Thursday, July 26, 2007:
So much for the tuna fishing be too slow or the first day of the tourney likely to see very few fish. I just watched the last boat weigh in their catches. There was something like 45 to 50 tuna weighed in, along with a couple nice wahoo and some undersized mahi).
The tale of the day wasn’t a huge surprise top me: bluefin tuna were the hit of the day. Fully 85 percent of the weighins were bft with yellowfin showing later in the day, along with one big eye and I think a couple albacore. As you know, the type of tuna is secondary to the size of tune -- and the bft loomed large right off the bat and may do so for the last tow days of the event. More on that below
THE LEAD IS QUICKLY TAKEN: The first boat arriving at the docks around 4:30 had a hypothetical bar in tow – one it used to set things nice and high. Company craft Ocean 58 used some freshwater contest drama when the captain allowed the dockside tournament weigh-in crew to first hoist a chunky 105.6 tuna out for display and official weighing. Seems the captain had saved his best hookup for enhanced savoring by those of us watching the action. He had a second fish that the weighmaster attaché when the fish was still inside the boat, with winch straining, up rose a 70-inch, 181.7-pound bluefin of majestic fatness.
Seeing the day’s first weigh-ins looming so large, those of us there for the early dockside action thought this was a sign of an epic tuna fishing weigh-in session. And to think, it was via fish not that far out (and south) in the Atlantic. Well, I’ll clue you in right now, that 181.7 biggy is still firmly planted in first place as of closing time today.
After Ocean 50 departure, boat after boat arrived at the dock to offer up cookie-cutter bft in the 50- to 60-pound class, the average size for the day. Another beauty bft, 145.7, was brought in by the Relentless.
It wasn’t until the Reel Style offered a 58-pound yellowfin tuna an hour later that the canyon fish began to show up. Bank Shot had a 61.33 yft a few boats later. The Sea Cure tallied a 64.85. Jassste had a nice yft triple-shwoing with fish of 64.70, 57.60 and 42.95. Capt. Chazz had a 68.1 yft, unofficially the day’s largest yft.
Still overall, the day saw only a handful of yft and they were not about to muscle into the bluefin side of things, a side that was to take a real “Calcutta” type turn with the arrival of the Fish Trap and its two book-end bft of 169.5 and 165.7 pounds. Those fish were weighed in fairly late in the day.
Satisfied with its fine double take, Fish Trap got a huge satisfaction enhancement when it was pointed out that Ocean 58’s day-leading bft was not in the calcuttas. As I saw it, the Fish Trap’s two BFT , which were taken about four hours apart, per Captain Bob B., seemed to have held up for the daily top spot. Of course, that all has to be ironed out officially. I’, told the “big” calcutta is pushing $96,000.
A well-rounded 139.8 bigeye tuna was caught by The Shark. A 43-8 albacore was caught as part of a three-fish weigh-in by Spare Time.
Other fish of note included two fine wahoo, led by a 43.7 caught by Smokin’ Again. J&J Express, former white marlin category winner, had a 42.95 wahoo.
The Cap N Crunch came real close to big things when it raised a white marlin and landed and released a 400- to 450-pound blue marlin.
Total number of tuna seemed to be in the vicinity of 50 fish.
WHO’S UP FOR TOMORROW: There’s been an odd shift in the strategy of many boats.
While virtually everyone had thought in terms of taking two days in a row (Thursday and Friday), I heard a slew of captains now talking about skipping tomorrow and rolling the final die on Saturday.
There’s a double rationale behind that thinking. First, it was, in deed, almost overly smooth out there today and the slight wind stir being called for on Saturday could bring billfish and larger yft up to the surface.
But even more significantly, I could tell on the faces of the hundreds of guys coming in to weigh fish that they were beat – sunburned and concentration-ed into lalaland. There really is a tripled effort when tourney money is on the line. Man, it’s gotta be tough to now think in terms of a few hours sleep and back at it again by, essentially, later tonight. Too much.
Truth be told, a rested crew is a better fishing crew. So, look for tomorrow to be the slowest day and (per usual) a huge rush to the finish on Saturday. However, I can’t see astute captains overlooking the lure on nearer in bluefin tuna.
(Note: please bear with me if I missed on some of these weighed in fish. It is brutal trying to get it all straight, then rush out and write up a web blog. I’m close on most of the numbers. I’ll fix up any I might have missed on. On that same line of thinking, I’m beat to hell and back for just five hours of sitting around taking weigh-in note. The BHM&TC volunteers who are heavily working the entire 4-day tourney should be given some sort of awards.
Odd overheard quote: Some southern-accepted guys were talking about the many tourneys they’re in and how the fish in those events are almost always kept by the tourney sponsors. Wow, that’s a boot in the ass. After buying into a tourney for, say, a thousand bucks then having to hand over tuna or billfish worth a small fortune in value when frozen up for family consumption in the off season.
Any info about WMIT2007 – please email me at jmann99@hotmailcom.