Sunday, March 31, 2013

Told ya that they're biting

Hey bro. I went back to the same place I fished Friday (caught 8) and it was on. Caught about 25 specks,kept 4 for supper.

Capt. Rick Andrews Report from the Pamlico River

"Here’s a brief report:
In the upper Pamlico River between Washington and Bath, the speckled trout bite has been very consistent with plenty of keeper sized fish and a few stripers, flounder, and puppy/lower slot drum mixed in.  When targeting just the pups, we’ve been getting plenty of action downriver closer to the sound with some keepers specs in the mix as well.   So far, I could not have asked for a better early spring bite on the Pamlico.  We’ve had plenty of options and based on what I’ve seen so far, I would expect fishing to be just as good if not better when I get back from Weldon in mid-May. 

Thanks and hope all is well. "

Capt. Richard Andrews

Down East Guides such as Capt. Joe Ward and Capt. Greg Voliva are having similar action up the Neuse.  Capt. Ray Massengill even got into the trout before heading back out on the tug for two weeks.   

We are really proud to be putting customers with Capt. "Smiley" Richard Andrews this year.  Looking forward to fishing next to him for a few weeks up on the Roanoke.   He will then be fishing on the Pamlico River, then heading to Manteo for the summer, before coming back to harass our giant red drum on the Neuse for the best of that action. 

report from CR

Half day offshore yesterday produced 5 sails, after everyone caught one, they came in early for a zip line.  Same crowd is fishing again tomorrow, hope that they get 'em.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

shad fishing with Capt. Greg on the Roanoke

I can only imagine the case of cabin fever that some of you may have.  Don't you think that it's time to go fishing?    Or at least schedule your trip for this year?   

Here's a report from Capt. Greg, fishing this week.....

"Hey, we did really good! we caught +/-  a 100. I was catching them on the fly but had to stop and pick up a spinning rod to catch up to Tanner before he got too far ahead. Ended the day at your uncles with 18 fish in 18 casts! The water dropped 4 feet while we fished."

I know that you think 55 degrees isn't bad......

Last week in Costa Rica I stopped by one of my favorite restaurants   and the whole staff was decked out in Costa Rica soccer jerseys.  That night they were playing the USA in Utah.   Normally, Costa Rica would knock our socks off, the US team doesn't normally have a chance.

I stopped back by the restaurant during the game and my Costa Ricans friends were furious.   They were heartbroken to see their home team getting beat 1-0.   They claimed that it just wasn't fair to play in those type of conditions.    It snowed about 4 inches during the 90 minute game, played in the middle of a blizzard.   They had to stop the game at least twice to clear off the sidelines and goal marks because they were covered with snow.

I know how those poor ticos feel to be thrown into the freezer, they had no chance against the better weather-conditioned gringos.   Revenge may be sweet, the US is going to Costa Rica soon to play.  I hear that instead of the comfortable capital in the central valley, the game has been moved to Puntarenas, start time is high noon.   Should be about 110 on the field with no wind.  Poor gringos.......

Thursday, March 28, 2013


This is Rich with OCEARCH, he's partnered up with Chris Fisher and they're tagging great whites.  One of them briefly came into Pamlico Sound this year.  Download your free shark tracker at  

Thanks again for riding along with us and the great video!

panga pics

Back to reality

The days leading up to the full moon were double digits, even caught a marlin.   Berto and Marcos were so confident that they encouraged James to take a day off and let them run the boat.   I came a long to supervise and sancochoed the only bite that we had.  Sure missed James.  He was none too happy when we rolled in the dock about an hour and a half past "normal".   Fortunately the water is clean and there are some fish around.  Two days ago when we got skunked, we watched Bubba on the Tijereta finish off a double digit day.....we all have a better appreciation for James, must be more to it than just driving the boat around.   Inshore fishing around Los Suenos has fired off with the sardines hitting the beach, good bottom fishing yesterday on the Dragin Fly.

