InTheBite Dock Talk with Brad’s Bluewater Gaffs
Hosted by Digital Editor, Rachel Chesnes.
Brad develops custom-made Calcutta bamboo gaffs. Hand crafted, light weight, strong, and beautifully designed.
Dock Talk interview for the full scoop:
CURRENT STANDINGS as of FRIDAY AUGUST 24 at 10:00am:
DAY 4 UPDATE:
Day Four dawned clear and breezy for the 124 boats heading offshore in the 2018 MidAtlantic tournament and crews were anxious to get back to the canyons. The back-end of the cold front that kept the entire fleet tied to the dock for the first time in the event’s 27-year history on Day Three left sea conditions a bit sporty for most of the day though it was reported conditions began to improve late in the afternoon today.
The big news of the day came in the white marlin category where Captain Bob Grant wheeled Leonard Tallon’s Gusto based out of Islamorada, Florida into third place after weighing a 69-pounder. Captain Jason Genthner had the Tighten Up from Mount Airy, Maryland on the board briefly with a 67-pound white marlin for 14-year old angler Nick Keller but that fish was bumped off the board by Gusto shortly after it was weighed. John Phelan’s Special Situation from Palm Beach, Florida and Justin Branning’s 3’s Enough from Wall, New Jersey remain atop the leaderboard with white marlin of 73-pounds.
As with the previous two fishing days, numerous blue marlin were released though none were weighed today and the category remains wide open.
Draggin’ Up wins the 2018 Texas Billfish Classic!
The 3rd Annual Texas Billfish Billfish Classic (TBC), for the third year in a row, saw growth in participation and a substantial increase in prize money. The TBC fleet released eight Blue Marlin, one White Marlin and six Sailfish while weighing one Blue Marlin. The TBC is one of the fastest growing billfish tournaments in Texas and the only event to allow participants to leave at noon on Thursday and begin fishing right away the same day.
Draggin’ Up, a 74′ Viking from Houston, TX was the only boat to weigh a Blue Marlin on Saturday to claim top honors in the Blue Marlin division. Angler Sam Rasberry 119.5 inch Blue Marlin topped the scales at 514 pounds. “We were having a slow first day with no bites so decided to make a move for second day. We got the bite shortly after 9am,” said Draggin’ Up Captain Kevin Deerman. “We definitely knew the fish was a keeper after second set of jumps and got the gaffs ready. Great tournament and worked out for us betting heavy in the Blue Marlin kill pots!”
In the Catch and Release Division, Bimini Babe a 74’ Viking, took home top honors with three Blue Marlin Releases and one Sailfish, while Tico Time, a 65’ Hatteras released one Blue Marlin and two sailfish finishing in second place. Over-Ride, a 64’ Titan finished in third place releasing one Blue Marlin and edging out High Noon on time. The Bimini Babe Team were also crowned Champions of the Billfish Classic Cup. This new event was developed to reward competitive teams fishing in both the Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic and the Texas Billfish Classic. Owner Babe Appling, Captain Robert Jones and Team left with an extra $10,000 and custom art to commemorate the big win!
The Tuna category was won by Clark Miller aboard Smoker II with a 93 pound Yellowfin. No stranger to the podium, Kurt Pantle on $ea Dollar$ came in second at 90 pounds followed by Lee Bull on the REHAB at 50 pounds. A nice summer Wahoo raised the bar pretty high as Jasen Gast and the REHAB crew pulled up his 51 pound fish, barely topping the second place fish brought in by Tiger Neal on the Smoker II. Brian Wood, Draggin’ Up, came in third at 29 pounds. The Dolphin category was taken with the only qualifying fish at 23 pounds by Chris Gavlick aboard the REHAB.
The Top Lady Angler was Emma Griffith on Over-Ride and the Top Junior Angler Award was presented to Ethan Middleton on the Change Order.
