Friday, January 10, 2014

Offshore Adventure: Blackfin Tuna!

Over the past two weeks we had the opportunity to target Black fin Tuna, King Mackerel, False Albacore and Amberjacks. We fished approximately 35 miles off the coast of Hatteras North Carolina. To reach such a great distance from land we chartered a boat named "Runaway".  I made the first trip for King Mackerel and fished with 5 other kayakers from Virginia and North Carolina. After I landed my first King I knew that I was addicted to fishing offshore. The following week I made the trip again with two other contributors to IKF Matt James and Mike Rosa. The second trip are target species was black fin tuna and amber-jack. Both of these were new species to all of us and we dove head first into this adventure not really knowing what to expect. This is a report of that trip.


   About 2 hours passed,the sun had not yet broken the horizon, but our crew was busily unloading our kayak transportation vehicle making sure we did not forget anything. We even had our battle weapons prepped! Bats, gaffs, and even a rubber mallet used for closing paint cans were included in our arsenal. There must have been something about watching youtube videos of tuna preforming the harlem shake and beating their captors in a hilarious yet informational fashion.

   The Runaway was loaded up and heading full throttle out of Teach's Lair Marina as the sun started to show itself in the distance. We all tried to take naps on the ride out but that was seemingly impossible after the breakfast of cigarettes and redbull. Captain Jay yelled down from his perch atop the runaway that we had arrived at our first spot and that he was marking fish. Ian the mate ran to the back of the boat with rod in hand to see what was down there. I joined Ian at the stern to get in on the action. We dropped our 7oz jigs down to 150-175' and started jigging (THANKS YOUTUBE!). I got lucky, a blackfin hit my lure on the drop. After reeling it in and taking a quick breath it was time to deploy the kayaks. We dropped in and caught a few more fish in that location but the majority of the were amberjack. If you have never caught an amberjack from the kayak it is like trying to control a jackhammer 100 feet below the kayak. They fight hard! After an hour or so Capt. Jay said that we were going to move.
   Jay motored off into the distance to check another spot while we followed in our kayaks. As we approached Jay let us know that there were "a lot of sharks". Sharks?!?! Fantastic. We all landed a few more fish at this next spot but the sharks were very bad. We lost a lot of tackle and several fish. After a few hours on this spot and a few close calls with the sharks we made the call to head back inshore and catch kings. We did just that, at the very end of the day we landed 6 stud kings from the kayaks between the 3 of us in 30ish minutes. It was a blast. Our next trip is already on the books and of course the gopro's will be running.
We arrived bright and early at 330am for our late departure time of 600am. We all tried to get some sleep but the excitement of trying to rip black fin tuna up from the depth past the blockade of opportunistic sharks was too much to close our eyes to. We spent a lot of time tying knots, testing the drag settings on our reels and staring at a colorful array of butterfly jigs wondering how they worked. Of course we did what all anglers do and went straight to the google machine to research vertical jigging techniques trying to wrap our brains around this new concept.