What a trip! what a report! thanks for layin' all that down.
I spent most my time in the *other* boat on that trip and if it's cool with Mingo I could lay down some more pics on this thread, burned about 500 images to the hard drive after screening and deleteing a coupla' hundred others.
Perfect weather with a perfect group in the perfect place is what it was! I had been down the previous two years in the same time frame and the bill fishing had been better in the past, but.....this moved right to the top of the "best trip ever" list!
Have spent the last five years B.S'ing Mingo online..."we should go and do this...we should go and do that" we had always found a way to avoid each other and I had no intentions of fishing with him in Panama this year either
...until the 1st week of December rolls around and I get "the call" ...the fish gods smiled on me for the ass kicking I took on the rivers last winter and threw me a bone when JBH/GS and others could not make the trip...they needed a warm body to fill a spot and I drew the lucky straw, So....the first time I met Mingo and Mrs. Mingo was in the predawn launch from Sea-Tac, gear in hand and grinnin' like a couple of jackasses eating thistles, off to Houston with Robbo and Brother Joe to meet my new best friends and now blood brothers Vanessa and Blake.
Long days of travel are easy on the way out...partied until late and found just the right bartender that new how to *pour* and look good doing it mmmmmm..sweet Marguerite
, another day of lazing around the city and hitting the canal then finally the long rough road to the port where it all begins...
Storms in the mts had things churnin' and a good douching on the hour or two ride had knocked some of the wind out of my sails, but, we let the games begin that afternoon and started casting. Joe got one good Blue Jack Crevalle and I may or may not have, don't really remember, back to the mothership for dinner and some sleep before our first full day on the water.
Good sunrise means good fishing in my book.
This was a good one..
Started the 1st day off with Bana, Blake and Brother Joe, popped around the corner and the big birds were working just off of the last rocks of shore.....big yellowfin were boiling, easy 50 lb fish right in range and we launch the poppers...no takers dammit, big disappointment as they were the biggest tuna I had ever seen, we beat that dead horse for a bit hoping they would return to the top but, we were denied....so, we got out a ways and put out "the spread" did not take long for things to warm up...Bana with the first Skipjack of the trip..bait for bigger and better things.
I could see Bana start to morph into a wild eyed fish fiend in the 1st coupla' hours......at least I'll have company in therapy now.
Blake grinds up the first Dorado of the trip for our boat...they almost became a pest as the trip went on, yeah, I can't believe I just said that either
The crew of the Lost Coast Explorer is great, Nonee (yeah, I spelled it wrong, pronounced "No Knee") and Jose were serious, but had skills and were fun..they kept getting us into fish and tolerating our foolishness, full coolers of Atlas and Panama were punished, punished severely.
We kept pulling those greenfish on board and drooling over the prospects of the feast..
I banged out this beauty that we managed an epic fail on the photograph, but wtf, they'll make more.
Bana redefining energy, besides being some pretty tasty eye candy she was they type that brings everyone up a notch with her raw energy....I love energy.
So....it was the day of the dorado for us, I think we may have punched a little yellow fin or twelve, but I don't really remember...punishing the cooler can do that to a guy.
Back to the Lost Coast Explorer for dinner and sharing the stories of the day at dark...we pounded some damn fine grub then somebody had the bright idea of doing some night fishing....I didn't get any pics but it was a blast getting bunched of big eye or horse eye or brown eye crevalle? Giant sharks rolled in, 10 mebbe 12 foot so a midnight dip was out of the question, finally hit the rack and tried to get some rest for round two.
Second day was for pounding the shoreline and I liked the fact that our captain wanted roosters, I wanted roosters.
Big ol'GT Bull and Strike Pro Poppers can wear you down, they had some super good rods on board this year and I'll be throwing down for a Penn Spinfisher SBG9810MH for future raids where long, long.....long casts are required, I could get this thing out about 125 yards if I nailed it...problem with the long casts is that you have to crank it in, and cranking as fast as you can in 95 degree heat starts to make you thirsty...more cerveza!
