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I just want to say thanks again to Kent, Keith and Jose for a super trip aboard the Phat Cat. It’s was truly a great experience to fish with these guys. Sorry, Rick you couldn’t make it but I’ll get to meet you on another trip.



Just to set the stage I consider myself a tuna virgin…well maybe not a virgin virgin…I have been chasing Tuna for 5 trips now from Tx to Venice…… But I never caught a Tuna over 25lbs, so I still consider myself a virgin!



This is a long report but this is how the story goes:

We met about 7am Wednesday at The Hideaway on the Gulf. There was Keith readying the boat with Kent and Jose trying to catch bait in the castnet. I unload my Tiagra, TLD, Shimano Baitrunner and food and then check to see what live bait they have caught so far. Kent says in a low voice that “Well, we always catch um here but today…….”. A little thought runs through my mind “Here we go again….No live bait = No Fish”! Kent throws the castnet a few more times with nothing to show for and then he suggest that we ship off and we can buy some on the way out! We ship off and aboard is myself (Lilstudd/Kevin), Kent, Keith and Jose. We travel down oyster creek and stop for bait. NOPE…no bait at either Intercoastal Marine or Bridge Bait. We all agree that we can catch some hardtails in route to our final destination.




We hit the end of the jetties around 7:45 and the weatherman is wrong again. The seas were predicted for 1-2’s at 4 seconds and it’s 6inch seas and about 24 seconds! We all just looked at each other with a devilish grin. We were running at about 32 mph and at about 25 miles Kent eases back on the throttles and so we can stop for bait at a rig. I have my fingers crossed behind my back that we’ll make bait here. As were readying the sabiki’s we see the Akela running in off to our port side. Kent hails him on the radio to see how they did. The captain says they “Only” caught a few in a monotone voice. Kent ask how many and how big and what rig……he states that they caught 12 Yellowfin between 50-75lbs but they kept 5…at Boomvang and Nansen! After hearing that I’m pumped but trying to play cool in front of the tuna veterans. Keith drops the first sabiki over and lets out about 35 feet and I see the light rod tip bouncing….he starts reeling and is bent over…..about 10 feet from the top the line goes slack ….he pulls up and every branch line is broke off. Ok, at least know there here. I tie on a sabiki and Keith puts on another and we proceed to catch 15-20 hartails in 20 minutes. About 7 of these were perfect size for tuna (4-7 inches). We decide we have enough so Kent puts the hammer down on the Honda 225’s and were off to Tequila. After about 15minutes of riding he switches the autopilot on and we just sit back and relax.



We get to Tequila at about 10:30 and we start rigging up to drop for Aj’s. We were going to fish here for a few hours and then head on to Boomvang to try for some tuna during the day. It didn't take long to start catching fish. Keith drops down about 200ft and I drop down as well. I get the first hit and we start to motor away from the rig, but after 10 seconds the fish is gone. I reel in and my hook is gone and line chaffed bad…..SHARK! As I’m tying on a new hook we motor a little closer to the rig and Keith gets bowed up. We pull the fish out the rig and in no time a 30lb Aj is floating on the surface. Kent sticks a gaff in him and in the box he goes. We continue this routine for about an hour and we manage 2 more Aj’s and I think there was an unwriiten rule that I was in charge of keeping the sharks away from the others lines. I must have gotten bit off about 3-5 times.


After I cleared all the sharks from the rig we decided to make a deep drop for a grouper. But we needed a “Big Bait”! Jose said he would catch a big chub. He caught a 5lb chub so we had our bait. To be honest with ya’ll, I wanted no part of what was gonna eat that chub! But the crew insisted that I man the rod. I dropped him down and it seemed like forever getting to the bottom….I was actually hoping that one of my shark friends would get him before he reached the bottom but where are your friends when you need them? He hits the bottom and my heart starts to flutter. My mind starts to play tricks on me….all I could think of is this Big *** Goliath grouper hitting this bait and me fighting this fish for hours maybe even days while the crew laughs…… About 10 minutes pass and I feel the bait getting nervous and I think “oh Sh**”, I take the rod out the rod holder and get ready. I wait and wait but nothing…..I lift up on the rod and my bait is still on the line…..I wait about another ten minutes and still no bites. Well, let me check my bait…..I reel and reel and reel and reel and reel and reel some more and I am still not in the mono topshot yet. I think to myself that this bottom fishing in 600ft aint fun and just think if a big fish was on the other end. I finally get the line in and the chub has a few battle scrapes on him but nothing major. I let out a sigh of relief and hope they don’t insist on another drop to the bottom. They decide to let me off the hook this time. Wheeeeuuh!


