2005-06-22 - June 17 - Crooked Island, Diana Bank, Acklins Excursion Trip
June 17, 2005 – Crooked Island, Acklins, Diana Bank Excursion Trip Day 1: We depart Rum Cay, and head for the NW tip of Crooked Island, some 50 miles to the south-east. Joining us on this trip was the Scott Dingle group, along with Captain Pete Fischer, Mate Joe Trainor, and myself. We were headed out for 4 days, and 3 nights away from civilization, picking out different anchorages as we went. The plan was to leave Rum Cay and run to Crooked or stop whenever we saw something fishy. About half way to Crooked, we came across some birds and decided to try to catch a tuna for dinner. We quickly found out, we might fill our boxes right out of the gate. We boated 6 nice yellowfin, going from 35-50 pounds, and released some smaller ones. With some pretty intense storms closing in on us, we left the fish biting and continued our run down to Crooked. Once at Crooked, we set out a Blue Marlin spread and worked from the deep into the lighthouse. We found a nice rip and just as we reached it, a good sized white marlin crashed one of our favorite Ray’s Lures, a yellow/green Rick’s Fancy. Scott Dingle quickly brought the fish to the boat, for pictures and a healthy release. This was a nice fish…probably going 80#. The spread went back out, and soon after we found some more birds starting to work just off the lighthouse. We quickly put out our favorite cedar plug chain and were hooked up to another nice 40# yellowfin. It was now mid-afternoon, and we decided to run the 18 miles to our anchorage for the night, off of Albert Town, Long Cay and do some free diving. We dove for a couple hours picking up a bunch of conch for dinner and for bottom fishing overnight. Capt. Pete made some unbelievable stuffed tuna loin for dinner, after which, the bottom fishing got serious and the yellowtails showed up, along with some brutally hard fighting mutton fish. We put 3 muttons in the boat (probably broke off 8), a pile of nice sized yellowtail, an 18# dogtooth snapper, and a few grouper. We packed it in about 10:00 and all hit the sack, wondering how we were going to top a great first day. Day 2: We pulled in the anchor at daybreak and headed off for the 20 miles run to Diana Bank. Everyone, both crew and guest, had high expectations as we’d done so well the day before. Unfortunately, as we got to the bank, we all quickly realized that it was not going to be quite as easy as the day before. Diana Bank was devoid of any signs of life…unbelievable for this time of year for this typically great remote spot. Well, we didn’t hang around too long and decided to put out the Blue Marlin spread and head further south. Our plan was to press on to the southern tip of the Acklins where we’d wanted to explore for a while. We were heading to the Mira Voy Cays, then going to troll over to Castle Island on the southern tip of the Acklins, and pick out an anchorage for the night on the leeward side of Castle Island. About 4 miles off the Diana Bank the left long rigger came down tight, attached to a 200-250# Blue Marlin. The fish ate a Moldcraft Wide Range in orange and black. Steve Dingle fought the fish on a Penn 50, on standup gear, and very quickly (too quickly actually) brought the fish boat side. Joe grabbed the leader and we had the “release”…well, that’s when it all really began. This fish put on a show (which we captured on video), that is about as good as anything we’ve seen on TV. The fish took one swipe of it’s tail, and shot under the corner of the transom, and came 10’ out of the water, straight up, luckily landing safely clear of the cockpit. It then grey hounded (again luckily away from the cockpit), for the horizon and Steve began fighting the fish for the second time. The fish was again brought to the boat, leadered and cleanly released, with some great photos snapped along the way. The rest of the passage down to Mira Voy Cays was uneventful, but upon reaching the Cays the area looked alive. Unfortunately, all that came to the boat were a few barracuda and skipjacks. We trolled the deep water ridge, some 5 miles over to Castle Island and worked the southern tip of the Acklins for a couple hours, sure that the area must be holding a Blue Marlin or two. It just didn’t happen though, and we decided to deep drop for dinner right off the lighthouse. The area looked perfect and our rigs didn’t even hit the bottom, before we were covered up with snapper. We quickly found out that the area was also perfect for sharks, which grabbed every snapper on the way up, and we decided that was enough of that. Exploring the leeward side of Castle Island for possible dive sites and an anchorage for the evening, we wound up off of Salina Point. We had no idea what the night would bring, as we’d never anchored in this area. Well, we hit it right. After another great dinner of cracked conch, mutton snapper, sushi, onion rings, and French fries, again Joe got serious about bottom fishing. This spot