Monday, August 31, 2015

Bluefish, Mackerel, and SPECIES #50!!!

It was August 9th, 2015, a beautiful Sunday. We had booked another party boat trip, this time off Belmar instead of Pt. Pleasant. My mother happened to have a colleague who shared my passion for fishing and they organized a get-together. The team was: Myself, my grandfather, Anther (the colleague), and his daughter and her friend. 

We set out on the Golden Eagle and headed out in the morning. Although it was a gorgeous day, the wind in the morning was fairly strong. I usually don't get seasick, but I did have a minor headache throughout the 1 hour ride to our destined fishing spot. As soon as we got fishing though, it was bye bye headache! :)

It may not look that bad, but it was pretty windy out there. 8 ft waves were present. 

We got to the spot just as other party boats were arriving. I found it interesting that there were about six different boats spread out in the same general area.

Anther was a regular on this boat, and he brought more than enough rods for all of us. I grabbed a spinning combo, and set out fishing. our rigs consisted of a small diamond jig with a tube trailer, and a dropper rig with a teaser on the top. You can see it in the above picture. 

Down went the jigs. the water is about 90 ft where we were stationed. The technique is to reel up as quickly as possible, twitching the rod tip along. After a couple of drops, I felt a hard hit-I mean HARD. After a strong fight, the fish surfaced and I saw my very first Atlantic Mackerel!!! (edit: This fish has been identified as an Atlantic Chub Mackerel by pmk00001 on Thank You.)

Woohooooooo!!!!! Species #50!!!!!!

After that first fish, it was complete mayhem. The five of us were hauling in fish after fish!!! The mates started cutting mackerel up, and chumming the water. We all grabbed chunks to tip our teasers and jigs. I also tied on a bare hook and put on a big chunk of mackerel. 

When the mates started to chum the water, mackerel started feeding at the surface. These fish are torpedo shaped, and swim insanely fast. We could see them darting between the chum. It was like no experience I've had before, it was extremely cool.  When the mackerel started appearing at the surface, I focused my efforts on the top 15 ft of water. The bait got the most bites, but the jig and teaser did very well as well! I hooked a total of seven doubles, but only landed three. I have to emphasize that these fish are very strong. Usually when I hook doubles, fish fight against each other and there is less resistance, minus the extra weight. Mackerel, however, fight in unison, and peel plenty of drag when hooked together. I was surprised at how much pull this little fish had!

But back to the action!

It was getting kinda funny, I was bringing up fish after fish, and people started coming over and asking me tips on how to catch them.

A few people had small bluefish coming over the rail. We were right in the middle of a mackerel hotspot, but there were some similarly sized blues hanging out with the mackerel. Anther said this was not uncommon. As I didn't see any bluefish on the surface, I returned my efforts to drop and reel. Eventually the mackerel got scared off by some blacktip sharks that had arrived, so they returned to deeper water. Two people actually hooked the blacktips, and the mates cut the line. That was too bad. I wanted to see a blacktip, but I guess that would be too dangerous with the amount of people on the boat.

When the sharks left, people started to catch more fish. After a couple of mackerel, including some "jumbos," I hooked into a fish at mid-depth with a more sluggish fight. Was this my lifer bluefish?

Yes it was!!!

I tentatively lifted it over the rail and grabbed it. It had bit on my teaser, and I was glad I unhooked it uneventfully. Some nasty teeth are in those jaws.

Behold! The bluefish, species #51!

Only a few people got bluefish that day, and I was ecstatic to be one of them. All the bluefish were pretty small; mine was the second largest and almost won the pool!

I caught some more mackerel, and then it was time to head back. Luckily, the water was much calmer during the afternoon. The mates cleaned our fish, and we brought home a big cooler!

This pic was taken during fishing. We caught much more. 

Collectively, my grandpa and I caught 22 fish. I caught 15 mackerel and 1 bluefish, and my grandpa caught 6 mackerel. To be fair, it was his first time fishing in deeper waters in the ocean. On my first time, I got skunked. Anther, his daughter, and his daughter's friend caught probably around 40 fish.

After we docked, we tried some fluke fishing from shore, as it was a gorgeous day. We got skunked, but it was really nice out, so we really didn't care.

A big thanks to Anther for bringing us out, and I hope we meet again!