Thursday, April 5, 2007

The bluefin have eluded us...

Sunday and Tuesday saw the TAG team skunked in the search for bluefin. It sounded like it was slow fishing around the fleet with only a handful of bluefin encountered coupled with a slowdown in the yellowfin bite as well. We did manage to get 5 yellowfin. Not bad for a bluefin fishing trip. On Tuesday, we ranged far and wide looking for the schools of bluefin. We travelled far offshore but still had no luck. We did see quite a range of other animals though. Travelling through the nearshore, shelf and offshore ecosystems that North Carolina has to offer, we were lucky to see bottlenose dolphins, common dolphins and pilot whales as well as a few loggerhead turtles. A couple of nice days on the water, even without bluefin. As we travelled so far to the north on Tuesday, we decided to head into Oregon Inlet at the end of the day. A one hour car ride back to Hatteras made for a long day.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Back in Hatteras

March 24th and 25th saw the tag team aboard the Boss Lady with captain Eric Holmes and mate Barry Jr. Andre and CP were joined by Andreas Walli and Jake Nogueira from California. Ramunas Zydelis, a postdoc at Duke University also joined the TAG team as a guest angler. Saturday saw one bluefin caught first thing in the morning. It was a larger fish than the ones we had seen the day before (approximately 170 lbs). Ramunas did a great job angling a big fish on 80 lb gear and after about an hour, the fish was on the deck. Andreas performed the surgery and the fish was back in the water before he knew what had happened. With a full day ahead of us, we had high hopes for more tagging opportunities. Unfortunately, the bluefin didn't get the memo that we were looking for them and we didn't see any more tunas for the rest of the day. We did manage to get a wahoo towards the end of the day though.

Sunday the 25th saw 5 yellowfin but no bluefin encounters. Oh well.

Back in the game!

Well, after a brief hiatus, the TAG team geared up and headed back to the coast of North Carolina for another bout of bluefin tagging. Charles Perry and Andre Boustany headed out to Hatteras where we heard of a good bluefin bite occurring. On Thursday the 22nd we joined Rom Whitaker and his charter aboard the Release. We didn't get any tags out but we had a nice day on the water, which gave us a chance to get our sea legs back.

Friday, the 23rd was the type of day you dream about if you are a bluefin tagger, the type of day on which legends are made, the type of day that brings weaker souls to their knees, begging for mercy, they type of day that old men relive as they share pints in dimly lit pubs. With only a skeleton crew of captain, mate and two scientists, we headed out of Oregon Inlet to try our luck. We encountered large schools of smaller (approximately 40 lbs) bluefin. At times we could see fish busting at the surface in all directions around the boat. The large swell also gave us several glimpses of lines of bluefin surfing in the waves as they moved towards the boat. Truly a sight to behold. The action was fast and furious with multiple hookups throughout the day. The captain's foresight to bring along his electric reels saved the day as it freed up hands to accomplish all the other tasks required for bluefin tagging. Charles Perry took over the jobs of three scientists as he held and irrigated the fish, collected DNA samples, measured the fish and wrote notes. Of course, anyone who has ever met CP knows that he is equal to at least three normal men. CP's superhuman effort freed up Andre to focus on performing surgeries. By the end of the day we had 21 tagged with archival tags. It was a welcome change of pace from earlier in the season when the fishing was significantly slower. Unfortunately, the fast pace of tagging kept us from getting any pictures, but I have included an image of where the fish were caught in relation to SST.