It’s almost 1pm and we decide we should have lunch and start our trek towards Boomvang. Boomvang is about 40 miles from Tequila……. so on again went the autopilot and the seas are still running 6inches. We run for about 45 minutes and Kent taps me and points to the horizon…..He states “That’s it”. I smile and start to get that fuzzy feeling….you know the one you get when your watching favorite TV fishing show…… and you see Tuna busting bait and you hear that Tiagra drag screaming and the fish are just tearing it up and its total pandemonium…YEAH, that feeling! I drift off and my mind starts to wander…I thought I was watching the rig get closer but I must have just been daydreaming for a while because then my mind slips back into that “Feeling” again…but wait…..I pinch myself and I’m not dreaming……those are Tuna busting and I mean busting….it was easily 2 football fields of Tunas just jumping out the water busting bait! WHAT A F******* SIGHT!! My heart is pounding and these things look to be about 25 pounders…we were at least a 1.5 miles from the rig and these Tuna are 400 yards in front of us tearing it up! We get a little closer and these aren’t no little tuna…these Tuna are between 40-80 pounders clearing the air sometimes in excess of 5 feet. Were all excited and decide to throw poppers at em.

We go upcurrent of the fish put the boat in neutral and start to drift into them. They are busting just out of casting range but they are getting closer and closer as we drift. After about 10 minutes of drifting we are surrounded by the Tuna…I mean tuna busting 15ft from the boat. I am on the bow casting a Hydro-Tiger and Keith is in the rear casting a popper. We cast and cast and cast but to no avail. They bust all around the popper but no hits. We decide to put out some live baits. Keith and Jose rig up some live baits while I continue to throw a popper. I start to have a “Tuna Attack”…..yeah that’s when the Tuna are so close that you just want to jump in a wrestle one to the boat…this was getting frustrating but still a sight to see! After a few minutes they get the live baits in the water and we start to bump troll…I am still on the front throwing a popper……then it happened…..one about 45lbs skyrockets out the air and pounces on my popper…he’s off to the races…..he runs about 75 yards of 80lb Power Pro off the 650 Baitrunner in seconds…… then gives me an opportunity to reel, so I gain about 25 yards back and he takes off again……I hold on for dear life and then just like that…. the hooks pull…Fish Off…Now that was fun! I gather my breath and look around and all of a sudden the fish are gone…just like that…..we had about 25 minutes of being covered up in Tuna and now nothing….not a single Tuna to be seen.


We slow troll live baits towards the mooring can with everyone searching the horizon for the Tuna. I have my fingers crossed again hoping for another shot at the elusive yellowfin. About 30 minutes later, we see them about 2 miles away busting again. We continue to bump troll the live baits in the area of the mooring can but we keep our eyes peeled on the tuna. We get no hits trolling and then Kent spots some fish stacked on the sounder between 50-100 ft down. At that point one of the lines goes off. Keith grabs the pole and starts reeling him in. As the fish gets closer we see a yellow tail down deep and we all think it’s a good size dolphin but it turns out to be a big Rainbow runner. We box him and look for the spot where Kent was marking fish. We find it again and start diamond jigging. I drop first and right at 50ft feet BAM…Fish On…..I get him in and it’s a 5lb skipjack tuna. We box him for chunk bait and drop down again. Same result…BAM……another Skipjack. We box about 5 skipjack and decide we have enough chunk bait so we move on in search of the busting tuna.



Se see them up again so we motor over to them…we get about 100 yards upcurrent of them but they go down again…then they pop up 500 yards away…we motor over again trying to get in casting range but they go down again…we must have followed them for at least 45 minutes but could never get set up on them like we were before. Finally we decide to put out some live bait and just bump troll. We trolled for about 30 minutes and we all start to go into that “Troll Trance” when we’re awaken by a singing drag. Keith grabs the pole and tightens up the drag a bit and were hooked up Big time. This fish ran 150 yards off in no time. I had never seen this except on TV. Keith worked him over pretty good and in 15 minutes Kent and Jose sunk the gaffs in beauty and over the side came a 60+ Tuna. Highs fives were rolling and I couldn’t wait for my turn!



