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Capt. John 36 Hour Tuna—Saturday/Sunday Feb. 27/28, 2016

With the weather Gods finally smiling on us the party boat Capt John departed Pier 19 with 40 of us fishermen aboard.  The Saturday morning leave had Captain Johnny and Captain Jillian Williams heading up the effort.

After exiting the Galveston jetties Captain Johnny Williams pointed the boats twin hulls in a sort of East South Easterly direction thru a gently 2 foot swell.  The trips first fishing stop was over natural bottom structure about 90 miles out in 215 feet of blue gulf water. Two stops were made in the area, numerous vermillion snapper were caught and kept along with a pair of amberjack going 30 to 40 pounds each, caught and released to be caught another day were several undersize amberjack along with red snapper, gag and scamp grouper who are seasonly closed at this time.  Those having some success were Captain Jill’s 10 year old son Justin with his 10 vermillion snapper, a released amberjack and a short bigeye.  J. L. Hopko and Rebecca Brown of Gulfland Engineering in Houston had great starts on their vermillion snapper limits along with released scamp and gag grouper, released amberjack and shark cut off after about a ten minute tug-a-war with Rebecca.

After leaving the bottom fishing spots the run farther offshore began.  That approximately three hour run ended at the Gunnison Spar Platform, about 117 nautical miles to the South Southeast of the island.  Shortly after arriving the first of the numerous down current/wind drifts began.  Three of the six powerful “tuna lights” upgrade had been completed for this trip, now and surely in the future, this additional brightness will add to the tuna catch totals. Being cast were diamond jigs, speed jigs, top water poppers, an assortment of hardbodied sub surface swim baits and also as is usually the case, freelined or Carolina rigged spanish sardines.  All but the top water poppers had some success during the overnight period, it just wasn’t a top water night.

At around the 10:30 mark on Saturday night one of the trips first hi-lights occured, Justin Williams was at it again. Fishing a Carolina rigged spanish sardine at around the 400 foot level produced a big hit that resulted in his first ever yellowfin tuna, a nice 28 pounder! There may have been a harder fishing 10 year old on one of the Williams boats since I’ve been fishing with them for almost 54 years but I doubt it and I surley didn’t see or hear of it.  When you are on the boat and hear that Justin is aboard look him up and you will see what I mean.  The next hi-light was another yellowfin tuna catch. Jennifer Scherer and husband Mike were down for their second 36 hour when Jennifer caught her first yellowfin tuna. It was a 37 pounder that hit a 8 ounce shimano flatside butterfly jig in the black anchovy pattern fished deep. When I say “they were down” I mean they flew down, especially for the trip, from Saint Croix Falls, Wisconsin.  Her 37 pounder ended up being the trips heaviest yellowfin. Incidently her yellowfin hit about five minutes after Justins, of the yellowfin passing thru that pair just had to get on the Capt John too!

During the overnight period numerous blackfin tuna and one more yellowfin of 34 pounds were caught. Peter Letts had that last one, it hit a Williamson speed jig in a silver flash pattern fished deep.  Shortly after sunrise Sunday the run back inshore began for more bottom fishing with 3 yellowfin and 220 blackfin tuna bled, gutted and iced down in the fish boxes, insuring their freshness.

The inshore run of about three hours had us back in the same general area as the two stops on the outrun. Three spots in 210-215 feet of water were fished with vermillion snapper being the primary target species. They were there, hitting small pieces of squid on small circle hooks fished deep. Again, as it was on Saturday afternoon, red snapper along with an assortment of others (grouper) and undersized amberjack were vented as needed and released. With time running out we left the area around 1:20 p.m. and headed for our last stop of the day, Galveston’s Pier 19, with this total catch iced down in the fish boxes:

  • 220 Blackfin tuna to 18#
  • 3 Yellowfin to 37#
  • 332 Vermillion snapper
  • 2 Amberjack to 40#
  • 1 Almaco Jack
  • 1 Squirrelfish
  • 1 Rockhind Grouper
  • 4 Grunt
  • 15 Triggerfish
  • 10 Porgy
  • 1 Short Bigeye

Before getting to the individual catches heres a  “shout out” to those who made it all possible, Captains Johnny and Jill Williams, the deck crew of Richard, Carl, Dan and Lucas, last and certanly not least, Bobby in the snackbar that kept us all “fed and watered”….The Capt John team.  Show’em your appreciation next time you’re on the boat!

Justin Williams, Galveston, with a double vermillion snapper limit of 20, 2 released amberjack, 2 blackfin tuna, a 28# yellowfin tuna (his first) and the short bigeye.

Mike and Jennifer Scherer, Saint Croix Falls, Wisconsin, together they had 3 blackfin tuna, 40 vermillion snapper and Jennifer’s 37# yellowfin tuna, her first ever and the trips heaviest.

J. L. Hopko and Rebecca Brown from Gulfland Engineering in Houston with 20 vermillion snapper, 26 blackfin tuna along with closed season groupers and several just undersize amberjack that were released.

Peter Letts, Cedar Creek Lake, 4 Blackfin tuna, 20 vermillion snapper, 1 yellowfin tuna of 34#

Rob Richardson, Athens, 6 Blackfin tuna, 20 vermillion snapper of which one was measured, photo’d and released. The “measured and photo’d” was for submission as a Texas state length record, something TP&W started recently.

Jeff Richardson, Lone Oak, 20 vermillion snapper and 16 blackfin tuna, the trips high blackfin catch. Guess who his Dad is, who lost out by 10?

Woody Woodward, “Mr Snapper Slapper”, T.C., had 13 blackfin tuna and 19 vermillions

Trey Beasley, T.C., 3 blackfin and 12 vermillion

Emily Manistaldo, T.C., 1 blackfin and 12 vermillion

Mike Gullette, Galveston, 7 blackfin, 10 vermillion, and 1 porgy

Patrick Lemire, T.C., Where’s my catch?… It’s still out there! I was “hard headfishing. What that means is at the stops on the way out and back I was freelineing a sardine on the wire for a hoped for wahoo or smoker kingfish. During the overnight at Gunnison my casting for yellowfin tuna in particular was done with a popper, a top water “swimming spoon”, a Ron Arra 4 oz. “Aqua Bomb Pencil” sub surface swimmer and a Halco “Max 130” without a hit. I was firm on the wahoo, kingfish and yellowfin attempt methods, they didn’t work this trip , next week who knows. As I’ve said many times in my past writings “there’s more to fishing than catching fish”. This trip it was seeing and hearing Justin and Jennifer with each of their first yellowfin tuna, seeing a number of longtime fishing friends such as Rob and Jeff, Peter and Woody. I’ve been fishing with some of them for over twenty years, meeting and fishing by and adding to the mix were J.L. and Rebecca. Sounds like the “hardhead” had a pretty good trip…..

See you on the Capt John!

Patrick Lemire

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