Official 2019 Texas Billfish Classic Results
1st- 514.0 lbs. Draggin’ Up – Angler Sam Rasberry
Catch and Release
1st – 2,000 pts – Bimini Babe – Captain Robert Jones
2nd – 1,000 pts – Tico Time – Captain Mike Hester
3rd – 600 pts – Over-Ride – Captain Jacob Dawson
1st – 93 lbs – Smoker II – Clark Miller
2nd – 90 lbs – $ea Dollar$ – Kurt Pantle
3rd – 50 lbs – REHAB – Lee Bull
1st – 51 lbs – REHAB – Jasen Gast
2nd – 47 lbs – Smoker II – Tiger Neal
3rd – 29 lbs – Draggin’ Up – Brian Wood
1st – 23 lbs – REHAB – Chris Gavlick
Top Lady Angler
Emma Griffith on the Over-Ride
Top Junior Angler
Ethan Middleton on the Change Order
Two world records were set during the 2018 event. The $2.58 million-dollar payout was the most ever awarded for the catch of a billfish, and the $5.45 million-dollar purse was the most ever paid in any fishing tournament.
The Blue Marlin Category and the $924,936 purse was safely held all week by Joe Rahman from Wanaque, NJ as his 881-pound monster caught Monday aboard the Auspicious out of Palm Beach, FL was never challenged as it was the only qualifying blue marlin weighed the week.
The Tuna Division edged closer to anointing the first million-dollar tuna as Gary Sansburry from Hobe Sound, FL won $904,851 while fishing off the Buckshot out of Ocean City, MD. The 75.5-pound tuna was the biggest of a close group that split up the rest of the tuna purse of $1,300,000. The Blinky IV out of Freeport, MA was second with a 73.5-pound tuna weighed by angler Charles Matattal from Blackstone, Massachusetts good for $135,421. The Brass Monkey and Jake Pilkerton all from Leonardtown, MD did well with the 71-pound tuna caught on the first fishing day. It took the 3rd place tuna money and the top small boat tuna money good for a total of $215,916.
The Wahoo Division also saw a big winner come in today when Kevin Graybill of Morgantown, PA weighed a 63-pounder while fishing aboard the Over Board out of Ocean City, MD. The wahoo took 1st place money and, parleyed with winning the Small Boat Big Fish category gave Graybill a total of $115,271. The other wahoo money went to the Desperado from Virginia Beach, VA with $1,846, and the Canyon Hunter from Indian River, DE with $21,471.
Dolphin provided action all week with the top winners: Fin-Nominal from Indian River, DE – $19,464, Rigged Up from Manteo, NC – $18,646, the Moxie Boys from Ocean City, MD $16,646, the Sea Note out of Oregon Inlet, NC and the local Bonnie Lynn each took $15,300.
When most think of the White Marlin Open, they think of the excitement at the scales, the million-dollar winners, and energy of the crowds at the “World’s Largest & Richest Billfishing Tournament.” While that show plays out on the Big Stage at Harbour Island, the true test of man, machine and crew takes place out of the spotlight or the streaming lenses. The best anglers and crew aren’t necessarily measured by the money won or by the largest fish caught but buy the skills needed to catch and release the most fish.
This division is won by skill and teamwork and the sheer love of the sport. The exceptional white marlin fishing found off Ocean City, Md provides a great venue to compete against some of the best saltwater sports fisherman in the world.
The great fishing during the 2018 event created intense competition for the release divisions and the abundance of blue marlin tilted the advantage for those lucky enough to add blue marlin release points to their totals.
The Top Boats in the Release division were also the Top Release Boats for 2018 WMO.
The Viking 72 out of New Gretna, NJ topped all comers with 10 white marlin and 1 blue marlin released good for 875 points. The Billfisher was second with 12 released white marlin for 840 points. The Fin Planner from Oregon Inlet, NC had 11 white marlin releases good for 770 points. Uno Mas from Ft Lauderdale, Fl and Special Station from Palm Beach, FL each had 8 white marlin and 1 blue marlin release for 735 points.
The individual Top Angler awards are based on billfish points accumulated over the 5-day event. The Top Individual Anglers in the 2018 White Marlin Open are:
Ron Kawaja on the Fin Planner with 8 white marlin releases for 560 points. 2nd was Joe Rahman from Wanaque, NJ, 3 white marlin release and a 881-pound blue marlin boated for a total of 503 points while fishing aboard Auspicious out of Palm Beach, FL. Greg Lentz aboard the Trust Me Too had 3 whites, a blue marlin and a spearfish release for 455 points and Lawrence Julio fishing aboard Ocean City’s Rhonda’s Osprey also earned 455 points with 3 whites, a blue and a spearfish release.
*How does the prize money awarded in the White Marlin Open stack up against top individual awards paid in other major sporting events? The comparisons show that the White Marlin Open payouts do very well as they top almost every other professional sport in the world.
