2010 Season in Review
Wow, another year gone by. I don't even know where to begin this time. I know that a lot of you follow me regularly with my fishing reports and online postings, but I'd really like to put it all together here for you and for others. If you only read one thing that I write this year, this is the one! Thank you all for all of your support online, in person, and, of course, on my boat. It's been great getting to meet you all and to know you better. The people that I have attracted over the years are of such a high character that it makes me smile to go over all of my fishing reports. Seeing the photos brings back some amazing memories.
When I think of the people on my boat, it's just a big thanks to you all. I had some great repeat customers this year; some fishing with me 6-10 times. Some guys go for the private charter with friends; others request/fish on my shared charters. I don't schedule regularly scheduled shared charters, but rather build them around your requests. KEEP A GOOD DIALOGUE WITH ME IF YOU'RE INTERESTED IN SHARED CHARTERS (DON'T WAIT FOR ME TO POST THEM). I do enjoy running my shared charters, but the logistics of running a shared charter and coordinating 4 customers vs. running private charters with one "point" man.... Call me and I'll put together a shared charter for you around our schedule. P.S. Don't wait for the bite to be on fire...I'll probably be booked by then.Great customer tuna fishing video
YEAR-END VIDEO ON YouTube
For anyone who follows me and my fishing over the past several years, you'll know that I love bringing my son out on the boat with me to fish. In the springtime, especially, I don't mind running shared charters that don't fill up...if they don't fill up, you'll see my son and/or my father on the boat. I think I'll put together a little video of my son growing up on the boat...Some crazy good footage of him fishing. If you want to bring a kid fishing, the best time to do so is in April, May, or early June. The cod fishing is spectacular and the action is quick in shallow water. Because of the light gear that I use, little kids can easily reel in fish. He's been doing so since he was 5 years old. These are memmories that you will never lose.
For this reason, I post all of the trips that I have ever run on my website for you to read.. That is to say, if you want to target a species, look at my past reports and see how I've done historically....
Facebook and You Tube
I'll be doing more with my FaceBook Page Please follow along and we'll do a lot with this page in 2011. It will be a great way for you to meet other people to fish with if you're looking to share the boat.
Please visit my You Tube Page...I'm adding longer, larger, higher-resolutional videos on this site. I'll tell you about Jellodaddy if you ask! It's a funny story. Black Rose Fishing Charters YouTube Page
Breakdown of what happened in 2010
So, what happened this year? What really stuck out in my mind? I'll try to write this whole year-end report chronologically, but I'll start with some teasers... Big bluefin tuna. We lost a lot of giant bluefin tuna on spinning gear this year. A lot! The probable count is 15. We had one of the most epic runs of pollack this spring on Stellwagen. There were days when we couldn't cast lures past the stripers around Race Point and the backside of Cape Cod. The cod fishing stayed strong all year, with limits on most trips. There were no letdowns. We saw KILLER WHALES on Stellwagen. We caught 100 sharks in one week this summer. I tested some great new products from several of my sponsors. Crazy good stuff for 2011 and beyond.
So, let's run down the year as it happened. We limited out on cod on almost every trip in April and May! Good, right? That's not half of the story. The big news was the run of pollack this year...We had schools of fish so thick that they came to the surface and were actually jumping out of the water chasing bait! I brought spinning gear one day and was catching them on poppers! I brought a bamboo pole and was going to try to jack-pole one for the hell of it. I didn't want to waste time for a photo-shoot, but it would have been easy if that were my only goal. They were THICK ON THE SURFACE! How crazy is that? I loved every minute of it. Since we bleed, fillet, and ice the fish down as quickly as possible, guys went home with some amazing fillets and tremendous numbers of them this spring.
What is Jack-Poling? Well, I watched this video when I was about 5....Then it disappeared for about 30 years. This is the craziest tuna fishing ever and one of the best videos I've ever seen. It's 10 minutes long, and you'll watch every second of it! I don't know how old it is, but...this is jack-poling! Iron Men of Tuna Fishing
Once we found that school of fish, we were able to stay with that school for 30 miles over 5 weeks! Yes, we started fishing for them at the Northwest Corner of Stellwagen Bank and followed them daily until we lost them off of Truro! The amount of fish that we took from that school was beyond words. Everyone was happy. Why did we lose them? Well, on May 31st, I said "last drop"....that's all it took... Reeling in, after driving in from Ohio, my customer's rod doubled over and the rest is history! We were getting spooled by a big tuna. I didn't want to let it happen, so we chased. And chased. And chased. After an hour, we tried to switch rods, which is never fun...get a tuna-ready rod and tie the line from the first rod to the second rod. We lost it then. But, tuna fever came on strong.
