2009 Year in Review
I don't know where to begin for 2009. I ran more trips than ever before and loved it once again. It's getting better and better, actually. Thank you all is the best way to begin. Without customers and visitors to my website, I'm just a crazy fisherman. With you, I'm a captain. We had a ton of fun this year. It wasn't all because of the fish that we caught. Good people bring contagious attitudes. Thanks. And bring venison, jerky, cakes, pies, shirts, pliers, lures, hooks, sandwiches, wine (for after the trips.) Thank you all! That was great.
I was going to forego putting photos in this year-in-review, but I can't...I did make a 9 minute amazing photo compilation which you should check out and relax to. It moves very quickly, about 2 seconds per photos. I have lots of photos; it flows great, has good music, and should keep you smiling! Click here for 2009 Recap with photos to music!
My son was on the boat more than just about anyone other than myself. That was a blast for me; he's getting big quickly and becoming a very good fisherman. His best fish of the year was an 18 pound striper caught while jigging for tuna! "Fish on! Fish on!" As he hooked up. "Oh, man, I think it's just a striper." He lamented. He's spoiled. But..after witnessing us catch a 98" mako shark, he went back to the pier at the end of the day and had as much fun catching little crabs in the mud. He just turned 6...
This year was much like last year, only better.... I am going to try to make this report different from last years, but it's tough because we followed much of the same pattern. But, because many of the readers of my website are fellow recreational fishermen, I'm going to throw out some info for them to help them catch more fish as well. It was great meeting a lot of you on the water this year and seeing you at the pier. Thank you for your words of support; keep them coming and introduce yourself if you read the site. It's good knowing other boats out there. It's also good putting boats, names, faces, and email addresses all togeher.
We have done a lot of tuna fishing over the past few years. Trolling and live bait is one thing. We do that, of course. The methods of casting and jigging (Jigging and Popping) for tuna is a very specialized fishery. It is a niche market that I am delighted to have a significant part in these waters. If you have been on one of trips, it's filled with lots of excitement. When you cast a lure into a school of breaking tuna and can watch the tuna come up and explode on your lure, it'll get your heart racing. If you listen to my radio on one of these trips, you'll notice that I talk a lot with another captain. Capt. Dom Petrarca Coastal Charters Sportsfishing and I worked together extensively this year. In 2010, you'll see us working together again to make your trips more successful. Our track records speak for themselves. If you've called me to go tuna fishing on a certain datea and I was booked, I gave you Dom's phone number to call him and vice-versa. If you've got your own boat and have been listening to us on the radio, drop me a line and introduce yourselves. I'm serious. Next year, we won't be on the radio like we were this year. I don't mind bringing you along to a hot bite, but I want to know who's out there following us. It works both ways, surely, but drop me an email and say hi from time to time.
April and May
I'm going to group these two months together because they mean the same to me. That is, I'm fishing again! I'm going to start 2010 at the end of March and target the haddock until cod become legal. We did so well last year on the early-season haddock that I want to make it part of my trip offering for 2010. Our first trip last year, myself and two friends on an exploratory mission, landed 75 haddock between the three of us. After that, it was cod/haddock with customers until arms got weak. No exaggeration. It was so good words can't describe it. There were days in which we had limits of cod on the deck within 90 minutes of dropping our first lines!
this is the reason that I want to fish every day in April and May. It's incredible! In 2009, we caught haddock in as little as 75' of water. Most of the cod that we caught were in less than 130'. This means that we can use light tackle all of the time. Okuma was still one of our loyal sponsors and the tackle that they are coming out with is really nailing this fishery on the head. We still used the "Red Isis" reel and "Guide Select" rods for the cod. Every fish felt great, yet we were never overmatched. As a field tester, I was able to test some new reels this spring...the Cedros Jigging Reel and Makeira 10II were incredible for this fishery. They were light, yet strong enough to tackle tuna later in the season. I fished the Cedros on an 8' Catalina Inshore jigging rod. Amazing combo.