The individual award of $2.58 million dollars paid to Pascual Jimenez for his winning 83-pound white marlin was more money than was paid the winner of the 2018 Master’s Golf Championship, ($1.98 million), the 2018 U.S. Open Golf Championship, ($2.16 million) or any other major golf championship in history.*
The 2018 Kentucky Derby paid future Triple Crown Winner “Justify” $1.24 million for winning this year’s Derby. 2018 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods presented 2018 winner Jordan Lee the top of $300,000 for winning their top event. The few events that do pay more than the WMO top prize are Wimbledon and U.S. Open Tennis that are paying $2.96 million to the single’s men’s and women’s champion.
Full Leaderboard Results: www.whitemarlinopen.com
Owner: Ben Heilker
Captain: Ray Dunn
Top Captain Award: Captain Ray Dunn
Top Mate Award: Mathew Grimes
Load & Go
Owner: Tom Herrlich
Captain: Monte Love
Owner: George McMahon
Captain: Ray Peterson
Wayne Timmermann Memorial Top Angler Award: Andy Lack (Mechanical Man)
Top Female Angler: Julie Coulter (Deez Nautz)
Top Junior Angler: Mack Watson (Fool’s Gold)
Owner: Ben Heilker
Captain: Ray Peterson
Load & Go
Owner: Tom Herrlich
Captain: Monte Love
Owner: Centurion, LLC
Captain: James Rae
615 lb Blue Marlin
Angler: George McMahon
478.5 lb Blue Marlin
Angler: Trevor Lott
472 lb Blue Marlin
Angler: Taylor Savage
147.5 lb Tuna
Angler: David Denbow
107 lb Tuna
Angler: Josh Jones
102 lb Tuna
Angler: John Pasentine
by Alexandra Stark
Thankfully for you, the boss probably hired you for your ability to put him on fish and not because of your knowledge of fine dining. That said, there will be times when the boss and his family and friends will appreciate the finer touches in the culinary department. While the boss may not can you for serving an overdone, char-grilled hunk of tuna with a warm glass of Cabernet Sauvignon that has been open for a few days…but he’d probably be glad if you didn’t.
Our Captain’s Guide to pairing and preparing is a sportfishing culinary blueprint that focuses on how to best prepare fresh fish and how to optimize the dinner experience by pairing it with the best wine. A sportfishing boat makes catching fresh fish for dinner easy. In fact, the yellowfin or wahoo that hit the deck are the envy of chefs the world over—even the best restaurant in the world can’t get fresher fish than you can. The information below then provides you with the tools you need pair this fresh catch with the right type of wine. Whether you utilize this information for a surprise dinner for the boss or a romantic occasion with your significant other, it is a winning proposition.
We have enlisted some of the top minds in the world of fine dining to help us. Here they are:
Wesley True is headliner of the American culinary scene. He is a two-time semifinalist for the James Beard Award for best Chef in the South. The James Beard Award is the highest award for chefs in the United States. Wesley has been featured on the Food Network extensively. A native of Alabama, True’s specialty is southern coastal cuisine.
Ian Cauble is one of only 236 Master Sommeliers in the history of the world (the master sommelier exam was first given in 1969). In 2011, Ian won the gold medal for the ‘Best Young Sommelier in the World,’ taking first place as the TOP|SOMM in the United States the same year. In short, when it comes to wine Ian is an internationally renowned expert of the highest order.
Manny Frias is the sales and marketing director at Napa Valley’s Frias Family Winery. He is a competitive bass fisherman and expert in the mingling of wine with fishing experiences. He is also a very nice guy and knows how to create a good time.
Captain’s Guide to Wine Pairing
I can hear the questions now: How am I supposed to get the wine out of the box? Do you mean rum and coke doesn’t go with everything? Are you sure I can’t drink this out of a Solo Cup?
Wine has the tendency to scare people off. Unlike cold beer, there are a few basic rules that govern how to drink it and what to pair it with. Without knowing this background, wine can be intimidating. These rules, however, are not difficult to learn or to execute. Knowing a bit about the basics can provide dinner guests not only with more enjoyment during their meal, but leave them impressed with your knowledge and your consideration.
