How Good Tactics Pay Off.
I am currently in Florida running a 63 Bertram which basically fishes 3-4 days a week, and we fish most tournaments, about 15 a year.
We were in the Bahamas to fish the Bacardi Billfish Tournament, which this year was mandatory to fish circle hooks with bait, whether dead or alive, even though there was a lot of money for the tuna, wahoo and dolphin categories.
Billfish were based on blues at 100 points, white marlin at 75 and sails at 25, with a point per pound for blues over 99 inches(about 375lbs)
So the goal was to fish for a weighing fish, and see what happened.
First day was slow, and we saw a white and a sail but no bite from either, only a few fish caught by the 38 or so boats. Most boats are 50 foot and up, fuel was US$4.62 a gallon, so long runs cost. We were running about 20-30 nm each way.
Second day I went to the huge eddy out over the tuna canyon area south east of Port Lacaya, and we managed a white marlin on the shotgun lure, and a nice dolphin that missed the money by 1 lb. Finishing day 2 with 75 points for our white, put us in 3rd place on time. Extremely slow fishing. Rum Bum released a little blue for 100 points and the lead.
Third day I went back to the same place to find less bait and the eddy moving north away from the canyon edge. I moved down to Little Issacs where we saw a boat catch a sail and heard of a white and sail in the same area, these were the only 3 fish for the fleet for the day.
So with this in mind we headed for the exact spot where 4 boats had released 3 fish, and on the way after a meeting of the minds decided that we should fish for sails and whites as all but one fish for the 3 days was a white or sail.
We rigged up the 20lb rods with naked ballyhoo on circle hooks, a daisy chain of mullets on one side , and a green squid chain with a mackerel on the end on the left.
We left out our shotgun, just incase.
I found the bait on the edge in 600 feet and just ran up and down the ledge over the bait till a sail popped up on the left teaser, we switched it to the bait and released a sail in about 2 minutes. Returing to the spot, I headed into the current and found some more bait and an hour later we raised a white marlin, and after dumping to it once, with no hookup, the fish came back up on the retrieved bait, and dumped the bait again and came up tight this time. A tough fight of an hour on a white about 75 lbs and we let him go. This fish fought on top like a blue, then took about 600yards straight down, the line hooked under his pectoral fin. We found why he went nuts, the circle was right in the roof of his mouth into the nerve.
We put a ton of heat on this fish, and having a 25 year veteran boat captain on the rod (Mark) made the difference.
Meanwhile 8-9 boats were fishing rigger to rigger with me, and only one other had made the switch for small baits, and he had not seen a fish all day. The other boats , still pulling 80’s for marlin had not even raised a fish, and by this stage needed a blue to catch us on points anyway.
I ran back to my numbers, as we had moved about 3 miles out to sea fighting the fish,, and had just finished setting up, when here comes a sail on the mullet chain, a perfect dropback, came tight and released our third fish of the day in less than a minute.
About 30 minutes later the wind switched, the bait disappeared and we kept pounding the edge for the next 2 hours as we waited for the 3pm end of day call. Only 3 sails were released by the rest of the fleet for the day.
We had come from about 6th on time, and ended up winning the daily with 125 points, to give us a total of 200, and the win by 50 points.
So with a good decision to play the odds and fish light for the sails and whites we outfished everyone else who had stuck to fishing for a weighing fish.
I will be home for the Cairns season, so come and fish with me.