For lures, everyone by now has heard of the Stingo-Fish Lures. What a great lure for cod and haddock. We were nailing them in incredible numbers all year. They fall fast and jig very well. Coming in gold and silver, some times the gold outproduced the silver and vice-versa. We usually split the crowd to see which was better, then switched over to that color. We mainly used 200g(7oz) lures, but also used the 150g(5.5 oz) and 300g (10oz).
The fish really moved around Stellwagen this spring. We ended up covering the entire bank, minus the NW corner, which had been a hotspot the previous two years. I never "had" to fish there. There were times that we got fish at the SWC, only 15 miles from my slip. How incredible is that? Other times, we had to run around, finding whales and concentrations of bait. When we did, most often it was 'lock-and-load' until our limits were met. Then, if time permitted, we targeted haddock afterwards. It was so incredible this spring. If you wanted to introduce someone to fishing, this is the time to do it. The action is that good and predictable. Days are going to fill in quickly.
In addition to working with a group of local captains, who help each other finding schools of fish, I really did a lot of great searching this year. Once we get onto Stellagen Bank, I'm able to run around at high speeds looking for telltale waters, whales, slicks, birds, or marks on my fishfinder. That's a great feeling...you see the screen light up with fish and you have people drop lines, all of whom immediately hook up. I love spring cod fishing.
If you are planning on traveling a distance next spring (or anytime, actually), think about booking a couple of consecutive days to precaution about bad weather. If you have a couple of days in a row, it'll increase the chances of your getting out there fishing. There is plenty to do locally if you do get blown out. Or..more importantly, there is plenty to do for the people the come with you, but don't go fishing. Make fishing a destination vacation. There are plenty of great places to stay--I usually recommend Plymouth because of the restaurants and nightlife and tourism events.
By mid-May we got our first striper while codfishing. That's a great sign. I found it tough to fish for anything but cod until the end of the month, but the stripers were in and reports of tuna filtered to us before the end of the month...When we're fishing for cod on Stellwagen Bank, we can't keep stripers as they fall into the "federal waters" category. We got some of our largest stripers this year on Stellwagen, only to release them. I really don't mind releasing big stripers as the best eating fish are the smaller ones to about 15-20 pounds. Those big fish are all females and are great breeding stock for the future of the species.
What to do in April and May 2010
Well, get out there and we'll have fun on light tackle in 2010... Cod and haddock. We'll be leaving early on those trips; I like the morning bite for cod, while the haddock bite often lasts longer, for better. Once we get to the middle of May, think about a combo trip for cod/haddock and then striper to end the day. We vertically jigged up more stripers last year than I would ever imagine. I love that type of fishing. I WON'T TROLL WIRE LINE EVER AGAIN. When it comes to catching stripers, think vertical jigging, live bait (end of May/June/July), or casting (poppers, jigs, and tunaCandy). Light tackle is more fun. Everyone can do it and the learning curve is steep, which means you're only a rookie for a short time!
In the springtime, I am often the default "caster" on the boat. "Rotate" is the word of the day. If you've fished with me before, you know what I'm talking about. When codfishing with light tackle, we usually cast our jigs into the drift as far as we can. This allows the lure to drop quickly 'ahead' of the boat. I like to call that side of the boat 'better-than-vertical'. Once the lure is straight up and down, it's 'vertical'. And, as it starts to drag behind the boat, it's "worse-than-vertical.' There are days in which we catch most of the fish on the 'better-than-vertical' side of the boat. One person goes to the starboard stern, casts, and moves to the right as the lure sinks. The next person gets behind them and casts, repeating the process. We can have 4 people doing this easily from my large cockpit. And, when we have people fishing on the bow (best place in the world to jig), the boat is very, very roomy.