Quite a few Blue Jacks chasing but no takers got me to wondering what to do 'cause I was getting tired, we kept working the rocks, then the sandy beaches and not doing much at all for a body count, so....I took a turn through the fishing bag I had brought along and found some high end 2 and 3 oz jig heads that Twitch had made up, then took the big 8 inch hootchie skirts, shove the jig up inside and started tossin' to the rocks....sink, crank sink crank jig crank twitch twitch.....BANG! big blue jack climbed on, great fighting fish, colored up like a gem quality fire opal.....but, not a rooster, I wanted a fucking rooster...dammit.
I hit another Blue not long after and was feeling good about my hootchie jiggin'..rolled up to another rocky pocket when someone lured a flock of roosters toward the boat with the popper, we could see them darting about and some big F'ers! I dropped the jig down in the mega-clear water and started the dance, fish were still bouncing around and I kept taking the tempo up on the twitch when the biggest bird in the bunch climbed on, I buried the rod on the hit and bent it to the butt on 40 plus lbs of rooster, just watchin' that big sumbitch eat the jig was cool but the power as it smoked my ass got me whoopin and hollerin' like a kid...settled in and started the grind, when.........poof, fish off, so sad.
I pouted for a few, threw it back into the mix, hooked a barracuda that bit my new favorite lure off, then got over it.....kinda.
Remember this pic? I do. It was not to long after when.....bango! Bana is on,....bitch.
and this, turned into .......this. :thumbs:
Three years....three long years I've been going to the barnyard looking for roosters...(sigh) nevermind. Awesome fish Bana! glad I was there for the show!
Jose put on a show later as we recycled through the prime spots...*someones* casting was getting a bit sloppy and the popper wound up in the rocks, too high for a wave to float it out, I figured it was gone.....I was wrong, Jose can swim.
Fearless and skilled and fun to watch and he got our shit back, what's not to like?
At that point the day was made and the morning roughness on the high seas had simmered down so we went out for a troll, I 'spect we got a bunch of little tuna and dorado but......punishing the cooler made the afternoons a bit fuzzy.
Had gone out two days now and still no fishing with cunning Mingus, Robbo jumped in with me and BroJoe while I lost Blake and Bana, started the morning looking for food not too far out.....it was nutso crazio! yellowfin, bonita and skipjack were climbing on...dorado were flashing in the spread, we were throwing jigs and it was mayhem.....I love mayhem, "move move!!" "get the fuck out of the way!!" "over there!! over there!!!" pretty soon we were tripled up with the other boat nearby with a quad...I hated it.
No time for pics when the bite is on....if you've never chased a herd of feeding tuna you won't understand the race and rush of it...up on plane bouncin' toward the birds, get in range and you generally get one good crack at them as they are feeding at about 15 mph, no fun...you shouldn't try it. :grin:
Finally they gave us a break and Captain No started building the ballyhoo's, I found it interesting how much time and effort he put into perfection..
No billfish for us though....dorado kept eating our bait, cruising along, Robbo (the human tuna tower) spotted a log about a mile away bouncing on the waves so we troll thataway..
Our escort to the log in the ulta-super-clear water was easy prey for the camera.
The only thing that would have made this shot of the "hookup" better was if that dorado would have jumped right as I pulled the trigger, 'cause there was a good one hopping around the log.
We'd had enough of the troll and were sceduled to meet back at the Explorer @ 2:00 so, in we went for an amazing thai pasta lunch then back out for the elusive rooster..
..and, more casting, casting......casting.
Robbo hung this little bird and we did battle with something extra large that ate a live bait trolled deep in among the rocks, we never saw it but Cubera Snapper was the peoples choice for what it was that got away.
No rooster for me, damn rooster nazi hates me.
Good sunrise means good day....right? (hint)
Sleepin' the last half of the night away in the hammock in the bow of the boat has a special place in my heart...
Finally! today is the day I fish with the Mingos and we are all stoked to get smoked!....finally heading out to Hannibal Bank for the big'uns! Just the three of us and the B.S is flying, long ride out (20 miles?) we get on the bank and need bait, so..let the casting begin, spent about 45 minutes collecting bait and stuffing the tubes when Mingo gets bitchslapped by a brute of a bull on the lightish spinning rod that actually stripped the gears out of the reel...
Sorry Mingo the only shot of that fish that I have is terrible....hope you can fill in that blank.