We continued to bump troll for a while longer and then switched to chunking. We would go upcurrent of the rig and start chumming while we drifted our fresh skipjack chunks in the slick. We drifted for maybe 15-20 minutes and BAM the line starts peeling off the reel again. Jose is up and works this fish over in about 20 minutes. We sink 2 gaffs in him and this tuna is just a little smaller than the first. I’m thinking…..Man…these guys make catching these fish look real easy……15-20 minutes is nothing “I thought”…I was expecting a 30-45 minute fight at least…but then again, these guys have caught more tuna than I can shake a stick at. It is now about 5pm and we decide to make one more long drift and then get our things ready for the evening festivities. We decide to try a combo drift with chunks and live bait. So we set up upcurrent again and start to make another drift. After about 45 minutes and no takers…..someone spots something about 15 yards out the back in the slick. It was just kinda lazily rolling in our slick sort of like a tarpon does. Then I think Kent yells “It’s a big *** Yellowfin eating our chum”. Keith tosses out a handful of small pieces of chum and low and behold a big sickle fin breaks the surface and starts eating the chum. That fish was so slow and graceful just eating the chum like a big fat dude at a buffet! We rig up another rod and toss it in the water with a fresh chunk……we toss some more chum and we can still see him back there eating our chunks…30 seconds later the line starts screaming and I mean screaming….FISH ON! Kent is up and after the initial run starts cranking……he gets about 50 yards back on the reel and off the fish goes again……this fish was mad and you could tell……….after about 20-25 minutes of going back and forth with the fish we sink 2 gaffs in this fish and he hits the deck flapping like crazy. What a powerful fish. We somehow get this flapping SOB in the fishbox and gestimate him to be in the 75-85 range. We take a quick break and look in the box to see that we are almost out of space and it aint even dark yet…but more so…..I HAVE NOT POPPED MY TUNA VIRGINITY YET!



We decided to come up with a night plan and that no matter who hooks the next fish I would be reeling him in! But I wanted to hook and reel in my own fish and I figured it would be just my luck that the Tuna would shut down and we wouldn’t get another bite for the rest of the night! At this point it’s about 7pm and 3 sportfishers show up for some night action. There were already 2 smaller boats (27-29ft) there with us during the day, so this made 6 boats fishing the rig. I didn’t know if that was bad or good but Kent and Keith said that they had never seen this many boats here at one time.



Well the sun went down and the tuna came up. They started tearing up anything that moved. I mean feeding just like someone had rang the dinner bell. There were flying fish running for their lives like I had never seen. We set up upcurrent of the rig and started our drift. Keith and Jose chunked and I threw a Yummie flying fish! Can you say “DUMB KEVIN”. I should have known better cause the tuna were withing 20 yards of the boat busting and tearing it up and no one picked up a spinning rod. I think it was s setup. I casted maybe 2 times and Mr Yellowfin came out the water and pounced on my yummie flying fish. Off he went with a 100 yards gone and he’s not stopping. Why in the hell did I pick to fight my first Yellowfin on a spinning rod? Boy was I stupid….but I was smiling from ear to ear……well after about 15 minutes and my arms starting to shake I remembered something that Eddie Burger told me to do to whip a Tuna an spinning gear. I started to palm the reel as additional drag and in about 10 more minutes there were sinking the gaffs into my first REAL Yellowfin. Man I wanted to kiss that fish so bad! We guessed he went about 45lbs….let me tell you……a 45lb Yellowin on spinning gear is a blast! But I wanted no more parts of that spinning gear so I retired that outfit to the rod holder for the night. Lol.



We continued to make drifts and Jose picked up one more 65lb for the box. That 65lb beat him so bad that Jose said “When he gets that fish in the boat he was going to take that fish in the cabin and **** him”. That was his exact words…boy was that funny to hear……I never heard anyone get that mad at a fish but this fish was kicking his butt. We all thought the fish would be much larger than 65!



Well, at this point it’s 9:30pm and the box is full with 5 fat Yellowfin! This was a great trip already and now it was time to just have fun with catch and release.



We caught Tuna on every bait we had in the boat. We were even able to catch some flying fish later and caught some tuna with them. We caught one on a popper and then some on chunks. I even pulled the spinner back down but could never get a hookup with the Yummie. You get a lot of strikes on the yummie but they are hard to hook up. We must have had 30 strikes on that bait! We caught a total of 13 Yellowfin and caught 3 blackfin on diamond jigs. At 12:30 we were wore out and decided to call it quits. It’s hard to call it quits with fish still blowing up on bait 10 yards from the boat…but we were beat……we readied the boat for a run to the Sunrise rig where we would tie up and spend the night. We arrived there around 2:30 and slept until right before sun up. We got up at sun up and headed the Phat Cat towards Freeport. We hit the jetties at 8:30 and was back in the slip by 9am. Cleaned the boat and some fish and fired up the grill. Had fresh tuna for lunch!



You couldn’t have asked for a better trip than this. We had great weather, great company, the fish cooperated and the boat got us there to and from safely. Thanks again to Kent, Keith and Jose for a memory of a lifetime!