End of May and June
Well, what do you like to catch? Other than shark, it's all great. I mean great. There was one day last year in which my 5-year old son landed almost 20 keeper stripers by himself. 5 years old. We started marking tuna on the fish finder in late May. We caught a 73" tuna on our first tuna trip of the year--June 4th!! Limits of cod and great numbers of haddock. What else can you want? We really enjoyed fishing at Race Point, Peaked Hill Bar, and other parts of Provincetown for stripers. Some of the blitzes we saw were epic. We'd see birds working in the distance and we never knew if the fish breaking would be stripers or tuna. If you're a rookie, I would recommend targeting stripers until you get comfortable fighting fish on light tackle... We usually have gear for tuna or stripers, depending on what we're after that day. With tuna fishing, the excitement isn't in catching large numbers of fish--it's in the 'hunt'. It's in the excitement of casting into a school of fish, any of which may be 300+ pounds and capable of spooling you in 30 seconds. Our gear and tackle will stop a fish short of that, but we will often have give chase for a little while. For larger fish, we can do it, but it takes time and a lot of effort from you, me, and the tackle. And some experience. Lots. You can't quit on these fish. You can pass the rod, but you can't quit. Quitting means that the fish catches it's breath and if they have their breath, the battle goes on forever. Once you start beating them up, you have to keep on them and never stop until that harpoon hits them!
Those stripers in May, June, and July are best targeted on the light tackle. It's so much fun. We like to use 7' spinning rods with 30 pound braid and 20 pound flourocarbon leaders. 30 pound braid is not "light", by any stretch, but it's so thin that I don't feel the need to go any lighter. It's strength gives the new fisherman a little room for error. Actually, lots. But that's ok. When I say "light" tackle, I don't always mean wimpy. I mean it is phsically not heavy. It's therefore much more responsive and fun to use. Plus, you can cast it all day and not get tired.
If you're a bass fisherman, freshwater fisherman, or have enjoyed fishing the flats of the world, give our striper fishery a shot. You'll love it.
This July was awesome for everything. We had a blitz of tuna one day that must have had 10,000 fish busting at once. They worked a school of bait for hours. It was right out of National Geographic! After my customers beat themselves up and put some meat in the cooler, they decided to go groundfishing...and they never stopped reeling in haddock until the day was over! And to think that we could have beat up on stripers equally impressively that day. What can you say? We have the best fishery in the world. In the world! Where else can you find 300 pound tuna within 30 minutes of the pier? One of my sponsors, OTI-Ocean Tackle International came up with a great crew from Texas this fall. They were blown away with our fishery. In the Gulf of Mexico, they have to travel 140 miles to get good tuna fishing! And those fish are nothing in size to what we have here. We have caught them 100 yards from shore at times!!
We hope to do some shark fishing in July in 2010. SHARK WEEK ON THE BLACK ROSE.. I like that idea. The Discovery Channel has its "Shark Week" and everyone on Earth watches it. Well, make your own shark week. I would say that we'll have good sharks from Mid-July until the end of September. Our cruise to the sharks grounds takes us over some prime tuna grounds...if the tuna are up, we can go for tuna first. Our shark fishing areas are often in close proximity to where we catch cod, haddock, and pollack. While we wait for sharks to arrive, there's nothing wrong with jigging up some cod. Once the sharks arrive...they usually stay until we leave. That's the funny thing about shark fishing. We usually wait upwards of an hour for the chumslick to do it's job, but when the sharks find us, they just keep coming and coming. We've had 10 sharks circling the boat at one time before! What a sight.
One of the things about sharks fishing..if you've built a good chumslick and have put your time in, you'll almost always catch sharks. These are big fish, with the normal fish weighing over 200 pounds. Sometimes, the bite slows down...usually that is because a large mako or other huge shark has come into the area. Blue sharks usually leave when the makos arrive...We were fighting a mako last year....and it got scared by the shark that came into our slick and investigated our chumbucket....a large great white!! Incredible animal.