Anna and I are on the way back to the alternate universe.  I hear that it's pretty dreary.  No snook from the beach for me this year......maybe next time.  I'm convinced that it's because I just haven't had that many fishing buddies that can stand up to the heat, the sun and waste deep with the crocs.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Good fishing continues, snook and roosters on the pangas, sardines showed up in Jaco so things have fired off on the inshore fishing here.  The water is clean and the sails are biting offshore with double digit days getting consistent.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Los Suenos Leg 1 video courtesy of OCEARCH

Dragin Fly video 

Courtesy of OCEARCH and Richard.  Great to have you along on the boat for a day! 

found someone who can throw a cast net

Yup, Capt. Roy and his brother have got it figured out.   One or two throws with a 12+ foot cast net and they're rigged up on bait with the bigger boats begging or trying to snag one or two at a time with sabiki rigs.

There is no telling how many snook that he's caught from that pink panga, including one world record.   We caught 5 today, I released the two that I caught and made Roy and Rudy smile.  Here are shots of a couple that didn't make it.  

First up, we got a double header snook/rooster, both trophy fish, few more snook for dinner then in search of jacks and mackerel on poppers.  Very cool morning.  Oh, and a couple nice triple tail.

Next year we are going to be making this inshore adventure a regular part of the packages that we offer.    Bring plenty of sun screen, this is fishing with the locals, no shade. As my time here winds down, I've been snookered by the snook and have yet caught one from the beach.  I hope that I get another shot at them......back on the Dragin Fly tomorrow.  How's the weather up there?   About time to come home I guess......

Before:                                                                       After:

Monday, March 18, 2013

 Another one for the boat.......pretty work Capt. James....

Saturday, March 16, 2013

On the way to the awards ceremony......

We lost the battle, but won the war.   Things looked pretty bleak with our 12 sailfish lead for the two tournament series dwindled down to 4, then we caught a double header and picked away, enough to win the overall series by 9 or 10 sails....haven't seen the latest results, but we were 5 sailfish away from being in contention for this tournament.   A slow start got us, with only 2 for 5 by late this  morning, we ended up 15 for 22 bites for the day, 15 for 21 yesterday and 8 for 20 on day 1.

Really close finish for the top 3 boats, Sea Fix, Uno Mas, Sea Angel all separated by 1 fish or time.

Details in the morning, but it feels good to again be competitive.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Gaining Ground

James started in the sweet spot today with a little group of 4 boats and a nice pick of hungry fish, catching the first 8 sailfish that we saw, then  the fleet grew to about 25 boats, the fish got finicky and our hook up ratio suffered, we ended up catching 15 for 21 bites.  

We went from 17th on day 1 to tied for 4th place, losing on time to........Sea Angel........I sure hope that we don't lose to them on time tomorrow.

For the overall series, we got a gasp of air, increasing our lead to 12 sails with at least 10 super boats that are capable of evaporating that lead in a hurry.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Day 1 Report

Without giving too much away......we had enough bites today.   The good Lord and King James gave us shots throughout the day, but we just couldn't keep them connected, either flat out missing or jumping off enough to be right there at the top.  

We're sitting in 17th place out of 40 boats with 8 sailfish releases, behind the leaders with a total of 14 sails.  

For the two-tournament series, we are still in the lead, but nervously watching other boats catch up.   Capt. Tony on the Rebel caught 10 sails today, cutting our lead for the series to 8 sails.  

There is a lot of time before this tournament is over, time for us to catch up......and time for others to catch up with us.

Hope that we can do better for James tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Sailfish Attack

Kind of slack on the sitting the ant-lab and getting geared up for the tourney that starts on Thursday.   Fishing has been tough, there are fish around, but they've been finicky. Yesterday we were only 20% on our hook up ratio, but today, we dramatically improved.

Here's a treat, check this video out a sailfish attacking our camera. 

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Pink Panga Pics from yesterday

short overnighter report

Good trip to the Furuno.  Again, not much to the snapper fishing, but the groupers were chewing, all of them that you wanted to crank out of 400 feet of water.....

Got on a decent sailfish bite and ended up with a double digit day, the best day these guys have ever had, so they were real happy.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Some other light that went through the lens....

This is a big dolphin with Mr. Jim.  We also got some underwater Go Pro video of him attacking the left short and some shots of a sailfish attacking the underwater camera.    When I figure out how to edit, I'll put it all together, for now, you are stuck with stills.

Here are some shots from Capt. Roy and the pink panga.  Gonna get some more of that action for me tomorrow!