Although we transitioned into tuna pretty quickly, we did take a few days to really slay the stripers. That was a blast once again. It wasn't always roses on the stripers, but for the most part, it was lock-and-load. We've been using lighter and lighter tackle and it's too much fun for words! I mean, rods doubled over, drags screaming, everyone laughing.
Did I say tuna fever in May? Yes I did! In fact, the fish were thick already for a week (My friend Dom Petrarca on Coastal Charters caught his first tuna on May 22), but I had cod trips booked. How sick was the tuna bite? June Tuna Bite It was incredible. We had a bite like this from the end of May until the middle of July. This may have been the sickest blitz I've seen in a while Sickest Tuna Bite in July In June and July, we had an incredible run of fish. They actually took us to school on several occasions. We broke a lot of gear in this time frame. Many of these fish were in the high 200-400 pound range, so I'm not too surprised. It happens with these fish. Just to see a school of fish like that around the boat and interested in our offerings is something else. What a rush.
QUICK NOTE. PLAN YOUR TUNA TRIPS EARLY IF YOU WANT TO FISH IN JUNE OR JULY!Don't wait for fishing reports. The bite will happen again at the end of May and run hard into July like it has every year. Once the bite is on, I will be booked. The fish that come back will be big fish as the main school of fish will be 76-82" fish. Get yourself in shape. Practice your casting. Practice your technique or watch some video over the winter. I'll be ready with new gear in 2011. Will you be ready? Let's talk over the winter and I can get you pumped up! Plus, I love talking fishing, in case you haven't already figured that out.
Quick checklist on tuna fishing
Yes, we lost a lot of fish...Here's a primer!
1. Set the hook hard
2. Don't reel against the drag
3. Don't give the line any slack
4. Reel!!!! That is to say, if the line goes slack, the fish is coming at the boat.
5. Palm. Pump. Reel the rod tip back to the water.
6. Pass the rod. But don't do it if you're winning the battle! Keep working hard on the fish.
7. Don't let the fish turn it's head--where it's head is pointing is where it's going to go.
8. Make sure your drag is set where you want it (so you know your starting point.)
9. Don't gaff or harpoon the fish in the belly. Aim for the back of the head (poon) or chin (gaff).
10. When having a rod passed to you, worry about keeping pressure on the fish and reeling; don't worry about the belt!
11. When the fish is below the boat, don't high-stick the rod or it will break.
12. When the fish is below the boat, don't let the line hit the boat.
13. Pre-empt the fish going around the back of the boat...ie. guide him around the engine at YOUR CONVENIENCE!
14. Get the rod out of the belt near the end of the battle when the fish is under the boat; you are not mobile enough in the belt.
15. CAST!!!! When I say cast, your lure should be cruising through the air before the "t" fades.
16. Keep the slack out of the line when working the lure back to the boat.
17. WORK THE LURE HARD! Assume that the lure will not catch anything if you just reel it in. Work it!
While we're talking about my insane addiction to fishing, I'd like to thank my wife, Stacey, again for fueling this fire. I can't say enough about the support that she gives me. I'm a very lucky guy.
The stripers were around a lot early, but the tuna took a lot of our attention away from them. When we did target them, most of the time it was a damn fun trip. We did get a couple of those "what they heck is going on" trips, but that happens. Every once in a while, you'll have the bass bite completely turn off. You'll see thousands of them, but they won't bite. It drives me crazy, but it's amazing catching them the way we fish for them... We really had a blast with the light tackle this year. My new favorite rod in the world is the Okuma Cedros Speed Jigging rod . I have them in almost every size (And I have ones not even on the market yet! I'm testing them to design them for best use.) Some of the bends that we put in those rods was incredible. And tons of fun, of course. That is the main reason for using them. We even used a 6' Cedros spinning rod for sharks on many trips, but I'll talk about that later. Insanely fun.
Tuna Slowdown, but we switched to Sharks!
After the tuna bite took a turn for the worse in mid-summer when water temps soared into the mid-70's, and low 80's in Cape Cod Bay, I slammed the cod! It was nice to see them in the middle of summer in "not-so deep" water, perhaps 220-240'. That's not so bad. Of course, I love SHARK WEEK on the Discovery Channel. So, what did I do? I booked a bunch of shark trips around late July-Early September. How'd we do? Insane action is all I have to say. We had several 20 to 25 shark days! That's something else by any standards. If you're into fishing, give it a shot in 2011. I mean, I'll be planning on shark fishing from mid-July until mid-September in 2011.
