Charters of 5/15 & 5/16
17 May 2010
On Saturday, May 15th, I welcomed aboard Ed Bramer and his crew, Ed Jr and Bob, for another day of ground fishing. Ed is currently the leader in this season’s Full Strike Anglers Big Fish Pool and he had every intention of extending his lead on this day. We left the dock at 0430 and steamed at 24 knots for the Bank on calm seas.
The first area we fished was absolutely dead so we started our journey south looking for a bite. Unfortunately, a true bite never developed during the day. It was a slow pick everywhere we looked and look we did. All of the other charter boats were dismayed that all of the fish seemed to have lock jaw. To make matters worse around 1000 a stiff NW wind came up. Within 30 minutes the sea was covered with whitecaps and a tightly spaced wind chop of 2-4 waves made life interesting.
Ed’crew are very experienced fishermen and even though the fishing was slow they kept at it. Bob managed to stick this year’s first wolfish. A feisty 10 pounder who gave us a fun time as we now must released these cute fellows unharmed and alive. After a few minutes, I was able to get the hook out ,while keeping all my fingers in place, and took quick photo before Bob released the kitty.
Around 1230 the wind got stronger and with no sign of a bite developing we decided to pull the plug on the trip. 28 nautical miles from home and a heading of 330 meant we were going to take the seas head on. The guys hunkered down and I manned the helm for the 2.5 hour ride home. The Lady D pushed through the slop with the big Suzuki 250 proved again how strong and engine she is. Two miles off the beach we encountered winds I estimated in the 30+ knot range…I was glad we pulled the plug when we did.
On the dock at 1530 the guys put 70 lbs of fillets in the coolers and made plans for a future trip. I was disappointed in this day’s catch rate and was doubtful about the next day. But as I have learned every day is different and Sunday would prove me right…Note to Ed B…you might not want to read the rest of this report.
When I arrived at the marina on Sunday, May 16th, the flag was already stretched out from the NW wind that was starting to develop. Overnight the forecast had changed and now they were predicting NW winds to 25 knots by noon. Between the previous day’s slow fishing and tough ride home I was not looking forward to a repeat performance. Jim Westergaard and his crew, Bob and Robert, had come all the way from New Jersey the night before and therefore I hoped we could get on the fish quickly and run for home before the winds hit. I have to admit that I had my doubts but I knew that you cannot put fish in the box while in a slip, so at 0445 we set off on our “3 hour tour”.
When we rounded Eastern Point calm seas met pour bow so I put the hammer down and brought was up to a 28 knot cruising speed…a little faster than my normal cruise but today was not a day to spare the fuel. We needed to get on the grounds as fast as possible and find some hungry fish.
Thirty five minutes later I throttled back and started on a spot where the day before another charter boat captain from my harbor had found a decent late afternoon bite on good size cod. Unfortunately, we were on an opposite tide and after 20 minutes of marking nice pods of fish with not a single taker we turned our bow south and continued the “tour”.
I steamed in the direction of the area when fished yesterday, and area where we did manage a few decent cod and pollack when suddenly the fish machine lit up. This was a place in the middle of nowhere and not another boat in sight. The guys dropped their jigs and immediately all three hooked up. For the next hour we had a great bite on nice market cod and pollack. Double headers were common as shown here with Bob taking a nice double on cod.
The bite lasted about an hour and by the end we had two limits of cod in the box with a dozen or so nice pollack as well. The tide had gone slack and the bite ended but I wanted to stick around to see if the tide change would start them up again. In the meantime we moved around the area dropping on good marks with little success until I hung what I thought was a great fish. Unfortunately, my great fish turned out to be a 600’ gill net who I failed to see in time which resulted in one jig donated to the Gill Netters College Fund. A short time later we hung another net, this one being a ghost (unmarked) net and another jig was donated to the fund. Later in the day I managed to lose another three jigs on another unmarked net…I sure hope I get an invitation to the graduation party I am funding!
Around 0900 the bite had failed to materialize and I heard some radio chatter from the boats I could see to the east. A captain from the fleet called and said I might want to take a ride over as it looked like things were starting to happen. The area was about 2 more mile to the southeast, farther away from home again, but the winds remained calm, seas flat, so off we went with myself hoping I wouldn’t regret the decision if the weatherman’s prediction came true.
We came upon the fleet and found that indeed a great bite was starting. A huge school of pollack was cruising the area moving very fast as they pushed sand lance to the surface. We caught fish from the bottom to the top, sometimes only 20 feet below the boat. The school moved like tuna so everyone was in run and gun mode.
Under the pollack were some great pods of market cod who were feeding on the leftovers from the pollack attack occurring above them. If you could get a jig through the pollack you had a chance at some great cod like this one that Jim stuck.
We boated our limit on cod and proceeded to finish the trip in this area chasing the pollack around. I manned the fillet board and before we headed for the barn at 1300 I managed to cut all the pollack. Unfortunately I still had our cod limit to cut, so I put the Lady D on auto pilot and the guys assisted as lookouts as my fillet knife sliced and skinned its way through the day’s terrific catch.
One mile off the beach I cut the final cod and just then the NW wind came. I pushed the throttle hard and we blasted through Gloucester Harbor at 30 knots and hit the bridge just as it opened for another vessel, thus saving another 20 minute wait. I tied the Lady D in her slip at 1530 and watched the flag blow straight out hard from the NW. We had lucked out as the forecasted wind arrived four hours late and we were safe and sound on the dock.
Jim, Bob and Robert loaded over 150lbs of fillet into their cooler and headed south on their long ride home. This was their first time fishing with me and I hope we will have many more trips together in the future as they were not only excellent fisherman but great people to have on the boat as well.
So another weekend came to a close and I re-learned a valuable lesson. Every day on the water is a new day and as the investor warning states, “Previous results are not a predication for future success” it is also so true in fishing. While these reports accurately depict what happened on a previous charter (I report what happens whether good or bad), it is simply a historical document much like a newspaper and all of you know how valuable yesterday’s newspaper is! If I had decided not to go Sunday because of Saturday’s results we would have missed a great day’s fishing (and catching). A former captain once told me, “You can’t catch fish on the dock…spend less time worrying about old reports, grab a rod and get out there as every day on the water is different”. Wiser words were never spoken and this weekend proved that again.