Nantucket Blast

Nantucket Bluefin Blast 2010
Well boys we just spent the weekend out on Nantucket fishing the third annual Nantucket Bluefin Blast Tuna Tournament. This is the same tourney that we caught the 775lb giant in last year and couldn’t get back to the weigh station in time. We spent 5 hours on a 70 and finally got the harpoon in the fish at 7pm. So this year we wanted to step it up and do better. With the tuna regulations this season the tourney format had changed to a release format with separate Calcuttas for the heaviest fish in the Rec. slot and heaviest fish in the Comm. Slot. We choose to focus on the releases and the rec. slot fish category.
My brother Matt and I steamed the boat over to Nantucket on Friday and Corey was going to meet us there via the Hyannis ferry. My charter was arriving that evening and we all meet on the boat to discuss the plans for the event. We all anted up and entered the Calcuttas and had a couple of beers and hit the rack at 9pm. Tuna fishing is a long day, but when you are fishing tournaments the days become even longer. We left the dock at 0340am and steamed for Chatham. Lines in for the tourney were 0550am. The Okuma 80w’s were on the riggers and the 50w’s were in the corners and we deployed our everyday spread which consisted of 6 spreader bars and one green chain and bird. The bite was very slow and we couldn’t buy a bite. The rules were that you had to call in your bites and you had to take pictures of the fish alongside the boat to prove you got the release, and you had to declare if you killed it or not. No pictures, no points. A few boats had caught a couple of fish and we kept hearing the “Katelines” calling in fish. It was 10 am in the morning and we had nothing. After I heard him call in his 4th fish I knew I had to find this boat! I started steaming hard to the SE and the wind was cranking and the seas were big. I couldn’t believe that I was looking at running 27 miles to the SE but I was going. I was “all in” at this point. I am either going to find him or I have made the wrong move. When I pulled in to the spot I could see “Katelines” there. We set the spread out and started to pound the area. Trolling in the trough was a real joy but that is what you have to do to get the bites. The “Tammy Rose” was rocking and rolling in those 4-6 footers with the North wind and the big tide running back into it. Uggghhh, my kidneys are still sore. Finally we get a bite, left long rigger, Keywest Special, we get the fish to the boat and get the tag and release. We are on the board! Back goes out the spread and I pound my numbers. 20 minutes latter we get another bite, same rig, and we get another release. I am starting to feel a lot better. 2 for 2 is good. We raise another fish on the black bar but can’t get him to eat it. We get another bite on the short corner and the fish pulls out 10 feet of line and we pull the hook!!! Nooooooo!!! Not good. I get one more fish up on the left long but he never bites it. We fished all the way to the end and had our lines out at 4:30pm and headed for Nantucket, 36 miles away. We hit the dock at 0645pm.
The next day we left the dock in third place. The “ET” was ahead of us with 2 fish and there were 2 other boats that also had 2 fish so we needed to get on the board first. When you have a tie it goes to the boat that caught the fish first, so if we could get on the board ahead of those 3 other boats we would be in second place. I still felt that I could catch “Katelines” if we could get hot. The first fish to be called in was on “Katelines” and I couldn’t believe it. They were hot!!! I was pounding my numbers and staring at the rigs when a fish came up on the right short rigger, I started yelling “Black Bar!! Black Bar!!” But we never came tight. Then we got a bite on the left short bar, Red Iquana, and we were on. Almost doubled! This fish was very big too us. We got him along side and when I looked at him I thought he would be close to the slot limit. We got the pictures then got him on the deck and we taped him out at 57 1/2 inches. I knew we had a good fish there for the Rec. slot limit. We called in the kill and got the spread back out. Now we had 2nd place and a potential money fish on deck so we were all feeling really good. I just wanted to hold on. “Katelins” had called in another fish and they were not fishing with us. That gave them 6 and I was wondering if we could catch them. As the day went on the bite stayed slow. East wind and big tides made it rough and the bite was not good. I couldn’t hear what was going on up to the north so we really didn’t know where we were in the tourney. “Starfish” had 2 fish and “Reel Therapy” had two fish and they were fishing with us. It is so funny how you hear the other boats hook up and you wait to hear what happens, the emotions go up and down when you are trying to hang in there and hold on. We finally got another bite. Right short rigger gets bit, snaps out of the clip, rod doubles over, rig goes out of sight……. Pulled the hook!!! Ohhhh, not good. That was our shot. “Katelines” continues to catch fish and is now up to 8 fish. I knew I couldn’t catch them now and all I wanted to do was get 2nd. Later on in the afternoon “Starfish” doubles up. Now we were not happy to hear this. If he lands both of them he will jump into 2nd place. That will also mean that we would have to catch two fish to get ahead of him. He calls in that he only landed one so we are still safe. We need to catch a fish. The day is getting later and the tension is mounting in my cockpit. We find out that “Waterboy” also has 3 fish but I feel pretty confidant that we have him beat on time, but with the 3 of us with 3 fish the next fish caught is going to take 2nd place. We also have a potential winning fish that has to make it to the scales to count. As the captain you start running scenarios in your head, the what ifs. What if I need to change a fuel filter on the ride in, even though I just changed them all before the tourney, what if the impeller goes? You always want to leave yourself some breathing room. So we started to talk about when we were going to go. It was decided that we would reel in at 4:10 pm. 20 mins before lines out. At 4:10pm I just couldn’t do it. I just wasn’t ready to give up. I had a feeling. Corey looked up at me and said well Dad, I told him 5 more minutes. I had been circling some whales and was just hoping for one more bite. At 4:12 pm the right short rigger goes off! Fish On!! Yeah baby!!! We get the fish to the boat and get the tag and release. Fish number 4 for us and hopefully that will give us 2nd place alone and out right! I am so happy.
We hit the weigh station and our fish hits the scales at 112lbs and we win the Calcutta for the heaviest fish Rec. division and we also secured the 2nd place prize money too. Not too bad. Corey heads for the showers and the Ferry and Matt and I and the guys head back out into the harbor to clean the fish. We get back on the dock and tied up at 7:10 pm, 15 and half hours after we left in the morning. A very long, but great day. My charter was a great group of guys, who were excellent anglers and great sports, stayed positive and focused through some very tough sea conditions and a rather slow 2 days of fishing but we got it done. It was a pleasure fishing with you guys. You are awesome and thank you. It was so nice to have these guys on the boat, it was like fishing with family. The final standings were; 1st “Katelines” 8 fish, 2nd “Tammy Rose”4 fish, 3rd “Waterboy” 3 fish, 4th “Starfish” 3 fish, and 4th “ET” 2 fish. It’s a great format and Jonas and the staff at Slip 14 put on a great tournament. “It’s All About The Bite” Capt. Eric

%d bloggers like this: