Last Pass by the Rig…

John Cochrane
Last Pass by the Rig…
Since Everett asked us to start writing the Bluewater Journal back in 2006, we have tried to keep everyone up on the big game fishing scene in Texas. We have enjoyed keeping our readers informed about big game fishing techniques, fishing reports, tackle tips, tournament news, weather issues, boat maintenance and more. Unfortunately, our schedules have become so full it is difficult to continue a monthly article. So this will be our last one for now. We plan on doing a few articles in the future.

Our main focus has been to inform our readers of the outstanding big game fishing that exists off our coast. Many people don't relate big game fishing to Texas because most of the best fishing grounds are located well offshore. The Gulf of Mexico, rich in sea life, provides us with many extraordinary fishing opportunities. The warm Gulf Loop Current supplies us with an important flow of nutrients and bait fish that attract large predatory gamefish. However, off the coast of Texas and Louisiana, we also have one of the most unique situations in the world. The petroleum industry and the accompanying offshore drilling have provided us with numerous offshore oil platforms unique "islands of steel" as they are often called. These structures create a diverse habitat that attracts many species of offshore gamefish. Even though we have to travel a little farther, our fishing is very good. Over the years we have discussed these and many other topics and we want to highlight some of the issues we feel are most important.

Weather has always been a big topic because of the distances involved in reaching the fishing grounds off our coast. Our summer season has favorable weather conditions most of the time (when there is nothing tropical around), but the cold fronts we get in the winter can be a big problem. Always keep an eye on the weather and never take chances. Large summer squalls, tropical lows and winter cold fronts can all be hazardous.

Boat maintenance is always a concern when you have to go well offshore. Keep your boat in top condition and safety gear up to date. Fuel management is also important, so know your fuel consumption and always leave a reserve amount in case of bad weather or unforeseen changes in your trip. Subscribe to
Hilton's Realtime Navigator or similar websites that give you data about the weather and fishing conditions. These services will save you time and fuel.

As far as fishing techniques and strategies, here are some things that we would like to emphasis:

You can't catch 'em at the dock.
You can read and talk about fishing all you want, but you need to spend time on the water. Experience will always be the best teacher.

Everything eats ballyhoo. So it's a good idea to have some on board.

Bait bait bait! Take advantage of the bait situation by fishing where there is a lot of bait as well as keeping some on board.

Keep your line tight; never give 'em slack!

When fishing an oil rig you should first establish which way the current is going. This will give you an idea of where to look for bait. More often than not the bait will be on the up-current side of the rig. Once the bait is found you know the area where large predators such as blue marlin or yellowfin tuna are most likely to show.

Rig trolling lures with single hook sets. They hook-up better and are easier to remove from the fish. They are also a lot safer to handle.

Be ready to use whatever tackle and techniques are necessary to catch 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, ripswhatever it takes.

Every day is different, so to be successful, keep a watchful eye on your baits and the surrounding water. Look for current, birds, color changes and floating objects. Pelagic fish are attracted to anything floating or stable in the water such as a rig, buoy, log or patch of seaweed. Be versatile, try different techniques and stay focused on catching that big one.

Keep your boat neat and well organized. It will make fishing a lot easier, more enjoyable and much safer.

One of the most important things a serious fisherman can do is keep a daily fishing log. Trying to remember what was happening last year or last month with all the variables involved is just about impossible. By writing down the weather conditions, water conditions, tackle type and technique, fishing action and outcome, you can analyze what was happening under certain conditions and hopefully use that information to help you catch more fish in the future.

Lastly, great catches come to the fisherman willing to devote time to fishing. Anybody can get lucky but billfish and tuna usually demand a good effort. We see many anglers run to a deepwater rig, fish for an hour or so, decide there's nothing there and then run back inshore. When you go big game fishing, fish hard spend the time to catch one. Resist the urge to run back inshore and catch amberjacks. That last pass by the rig might just be the one that makes your day. This is our last pass by the rig for now; we hope you have enjoyed what we have shared.

Bobby & Capt. John