Our three night trip to the
seamounts ended just as it began, with a lazy sailfish at sunset, under clear
skies and calm seas. After a noon
departure on day 1, we ran about an hour to the edge and started trolling,
found a log, loaded up with live bait and ran to a nearby tuna school. We got to the party just as it was time to
“piss on the coals of the campfire” but we were able to convert at least one of
our live bonito into a 30 pound yellowfin, enough for tuna dinner and sushi for
This was however a fly fishing
expedition and no conventional tackle would be used other than to retrieve
hookless teasers and cast smaller teasers on spinning tackle at fish that may
refuse the fly, in hopes of firing them up for a second look.
As recently as two weeks ago, the
Dragin Fly had just come back from a similar trip, but targeting blue marlin on
conventional tackle. Over the two days,
the boat raised over 40 marlin and two very tired anglers catching half of
them. Sometimes there were multiple
blue marlin in the spread. With reports
like this, it is hard to help but to have somewhat high expectations. Anywhere else in the world, hopes of seeing
a dozen or more blue marlin in a day are simply not realistic.
Our fair skies fled as night fell
and we plowed into banks of grey clouds on a very dark, moonless night. First what was waves of rain bands now
covered the entire radar screen and our progress slowed to a crawl. In addition to radar, epirbs, life rafts,
sat phones and other necessary and duplicate safety equipment, the newest in LED technology helps light up
the seas so logs or other debris can be avoided.
Our slow progress meant that we
would not arrive at our first fishing location, nearly 150 miles from Los
Suenos, until about 9 am. At about the
time we arrived to the offshore seamount, the rain finally began to let
up…..temporarily…..and the seas calmed……temporarily. There were 5 peaks within several miles of
this underwater mountain ridge and we made circles around each one of them,
assessing which ones had the most bait and which ones we would get quick bites
from and later concentrate our effort.
The problem was that we got no bites.
The bait was there, but water temps were a little cooler, as low as 78
degrees which is rare in the tropics.
We marked a couple of big fish and there was more than enough bait, but
we raised no marlin.
After 4 hours of surveying an
searching the area, we remained strikeless and James started chugging to
another range of seamounts. A couple
hours later and after several passes it was frustrating not to get a quick
bite. The circles around the “spot”
widened and we finally raised a blue marlin that came in hot on the teaser
which disappeared from the marlin’s view, it wheeled around and froze, just
below Capt. Joe Shute’s fly. Just as he
moved it the marlin attacked but missed by inches. That’s what we came for and where there was
one feeding marlin, there should be more.
We get the spread of three
hookless teasers back out. About 15
minutes later another blue marlin crashed the left long teaser, then was
gone. Surely we were in the meat now,
but as the sun got lower in the horizon, so did our expectations. Plans were being made for where we were
going to chug to overnight when James’ teaser real explodes with a really hot striped marlin, easily over 150
pounds. Capt. Warren puts the fly in it’s face and the marlin immediately
engulfs it. Within seconds the marlin
charges the boat and Warren nearly gets a quick release, but then he’s into the
backing and still going.
Great shot of the back of Roberto's head.....
We catch up to the fish and
several times Warren is only inches away before another run. Nearly an hour into battle Warren has given
this fish all he wants to give it and the 78 old captain beat that fish
down. Thankfully the 20 pound tippet
was in great shape as Warren locked down and literally rolled that fish to the
surface, quickly gaining lose line and getting the release before the fish
charged off again, settled down and Warren rolled it over a second time,
putting the leader into Berto’s hand before breaking the tippet.
Great way to end the day and
Mission Accomplished as another stripey comes up on the same teaser now
chugging behind the Dragin Fly, but it fades off without a bite.
Day 3 we arrive several hours
before daylight and deploy the sea anchor.
The winds have laid down, but it is a soaking, misty rain. Dozens of dolphins chase flying fish and squid
until we pull in the sea anchor at first light.
As soon as we arrive, we raise a
blue marlin, but it fades off. No other
bites despite good signs of bait. We put
out some spoons and troll up a few bonito, stitching them up and rigging them
as hookless teasers, skipping on the surface.
The good news is that marlin love these skipping bonito, the bad news is
that it’s really hard to reel fast enough to take it away from a hungry blue
marlin. That’s exactly what happened
about 30 minutes later, a nice blue crashes the bonito but misses, then fades
off, then out of nowhere there is a huge hole in the water where the bonito
used to be and a blue marlin that is not letting go of it. The marlin wins and gets a free lunch, but
does not return.
An hour later without a bite and
we’re plugging in our last seamount on the way home. A couple miles into the chug, we raise a hot
stripey and Joe makes a really perfect cast under another line, immediately
hooking the fish which runs about 50 feet out and down and stops, just shaking
his head. After not being able to
dislodge the fly, its off to the races as the striped marlin greyhounds on the
surface for a quarter mile, spending more time in the air than in the
The fish settles down and we start
gaining line, but all that shaking and jumping was just too much for the 20
pound tipped, now chafed down to the strength of sewing thread. Joe’s striped marlin is gone.
The last spot turned out about
like the rest, we did raise one lazy blue marlin before leaving the seamounts
all together and working our way home, hoping to find a log or current line
with more action than what we were getting.
We raised a sailfish, Joe made another great cast and we got to watch a
ferocious bite. He hooked the sail but
it made a quick turn and shook the fly before putting on much of a show or
getting a release.
The rest of the day was beautiful
with calm seas and clear skies, a beautiful sunset and hopefully uneventful
ride home……as I write this now.
By anywhere else in the world’s
standards, fishing 2 ½ days and raising 5 blue marlin, 3 striped marlin and 3
sailfish ain’t bad at all, but it’s nice to be spoiled. Congratulations to Warren for releasing his
striped marlin on the fly.