Pics from the last overnighter

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Slow "pick" continues

We're getting what we need, but not what we want, so with 2 guys fishing 4 days, we're going to wrap up their trip with another overnighter.   The report on this one won't be as long.....I won't be making it.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Day 3 of the overnighter

Actually, I left the last report as we were in the middle of Day 2.  We had started the day with sailfish before sunrise, caught several, then left the bite looking for a marlin.  After no marlin bites on the sea mount and the radar indicating birds in the area where we left the sailfish biting that morning, we were now headed back to the meat.....125 miles offshore of Los Suenos.  

It had been an hour since we had a bite when we got what we were looking for, a nice blue marlin about 250-300 pounds exploded on the right short teaser.  Of course the first pitchbait, line wrapped around the rod tip, but the back up bonito quickly hit the water......a second too late, the marlin had faded off.   I wasn't in the middle of the pitch bait dance, I was up on the bridge with my pillow behind my head. I hopped down and side swiped the pitch bait dance and grabbed the 50 that was chugging a Laceration Lures prototype on the left long.   It was a beautiful sight.....and feeling........ to see that marlin crash the lure attached to the rod I was holding with a ferocious "going away" bite.  I crossed her eyes.  

The rod was going to the customer and the customer to the chair and that blue marlin was going absolutely ape-shit.  She took to the air laid out on her side, touching the water only for a nanosecond before bouncing back into the air again and again and again in a spiraling path.   When she completed the circle, returning to the hole in the water where a lure once swam, she finally caught enough water to right herself and launch herself straight up, broadside, in clear view of all us......and we all saw her come unglued.

With the track she took, it would have been almost impossible to return all that slack line fast enough to keep the hook lodged in her mouth.....just too much air time.

Three hundred pounds of flesh skipping across the surface in a circle is an amazing sight and there was no one disappointed with the show she gave us.

We saw another marlin cruising the surface and another quick bite on the teaser, but that was our shot and we would have to settle for sailfish for the rest of the day.  The slow fishing that we've had over the past two weeks really pust into perspective the bite that we were on.....and that is still out there.

Through the afternoon we picked and picked at sails, then started trolling towards the west.   With an easterly drift, James headed into the current, hoping to drift through the night, ending up in the middle of the bite at dawn.

Although we were again trolling away from the best of the bait marks, the bite didn't slow down and we ended the day just as it started, catching sailfish with the sun below the horizon.  After sunset, we caught a double and a triple header.  For the day, we totaled close to 50 sailfish bites.

I barely made it through dinner, relieved of my watch until moon-set...about two hours before first light.

The Migration:
Each day at sunset,  in oceans around the world, a migration occurs that few have ever seen.   In waters so deep they are never touched by tropical rays of sunlight, there is a world that waits in the darkness....for the darkness.

Under the lens of a microscope, the warm, clear, sunlit waters of the ocean blue come alive.  Hundreds of spheres, disks and filaments of diatoms, dinoflagellates and algae crowd a drop of water. Many of these tiny plants and animals drift at the mercy of the currents, but they are actually the anchor of a chain of life reaching to the deep.

As the sun sets, with aid of fins or wings, moving hairs or long whipping tails,  slightly larger animals, just barely visible to the naked eye, propel themselves to the surface feast.  The chain pulls to the surface  large-eyed, dark colored fish and small sharks who have never seen the light of day.  But the most numerous......and effective nighttime predator are the squid......thousands and thousands of squid of all sizes. And with the squid, follow other predators.

On moonless nights, a lantern placed over the water will draw no moths, but other animals are attracted to the light, especially the squid.....and hopefully the animals that feed on swordfish.

When I woke for my watch,  the moon was still up and there was very little life around the boat.  But when the moon set,  occasional shapes, tricks of the eye, started to flash several feet below the surface in the edges of the light.  Without any trace of moon light,  the Dragin Fly was now getting some attention.

What had not gotten any attention were the weighted baits, lit with green glow sticks, drifting at different depths in search of a sword.  The darker it got, the more life appeared.  With a dip net and "squid jig" on a spinning rod, Wade and I were like kids at an aquarium touch tank, handling live animals that we had only previously seen in books......or had thawed out for bait.

