Capt John 36 Hour Tuna Trip April 23/24 Saturday-Sunday
Having 36 of us fishermen aboard, the party boat Capt John left Pier 19 with Captains Johnny and Jill Williams leading the way. Our offshore run began after passing thru the Galveston jetties and into the gulfs gentle one foot swell.
The trips first fishing stops were made in the Claypile area about 65 miles to the south southeast of the island. Two stops were made over natural bottom structure in 150 feet of water. Vermillion snapper were the primary target and they were there, hitting small pieces of cut squid on small circle hooks. Besides the vermillions and a few other bottom species, an amberjack of 40 pounds was caught by Saul Salanis, on a light double drop rig intended for vermillions. You never know what surprise can await at any stop. My efforts at these stops was directed at a hoped for wahoo or kingfish bite on my freelined, wire leadered, double Spanish sardine rig…My surprise didn’t happen, just unblemished sardines.
After the Claypile stops, the run farther offshore to the Gunnison Spar Platform and the overnight tuna fishing began. The continuing one foot swell made for a smooth ride to Gunnison, arriving there just before sunset. This production platform is located 135 nautical miles (155 statue miles) off Galveston in 3,150 feet of water. The numerous down current drifts made during the overnight period had several hits and strong runs of strong yellowfin tuna but were lost due to pulled hooks, broken lines and in one case a “spooled” reel and break off. Otherwise the blackfin tuna bite was one of those “off an on” situations which resulted in 231 being caught. A slight problem was the barracuda being very interested in hooked blackfin at boatside. Their interest resulted in some blackfin coming to gaff as head and shoulders (back half bitten off). I gave those the name “Dandruff Tuna” something you don’t want. Besides the blackfin one skipjack tuna was also taken. Taking the tuna were chrome diamond jigs, blackfin chunks, Spanish sardines, speed jigs by Williamson, Halco Max 130 Hardbody swim baits and Shimano Flatfall jigs. The high count on blackfins was by Brian Bozworth, 19 of his 23 hit a flatfall in a sardine color pattern. While most were hooked several hundred feet down, a few were taken from near to the surface. It was definately a deep tuna bite night, my hardheaded, numerous attempts with a Ron Arra subsurface swimmer and a Halco Roosta Popper resulted in only two blackfin hookups and a couple of misses.
Just after sunrise Sunday Captain Jill gave the reins back to Johnny for the inshore run to more bottom fishing. That run lasted for about 40 miles. The wind had picked up out of the southeast and was against the current making the gulf on the rough side. Fortunately the vermillion snapper didn’t seem to mind as more came aboard along with porgy, almaco jack, lane snapper and triggerfish. As at the Saturday bottom spots red snapper were also caught, vented as needed and released. With amberjack being a possibility and discussed with Gabriel Guajardo I gave him a surefire A.J. bite attractor, a chrome 7 ounce, Krocodile Spoon. You guessed it, no amberjack were taken at the two spots in 250 feet of water fished. Maybe when Gabriel brings his son Adrian out this summer for his first offshore trip one of them will score an A.J. on that big spoon. It’s always good to hear of a youngster getting started, I know I’ve enjoyed it out here for over 54 years. Our next and last stop of the trip was at a production platform about 20 miles farther inshore. Here the catch consisted of a handfull of lane snapper, triggerfish, porgy, and bermuda chub hitting the cut squid baits. A few released red snapper ended our stay at the platform. With the wind speed and wave heights increasing a bit it was good that the increase was in the direction of home, Galveston’s Pier 19. That smooth ride was made with this total catch iced down in the multiple fish boxes:
231 Blackfin Tuna to 18#
1 Skipjack Tuna of 12#
300 Vermillion Snapper to 3 1/2#
6 Lane Snapper
2 Creole Fish
3 Bermuda Chub
1 Amberjack of 40#
Justin Williams (Captain Jill’s Son and Captain Johnny’s grandson) had a double vermillion snapper limit of 20, a creaolefish, a bermuda chub, 3 triggerfish, a almaco jack and was the fishermen proudly spooled by a big yellowfin.
Peter Letts, Cedar Creek Lake, 20 vermillion snapper and 17 blackfin tuna
Rita Baumann, Texas City, 14 Vermillion and 12 blackfin tuna
Mike Gullette, Galveston, 14 vermillion and 13 blackfin tuna on a Halco Max 130 Hardbody Swimbait
Saul Salanis, Houston, 10 vermillion, 8 blackfin tuna and the trips heaviest catch, the 40# amberjack
Gabriel Guajardo, Channelview, 13 vermillion snapper, 1 lane snapper, 1 bluerunner, and 7 blackfin tuna
Patrick Lemire, Texas City, My wired and freelined sardines nor wired sardines under one of my “superpoppers” at each of the bottom stops didn’t produce any hoped for wahoo or kingfish strikes. Overnight deep water casting of a subsurface swimbait and a popper went only marginaly better with just two blackfin tuna being taken.
In total it was another good overnight on the Capt John, the next one is on the 7th and 8th of next month. Hopefully one more will be scheduled before red snapper season opens in June.
See you on the Capt. John!