Manny Frias Breaks down The Basics:
The general rule about wine and fish is that you want to pair the acids in the wine to the fats in the fish. Say what? When talking to Manny Frias of Frias Family Vineyards – he broke it down so that even the deckhand can’t mess this up. Manny and his family have owned their property in Napa, California since 1977. In 1985, they planted five acres of vines. The Frias Family Winery has grown to include perhaps the finest Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, a small production red blend and the ever so popular Rose (the trendy pink-colored elixir that is pronounced “Rosay”).
Manny is a particularly engaging person to speak with. This became apparent when I had the pleasure of meeting him at the Emeril Lagasse Foundation’s Line, Vine and Dine Fishing/ Culinary event in Fort Lauderdale. Manny refers to fish that you can eat – regardless of species – as “edibles.” (Insert reference to the legalization of marijuana in California here).
He speaks swiftly and knowledgably about the challenge that most have with wine. “It can be intimidating – many people just never get that basic introduction to wine and get scared off,” Frias says. “How then, do you propose, creating a wine list for InTheBite readers whose wine knowledge runs the entire spectrum,” I asked. I thought I stumped him on that one. Nope. Manny eased into the conversation with a fluid answer. An answer that I wish I had tape recorded so I don’t have to reference my six pages of illegible notes that I took while on the phone.
Here is Manny Frias’ DIY Boat Wine List. Difficulty Level: Reely Easy. The next time you are provisioning the boat, keep this list in mind. It provides the basics for your very own sportfishing wine cellar. This list is a breakdown of particularly versatile wines that generally pair well with most anything from the sea.
Recommendations: Peter Michael Chardonnay, $130, Moon Tsai Chardonnay, $63
Recommendations: Frias Sauvignon Blanc, $35, Azur Sauvignon Blanc $32, Matua Sauvignon Blanc, $12
Recommendations: Peay Family Wines, $58, Freeman Wines, $50, Lando, $65
With all the beautiful wine options, no one will ask for a Bud. There is always one poor soul, however, that may make the honest, yet unforgivable mistake of asking for a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon. Manny boldly states that this is not a culture he is comfortable with.
The Advanced Course – Ian Cauble, Master Sommelier
If you have ever wanted to know what it is like to speak a wine savant, talk to Ian Cauble. Ian has quite the resume. It includes the credentials of MS (Master Sommilier) – this is the highest level of wine mastery possible. Ian is one of just over 200 master sommeliers in the ENTIRE WORLD. In 2011 Ian was named ‘The Best Young Sommelier in the World under 35’ and was star of the 2013 documentary “Somm.”
Based on bio alone, you might be intimated to ask Ian about wine. Nothing could be further from the truth. Ian was kind, courteous and genuine in his discussion. He took time to carefully answer my questions with thoughtful consideration. He provided answers very specifically and in a manner that best served our readers’ needs.
Ian co-owns the revolutionary web-based company Somm Select (www.sommselect.com). The site sends out daily wine picks with a description and tasting notes written by Ian himself. The email also lists the price of the wine. Somm Select takes all the leg work out of wine selection for anyone and would be excellent for the captain or boat owner. You could even subscribe to the service without telling anyone and claim that all of the great wine pairings were your, or the deck hand’s, inspiration.
This ingenious company can create a custom wine list for your boat, gather the wines and hold them for you at your port of choice. Somm Select also allows for several membership options, including a blind tasting club, to receive sommelier selected wines each month right to your door step. If it seems that this business is tailormade for the fishing industry, it very well may be. Ian’s business partner in Somm Select is Larry Drivon, a principal in the Maverick Boat and charter company in Costa Rica.
When it comes to enjoyment of drinking wine, Ian stressed the absolute importance of temperature and proper glass. He concludes that most red wine is served too warm and most white wine is too cold and with the improper glassware. When a Master Sommelier gives you a lesson on wine service, you really should listen.
A red must be served at 55-60 degrees Fahrenheit. A big, fruity red may be appropriate for service on the boat. Because the temperature is more likely to rise due to summer sun, it is best to ensure that if you will be serving a red it is at proper temperature. Serving wine at the right temperature allows to it to taste the way it was made to taste. Using an ice bucket to keep your red chilled is perfectly acceptable. When drinking white wine, it must be cold, but not too cold – 45-55 degrees Fahrenheit to be exact. Ian suggests putting your white in the freezer for 10-12 minutes before service.
