Friday, October 14, 2011

Both Bitter and Sweet

The TAG team headed out last Thursday, October 13th, and Friday, October 14th, scoring marks and tagging giants.  Thursday started out ‘inside’, near shore off the Mabou Highlands, a spot noted the previous day for 3 late afternoon hook-ups by commercial fishers.  The team wasn’t disappointed.  Capt’n Ross Kues’ ‘Neptuna’ hooked up early in the morning with a nice medium-sized Bluefin to start the day off right.  Adorned with its new wave sound tag, the fish swam away none the worse for wear.  The day dragged on between bites, but before the boats pulled their hooks in, two more tuna landed on the board, tallying 3 for the day.  The second was a beautiful big butterball, easily topping the scale at over 850 lbs while the last of the day stretched the tape to 260 cm curved length. 

Waiting For A Bite – Off MacDonald’s Glen, Mabou Highlands, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada, October 14th, 2011.

Friday was forecasting a strong blow to pick up after noon, but with a flat morning and a location in the lee of the Mabou Highlands, three Nova Scotian TAG vessels headed out.  The ‘Bay Queen IV’ waited for a bite all morning.  It never came.  With eyes lured offshore to a lone commercial vessel midway to the horizon, Capt’n Dennis Cameron decided to move.  No sooner was the bow pointed away from shore than Aaron Spares spotted a lone Bluefin a mile or more ‘outside’ jumping vertically clear of the water and nose diving back in.  Interest aroused, but no one counting their tuna just yet, the ‘Bay Queen IV’ cruised steadily to the spot to find a fresh oil slick.  Hooks baited and back in, the team once again waited.  A down-bait reeled off soon after.  A fight ensued.  The giant ran twice, and then settled into a tug-of-war at 100-140 feet under the boat.  Robbie Shallert, Craig Cameron and Sheldon Gillis all took turns on the reel, but for every foot gained, the giant took one back.

Risin' Up - Off MacDonald's Glen, Mabou Highlands, Northumberland Strait, Canada

With a hour fight time approaching on the clock, Sheldon Gillis remarked, “It’s time for me to go put the boots to’em!”

The fish must’ve heard him, and took his comment as a challenge, for no sooner had the words left his mouth, then the giant changed tactics and made a heavy haul away from the stern.  The line whirled off the reel, the tip rose, and slack was taken.  A sudden tip down ended with the rod springing straight up.  Online tension ceased.  Colourful comments were exchanged to the sea.  And perhaps the giant of the season swam away.

With a defeat lingering on deck, the wind started to blow.  Waves began to build.  The boat began to rock and roll, but marks on the sounder suggested there may be redemption for those who wait.  At about 2 pm, with white capped water all around, a rod on the ‘Bay Queen IV’ screamed.  The fight was personal this time, but the victory was bittersweet.  A 190 cm tuna came aboard to receive its jewellery and was sent kicking back into the turbulent water.  With Taggers and crew trying to maintain balance on deck, the word to call it a day was given.  The TAG boats broke through crests and troughs, slamming home the message that some of the more memorable days are a bit of both extremes, both bitter and sweet. 

-text and photos by Aaron Spares

A Fleeting Moment - Northumberland Strait tuna fishery off Mabou Highlands

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