The last week has been nothing short of amazing. What is normally the summer doldrums for Riptide Charters has turned into some of the most action-packed fishing of the season. Both Capt. Shaun Ruge and I have run trips this past week, and have enjoyed outstanding results.
The game plan has been to run out of Falmouth Harbor and head to the Vineyard and Nantucket to gather live baits for sharking. As it turned out, the “bait” fishing has been almost as much fun as the sharking. The bonito bite in Vineyard Sound and ACK Sound has been excellent. We have been landing 3 to 4 bonito during each bluefish bait-making session. It has not been the typical “run and gun” topwater bonito fishing, but rather working the rips and seams, blind casting under dipping terns. Despite the lack of surface action, the catching has been excellent. In 2 hours we have been able to stuff the live wells full of bluefish while catching enough bonito for dinner.
On one of these bait-making sessions, one of my sports hung something a little bigger than he expected. A 36” bluefin ate the Rapala X Rap he was tossing on light gear and put him through his paces in a big way. After 15 minutes and a dozen laps around the Contender, I slipped a gaff into my sport’s first-ever bluefin. In traditional first-tuna form, he even ate the still-beating heart ;).
Once the live wells have been filled, the next step is to run out to structure and temperature breaks south of the islands and set up our shark slicks. On 2 occasions while running south, I located a large area of debris on the surface. It appeared to be 6” to 8” diameter tubing or flex pipe with some lines attached. This huge 100’ hazard was home to tons of mahi mahi and triggerfish. We scored some mahi off it, but my crews were unable to get the triggers hooked up. Since the debris was near my intended sharking spot and it was covered with life, I figured it should be a good place to start our chum slick.
Within minutes of getting chum in the water we had sharks to the boat. Makos and blue sharks were the primary visitors. On my first trip we had a 200-pound mako hooked up on a mahi fillet before I even got the rest of the lines in the water. On a later trip, Capt. Ruge had similar luck with a 100-pound mako in the slick before any lines were in.
Once the sharks started coming to the boat, the action was faster than the crew and I could handle. We normally run 3 to 4 rods at a time, but the number of sharks forced us to go down to 1 rod just to let the crew and the captain catch our collective breath. At one point we had 5 sharks in a row, and the average time from bait in the water to hook-up was 64 seconds! We did over 60 sharks in 3 outings with only 1 line in the water most of the time.
One day Capt. Ruge took a different approach with his sport. He deployed his chum, and within minutes had a large school of mahi mahi to the boat. His angler began to catch the mahi on a 9-weight fly rod, one after another. With chum and live fish under the boat, the sharks began to show up, and things got interesting. Rather than fishing the sharks on light conventional gear, they opted for a 16-weight fly rod and a chum fly. The reward for their effort was 2 makos (a 100- and a 200-pound-class fish) and a dozen blue sharks. Talk about some serious big-game fly-rodding. Twenty minutes of battling a 200-pound-class mako on the fly is some serious angling in anybody’s book!
Next, Ruge and his client opted to pursue some exotics, and soon found a good sign: a floating crate marked “Fresh Seafood”. Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up! They went to work on the seafood box, which, as advertised, produced numerous mahi and triggerfish.
Final tally for the week: 100 or so bluefish, over a dozen bonito, over a dozen mahi, a pile of triggerfish for dinner, around 80 blue sharks from 125 pounds to over 300 pounds, 5 makos from 100 to 250 pounds, and a 36” bluefin tuna on bonito tackle. That huge number of fish was more than enough to wear out over a dozen anglers and 2 captains. The weather was fantastic all week, and even though we had a little wind on a few of the days, it only seemed to make the fishing better. I’m hoping this coming week will bring more of the same. I have some open dates if anyone is interested in getting worn out by huge numbers of big fish ;)
Overall, this has been some of the most productive and exciting fishing of the year (so far). Huge numbers of fish, huge varieties of fish and just plain huge fish have been the rule all week. That’s what we live for!