Captain’s Guide to Fish Preparation
When given the opportunity to speak with Chef Wesley True – whose phone interview had to be scheduled through his public relations agent – I knew I was in for the real deal. Chef True was born and raised on the Gulf Coast. After studying and mastering his craft in NYC – Chef True worked in several of the top restaurants in The City. He then returned to Alabama where he opened a southern cuisine style restaurant for which he was twice semi-finalist for the James Beard Award (the Emmy Awards for cooking) in 2011 and 2012. Wesley appeared on Bravo’s respected show Top Chef Season 13.
Chef True is a down to Earth guy. He speaks with just a hint of a southern accent and has an obvious passion for his craft. He talked swiftly while explaining that there are a few basic rules that can make or break your preparation experience. Central to Wesley’s approach is the Japanese tradition of treating the fish gently and with respect. He highlighted that the preparation is not only about the seasonings and the temperature of the grill, but encompasses the holistic treatment of the fish from the time of catch to the time it is eaten.
Chef True recommends handling the fish with care, keeping it as cold as possible, and minimizing movement. Once the fish is in the boat and in the box, ice it thoroughly and keep it from bouncing all over the place on the ride in. Try not to beat it up when you are processing it, either.
When it comes to preparing fresh, high quality seafood (like the contents of your fish box), True’s philosophy is marked by simplicity. He recommends letting the quality of the fish speak for itself. When you have a fresh tuna or dorado steak, you don’t need an intricate recipe or lots of marinades. True recommends using olive oil, salt, pepper and lemon juice. He recommends leaving the complex recipes to those with professional culinary training and a commercial kitchen – the same way a first time fisherman might not want to deploy the kites.
True explains the importance of simplicity. “Cooking at home and cooking in restaurants are different animals,” he explains. From the power outputs of the burners and the ovens to the endless array of equipment, restaurants are equipped to do things that you simply can’t do cooking at home, much less on a sportfisher. “Keep it simple and easy. There is a lot of over complication—marinades and the like, which really aren’t necessary.”
True prefers grilling his fish. Chef True reminds us that there is flavor in the char of the grill. This provides yet another reason to avoid getting too fancy. Serve the grilled fish with simple sides like steamed or grilled veggies and play off the flavors of the fish.
In conversation with Chef it became apparent that many people, fishermen included, are never given proper knowledge or training on how to prepare a fish. If you plan to freeze the fish, do so as soon as possible (rather than eating as much as you can and freezing what you have left after four days). Frozen fish should be stored in clean, ready to use portions in vacuum-sealed packages. Chef True recommends keeping fish for a maximum of one month.
Captain’s Guide to Preparing – Pro Tips:
Chef Wesley True’s tip on how to season food – make plain mashed potatoes. Add salt, taste, add salt, taste – repeat until you can taste the flavor of the salt. Once you can master this technique and flavor by understanding the ratio of seasoning vs. portion of the food – you are ready for your own cooking show – or at least ready to serve and elegantly simple dinner for your guests.
Your boat gives you access to the best seafood you can get. The boat’s credit card, when properly harnessed, gives you access to the wines necessary to creating a dinner experience like no other. With fish and budget in hand, we hope that the Captain’s Guide to Pairing and Preparing will do the rest.
When it comes to fishing regulations, changes in Costa Rica are usually slow and deliberate. The government typically requires extensive technical and scientific support before it considers adding or changing fishing laws or agreements. The studies are also usually conducted in Costa Rica territorial waters.
Greenstick fishing or “palo verde” as it is known in Spanish is not a new technique. It has been used successfully for years in Japan and the United States in commercial and sport tuna fishing. The set-up of a tall single center outrigger trailing surface baits behind the boat’s stern is an effective way to harvest tuna without almost any bycatch.
Studies on local greenstick fishing were directed by fisheries biologist Moises Mug of FECOP (a Costa Rican sport fishing advocacy group), INCOPESCA, (the government agency in charge of fisheries) and INA, the technical learning institution that teaches different trades including preparing students to work in the fishing industry. The joint project to study greenstick fishing began in late 2016 with the purpose of offering an alternative method to capture tuna by the national fleet and reduce bycatch at the same time. Mug was appointed last month to head INCOPESCA by Costa Rica’s new president, Carlos Alvarado.
The required criteria was submitted to the government by FECOP in December 2017, approved this past March and recently published in the Government Gaceta, the official publication of Costa Rica’s Laws and Decrees. Commercially, only yellowfin tuna, bigeye tuna, skipjack tuna, swordfish and dorado (dolphinfish) can be harvested using the greenstick method and all other species must be released alive.
