I waffled back & forth on whether to sign-up for this trip or not. Though I had already exceeded my fishing budget this year, it turned out that I had a credit with the Voyager for a previously canceled trip and I sold some gear. A good friend encouraged me so I signed up along w/ another fishing bud.
Thursday was beautiful, and the crew & fishers arrived early. After comparing notes and swapping reports many folks made last minuet runs to Fisherman’s Supply to stock up. Also, there was a lot of discussion of weather. While Friday & Saturday looked great, some weather was forecasted to move in Sunday night so the Sunday night Tile trip would probably not sail.
Captain Jeff explained that he wanted to be efficient and we will hit some close in spots as we approach Nantucket and fish our way up, starting on a fluke grounds, then to ground-fish. More fluke and ground-fish grounds on Saturday, all was contingent on the current which apparently can be brutal up there.
After last minuet organizing, rigging and some delicious food from Maria we hit the bunks.
Up with a gorgeous sunrise Friday, as one can only experience off-shore; then coffee & a hot breakfast. The 1st fluke drop came a bit after 7:00 am. Some fluke & dogfish came up. Jeff quickly figured out that the deeper we drifted the more dogfish came up. After he dialed in, we picked away at the fluke, many of which would have been trophies in NJ. I started w/ a popcorn rig w/ two 3/8 oz chart jigs dressed w/ Gulp Pink Shine. I eventually switched to a 6 oz bucktail and Tsunami Glass minnow tipped w/ Gulp. Some real beasts came up. My bud & I got our NJ limit, an amazing fresh fish lunch and then to cod-fishing.
As suggested, I clipped on a gold 10 oz gold hammered diamond jig dressed w/ a pink twist tail grub, along w/ another on a bead chain swivel & a 5/0 O’Shaughnessy on a dropper loop as a teaser. Between cod, pollack, haddock, big ole baseball bat mackerel, dogfish & couple sculpin, there were very few drops that didn’t result in at least one hook-up w/ double headers in the mix, mostly cod. The coolers started to fill up.
There was so much life: sand eels, macs, whales, birds &…. Bluefins busting all over the place!
Maria was upfront jigging & collecting macs in a bucket. I thought they were for dinner, but then she live-lined one. Sure enough, it got eaten & line peeled off her reel. It took her around the boat as she tried to minimize line loss. She gave it all her tackle could handle for what felt like 30 minutes, then the hook pulled out. It was likely a giant and may not have even known it was hooked. Shortly afterwards the guy next to me looked like his jig snagged a Cigarette boat & he got smoked in short order.
At that point I was catching mostly cod (w/ a few spiny dogs, macs, and an odd haddock mixed in). My buddy who had moved to the bow came back to tell me he was catching haddock on a white cod fly. I switched my jig from a 10 oz gold hammered diamond to a 12 oz silver version, so I could tend bottom better. I also switched the all pink twist tail grubs on the jig and on the dropper loop (on bead chain swivel) to one with a white body and a pink twist tail. I also sweetened them w/ small squid strips. I changed my jigging technique to twitching along the bottom. That was the ticket & immediately I was into the haddock. This lasted into the evening. Jeff was vigilant to keep our drift straight and keep us on the fish and (as well as possible) away from the spiny dogs.
Our 120 qt cooler was just about at full capacity. It seemed that just about everything was producing. Lots of different combinations of jigs, lures and baits were deployed, including Crippled Herring, Berserker, Hammered Diamonds and one I’d never seen before, Big Bob rubber minnows. There were a lot of good fisherman on this trip with a ton of tackle.
There was talk about the weather report getting worse & the bad weather was moving up from Sunday night into Saturday. Captain Jeff made a few more moves and then it was dinner time. He made the announcement that if we stayed up here (Nantucket) through Saturday, on the way home we’d be facing 45 kt winds from the wrong direction. He was going to hit a couple wrecks after dinner and then head home. He seemed way more disappointed than anyone else. Coolers were full, people were tired but happy, and people were appreciative that Jeff was heads-up enough to get us in ahead of the weather.
Maria out did herself w/ an amazing pasta, sausage and broccoli rabe dinner. Lots of great conversation, a couple beers and my bud & I decided to forego the late-night wreck drops & get a good night sleep. It turned out to be a good call as they only produced two or three fish total.
Another amazing off shore sunrise gave no hint of the weather that was coming. As the long ride unfolded, there was more good food, great conversation about previous and upcoming trips and how we would prepare our catch. When the mates finally made their appearance, they said they were cutting fish till sunrise. Again, I don’t think anyone was overly disappointed we got cut short (other than Capt. Jeff himself). Maria gave a partial refund for the food plan & Jeff gave vouchers to be used on upcoming trips. Along w/ being a great captain, Jeff is very fair. As we got closer to home the wind and seas were certainly building. We hit the dock by 2 pm on Saturday and on the road by 3. As soon as we packed up and rolled out of the parking lot, it started raining.
I’m so glad we got talked into this trip. It is one we’ll never forget. It was easily as good as any NE ground-fish jigging trips we’ve ever been on, and we’ve been lucky enough to be on some great ones. Unfortunately, I cannot make the final August trip; but if these are offered again next year, God willing, I’ll be on one.
Thank you, Captain Jeff and crew, and thank you EC and Fishing United for steering us in the right direction tackle wise.
Tight lines & God Bless!