3 Days to Play
People ask me the same question all the time, “How many days should we fish on our vacation?” I always try to explain to them if they are somewhat serious fishermen, multiple days are always best. If you can do two days, or even three, that will increase your odds drastically at having some really good action. It’s tough to come down and fish one day a year and have a banner day year after year.
In June I had the Thompson family out fishing for three days. I have been taking Andy and his kids Derek and Conrad, fishing for the past five years now. I’ve seen the boys grow up and mature a lot, and we’ve been fortunate to have some incredible fishing trips together. Swordfish are always a priority for them, and they have no problem putting their time in.
This year we fished on the Catch 22 with my Uncle Scott as the captain the first day. I don’t mind mating occasionally because that’s where all the fun stuff takes place. We hit a few schools of mahi on the way out, and caught close to 20 mahi including one nice slammer. We spent the rest of the day dropping for swords. We did all hand cranking and managed to go 2 for 3 on broadbill swordfish by the time the day was over.
The boys finally decided to let their dad catch one after all these years, and Andy tagged and released his first ever swordfish that day. Conrad caught the second fish, which we kept for dinner. It was a great day and we fished again two days later. This time I ran the boat...
We started dropping for swords pretty early, but the bite was quiet. We stared at the rod tip for hours, hoping to see a bite. We finally got a little action with some mahi around lunchtime to break the monotony. At 4 :30 pm Andy said we could go home and that we gave it a real good effort. I said I needed one more drop, I wasn’t giving up that easily. I couldn’t get blanked knowing that we caught two swords the trip before with my Uncle Scott at the wheel!
It was 5:30 pm and we still hadn’t had a swordfish bite, so we started bringing up the bait. I felt defeated.
Derek was working the bait up and sure enough a minute later the rod doubled over and he said “I think I got one!” It was a miracle! The extra drop paid off! This fish was on an electric assist reel, so Derek did a combo of both. After a 40 minute fight we put the gaffs into a fish just shy of 100 lbs. It was high fives all around! We stayed late and it paid off.
We had one more trip scheduled two days later. The night before the last trip Andy said they had plenty of swordfish and mahi to take home with them, so they wanted to try for something different. We decided on golden tilefish, which aren’t a super easy fish to catch around here. We get a few here and there, but we’ve had plenty of long days trying to catch them.
We left early in the morning for the last trip with “gold” on our mind. Capt. Scott was back at the wheel.
He had never fished for goldens before. I really enjoy deep dropping, so I was excited to dedicate a day to it. We fished two rods and the boys were up first. We caught a couple blackbelly rosefish early, which are small but tasty little critters. On the third drift Derek hooked up. The fish took quite a bit of drag so I knew it was something good-sized. Part of me thought maybe a small shark, but I was hoping for a big golden tilefish. After about 10 minutes we could see the fish. It was a monster tilefish! Derek’s first ever golden tilefish was a 36 pounder! Of course his older brother Conrad was a little jealous, but he didn’t give up. A couple drops later Andy hooked up. He caught a big 30 lb golden! Conrad was on fire with the blackbelly rosefish though, getting them almost every drop. We fished all afternoon trying to get Conrad a tilefish, but it just wasn’t his day. By the end of the day we had a pair of big golden tilefish and a box full of blackbelly rosefish. They are some of the best eating fish we catch, and it was a great day fishing for a new species for them. Since we had three days to fish it gave us a lot of options, and we had success every day. Having the right attitude is the biggest thing to enjoying a trip on the water. Sometimes it doesn’t even matter if you catch fish, but when you do it makes it that much better.
**We also caught a giant swordfish in early June. It was an end of the day, hail mary, last minute fish that Becky caught. It was our only bite that day, as we were working the bait up to go home. It turned out to be a 434.5 lb broadbill swordfish that took 90 minutes to land.
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