Boat total was:

3 Aj’s (30-35)

3 rainbow runners

12 Yellowfin (45-75) â€" 7 released

3 Blackfin â€" released



Personally I caught:

1 Rainbow runner

4 Yellowfin â€" 3 released

2 Balckfin â€" 2 released



WHAT A GREAT TRIP!


Great Pics to follow - I need to resixe them















 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
It probably will...but it will just take a while longer....we caught about half of our Yellowfin on a 340 GTI with 80lb power Pro and 80lb topshot!
 

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Twisted Fisher
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Great report Lilstudd. You certainly have the gift to paint a picture with words. Being a Tuna virgin myself, I'm glad you finally lost your virginity. See fish that sized tearing up the surface has to be a sight not soon forgotten. Congrats.
 

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Way to go

You are correct - witnessing acres of big yellowfin busting the water is nothing short of awe inspiring. Great report and congrats to you and the crew on the trip.

Mark
 

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Reel Gambler
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Sorry to hear you didn't have a better time! Shame the fishing was so poor!:rotfl:

GREAT REPORT! I know it's a thrill to see the Yellowfin action like that!

Congrats on your first REAL tuna!
 

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Reel Gambler
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Double Hookup said:
Heck of trip! GREAT REPORT! Will a TLD 25 spooled with 40lb test tame one these 75-80 lb Yellowfins?
Why would you want to "hunt" a Grizzly Bear with a tooth pick? It would be your luck one of the 150lb Yellowfin that visit out there would show up about the time you dropped a bait in the water.

Not me go big or stay at home!:cool:
 

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Sweet!!

That is one of the best reports I have ever read on any board.... I agree with Gunner, you definately painted a picture and your description and details of the trip made me feel like I was there!! I could almost see the Tuna busting the surface myself! Can't wait for the pics!!
 

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when i talked to kent yesterday he said that they had a great trip. it must have taken kevin all day to write that report. glad you got your yellowfin and you will now be hooked on trying to get back out to fish for them again. i forgot to give kent my tags for the yellowfin so we could monitor where the fish were caught after we release them. i guess i need to keep them on the boat so we can tag them when i am not there....rick
 

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williamh
if that makes you happy how do you think we feel? hopefully the issues with water intrusiion are a thing of the past and the phat cat will be making several trips a month to the deeper waters and our favorite fish....rick
 

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Great report and a Great trip!


You may not know how lucky you were with those skippies. They aren't all that common out there.

I've been on numerous trips. Can't say how many yellowfin and blackfin tuna I've caught. I've even been in the Pacific and caught Albacore and Bluefin.

But I've caught a big fat, 0 number of skippies. I suppose its good for us they are amoung the smaller of the tuna as pound for pound they are said to be the best fighter.

Ain't nothing like being in a wild school of feeding yellowfin is there? :)

Earl
 

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we have actually caught the skipjack several times out at boomvang. Not every time we go, but I would definitely say about 50% of the time, especially during daylight hours when they are up "breezing" the surface. If there are skippies there, rest assured the man in the blue suit is in the vicinity.
 

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mcgolfer said:
williamh
if that makes you happy how do you think we feel? hopefully the issues with water intrusiion are a thing of the past and the phat cat will be making several trips a month to the deeper waters and our favorite fish....rick
I bet y'all are downright giddy!!

What kind of milage is the Phat Cat getting? How much fuel do you have left in the tank after a trip to the spars?
 

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1.3 mpg on favorable seas. we usually burn about 180 gallons and have about 120 in left in the tanks. this may have changed a little since we had the motors raised. i burned 220 on my last trip but we went to a few other structures on the way in that were way off course looking for a few more species to complete the trip....rick
 

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We really enjoyed having Kevin along for the trip. I am always hesitant to invite someone on a trip overnight without fishing with them before, but Kevin will be welcome any time.

I can't wait to see the pictures. They looked good on the 2" screen on the back of the camera so they should look great online.

James mentioned the marlin earlier and one of the other boats at the rig "REELMAN" radioed that they had a marlin following one of their yellowfin to the surface.

I would like to hear from "Dirty D" and " Reelman" if anyone knows them please post how they did. "Reelman" radioed that they were having a blast and had landed a tuna they guessed to be 125 lbs. I got the feeling that both these boats were on their first trip to Boomvang.

The yellowfin were as hot as I have ever seen them. The tuna were busting the surface during the day about ever 30 or 45 minutes and after sundown they never did stop. All of the boats were catching fish and were catching flying fish with dipnets and castnets for bait. We did land about 4 on flying fish, 2 or 3 on hardtails,and most on tuna chunks.


kent
 
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