This blog will be updated with fishing stories from this point on....
BLOWFISH ADVENTURES in 2018
Part 1 on "WICKED PUFFER"
At this time of the year I had planned for one last shot in the deep for ling. Winds were supposed to be fair, with a slight swell, and I thought with my group that I could get this trip off the dock without a problem.
I got down to the dock before 6:30 and get the boat ready as everyone was making their way down to my boat. Even though I wanted to get going, I still had to wait 20 minutes and was waiting for the east wind lessen so the outgoing tide could to drop so I could get under the bridge. Finally I was able to barely squeeze under, shoot over to another dock to pick up ice and off we go.
What was supposed to be a big but mellow swell, was closer and tighter than NOAA weather had advertised and now with a 10 to 15 mph east wind on top of the swell.
Push off a mile and see the nautical seas growing bigger and bigger and made a snap decision. I pull back even more on the stick, and as I was swinging my boat around 180 degrees and aim right back at the inlet, I tell my crew, “That’s it we’re going blow fishing.” There was no argument and in fact everyone was ‘joyfully quiet’ to not go any further from the safety of the shoreline.
As I was completing my turn around, I pass Butch on the Daunty heading out. He’s giving me hand signals from the wheelhouse, shrugging his shoulders at me and pointing to the east as if to say, “you’re going the wrong way.” I don’t have a 77 foot Gulfcraft that can punch through, ride over and just eat up the sloppy seas running north up the beach.
Get back through the inlet, pull it back and make a quick stop at the fuel dock and ask the young man standing there if they got chum logs. “Yeah, I think so.”
This poor kid then had to move 15 or so - 50 lb bags of ice in the walk in, just so he can lean across a pile of ice in order to barely reach for those 6 buried logs.
The kid was chilled and giving me a funny look and wondering “who in October would be asking for 6 chum logs at this time of the year,” and I would agree as the winter flounder fishery is a really - long distant memory in this area. Then he raised his eyebrows and figured that we were just another group of weekend warriors who were going to find some blowfish in the area.
It was then back to the dock for everyone to run around and pick up the tackle for blowfish which basically is a trout rod armed with small hooks. That’s all you need so you can leave the super duper max-a-whatever and she-man rods home. Finally everyone gets back to the boat and we shove off but it was now 8:15 – 8:30 in the morning.
This time I was going in the opposite direction as we needed to go through the canal, and at that point I realize we would be getting to my spot at the start of dead high tide which in my blowfish captain’s vernacular is “not good.” The hours on the clock are ticking away, but I tell my group that we should just drive in slow circles for another hour because it’s all about tide at that honey hold blowfish drop.
I finally decide to make the first drop and start motoring over to the spot and find another boat on my honey hole numbers (yes lol, but I needed a few giggles at this point) but we end up anchoring next to him. There was no fishing magic in the air today as we waited for 20, no, 30 minutes of zero blowtoads coming over the rail, but as expected with this type of fishing we had to the toss back the conciliation prize of 3 to 4 baby kingfish. “Screw this crap, let’s take the ride,” and the crew had no idea what the ride was going to be.
A ride out to the Stolt would have been a shorter ride as I watched the gps slowly tick down the 22 miles to get to where a fleet of 25 - 30 boats were set up on the anchor. I had to make it look like I had an old spot in my machine, but at this point in the day I literally just had to find a parking spot to toss the anchor.
I was watching what the other boats were doing and saw most had done this before as I saw either a heavy white parachute cord of black tarred-colored lines hanging over the side which meant they had their pots over the side and were chumming away, possibly for a few hours.
Now my attention was drawn to the boat right next to me and the fishermen onboard who were just barely a long cast away, and everyone onboard is snapping them one after another. It was a guy and girl who were either catching them or swinging at one all this while we can’t even buy a bite.
This was turning into a disaster of a trip and I just blurted out at that point, “Maybe these clams are the ones I’ve taken in and out of my cooler 10x and are now pretty sour.” Heads nodded but no one said a word. Now I said, “It’s got to be a bait issue” and a few “yeas” were repeated but that didn’t much change our luck. It was another 30 minutes later as we stuck it out at this spot and we have a grand total of 3 blowfish rolling around in a big cooler. My thoughts at that point where that I just drove 25 miles for this dog-poop.
Most old time captains would consider this the right time for a “sandwich and toilet break,” as I yelled out to pick up, and the crew expected another long ride to find some fish, but I only steamed over another 1000 - 1500 feet out to the other side of the fleet.
I set up in 7 feet instead of the 10 feet we were just in. At this point of the day I had to use my “super blowfish spidey senses” because this was just one dud of a fishing day and I was just pulling one out of my (LOL).
This time two anchors, and they were not even tight when I’ve got two on. From then on it was lights out blowtoad fishing. Before I couldn’t get a nudge on the bait and now it was literally doubles coming up. Instant bites as soon as you hit the bottom and I didn’t even bother to put more chum in as I pulled the pot, but with the water temps so warm and tide moving along so quickly the chum log would be gone in less than 15 minutes anyway. With this drop and lock fishing there was no need to reload it for the rest of the trip. Over the decades, I can say this was faster than the most outrageous scup or seabass bite.
Would you believe that after all we went through with fishless-fishing, 2 hours and a tide change later everyone agreed and said they were done fishing for this trip?
I Left them chewing and we had for the group 240 toads. If I had two more guys with more inspiration I would have had an easy 400.
Some would say that is some amount of fish, and it is when you have to clean them. But for anyone who has done blow fishing, and then had to cut them and split it up amongst a few guys, you realize that you have literally more meat off one 40 lb striped bass!
These were some very nice blowfish as you can see with only a handful of throw backs. I know that amount of blowfish is a decent amount of “tasty turkey legs” to eat over the next few weeks. Blowfish are that tasty, much better then chicken. The unofficial VTR count was 1 ‘spiny burr fish’ out of few big Ziploc bags of exotic blowfish that we were bringing home. Thankfully I had 2 guys who were expert blowfish cutters and they had them all skinned by the 15 mile mark.
Ps, you missed a good blowfish trip…or didn’t you realize that at this point of the story?