More of July, just better for the sharks. Going back to my "Shark Week" thought... The last two weeks of August would be my pick for this idea. There are some many areas around me to shark fish, that I could fish every day for two weeks and never fish the same area. There were a lot of makos, large makos, caught last year in August. It was pretty incredible. We had several 10-25 shark days during this time period. The tuna bite was still hot this year...we used live bait on many occasions and the jigging became much more successful. If the fish weren't breaking, we would mark them well on the fish finder and were able to hit them with jigs. The water temps in August are approaching 70+ degrees and this makes for some excellent fishing. Live bluefish...Think about it..we use 10 pound bluefish for baits in August....
Tuna, Tuna, and more tuna. It's what the people wanted. Sharks were around; rumors of big, big makos attacking tuna. Blue sharks in the deep water---nice pollack/shark fishing combo opportunity for you all. It's a way to put fish on the deck/cooler and also have a line in the water for something very large that will pull and pull and pull. With it's sharp teeth.
As the waters start to cool and the fish go on binges, we did less running around this fall. It worked for us---we have a good network of eyes on the water and we work together to help put you on the fish.
The cod cooperated in September as we had some of the most insane action I've ever had outside of the spring rush on Stellwagen Bank.
October and November
The tuna started fattening up in October. Damn. Incredible action. We had a few 12+ hookup days in October. These were big fish, too. I heard of great promising reports of 12+ hookup days nearby, but those fish were all in the 46" ballpark. That bodes so well for next year! Those 46" fish will come back next year as 55" fish. I love the growth rates of these fish. October and November were really all about the tuna. Sure, we did a bit of groundfishing, beating up on the pollack until arms ached. Yes, the pollack fishing, for those of you interested, rocked this year. Whenever we targeted pollack, they cooperated in the fashion that makes pollack a blast. The size was nice; most fish were 10-20 pounds and you'd get double-headers if you gave the first fish a second to bring a friend over.
How big will the tuna be next year?
I don't know. But....the 65-68" fish that we saw mostly this year should come back as 73-76" fish. These are saleable fish. They are big, strong fish and I can't wait. The main difference between this year and last year was the fish diversity, especially at the end of the season. Early in the year, we had a good run of small giants, fish 73-80" long. They were joined quickly by the standard of the year-- 64-68" fish. But, an interesting thing happened in early August...smaller fish arrived. There were huge schools of fast moving 30-40" fish and there were great numbers of 40-60" fish mixed in with the larger fish. That's incredible for next year. Additionally, tucked away were shoals of 46" fish that hung around late--they showed up in September and hung in until late October. Some of these fish were caught in 30' of water!!! That's what I'm talking about for 2010.
So, enjoy your winter. We'll be fine-tuning all of our gear over the winter. We'll be ready for whichever school hits us first. For the trolling and live-bait crowds out there, Okuma made an 80-wide Makaira that will be perfect for the small giants out there. I expect to be targeting them as soon as they arrive. If last year is any indicator, think early June.... Don't worry..I'll still be casting and jigging for them. I'll have some great "how-to's" on the site before long for you to mentally prepare for what's to come. When the fish hit, remember we have about 37 seconds on a spinning rod if it's a giant..before it takes all of our line! We know. We'll be more ready next year. So, work out this winter. Stay in shape. Keep in touch with me over the email; I'm on the internet all of the time now.
Thank you once again for a great season. I had a blast. Watch the 9 minutes of photos which really sums up the year. Look at the smiles. It's incredible how much fun you all had out there this year. I'll have some more videos as well. I love re-watching all of my clips from the year.
As many of you know, I send out periodic emails about what is going on with us. They have replaced my "captian's log" on my website. If you want to be part of this list, Send me an email, email@example.com I'll make sure that you get my emails. My contest is this: I am giving away a free spot on a shared charter or 25% off a full charter for the person who refers the most people to my email list. (there is a spot in my emails for you to forward that email to a friend. I can track the leader automatically through my email program). As you would assume, my list is for my use only and I don't share it with others.
See you in the spring!
Sincerely, Capt. Rich Antonino, Send me an email, firstname.lastname@example.orgSincerely, Capt. Rich Antonino