Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Blustery weather and a bigeye

Our TAG team took advantage of another morning of good weather, and headed back to The Point with a much smaller entourage of boats as dawn broke over the Outer Banks.  We anticipated that fishing conditions would deteriorate by mid-afternoon – with forecasts calling for light morning winds (5-10 kts) increasing to 20-25 kts, risings seas, and rain.
As the fishing cooled and the weather intensified, Captain CP attempted to enhance the sluggish bite by chunking menhaden (aka 'fatback", "bunker", "shad", or "pogy") and reloading the flatlines with these enticing baits.  Although these efforts didn’t elicit a bluefin bite – they caught the attention of a ~ 130 lb bigeye tuna – a rare catch for late winter fishing off the Outer Banks!

Alan ("Big Country") Scibal prepares pogies for chunking.
Unfortunately, the weather forecast was right on target. By 2:00 p.m. the winds had increased to 20+ kts and the skies had grown heavy with rain.  We called it a day and headed back to Oregon Inlet, hopeful that optimal fishing would return soon.

Surfers enjoy the waves at Nags Head while we wait to tag tuna.

Monday, March 25, 2013

TAG Outer Banks (OBX), North Carolina – 17th Season Underway!

The TAG team assembled in North Carolina’s Outer banks alongside a cadre of State, Carolina, and Duke fans, as March Madness descended upon the Tar Heel State.  TAG’s 17th season in North Carolina was finally underway following weeks of weather delays.

Captains Charles Perry ("CP") and Alan (‘Big Country”) Scibal steered our tagging vessel, Sensation, through the treacherous waters of Oregon Inlet on a two-hour run to offshore fishing grounds at ‘The Point’.   We were joined by the greater part of the North Carolina charter fleet, a flotilla of center console boats, wave-runners, and jet-skis. 

 Angler Richard Montana battles the first bluefin of TAG’s 2013 North  Carolina season under Captain Alan (“Big Country”) Scibal’s watch.

Despite optimal weather and fishing conditions, fishing was challenging.  CP and Big Country managed to put us on top of fish all afternoon.  We caught and tagged (acoustic tag) our first fish (~ 200 lb.) at 9:15 a.m., after trolling a green and white sea witch lure along the warm side of the break.  Angler Richard Montana landed the fish following a 20 min battle.  Our second fish, another ~ 200 pounds, was caught, tagged (acoustic), and released at 12:45 p.m., following a 30 min fight.

Veteran tagger Dr. Andre Boustany (left) irrigates a 200 lb bluefin as TAG Director Dr. George Shillinger (right) deploys an acoustic tag.

We marked fish all afternoon and observed boats on all sides fighting fish.  Following two shortbites on the flatlines (baited with ballyhoo), we hooked our third and final bluefin of the day – also on the flatline.  This bluefin arrived as part of a doubleheader, accompanied by a 25 lb wahoo – an unusual combination of tropical and temperate pelagic fishes, rarely caught together.