Unidentified, finger sized gelatinous masses twisted and undulated as the boat drifted over them and they tried to escape the light.  Occasional jellyfish would pass by.  Tiny minnows and odd looking   flying fish that look more like winged insects than  fish skittered in and out of the light.  Darts and dashes of  torpedo shaped squid became more frequent.  Their movements are too fast to discern and detail, but as their numbers accumulate  they become more brazen, pausing in the light, inspecting their surroundings and becoming more comfortable under the foreign illumination.

Although a mollusk, the same as a clam or conch, squids are much more complex, they have a relatively large brain.  When they pause in the light, you can almost see them think.  They also have large eyes, well suited for hunting in the dark.  Like their mollusk cousins, they aren't stuck in the mud or a shell, squid are amazingly mobile, using jet propulsion to speed through the water.  Fins on their "head" give them the ability to quickly change directions, darting one direction, then the next,  only to reverse the jet and pounce on prey with a web of tentacles.

Many people know that squid have little suction cups on their tentacles, but did you know that on the tentacles of their two larger legs, the suction cups are ringed with tiny hooks to help grab slippery prey?  Once caught, the fish  is pulled towards the mouth where a razor sharp beak rips it apart piece by piece.

Most squids are a few inches to about a foot long, but in some parts of the world, they can be many feet long. The saucer sized suctions of giant squid, the favorite food of sperm whales,  are dangerous enough to leave round scars on the heads and bodies of the whales that feed on them.

Wade and I were catching some of the bait sized squid when James woke up, just in time to witness what happened next.   We were theorizing on the best way to catch a sword and if there were many around.  Commercial boats caught them, occasionally they would be seen finning on the surface and Capt. Rusty caught one a couple of years ago.   The three of us standing there in the middle of the Pacific ocean staring down at shoals of squid  when the swordfish appeared.

Out of nowhere, from under the boat, bill-first, a 8 foot swordfish attacked my squid jig......there were a couple problems......

Problem # 1:  A squid jig doesn't have hooks.  It's just a 2 inch  long hot dog shaped piece of glow-in-the dark plastic, like those toys that you hold under the light.....or supercharge with a camera flash....then they glow green for a few minutes.   Tie the line to the top, out of the bottom of the lure are a bunch of light wires that bend upwards to make a ring of tightly spaced inch long spikes.  Some jigs will have more wires coming out of the middle, angled in the same direction towards the eye of the lure.   The idea is not to impale the squid when he attacks it, but to entangle his tentacles between the wires. Anyway, point is, a squid jig ain't gonna hook a swordfish.....

Problem # 2:   I was able to take away the jig before the "fish" vanished into the shadows and Wade was on the 50, cranking up the closest bait that we had  deployed.   We were all convinced that it was a swordfish, then the "fish" turned and took a breath.   A family of bottle nose dolphins crashed the party and put on a show.  Squid showered and inked as the hunter became the hunted.   The dolphins would disappear for a few moments and the squid would start bunching up in the light, but they wouldn't eat our squid jigs or stay still long enough to get dipped up.  They were smart.  Clicks and whistles signaled coordinated attacks from the dolphins and the squid would shower, dolphins in hot pursuit, sometimes catching them in the air. The dolphins were smarter.

As dawn approached,  the migration reversed and the squid chased the dark out of range of the dolphins.

And we put 'em out.....catching a pair of sails before sunrise.  We couldn't stay long and had to cover as much ground as we could by trolling towards home.  We caught sailfish all the way to about 80 miles from Los Suenos, then the water got green and the fish got finicky and for sure, there were less of them.

Finally, the end.

We've got two guys on the boat for the next 3 days.  They also fished today and they each caught two sailfish.  Good day on the water. They were in Guatemala a few years ago, fished 4 days and caught 15.  They went to Panama and never caught one.   Yes, you can go to the best places in the world, at the best times to be there and still find tough fishing.  Glad that we're getting what we need.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Snook payback, crazy fly action, attack of the land crabs, report

Last installment of our over nighter and some pics coming up I promise......kind of busy.....although I did get a little snook payback yesterday.