“The possibility is approved that, for a period of 12 months counted from the publication of this Agreement, any interested party that holds a longline fishing license, whether commercial or medium-scale commercial fishing, may request INCOPESCA to add it to their vessel the art of Green Stick; or completely change the traditional longline for the art called Green Stick. For this purpose, the interested parties must comply with all the requirements established by INCOPESCA for this purpose,” the agreement states.
“These boats will be authorized to carry up to six lures with lines attached to the rod and reel or winch. In no case shall INCOPESCA allow a boat that uses the Green Stick to carry and use other fishing gear in the same boat, except for the traditional longline and the hand rod (rod and reel).
“In cases in which INCOPESCA serves as certifier that the catches have been made using the Green Stick art on a vessel that also has traditional fishing gear, the Institute should require that the vessel carry an observer on board or a technological device that guarantees the traceability of the product. In this case, when the longline vessel has an observer on board, catches of non-target species made with Green Stick, should be released alive in the best possible condition.”
Recreational fishing in Costa Rica is divided into two categories: sport-fishing and tourist fishing for those that hire for charter. The new agreement allows boats with tourist fishing licenses to fish green sticks but not boats with regular sport-fishing licenses. The charter boats are allowed to pull three lures at a time attached to rod and reel. No type of winch is allowed.
Changes to better protect Costa Rica’s marine resources are slow coming and this one regulating greenstick fishing will need to be fine-tuned. But the country also recently joined Global Fishing Watch to combat illegal fishing and the equivalent of the Supreme Court upheld the ban on shrimp trawling for the second time, outlawing the practice. So FECOP and concerned citizens are hopeful the country continues in this positive direction.
For more information, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Hatteras Village Offshore Open, Orange Beach Billfish Classic, and Production vs. Custom Shootout are all InTheBite Sanctioned Tournaments that finished up this past weekend (May 15-20). Here is a look at the final results.. Congratulations to all the winners!
Winner Capt. Bull Tolson on Sea Toy: 1st Place – Levels I, II & IV and total of 800 pts.
Winners: Captain Jason Buck and Angler Katie Gonsoulin on the Done Deal with a 740.6lb Blue Marlin.
Production Vs. Custom Shootout-
Winner Capt. Ricky Spikes of Free Spool, a 62′ Viking – With 6 Blue Marlin and total of 2400 pts.
Four captains, 20 tips for better live bait fishing
by Ric Burnley
Live bait is both the best bait and the worst bait. Nothing entices a fish to bite better than a wriggling and writhing forage fish dangling from the hook. Nothing gives anglers more trouble than catching, keeping and rigging livies. That’s right, you can’t live with live bait, and you can’t win without. Even if it takes a Master’s in biology and a PhD in engineering to effectively fish live bait, the only way to earn a degree is trial and error – lots of error. We asked four professors of baitology for their tips and tricks to success. Prepare to get bait schooled.
Captain Bouncer Smith
Location: Miami, Florida
Target Species: Sailfish
Live Bait: Bluerunners, goggle eyes
Fishing for sails with live bait came of age in the swift, wind-swept, ocean waters off of South Florida. Bouncer Smith (www.captbouncer.com) has spent 40 years chasing live bait and Atlantic sails. His small-boat live bait tactics, rooted in an eye for detail and driven by an iron will to win, have resulted in a long list of tournament wins.
Tip: We use two livewells. One is for baits that go from the hook to the livewell. The other livewell is for any bait that hits the deck or was touched in anyway.
Tip: Hold the sinker and keep the bait rig horizontal so the baits don’t rub against the leader. We keep the pristine baits for fishing or storing in a bait pen.
Tip: To remove dead baits from the live well, spear it with a tagging stick or wait for it to float to the surface and remove with a small net. Never put your hand into the tank.
Tip: We’ll go down to 30-pound fluorocarbon so the drag pressure must be reliable. I set the drag on my spinners to four-pounds, so I know I get five-pounds if the angler raises the rod tip. If the fish is hot, I tell the angler to point the tip at it. If the reel gets low on line, I’ll let the angler increase the drag ½ turn. I know that increases the drag pressure exactly one pound.
Tip: On the full moon and new moon, we always fish a bait 60-feet down. I let the bait out 30 feet. Then fold the leader over and slip the loop through the eye of a four to six ounce egg sinker. Stick a three-inch piece of No. 64 rubberband through the loop as a stopper.
