Our trip began before sunrise in late September. We boarded the 40 foot boat
and made our way thru the winding channel and out the inlet
to the open ocean. Our intent was to explore the deeper waters off the coast of
Virginia in search of white marlin and other fish. Once in open waters, we made
good time and within about 2 hours had found productive water and set lines to
For this trip, a group of anglers, all of
which knew each other well. This allowed us to fish as a team and deal with
multiple fish at one time. We trolled a mix of artificial lures, ballyhoo and
teasers. The tuna fishing had been poor thru much of the summer but billfish had
made a showing and catches increased as the season went on. We fished several
lines but most were intended to attract white marlin.
Not long after all lines were out, a small skipjack tuna attacked the closest
line but pulled free before reaching the boat. Soon there was another, and
another. The small fish lightened the mood and let everyone get warmed up and
into the process of things when a line went down. Suddenly a marlin appeared
behind the baits, stalking them and swinging its bill.
Our first billfish was interested, but not voracious. The crew dropped lines
back after the marlin's first attack. This technique often works as the fish
typically slashes its bill at baitfish and then attacks any that are injured. In
our case the fish had struck, but wasn't interested in our attempts to mimic a
dying baitfish by letting the rigged ballyhoo sink.
A skipjack tuna or two came and went, including a couple for the fish box which
we needed for smoking. By late morning we found a very agitated marlin. The fish
was dead behind a teaser and had no intentions of moving. Other marlin appeared,
seemingly waiting for the dominant fish to eat. The crew tried several tricks to
entice the fish while I scrambled into the tower with a camera. Our mate, a
female with extraordinary patience calmly did her job and within a minute, not
one, but two large white marlin were jumping and taking line.
On our trip we caught and released 3 white marlin and raised several others.
Late in the day the long line went down and the fish took considerable line. The
crew worked quickly to assist the angler and get him equipped with a stand-up
harness to fight the fish. It went deep and pulled hard, alerting us that it
perhaps wasn't a billfish. After a battle of give and take, a large yellowfin
tuna appeared under the boat. The captain and mate communicated by hand signals
and the team maneuvered the boat, finally gaffing the fish and getting it
aboard. The tuna was a great ending to an exceptional day. The weather had been
fantastic, the fishing was fast paced and the captain and mate were
knowledgeable, courteous, and passionate about the sport.
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