Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Chasing Birds

As we pulled into the main bay which supports the capitol and marina on our home island, a flock of birds hitting the water caught our attention and diverted the Sea Dancer and her crew on one last fish mission before pulling into port.

Laughing gulls and roseate terns where feeding on the scraps of fish left behind from a few different species of jack and tuna that were busting on the surface. You can tell the size and sometimes the species of fish by the commotion they make on the surface. There were small jacks present and little tunny and skipjacks.

It became clear that the lumbering sailboat could not keep pace with the birds. The rigging made casting foolhardy. Stephan looked at me and then at the dinghy. The 7 of us quickly sprang into action, readying the small craft, finding the most handy box of flies (a random assortment of all kinds of weird stuff) and rigging the 13wt Loop Greenline with an Opti BIG and Rio Leviathan.

A fired up the untrustworthy dinghy and Stephan literally hopped onto the bow as we made for the birds as quickly as possible. I could barely sit on the side due to the rolling swell. I have no idea how Stephan was able to stand on the bow without tumbling over the side.

I positioned us upwind of the birds and ducked as low as possible. I didn't want to lose my head to the super heavy line and the clouser that would be whipping around.

After a few casts and one tug, our excitement led to the line becoming devoured by the prop. The engine died and we did our best to untangle the bird's nest with the engine up. The line was fine, so we resolved to practice better line and engine management as we raced to catch up to the moving school.

After a few more chances at the fish, we changed flies multiple times. The predators were keyed in on the super tiny bait and ignored almost everything else. Stephan tied on a 4" gummy minnow, which was promptly bitten in half on the first cast by something toothy... That was our only gummy on board.

A small, white clouser was the next choice and after a few heart-pounding moments of tuna busting right off the bow, I saw a strip set and a bend in the 13wt.

In a second, a 5" jack came skating across the surface towards us. We were gutted! The smallest fish for miles around was the one to eat.

By this time, the Sea Dancer had left us in the middle of the bay, she had to get back by a deadline. We decided to make one last shot at the fish but on the first cast, the leviathan line was eaten by the prop again!

This time it was serious. The engine was stuck in the down position so Stephan had to dangle over the side, holding his breath, to reach the prop and untangle the line. Fifteen minutes later and we had the boat started again. We caught up to the guys as they were unloading our gear. We were hoping to have some fresh tuna for the barbeque that night, but it was not to be.

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