Tip: It’s important that the bait move at the same speed as the current. During the last Miami sailfish tournament, the wind was going with the current. The rest of the fleet was fishing balloons but we decided to drift the baits. We hooked up on each drift through the fleet.
Captain Kevin Beach
Location: Venice, Louisiana
Target Species: White marlin, sails, tuna
Live Bait: Blue runners
“Live baits work perfect for targeting finicky fish focused in a small area,” explains Captain Kevin Beach. On his 37-foot catamaran, Pale Horse (www.mgfishing.com), he carries hundreds of live baits to the sea mounts and oil rigs off Venice, Louisiana. Pulling finicky fish from their twisted iron lair requires a flawless presentation and rock solid rigging. “I need enough power to turn a big marlin or tuna,” he starts, “while rigging light enough to fool a fish that’s seen it all.”
Tip: In early fall, whites and sails will hang over open water structure and temperature breaks. One or two degrees difference in temperature will get my attention. I’ll fish in one to 1.5 knots of current all day long.
Tip: Fish three baits. I use 80-, 100- and 130-pound leader. I always fish the biggest bait on the heaviest leader closest to the boat. Big fish aren’t afraid of the boat.
Tip: Use a rod and reel combo that you can cast. Lobbing the bait 30 yards away from the boat allows me to keep a bait in the water when we’re already hooked up to a fish. Also, I can set my spread without having to put the boat in gear.
Tip: Love your baits and they will love you back. I have three livewells and I use each of them. I spread the baits out to give them plenty of room. I’ll take 100 frisky baits over 500 less-than-frisky baits.
Captain Tony Berkowitz
Location: Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
Target Species: Striped marlin, sailfish
Live Bait: Big eye scad, Pacific mackerel
When serious anglers want to learn how to fish with live bait, they head south of the border. Captain Tony Berkowitz (www.sanlucasyacht.com) conducts daily seminars from Baja, Mexico. His courses on billfish and tuna are backed by tournament victories. Even in the land of live bait legacies, Berkowitz says staying ahead takes constant innovation and a lot of hard work.
Tip: If we know we’re going to use live bait and pitch baits we keep the spread simple. I run four baits: off the long riggers and short riggers and a bridge teaser. I leave an open lane down the middle to drop a pitch bait.
Tip: Bridle a caballito or big eye scad with floss and a matching hook. We tie a small swivel in the middle of our short leader to keep the line from twisting when we put a rigged bait in the livewell.
Tip: Slow down and drift into working fish. We drift one bait fly-lined and one deeper behind a barrel sinker.
Tip: I can’t cover a lot of ground while slow trolling live baits, so I wait until I mark the fish or see good sign before I deploy my baits.
Tip: We use a mackerel tube for pitch baits. It keeps the bait convenient to throw and prevents the leader from twisting.
Captain Randy Butler
Location: Virginia Beach
Target Species: White marlin
Live Bait: Tinker mackerel
Live bait fishing for white marlin is a relatively recent development on the mid-Atlantic. Captain Randy Turn has had Rebel (www.rebelsportfishing.com) in the middle of the action from the start. After hundreds of trips and thousands of hours targeting whites with livies, he’s created a system that he continues to develop. “I’ll never figure them out,” he admits, “something is always changing and I have to change to keep up.”
Tip: Switch up the teasers and dredge to find what the fish want. We’ll run one dredge, two dredges, big squids, small ones or flippy-floppys. We can rig live or dead tinkers as a teaser chain. Sometimes we’ll get more bites by pulling the teasers out of the water.
Tip: We always keep the spread out when we stop to catch more live bait. Many times we’ll draw marlin to the surface while we’re catching bait.
Tip: Find tinker mackerel on the bottom in 50 fathoms. Sometimes the bait will be higher in the water column. If we don’t catch bait right away, bring the rig up a few feet off the bottom.
Tip: A mackerel rig baited with strips of squid will catch tinker mackerel for bait. Add a waterproof strobe light to attract more tinkers to the rig.
Tip: Tinkers are a large meal for a white marlin. Give them time to eat. Let the fish turn the bait in its mouth and swallow it before coming tight on the line to set the hook.
Tip: As the line comes tight, give the rod a couple quick jabs to ensure the hook found its mark.