Capt. John 36 Hour—Saturday/Sunday Dec. 5/6, 2015
Finally, a 36 hour tuna safari by the party boat Capt. John that wasn’t weather threatened or cancelled by the same. This one, with forty of us fishermen aboard, was headed up by Captains Johnny and Jill Williams.
We left Galveston’s Pier 19 on Saturday morning and shortly afterward entered the open gulf, motoring out in a sort of southerly direction. Our first two stops of the trip were in the area of the clay pile. Those stops in around 220 feet of water didn’t produce the vermillion snapper numbers anticipated but the red snapper were home. About two-thirds of our allowed double limit on this extended length trip were caught. Red snapper still being caught and retained are in association with the Capt. John’s involvement in the 2014/2015 pilot program that extends their fishing period. Their being caught and retained will continue thru December on the Capt. John. With the time getting short the run farther offshore began to the overnight tuna fishing destination.
Our tuna fishing began at the Gunnison Spar Production Platform which is about 135 nautical miles to the south southeast of the island in 3150 feet of water. As has been the case since entering the gulf the swells were running in the 3 to 4 foot range, easy to live with. Blackfin tuna were hitting the assortment of artificial or sardine baits but the bite was on the slow side of good. The numerous down current/wind drifts during the four hours or so we were there had something in the area of 25 blackfin tuna being caught, chrome diamond jigs and slim bodied speed jigs accounted for the vast majority of the blackfin. The only yellowfin tuna action was provided by a surface hit on a “Yummee” flying fish lure. Mitch Hadmann had underhand cast it about 100 feet off the starboard bow about an hour after arrival at the platform when is big hit announced the yellowfins presence. The big yellowfin sounded and the deep fight against heavy drag pressure was on. I was casting a “tuna bullet” prototype on the bow as he went out of sight down the side with his tuna fight. After about fifteen minutes or so my curiosity got the best of me so I stopped fishing to go to the stern and see how the Mitch vs tuna deal was going. He was still on tight, at the port stern corner. He was still at a half spool on his spin rig. The deep stand off continued, with heave drag pressure on his 80 pound braid and now about 20 minutes of pulling and winding had him needing a break, naturally I volunteered to help and pull on it for awhile. This was a really strong fish, in my five minutes or so little movement was made. As Mitch was doing, I’d get several half turns of the reel handle or three to four turns then loose them. A rested Mitch got back on the rod for about ten more minutes then I pulled and wound with the same previous effect on the yellowfin for another ten or so. A rested Mitch was again back on the rod for a final pull and wind session. That lasted for about a minute when his braid broke at about ten feet off his rod tip. A great fish had put up a great fight, and won. What a disappointment, especially for Mitch but also for everyone aboard. Mitch later told me that a few inches above the broken end of the braid was roughed up as having been rubbed on something and weakening it. Did it rub on the hull on the was down? On another unseen line? Who knows – a lot of variables come into play in any prolonged fish fight. This definitely a heavy weight tuna fight that unfortunately the tuna won. Why go to all of that detail? Mitch’s fish fight was the hilight of the trip without a doubt, 100 percent for him and for me too. With the blackfin bite slowing at Gunnison and those being hooked likely to be attacked by the increased barracuda interest it was time to make a move.
That move was to the drillship “Discoverer India”, we were then about 155 nautical miles (just short of 180 land miles) to the south southeast of the island. The blackfin tuna bite improved but only a couple of yellowfin were taken with going in the low thirtys. Tuna stomach contents, here and Gunnison, were made up primarily of squid with body lengths in the 10 to 12 inch range. They hit an assortment of artificial and freelinded or Carolina rigged sardines but the large squid interest might have effected the tuna catch totals. When we left the drillship just after Sunday’s sunrise the blackfin trip totals was 69 ,yellowfin 2.
We left the drillship just before 7 a.m. and began the inshore run back to the clay pile area for some vermillion snapper fishing and to top off the double red snapper limit where 51 were needed. While it had breezed up a bit overnight the ride was good until about 90 miles out where we went thru a rougher section for about 10 miles or so. With that behind us our first bottom fishing stop on the way back was made at around 75 miles out. This stop and another 8 miles inshore had the rest of the double red snapper limit being caught along with a few more vermillions and other assorted bottom fish. Squid baits fished at or near the bottom plus snapper slappers accounted for most of the red ones, vermillion attempted to eat small pieces of squid on small circle hooks.
After those last two stops it was off to Pier 19 with this catch iced down in the multiple fish boxes:
- 69 Blackfin tuna to 18#
- 2 Yellowfin tuna to 32#
- 160 Red snapper to 15#
- 34 Vermillion snapper to 3#
- 3 Lane snapper
- 1 Barracuda
- 1 Porgy
- 1 Bluerunner
- 1 Almaco Jack
Randy Derusha group of 5, Randy with 12 blackfin tuna (boats high catch for the trip) on speed jigs, one on a top water popper and a double limit of red snapper to 14#. Randy’s son, Dan Derusha with 5 blackfin and a double red snapper limit to 12#. Son, Kirby Derusha had 2 blackfin and double red snapper to 12#. Friends Ron Smith and Paul Dimarco with 5 and 3 blackfin each and double red snapper limits to 12#.
Allen Hughes, Dallas area, 32# yellowfin tuna the trips heaviest caught and double red snapper limit.
Edward Wen, Houston, double red snapper limit to 14# 1 blackfin tuna
John McCracken, San Leon, 3 blackfin tuna and double red snapper limit.
Kenny Bergen, Double red snapper to 12#
Greg Reedy, Group of two, Denton, double red snapper to 14#
Peter Letts, Cedar Creek Lake, 3 blackfin, double red snapper to 12# and a “lone ranger” vermillion snapper.
Mitch Hadmann, double red snapper and several blackfin and the lost “monster yellowfin” that truly mad his trip , well sort of.
Patrick Lemire, Texas City, my double red snapper limit went to 13# and was taken on a 5 ounce, pink and chartreus, squid tipped snapper slapper fished near the bottom. My tuna fishing was an exploration session, casting an assortment of new lures and new lure combinations including a serious tackle “tuna bullet” prototype. Obviously my presentations or their look didn’t mimic what the tuna were feeding on for this trip, that resulted in a zero in the tuna department…. Next trip , Bam!!! You gotta beleive..
It was another great trip on the Capt. John with Captains Johnny and Jill Williams putting us on the fish and Bobby, Richard, Carl, and Dan keeping the deck running smoothly and Rachael in the snackbar keeping us fed and watered!
See you on the Capt. John!!