OVERNIGHTER IN FEBRUARY?
Yes, it's true. We just returned from a 28 hour voyage to the edge. As you see in the picture, the water in the Canyons is unseasonably warm and reliable reports of Bluefin Tuna over the past few weeks, gave us the itch. So after a few intelligence gathering phone calls with ROFFS crew, we gathered up a great group of guys, and off we went. We were not sure exactly what we would find out there, but we knew it would be a memorable trip.
We looked all over the Wilmington canyon and really did not see any signs of tuna, or conditions that seemed would hold them. We really have no idea if things have changed from a couple weeks ago, or whether the fish then were simply passing through then, on their way elsewhere. Bait was not plentiful by any means. We marked bait (squid mostly I think), but never saw much of it at night. After about 5 hours of trolling down the west side, across to the east and out into the deep a bit, we settled in the NE Corner, on the 100 fathom curve, for the long (12 hours to be exact!) evening.
We setup before dark about 4pm, in hopes that the bluefin might move into the edge to feed before dark, but that never happened. However, pretty much as soon as it did get dark, the first rod of the night came tight to a Blue Shark. For the next 8 hours we released probably about 20 Blue Sharks and hooked, 3 makos, one of which (about a 120 pounder) made it to the fish box. We hooked a real nice Mako, which Joe estimated at about 200 pounds, but it came unglued right at the boat. We had hoped for some swordfish action, but with the sharks so numerous, I'm not sure we ever stood a chance. The shark action all came without any chum. We were chunking, (very lightly) butterfish and some sardines and pretty much stopped chunking about 11pm. We started the chunking up again about 4am, in hopes that the tunas might move in for a morning meal, but it didn't happen. We continued till about 7am, cleaned up, and had a great ride back in.
The water out there was quite blue and very clean. We saw some porpoises and some squid. Not tons of life, but obviously enough to hold this shark population. What a great learning experience for everyone aboard. I don't believe anyone aboard (certainly not myself) had ever been in the canyon in the middle of the winter. We WILL do it again. Armed with a better understanding of what to expect out there this time of year, we feel there is plenty to do, when the weather and water is right. Will you hit the tuna out there in the winter? I'm not sure, but it won't keep us from trying, especially when you can get in on this type of shark action overnight, a resident Tile Fish population, and plenty of deep water wrecks to work on as well.