Some old sayings have more truth in them than others. One of the most true is, “A bad day fishing is better than a good day working.” By any objective measure, our day fishing wasn’t great, but it was still a great day.
We sailed out of Georgetown two days ago, anchored on the west side of Long Island, and then tried to sail further east yesterday. We were frustrated by light and contrary winds and currents, and ended up motoring down the east coast of Long Island to Grand Harbor. We did managed to catch a nice king mackerel on our trolled lines.
Today we bought fuel at the local marina, and took a break from traveling, and went out for a day dedicated to fishing instead.
We started out trolling. No specific target in mind, but a wahoo would have been nice. About half way out, we got a bite on the deep wire line outfit—the one we specifically use to target wahoo. It was a big fish. What it was we’ll never know…. The line broke. For all you non-fishermen out there this really shouldn’t ever happen in open water. I missed something. Maybe a kink in the wire, maybe a badly tied knot. Something went wrong… something I should have not allowed to happen. But, heck. I lost an expensive lure, but there are more fish out there!
Now we are several miles offshore, and the water here is about 250 feet deep, and drops off rapidly to several thousand. The edges of those drop offs are a great place to target a lot of different fish. We pull in the trolling lines, and set up for bottom fishing. I pick a jig suited for these depths, and set the boat up to drift with the current.
In just a few minutes, I have hooked a fish. A big fish. It’s tough getting him up off the bottom and away from things he can tangle me on, but I am making progress. It’s a heavy fish, not dashing around, just pulling like a tractor. I am already tasting grouper fillets. A few minutes in and (I’ll bet you saw this coming) the line breaks. Arrrgh!
Back to it. The next drift I have another fish, not nearly so big. This one I get up off the bottom and moving my way pretty quickly. When you are pulling fish up from these depths, at some point they become incapacitated by the huge pressure changes, so it is not unusual that the last half or so is struggle free and just involves reeling in the inert fish. In this case there was an extra reason the struggle stopped. The Bahamian fisherman would say “The Taxman” had taken his cut. A shark bit off the back three-quarters of the fish. I landed a fish head, and nothing more. Sigh.
Back down to the bottom. Another bite, and other big fish. This time a REALLY big fish. I am using 50 pound test line, and it’s all I can do to get him started up off the bottom. Up about 50 feet, and he decides he has had enough of this, and races back down, peeling line off the drag. I hold on until he slows and I start lifting him back up as fast as I can. This I get maybe 75feet of line back before it screams back down toward the bottom. The fish is pulling line so fast off the reel the drag is hot to the touch. The process repeats, I lift him up—again. I get a lot further this time. I have him beat—NOT. The rod bends down, and the drag screams as he dives toward the bottom. This time, he makes it, and manages to tangle me on something. I’m stuck, nothing to do but break off. At least this one the fish won fair and square. Nothing I know of that I could have done differently.
Another drop, and another hookup. At least I am finding the fish! Certainly not the biggest fish of the day, but this time he ends up in the boat! A nice sized silk snapper. All of these very deep living snapper species are REALLY tasty table fish and we are always happy to welcome them onboard.
By this point the “taxman” was circling the boat. A BIG shark, over 8 feet, was cruising around waiting for us to bring up dinner for him. It was time to head back.
It a few ways it was a rough day. Certainly I lost a lot of expensive fishing tackle. But, importantly, fun was had and we DID end up with more fish in the freezer than we had at the start of the day.