NOTE...fishing for sharks is something that anyone can do and it is very applicable to family events...teenage kids can easily fight these fish and it's almost a rite-of-passage for progressing to other big-game fishing. You learn a lot about how to fight a fish with these big sharks. We landed sharks in 2010 to 500 pounds or so. Crazy big and fun battles. The largest we caught on spinning gear was pushing 300 pounds. That's tough by any standards. You learn a lot and have a lot of fun. With the warm water, you never know how big the next fish is going to be. We had a few fish on that we couldn't stop, even with 50-wides and 800 yards of line. Another type of trip that is suitable to shark fishing is when you are taking customers fishing...it's waaay better than golf....you get to talk all day and when the first shark hits, you're a hero to your client.
Of course, most of the sharks that we tie into are blue sharks.. that is to say, it's catch-and-release fishing. If you're also interested in putting some meat on the deck, we can very, very easily combine shark fishing with cod fishing. They are in the same area. Many people do this. Also, splitting the day up between tuna fishing in the morning and ending the day shark fishing is another option that many people like to exercise.
With shark fishing, we really did a lot of sight fishing this year.. that is to say, we set out our typical shark spread on Okuma Makaira 50's, but always had a spinning rod pitch bait ready. When we saw a shark, we would simply cast the spinning rod bait to the shark. Fishing this way, you can get away with a really small hook---I mean a 4/0 siwash hook that you use for stripers and a 3' wire leader connected to a 10' wind-on leader (130#). This way, when you get the fish to the boat, you just grab the leader and pull, bending the hook out straight and the shark is released. I have a swivel between the leader and wire that acts as a "handle" to hold onto. In all of my applications on my boat, I depend on SPRO swivels. Usually I get away with 220# Power Swivels, but I'll go as high as 370# or 550# when I'm fishing shark or live-lining for tuna. I have never had one break. Ever!
OAK BLUFFS MONSTER SHARK TOURNAMENT 3RD PLACE!!!!
How could I sum up our year without mentioning this impressive tournament placement? Yes, 10 minutes into the first day, we had a rod go off. No big deal, we dropped on a blue shark. As soon as it became 7:00, we got our chum and lines into the water. It wasn't 10 minutes later that one of the bobbers started showing some action. Jason, the owner of the boat, grabbed the rod. We, meaning my long-time mate and captain, Matt Merrick, and myself, fished with Jason, his brother and two friends. It's always a blast with those guys. And I thought that we laughed a lot on my boat. Bringing our experience from the Black Rose, I felt confident. Matt did as well. As Jason was fighting the blue shark, Matt grabbed another rod to move it out of the way...Then it went off...."It's mine", Matt shouted as no one else would be able to touch the rod per tournament rules. He reeled down fast and set the hook a couple of fast times. Then the shark erupted on the surface 100 yards from the boat. We knew that we had a money fish right away. Long story short, it was about a 45 minute battle to get the 292 pound thresher boatside and ready for the gaff. Despite the crazy long tail, the shark basically rolled over dead once the steel hit it's skin. Sweet! Done for the day at 8:00 am! Two others beat us..a 413 and a 306 pounder. Got to like that!
In August, along with the best shark fishing we've ever had (the tuna fishing was very, very slow), we had some amazing whale shows that took place like clockwork. With all of that bait there, I still can't believe that the tuna weren't around, but the waters were very warm and many fish moved up to Maine.
The Winds Began to blow and never really stopped!
Then my season took a huge blow. I mean, a huge blow came upon my season as the winds started in September and didn't relent ever, really. I canceled 28 trips this fall in what was some of the worst weather I've ever seen. I was so bad that I almost got depressed. Every day it was blowing 25+ kts and seas got crazy ugly. So, if you look at my reports and see a major drop-off in reports, I would have been very busy otherwise. On the plus side, the tuna came back and really got into the jigging action. As much fun casting is, jigging is as productive and less work on your body. It doesn't beat you up as badly jigging all day. Plus, fighting a fish on a short jigging rod puts the leverage in your corner.
What did we learn this year? A ton, as usual. We never stop learning here. We continued our own style of codfishing that is very productive, casting our jigs as far as we can into the drift. Stingo Fish Jigs The Stingo-Fish jigs (PBJ and AXA) were off the charts this year. The PBJ for groundfish and the AXA (star) for tuna. The design of the StingoFish jigs get down to the bottom fast and really bring the fish in. The fish really react differently to different colored teasers, so have a bunch of different colors around. Orange and yellow really ruled for us late in the season, while skinny pink teasers did great in the spring's shallow water bite. Next color for the spring bite would be white with opalescent green mixed in. There were days in the spring when we would cast and reel in if we didn't catch a fish before the jig went vertical under the boat. Our success was so good on the "better than vertical" side of the boat that we would fish there all day.