So, we basically sit in the bow of the boat abusing the cooler for an hour or two after that, tellin' stories, tellin' lies and drinkin' beers, occasionally casting to some bonito that rear their little heads....I see a swirl about 60ft off the side and toss the jig at it....instant dorado on!! jump...jump...jump...SNAP! a good one that took my favorite jig and left, eh, no problem.
(insert Jaws music here) the tension is building. I'm up on the troll rods and am starting to get "the feeling" I love the feeling, I live for the feeling and now I have the feeling....something is up..
I jump on the rod as it is obvious that there will be no fooling around waiting for it to eat....this one is not a dorado!
Captain No and Jose wondering...hmmmm, Marlin? Tuna?...hmmm
Set the drag to "tight"....but not so tight that I get ripped out of the boat, then watch the line fly, unstoppable force going down....
300 ft to the bottom then it starts to "line up" gave us a head fake that had us thinking marlin then settled into a grind straight under the boat, I'd pump up and get a turn, it would take it back..no problem. Felt good for the first 20 minutes or so, then the arms start to burn, Mrs. Mingo and Mingo kept me in water and I was thinking I'd be able to finish it when I got about a 100 ft. of line up....then, Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...
....back to the bottom.
I wanted Mingo to feel the power of the beast and needed a break, so I took a break and Mingo worked the beast, whew!
After a bit I was peelin' clothes off and back at it, burn baby burn! let's get this thing done, 45..mebbe 50 minutes into it things started to happen, but man....I was getting beat.
Not grinnin' anymore.
Then...this beast shows up..
It's circling around under the boat and I'm getting five ft of line back on each pass.....and it keeps getting bigger and bigger as it gets closer, I'm slackjawed looking at the size of this f'n tuna! ...huge fish.
Mingo got some great shots with my camera, thanks man!
Finally it's beat into submission and Chris, the owner of Lost Coast Excursions is on the boat today and he grabs the leader then throws a hook into it's head, get the head up and Captain No goes all Babe Ruth on this things skull with a little Louisville Slugger, Jose throws in Hook #2 and things are starting to look good!
Wow!! It got even bigger out of the water!
grip and grin....I think not.
We chased fish for about and hour more then said lets get this baby to the Explorer and cut it up! Put a fork in us.....we were dun!
I think I may need to fish with the Mingo's some more.. :beer:
What a day!
Thank you tuna, it was a good one!
Lots of questions regarding what we do with the fish...
...eat as much as we can and the boat deals with the rest, no interest on my part of dealing with fish on the tired end of a trip like this, but one thing is certain, nothing is wasted. I was interested in the butchering of the big guy so I took a series and finally got them out of my backup camera.
Captain No knows tuna! a couple superquick deep cuts and it was on.
With two knives working it took less than 5 minutes to reduce this fish to loins!
I couldn't help but think of Fshng1 and Strike Zone while watching this.....they'd dig it the most!
Captain No claimed the belly for "the grill" Jose did spent about 15 minutes working it down to one prime morsel for the crew.
So.......I thought we were done for the day, I was flat out beat from the battle in the heat and Mingo and I had planned to hit the shore for jacks....it was getting late and I was losing my game face when the other boat finally shows up as the sun was heading down....this was the 1st day Bana and I had not fished together and she was having none of it....yeah, twist my arm and I'll go
So within sight of the Explorer we head to shore and start the casting, Mingo up front with the flies and me and Bana rubbin' elbows in the back of the boat....I was lobbin' some monster casts with a slight tailwind and having to drag the popper off of the beach into the water, fishing for monkeys they thought....
Holy Hell!!.....my popper gets absolutely crushed right at the back of the boat, line smokin' rod throbbin crushed..then I'm crankin' like a madman to keep up with slack line, out of control with crazy headshakes thrown into the high speed runs...finally it's near the boat but eludes the gaff about 4 times...but not 5.
My first Cubera!
What a way to end the day...
But wait... there's more!
Now we had to eat it, a huge seared tuna steak that 5 hours ago was swimming.
What a day.
I think we did some drinkin' that night....Chris traded some fuel for a bottle of abuelo rum with a small sailboat that was anchored nearby and helped us out with the days celebration.