 I hopped aboard  Capt. Roy's  panga with a single fly angler fishing   out of Quepos.   Since I had last fished with  Capt. Roy, he adopted some of the tarpon/cobia tricks that we had talked about,  unlocking some new doors......  The day before, Roy had landed 18 snook up to 25 pounds and he wanted to show me what he was despite our fly angler's desire to catch a fish in Costa Rica on the fly......we started the day snook fishing....which is not conducive for fly fishing.   It was good.

We had 10 bites, catching 5 snook in the 7-10 pound range, jumping off a monster and catching a nice corvina (Costa Rica sea trout) that was about 8 pounds.   You know that you are fishing with a good captain when you show them a new trick and they improve upon, I can't tell you what the trick is.....he swore me to secrecy.....and unfortunately, my tricks won't work from the beach where I am still yet to catch a snook this year.

After leaving the snook bite, we went back to the sardine bait balls which were now bunched up and being tormented by mackerels, jacks and roosters.  First cast across the school with a popper in hopes of teasing up something for the fly and a jack inhaled my popper.   Taking the hooks off a lure is a foreign concept for a Costa Rican, but Roy and his mate Rudy  quickly got into the game and enjoyed watching fish try to eat the hookless plug.   They also got an education on how many fish that a good fly caster can catch.   A lot of firsts this week.  Good stuff.

If you are driving around the coast of Costa Rica this week, watch out for the crabs.  Giant red land crabs have descended upon the coast from the mountains to spawn in the surf.   Maybe it was the rain the other night or the darkening moon, but two nights ago, they invaded.  The road between Jaco and Hermosa is now  paved with the crushed carcasses of crabs, making the road dangerous.....from eco-tourists swerving and weaving  trying to avoid crunching crabs.

Offshore report remains slow.......averaging about 4 sails/day for the last week.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Lost a Couple of Good Ones

In the past couple of weeks we've lost a couple of Good Ones.  Please keep in your thoughts and prayers the families of Capt. Charles Brown and Greg Parker from New Bern.  Capt. Charles's "hightoider" accent  could not help but brighten the days of those around him.   Greg was a trout fishing legend and always super nice to those who knew him on the water or in his store in New Bern known as "Parkers".   You rarely found him anywhere else.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Day 2 of the overnighter report

Day 2
Although a decent day of fishing for Day 1, my expectations of the Furuno trip, based on my last overnighter to the reef, were  a little disappointed.   A half dozen sails and a box full of grouper is not a bad day, but it puts into perspective the trip that we had three years ago.  On the way to the reef, we finished off a grand slam with a big black marlin.  The slam included a dozen sails and a sight-cast striped marlin that was cruising on the surface.   That night everyone went to sleep with sore arms from yellow tail snappers and big cuberas.

On this trip, the green water had killed the billfish bite and even pushed the snappers off the reef.   A little deeper there were plenty of groupers…….but man, that’s a lot of cranking and we were looking for a marlin.   Do they even eat at night?   James pointed the Dragin Fly South with a big full moon over our left shoulder.    Maybe we’d get a bite on one of the three marlin lures that Berto had chugging behind us at about 7 knots.   Dinner consisted of the freshest grouper anyone on the planet has ever eaten, superbly cooked under Marcos’ watchful eye in yes, the microwave.   The jumbo shrimp that we brought along for “bait” made a nice addition…..sorry, no vegetables.  With a belly full, James headed below where the customers were already zonked out.   Wade and I kept watch on the bridge.

I had plenty of naps during the day and was wide awake, scanning the horizon for hazards… much as signs of life or bait or feeding fish.  Wade was confident and flattered to be at the wheel,  with much more time  behind the wheel of the Bill Collector than I have steered the Dragin Fly……I’m just fine keeping watch.  Nothing on the radar for 28 miles, a big moon and calm seas made for a long quiet night and nice ride.   Surely, at any moment, the calm would be shattered by the scream of a 50.  It didn’t happen. 

The most significant realization of the night was that in the vastness of the sea, with nothing but water and sky, the moon and the brightest of stars, the most random of paths can cross.    Much further than the naked eye can see, even with lights 100 feet off the water, the radar indicated that a large freighter was more than 25 miles off our starboard bow.     James had set our course and engaged the autopilot…….25 miles away, the cargo freighter’s operator was sitting back and watching gauges with it’s own course and speed plugged into auto.