Some of the drifts this year were incredible, with a few more than 3 miles long! Yes, we just killed the engine and drifted for miles, catching fish the whole way. Of course, if you know me, I have the patience of a flea, so we'd so a lot of redrifting over hotspots when we found them. When you do this, you can really stay with a specific school of fish. When you find a good school, sometimes it makes sense to not get greedy by drifting and finding "something better", but to stick with it. We did that a few times and slammed them until our limits were met.
INVINCIBLE!This is how I felt this year with the lines from Tuf-Line For tuna, the 60 pound Captain's Choice hollow core was AWESOME. It has been reported to break at 90 pounds, so I didn't see a reason to go much heavier than that. With a wind-on leader (100#), the main line shouldn't break and DIDN'T! We broke some leaders on fish due to abrasion on the tuna, but the mainlines stayed intact. Plus, it was easy to work with and we were able to keep a ton on the line. For the smaller applications, we had great luck with the 24# Tuf-Line Duracast, which is coated superbraid. I mean, it was almost slick in the water. 24# and we never broke it off all spring on the cod/pollack. Catching two 15 pound pollack at a time will put a strain on the line, but it was fine.
This spring, we loved using the Okuma Catalina 8' inhsore jigging rods and next year I'll be adding the Cedros jigging rods to our spring cod fishing. They are E-glass, which gives them a lot of forgiveness (that's important to me as a charter captain, that's for sure). Wait until you see these setups in 2011. We'll all have a blast. In my years of fishing, nothing beats seeing guys laugh while catching the cod in the spring on light tackle. It changes everything they've ever though about cod fishing being boring or like hauling up rocks. You feel everything on the light tackle.
Of course, when the tuna arrive, I have to switch up the light tackle and get "real" cod gear just in case we hook up with a tuna while cod fishing. This year, we hooked 8 tuna while codfishing. We went with 2-Speed Okuma reels for this heavier cod gear. It wasn't so heavy that cod fishing was boring, but it was strong enough for tuna. Did anyone see the new Okuma Andros? Okuma Andros Damn. It's a sick little reel...it's a size "5" and designed for tuna. Yes. It's 15 oz and has the guts and line capacity for tuna. Not just little tuna, but it'll take a 200 pound fish! I'll have those going in 2011.
With the bluefish around this fall during the tuna jigging run...we went through a lot of assist hooks. I LOVE Gamakatsu Tuned HD Assist hooks . They're incredible, though a bit pricey. But, you're paying for the best and you're fishing for tuna. Don't skimp on the cheapest part of the equation! Their live bait hooks, also and however, do make a great assist hook if you're up to tying them yourself.
As I've always done in the past, if you book early you get a few things...You get the dates that you want. That's important, of course, as many of you can only fish on weekends. Those days do fill up first and quickly. Also, if I do raise rates in 2011, you are able to reserve the current rates, which are very respectable for charter fishing in New England. I could talk all day about the cost of running a boat, but, since many of my customers have their own boats, they know all about that already! I'm still in the best slip in Massachusetts! I'm in Green Harbor, Taylor's Marina, right next to the Harbormaster's boat. It's the easiest walk and quickest access to Stellwagen Bank that there is! I love fishing from there.
Thank you all once again.
So, where does this leave me for the winter? Waiting until April to get fishing again. Thinking of ways to catch more and bigger fish. We've really honed our operations here and it's a blast. I've taken up hunting and love the peace of sitting still for hours. It's a great change to my lifestyle. I've started tiling all of the rooms in our house that could use tile. It's been a fun job, but I'll take more care with the tiles I have already cut (no more leaving them stacked up in a 5-gallon bucket..they're wicked sharp!) One ER trip is enough for me. The kids' hockey rink is up and filled; it'll hopefully stay frozen all winter for them. It gets bigger each year! This is the 4th year in a row and it's now 60' x 30' and can't get much bigger. Pretty cool feeling, though, seeing the kids on it. I've got a ton of gear to clean up and go through to get ready again for next year. My garage is a mess with a years' worth of gear strewn around. Thanks again to my sponsors that have worked with me to bring you some great products. You see them mentioned everywhere on my website and on my banner. Some great people that I work with at those companies. Every time my customers deal with those companies, they have nothing but great things to say about the customer service there. That says a lot! Thanks guys!
Have a great winter and please keep in touch. I love reading emails that regard fishing. Now is the down time for me; I'll do what I can to keep the videos going. If you go to my My YouTube Page and become a subscriber, it'll allow you to be reminded every time I add a video to my page. I will add a TON of videos this winter to that page. It'll be awesome! Thanks again for a great year and memories that I'll have forever! Sincerely, Capt. Rich Antonino, 508-269-1882