turned out to be a winner. We put 8 muttons in the boat ranging from 16-20#, as many yellowtails as we really wanted to keep, some going 20-22#, and a few grouper as well. Most of the fish were brought to the boat on our new Penn GLD 30 two-speed reels, which were perfect for the tough fighting muttons. With the muttons turning on strong about 11:00pm, everyone was tired and we decided to hit the rack, with our coolers again full. Day 3: The area around Castle Island Light House looked too good to not fish again, so we began a course reversal starting down toward the lighthouse. Lines were in the water about 10 minutes when we had a quick teaser bite, and found ourselves hooked up to a 45# wahoo that ate the Rick’s Fancy again, on the left short. Trolling all around Castle Island and over to Mira Voy Cays again didn’t produce a bite. On the edge of the Mira Voy Cays, the area again looked alive. We started picking up cudas again, and were about to leave when another wahoo decided to eat our black and purple Rick’s Fancy. This one was a bit smaller, probably 25#. We worked the drop for another hour, but didn’t get another bite and decided to troll the deep water back towards Albert Town, where we had decided to spend our last night. About 4 miles off the edge, the bridge rod came tight, and we had another Blue Marlin hooked up, on one of our new 70 bent butt outfits supplied by Penn. This fish also ate a Moldcraft wide range, this time in green and black. Steve Goodridge did a nice job with this fish, estimated at 150#. Joe and I released the fish, very healthy and he swam off to fight another day. The rest of the trip back to Albert Town was un-productive. We were about to pull into our anchorage early for an afternoon of free-diving when Joe spotted some birds working and a quick pass put us on another 40# yellowfin, which we put in the boat. After that we decided to hit the reef for some spear fishing. We dove some great reef, finding all the conch we needed. We speared a few grouper, seeing many that backed themselves in to safe hiding places. That night on the hook, we feasted on fresh wahoo and grouper. For whatever reason the bottom fishing didn’t materialize this evening. The yellowtails were scarce and we didn’t put any muttons in the boat. We called it an early night and hit the sack. Day 4: Today we had to be back in Rum Cay by1:00pm so our group could catch the Over Under Aviation charter flight back to Ft. Lauderdale. Up at daybreak, we ran to the lighthouse on the NW tip of crooked and put the lines in the water. Birds were working pretty good this morning and we started catching small yellowfin, blackfin, and skip jacks. Since we had a lot of ground to cover and the fish were small, we left the birds and began trolling off into the deep hoping for a Blue Marlin. We trolled off about 10 miles, then picked up the lines, and started running for the South East Point of Rum Cay, again hoping to come across some schools of tuna on the way. Not seeing anything on the way, we put the lines in the water and trolled the SE point back into the marina, hoping for a Blue Marlin finale to our trip, but it wasn’t to be. Satisfied with a great trip, we arrived back at the dock with the plane waiting, and our group boarded our Piper Chieftain for the 2-hour flight back to Ft. Lauderdale. Recap: In 4 days, we traveled 250 miles, hitting some of the most productive structure in the southern part of the Bahamas. While the fishing was not red hot, it was productive and we put a very nice and varied catch together. In all we caught 12 yellowfin, 4 blackfin tuna, 4 skipjacks, and 2 wahoo. We went 3-3 on billfish, with two blues and a white being released. We fished about 2 hours each night, boating 11 mutton snapper, about 40 yellowtail, 18 grouper, a nice dog-tooth snapper, and lots of other inedible fish. We dove for a couple hours each afternoon, loading the boat with conch and spearing grouper for dinner. Our anchorages were all very comfortable and put the back of the boat in 80’ of water where we could bottom fish in comfort each night. We are currently back in Rum Cay for a lay day, before we head out on another 3 day excursion trip. We’ve heard of good billfish reports from the east side of crooked, so we are contemplating our course for our next journey…stay tuned for the results. view photos click here: http://www.overundercharters.com/pictures.php?catname=24&Submit=view Route Traveled: Day 1: Rum Cay to Crooked Island – 50 Miles Crooked to Albert Town, Long Cay – 18 Miles Day 2: Albert Town to Diana Bank – 20 Miles Diana Bank to Mira Voy Cays – 22 Miles Mira Voy Cays to Castle Island – 15 Miles Castle Island to Salina Point – 8 Miles Day 3: Salina Point to Castle Island – 8 Miles Castle Island to Mira Voy Cays – 15 Miles Mira Voy Cays to Albert Town, Long Cay – 28 Miles Albert Town to Crooked Island Light House – 15 Miles Crooked Island to SE Point, Rum Cay – 43 Miles SE Point Rum Cay to Sumner Point Marina – 10 Miles