Three Days on the Dragin Fly:
Day 1 On board was Larry and his son Chad, Dragin Fly crew, plus Wade, the cockpit wizard of the Bill Collector and myself. The plan was to fish our way out to the Furuno, picking at the sailfish along the way, live bait for a black marlin, then anchor up and jig snappers till dawn, fishing our way offshore the next day in search of the big bite and spending the night right on top of it. All good plans don't work out as planned......but with good planning, it usually works out.
When we charged out on our over-nighter 5 days ago, there was a lot of green water around. Decent numbers of finicky sails were lazily paddling around those waters, but the bites were few and far between. The best sailfishing was between us and the Furuno, so after a mid-morning departure, we ran right to the fleet and quickly put some sailfish in the air.
After several sailfish releasse, but with marlin on our menu we started trolling towards the reef for a couple hours of live baiting black marlin before it got dark. Just like similar reefs in Panama, black marlin routinely feed up on the edges of the Furuno where the peaks of it's jagged crown drop from 150 feet of water down to 400-600 feet, then plunging to the abyss. All this structure 40 miles offshore, you can image the kind of life that accumulates around it.
Within several miles of the reef, the billfish bite fell off, but our hopes remained high as we filled the tuna tubes and bridled up live bonito. We trolled 3 marlin bites through prime habitat, continuously replacing spent baits with fresh ones. While trolling around, James found some peaks in 400 feet of water with clouds of life on the bottom; in that depth of water, most likely big groupers. With no meat fish, a couple of quick drifts with the deep dropping rods and we could have dinner in quick order.
After only three drifts, we had six 15-30 pound bucket mouth grouper on the deck, the live bonitos back out.....and still no billfish bites, not even a sailfish.....which like bonitos as much as marlin.
In past trips to the Furuno, as the sun set, the reef has come alive with snappers of all flavors, but when we gave up on the live baits and concentrated on the bottom fishing, we just could not get on a good "mark" and never had a single snapper bite. James made an executive decision.
Instead of anchoring up for the night, then starting out again early slow trolling before heading offshore, James instructed Berto and Marcos to put out 3 lures.....in the dark. We were going on the troll and were going to wake up about 60 miles away, hopefully in clean water. With a full moon, who knows, maybe we could get a night time marlin bite......at least a sail.......or do they feed at night? Swordfish definitely feed at night, but will they eat a lure at 7 knots?
to be continued......
Night watch, ocean freighters, moon set, sunrise sails, a big day 2