One of the things we've noticed about big game fishing is that just about the time you think you've got it figured out, things change and you realize you haven't got it figured out at all. In fact, you have a long way to go and may never figure it out. It's a big ocean out there and a lot of variables to deal with. Many of these we know about like loop currents, sea surface altimetry, sea surface temperature, wind, moon phase, weather patterns, chlorophyll data, bait concentration, spawning areas, underwater structure, water depth, time of year, time of day, historical records, logbooks, fishing tackle, fishing techniques–it's a lot to think about. Obviously, there is also a lot we don't know. Some things may make a big difference and some may not even matter. What we do know is that when you go offshore in search of bluewater gamefish, you should be prepared for just about anything and bring just about everything.
Now, we're not saying you need to have the entire tackle shop on board, but to be successful you should be prepared to do whatever it takes to catch fish. This means being ready and able to fish multiple techniques. If you go running offshore and have decided to only fish one way, lets just say trolling lures only, you may have a great trip. On the other hand, you may catch nothing, because for some reason the fish want natural bait that day. You have spent a lot of time and money with not much reward. Our suggestion is to be ready to use whatever tackle and techniques are necessary to catch fish that day. You should ready to fish lures, live bait, dead bait, pitch baits, kites, poppers, teasers, planers, small baits, big baits, different colored baits, weedlines, buoys, bait schools, rigs, rocks, rips–whatever it takes.
Always bring some bait with you. If you only have room for a little bait then bring ballyhoo. Everything eats a ballyhoo. It's like the universal bait of all time for big game fishing. You can put a skirt over it or lure in front of it or just pull it naked, something is going to eat it. If you are lure fishing, have a ballyhoo ready to pitch back to a fish that is in on a teaser or in your lure spread and not eating. If you have room or want to fish all naturals, include some mackerel and swimming mullet. These are standard baits that have proven themselves over the years. Forgot to bring bait? Bonito or other small tunas like skipjacks can be trolled whole or made into strip baits. It's always a good idea to have some of these in the ice chest, they can come in pretty handy at times.
Another way to increase your success is to catch your own live bait. If you have a live well onboard, you are set. The most common live bait for bluewater fishing in the Gulf is the blue runner, also known by our Cajun brethren as a hardtail. If you let them slap you with their tail you will understand instantly. Much like the ballyhoo, lots of things like to eat them, from big kingfish and dolphin to big blue marlin. They are also tough and live a long time in a live well. Drop one on the deck, no big deal, just kick him in the live well, he'll be alright! You can't do that with many other baits. Also, don't wait until you are off the 100 fathom curve to catch your bait. It might be scarce in deep water. Hit a few rigs in 30 to 50 fathoms on the way out and fill the live well. If you don't have a live well on board you are still in luck. Bonito and skipjack tuna make great baits and they won't live in a live well anyway. They will live in a tuna tube, if your boat is equipped with one, but either way you can catch them and put them right back out to catch a marlin. Several baits can be fished behind the boat or in the outriggers or you can get real serious and put one on a downrigger and/or one in a kite. So, be sure to have some live bait gear on board, it gives you another option and can be very productive.
Lures are a very popular and productive way to fish. You can cover a lot more area at lure trolling speed than any other method. It's sort of like deer hunting. You can wait by the feeder (oil rig) for something to show up or you can go look for it. Both ways are productive and it's a good idea (and a lot more enjoyable) to try something different if you're not catching fish. Use different lure sizes and colors until you find what works, but don't get carried away changing them too much. Use the ones you have the most confidence in and stick with them. Keep track of what works and doesn't work in a fishing log. Some days, fish will want a particular color, so you need to recognize that and act accordingly. If lures aren't working, switch to live or dead bait.
The right tackle can make a big difference in catching more fish. Try to keep your boat neat and well organized. It will make fishing a lot easier, more enjoyable and much safer. If you bring so many rods your boat looks like a porcupine, then you might want to rethink your mission. We know we're telling you to be ready for anything and everything, but try to bring rod and reel combos that will serve dual purpose, such as catching bait and jigging for tuna. Maybe a spinning rod or two for casting to dolphin. The heavier tackle is pretty much just that, heavy and hard to hide. You don't need a lot of big stuff, especially on a smaller boat. It takes up a lot of room. For most situations, four big rods are plenty and more than adequate for catching fish. Once you have confidence in your lures, baits and techniques, you will find you don't need a lot of extra tackle taking up space.
We think your offshore experience will be much more enjoyable if you follow these bluewater tactics. Be ready to do whatever is necessary to get the bite. Mix it up and keep it fun. You will catch more fish and everyone on board will have a better time.
For more information about big game fishing at the rigs or rigging your boat, give us a call at Byrd & Cochrane, an authorized broker for Fox Yacht Sales. Come by our Fox Yacht Sales office at Tops-N-Towers and check out the line up of Cabo Yachts as well as Riviera Yachts, made in Australia. Fox also has an extensive inventory of brokerage boats and we will be glad to help you find a boat or sell yours. We specialize in sportfishing boats and motor yachts. Come by and get a great deal on your next boat. For more information call our office at 281-291-0656 or check out our website at www.byrd-cochrane.com or www.foxyachtsales.com
August 13, 2007
Top Brass wins the 2nd Annual Texas Legends Billfish Tournament
The Texas Legends Billfish Tournament, held August 9-12th in Port Aransas was a great success with 47 boats fishing for over $482,000 in total prize money. A total of 31 blue marlin were released along with 10 white marlin, 12 sailfish and 4 swordfish in the two-day event. The top four boats were:
Place – Boat – Owner – Fish Caught
1st – Top Brass – John McMurray – 1 Blue and 3 White Marlin
2nd – Pass It On – Mike Hopkins – 2 Blue Marlin
3rd – Mattiduke – George Martin – 2 Blue Marlin
4th – El Cazador – Bobby Ricks – 2 Blue Marlin
Other Billfish Pool Winners
Horrizontal Relief – 2 Blue Marlin
Diversify – 2 Blue Marlin
Double Trouble – 1 Blue 1 White Marlin
Sea Goddess – 1 Blue 1 White Marlin
Akela – 1 Blue Marlin
Top Captain – Top Brass – Capt. Bill Hart Memorial Trophy
Top Mate – Top Brass
Largest Blue Marlin – Incommunicado – 405 LBS
1st Blue Caught – Capt/Mate – El Cazador 7:29 AM
Largest Blue Runner – Mate – Real Attitude
The largest yellowfin tuna went to Edgar Artecona on the "Awesome" with 66.5 lbs., top Dolphin was 44.5 lbs caught on Ward Scholl's "Madera", the largest Wahoo was 48 lbs. on George Martin's "Mattiduke" and Darren Casey's "Double Trouble" caught the largest swordfish - 45 lbs. The top boat of the tournament receives the prestigious Bob Byrd Memorial Trophy to keep for one year. The Texas Big Game Fishing "Roll Call" also honors those who have passed on in our sport. This tournament is unique in that contestants can depart from any Texas port. A unique feature of the Legends is the concept of a video release format with points awarded for blue marlin, white marlin and sailfish. The point system is designed to promote releasing all blue marlin under 400 lbs. and all white marlin and sailfish