Monday, September 17, 2007
Tagging Giants Down Under - #6 - 5 more Giants!
TAG scientist George Shillinger is back from his incredibly successful tagging expedition in New Zealand and is ready to share his adventures. Below is the sixth entry in his seven-part series .
After our extremely successful 24 hour tagging trip, we headed to Westport to drop off the 4Gs and pick up the two passengers for the next charter – father and son team of Owen and Trevor Hart.
By mid-afternoon, we were underway again --- heading South following reports of giant tuna occurring en route to Greymouth. The weather had taken a tuna for the worse and another low pressure front had closed in on the South Island. Heavy rains poured down upon us as we raced through increasing winds and swells to the fishing grounds. Shortly before midnight, about 40 miles south of Westport, Captain Larry picked up some marks on the sonar that suggested bluefin were in the vicinity.
Without a trawler nearby to draw the fish to the surface, we began chunking hoki bait in an attempt to bring the tuna to our boat.
Within seconds we had a fish on – but after a gallant fight in the driving rain, the fish was lost at the leader when the hook pulled out. This was the first fish that we’d lost on the trip – and it was followed in quick succession by another giant tuna that snapped the leader as it approached the rail.
We tagged our first fish (~ 260 kg) of the second charter after a 65 min battle at 1:40 a.m. Adrain wired the fish beautifully (caught by Trevor) and it came up alongside the boat for a perfect tag strike. The father and son team fished non-stop for the next 10 hours --- catching and releasing three more tuna, including a huge fish that Captain Larry estimated to weigh over 350 kg!
Our final fish was a 300+ kg beauty that was caught by Captain Larry in 30 minutes on a hand line (tossed on the starboard side of a hoki trawler that was swarming with big fish) with a hoki-baited circle hook.