An hour passes and lights are visible on the horizon, it’s getting closer, but it’s speed and direction are still indeterminable  no worries, still many miles away.   I take a quick cat nap, leaving Wade on his own, he assures me he’s wide awake.  No worries…..and there were no worries from me, but every 10 or 15 minutes Wade would wake me up and ask me to look at the freighter.   The moon was getting low.  As the stars brightened, the sky darkened  and the colors of the freighter’s lights could now be discerned. 

I’m thinking that there is no way that freighter will end up any closer than several miles away from us.   What are the chances?  Impossible.  Hundreds of square miles of ocean, only one other boat within reach of the radar, the odds of displacing water in the same place at the same time are……. "No problem Wade, it looks like it’s getting closer, but we’re still off it’s starboard bow a good ways.” 

The darkness of the night on sea will play tricks with the eyes and the mind, so 10 minutes later I’m awaken again by Wade.  I’m sure that he just needs some reassurance that we are much farther away than the tricks of night make him believe.    The dark outline of the freighter is much closer, now with part of the masthead light visible, meaning that our trajectories not only appeared to be getting precariously close, but that evasive action may need to be taken.   Wide awake now, after studying our courses for several minutes more, both of us agreed that without changing course, that freighter would have run right over us.  

Fortunately, evasive action means taking the controls off of auto pilot and changing course  45 degrees , giving the larger boat plenty of room.   The change in course also changed the angle of waves cut by the the Dragin Fly’s bow, immediately waking James.  Probably the first thing that he saw  was a window full of freighter passing off our beam.    When the captain arrived on the bridge, I’m sure that he was proud that his crew was awake and alert.  
With all clear and the course readjusted, we watched the moon set, the blackest of the night try to settle in, but get chased by the fast approaching dawn.   We were marking bait, but would have no idea of the color of the water until the sun was high in the sky.   Still in the grey of dawn, teasers and swimming ballyhoo replaced the lures that followed the boat untouched through the night.  The sun still more than a half hour from cresting the horizon, we got our first sailfish double header.

Several sunrise flurries of sails and James pointed us towards some underwater seamounts 5 miles away.   It’s waters known to be patrolled by packs of striped marlin and big blues.    Although we did see a marlin on the surface and caught a few more sails, we didn’t get the bite we were looking for.      The sun was higher and the water was super clean and clear….and the radar marking birds over the bait that we had left earlier in the morning.   As they say….”Don’t leave fish to find fish”…..but we were looking for a marlin.  

 OK, Anna just walked in from the beach and I’ve got to run…….new installment of the report, recap of Day 2, the marlin, the phantom swordfish, squids and more to follow.  

Road Trip

 I know that you feel that I’ve been slack about completing this report…..actually, I have not had a lot of time on the computer.   Anna and I took off on a road trip, exploring regions of Costa Rica where we need to spend more time in the future.    First, we headed up to Papagayo, the northernmost region and port.   This is a beautiful area with a fabulous marina and unbelievable hotels and views.   Unlike the Central Pacific and Los Suenos/Quepos, this area gets some pretty serious winds through the winter.  These winds push the surface water from the shore, causing colder, nutrient rich water to rise from the depths…..”upwelling”.   In late April, the winds lay down and the billfishing is red hot.   The Dragin Fly heads to Papagayo each year to fish the Presidential Challenge Billfish Tournament, this year May 15-20……perhaps we need to add a few more days to our trip.   Drop us a line if you want to join the Dragin Fly in Papapgayo on the front end or back end of this trip.

From Papagayo, we headed down to Flamingo and Tamarindo to personally meet some of the charter operators that have been taking care of our folks who have stayed up there.   Tamarindo was a cool town, with lots going on.

Finally, yesterday afternoon, we made it down to Samara and Carillo.   Anna was hanging out on the beach and we watched some familiar boats arrive to the anchorage.    Turns out, one of the legs of the Presidential Challenge is fishing out of Carillo this weekend.   The Dragin Fly was already booked out of Los Suenos , so we couldn’t fish this leg……..but Anna and I did crash the captain’s party.   Big time had by all.   Glad that I’m not fishing today.

Hopefully our road trip will better help sever those Down East customers who are flying into Liberia and exploring northern Costa Rica.