We left at high moon thirty on Wednesday morning to chase some good water from the latest satellite read. (We were slated for Tuesday, but the forecast for chance of lightening storms.) We were on a scouting mission, so we had a lot of spots on the agenda. We also had Capt. Terry Nugent as a buddy boat with a similar agenda, but with fewer stops on his float plan. I was happy about that so we had a baseline to compare to. Unfortunately for me, somehow a gentleman’s bet was wagered between the two boats and I know better than to bet against Terry! (More on that Later.)
Stop 1: Banana
Our first destination was for the break of water in the Banana Buoy that went from 60 degrees to 70 degrees hoping to find some of the larger bluefin that have been hanging in the area. (By larger, I mean up to 100 pounds) We got there early and needed to wait for some morning light to show up which was delayed by the pea soup fog we were in. Capt. Terry was ahead of us, so he kept charging to the warmer break about 15 miles south of us. (More on that later.) We found the break, and it was clearly a 10 degrees over a very short area. We were marking lots of bait, trolled for about and hour and a half, but nothing. Bo sign of life otherwise. I’ve been hearing and experiencing a later bite here, so I dog eared the spot for the ride home and charged 15 miles South East to the break along the 40’ 30 line.
Stop 2: Warm Break 40′ 30
We left the Banana at about 6:30AM and by that time Terry had a fishless boat as well despite finding the really nice break there between 70 and 75 degrees. But by the time we had arrived, he had nice yellowfin tuna in the boat and dropped a third. Terry 3, Us 0. Oh well, I was happy to be in a place with more life. Terry pushed East. We stayed at ground zero. Shortly into the spread, Jay Shields flew back to the center rigger to almost but not quite seal the deal on a half way decent sized bill crashing on a Blurple Blue Max rigged with a ballyhoo.
At that point, we didn’t know what color it was. So we did a big loop and trolled back over the same number. Fortunately or unfortunately, we saw about a 200-pound (my guess) in the wash along side the boat but not attached to us! This would have made my summer as I have never caught a blue marlin. Oh well. We proceeded to pound the spot for another hour.
Sooner became later and we decided it was time for greener pastures. So just as we were leaving the spot, Terry who had pushed a couple miles East, came back. I believe, but I am not sure that’s we’re he tripled up while we were steaming. (One on ballyhoo, one on SI Rainbow Squid Chain) Also the same spot he caught and landed his third a couple hours later. Terry said the bellies were filled with krill sized bait.
Stop 3: Warm Break by the 44008S
We picked up and steamed another 15 miles east. The temp chart we were using had the break kissing the 44008S buoy, but had dropped south by an easy 6 miles. I also think that it had pushed the same distance West. At this point we were 15 Miles north of Hydro, and started trolling West, creating a rectangular pattern toward were we started. We had a very slow 1 hour of trolling until we trolled by a school of frigate mackerel, we looped around, had crashes behind all our lures, and hooked up 2 yellowfin and dropped them. Not our day… They were fast moving and we couldn’t locate them again. Other than that One School of frigate mackerel, this area was a total dead zone. Very little life of any sorts. We gave it another 45 min, and steamed back to Spot #2, which incidentally had very little visible life the first time around.
Stop 4: Warm Break 40′ 30
However, when we arrived we saw some bait. We found a loose hard ball with no mahi. However, there was some sort of spadefish hanging out on the Pot. We caught it. Then just as we were about to steam back to Banana, a blue shark popped up, so we caught him on spinning gear for kicks and giggles. After a quick-release, we started running back, we saw frigate mackerel again, so we stopped. We worked the area but no hook ups. That said, we noticed that there were YFT breezing along the surface in slow motion, like BFT out east or in the bay. We fired off some good shots on casting gear, but no hook ups. I wonder if this area comes to life in the afternoon. Worth stopping if passing through to the Hydro or Oceanographer and casing the joint for a bit.
Stop 5/6: Banana Buoy and 8 miles SE
We decided to check out the life at the Banana Buoy for the afternoon bite, we patrolled the area for a little bit but found nothing. However, Capt. Terry who had the foresight to veer more easterly than we did found a parking lot of hard to catch BFT tuna busting about 8 miles southeast of the Banana. We called us in, but I just didn’t have the energy to back track another 8 miles, plus we had other stops in mind. Even Terry, who really is the best run and gunner I know, was having a hard time sealing the deal on fish that would only stay up 4 seconds at a time. Terry eventually sealed the deal on a large topwater BFT casting with a 2oz Barbarian Jig head and a 10” Hogy Jiggin in Bally Smoke. I’ve heard rumors that these fish have been impossible to catch. Good on Terry, especially considering that he has been off the water most of the summer.
Stop 6: Warm/Cold Water Seam
On our run in, we stitched the warm cold-water seam. Saw a few pops here and there, but nothing like Terry saw and caught. Around Gordon’s Gully (I think) We found a couple of old hairy pots that were loaded with smaller mahi mahi in 70 degrees of water. We caught a zillion of them ☺ and moved on. We wanted to check out the Bonito Bar for any signs of Bonito.
Stop 7: Bonito Bar
At about 5:30PM, the Bonito Bar was LOADED with fast moving birds. We stopped to investigate. I always run with a spinning rod rigged with a 3.5 Heavy Minnow with a VMC inline hook that is strong enough for a tuna, but can also be jigged for ground fish. Seeing that it’s not too too big for bonito, I launched it. Cast number 1 was a 9-pound bluefish. Cast number 2 was a follow with a striper. Then we noticed the fish finder was piled up, so I dropped the jig, and Cast number 3 was a very large sea bass.
We then noticed that FISH WERE EVERYWHERE. There were some big stripers mixed in with the bluefish, but the blues were 9 to 1 easily. Some of the birds were moving pretty fast. Though I cannot confirm bonito there, some of the bird activity was suspect! Anyway, the bonito bar was fish chowder. We caught about a dozen really nice sea bass, 5 or 6 bluefish and headed home. While I didn’t catch a bonito like I was hoping for, I did check a video off the list with the Heavy Minnow and it’s durability with bluefish ☺
That’s All I got. Hope this helps.