heard described. If you have a perfectly clear view of the horizon, no hills, or trees, or buildings, and there are no clouds at all between you and the setting sun, then just as the last tiny bit of the upper limb of the sun slides below the horizon, it turns from orange-yellow to brilliant emerald green and then–it is gone. It lasts no more than a half second or so. So if you have never seen it, or heard of it, or are skeptical of the story, we can now both now assure you it is a “thing”. Karen’s comment: “It was definitely green!”
As we approached our destination after sunset, in the dark, a brown-footed booby began circling the boat. Round, and round he went. He had picked out his perfect roosting place on the main mast spreader. At least a dozen tries to land. They aren’t know as “boobies” because they are smart and graceful! Finally he got a foothold, and proceeded to “decorate” our deck and cockpit with whatever fish he had eaten earlier than day. Yuck. We HATE boobies. As soon as we got our anchor down, we whacked his tail with a line and sent him looking for a roost with more welcoming neighbors.
The anchorage was beautiful in the moonlight. With calm, crystal-clear water we could easily see bottom. We could have picked out a penny on the sand. For our evening’s entertainment we turned on the flood light on the back of the boat. After an hour or so, we had a large collection of assorted small fish hanging around, and a barracuda cruising by as well. But the coolest visitor of all, was a Caribbean Reef Squid who entertained us while hunting the smaller fish. Really fascinating. I have never seen a squid hunting in the wild before.
Today was a fishing day. It was almost flat calm, and brilliantly sunny. Colors that just occur nowhere outside the tropical oceans.
We trolled over to Hole in the Wall Reef. Our fishing luck today was different… Not a whole lot better… just different. We had no less than five hard strikes from wahoo… without hooking one. Very frustrating!
As we approached the reef, we were treated to a small group of humpback whales repeatedly breeching as they migrated south toward their breeding grounds close to Hispaniola. Tails, flippers, heads, bodies, all thrown up out of the water and splashing back down. They put on a great display–right up to the point I picked up the camera, then they disappeared.
We arrived at the reef, and experimented with a type of fishing new to me: “deep drop” fishing. This is bottom fishing in VERY deep water, 600 feet or more. I picked a likely looking spot 800 feet deep, and dropped five hooks baited with squid and a 4 pound sinker down… and down… and down. Almost 4 minutes to reach bottom. As soon as I tensioned the line, I felt the friendly tap, tap, tap of a fish. Hey! This is easy! I let the bait sit down there for a few minutes, hoping for multiple hookups. Now comes the fun part… reeling all that line back in! I start cranking… and cranking, and cranking. The line is heavy, and it is hard work. I can feel the fish struggling, but I certainly wouldn’t describe it as an epic battle. This is meat fishing, not high end sportfishing.
Less than half way up, something dramatic happens… Suddenly the rod bends deeply, and line starts peeling off the reel, very fast, and straight back down to the bottom. There is nothing I can do but hold on as my catch heads back toward where they came from. Then…. suddenly… nothing. Broken off. What happened? Did a larger than expected hooked fish suddenly realize it was in trouble? Or did a large shark, marlin or swordfish grab the fish struggling on the hook? I’ll never know what happened 600 feet under the boat…
We did manage to bring one yellow eye snapper up from the depths. Like many of the fish that live in the deep, cold, dark waters, he made a VERY tasty dinner.
Then, something changed, and the bite stopped. Reeling in the better part of a quarter mile of line is hard work, and without the ready promise of a fish on the end, I quickly lost enthusiasm.
Our trip back to the anchorage netted us one small barracuda on the trolled lures. Not a dramatically productive fishing day, but fun all the same.