Really that’s how the report should read but there really is more to the story. One day out of Nouméa we went through an enormous school of yellowfin tuna feeding and birds diving. The ship steamed right through the middle without even slowing down. I watched some really nice tuna feeding as we cruised through. Our one handline never got touched.
A few days later in St. Georges Straight, Solomon Islands, we were on station recovering a science mooring in a downpour. The tunas were feeding a couple hundred yards off the stern as we worked away. I think its God’s perfect torture for a fisherman. Tease him while he can’t put out a line.
A few days later in the Bismark Sea, Papa New Guinea, while sitting on a CTD station a very large blue or black marlin jumped three times not 100 yards off of our port side as if to say “piss off, you can’t catch me”.
The next day while steaming towards Vitiaz Straight , Papa New Guinea on a beautiful evening, I again put out the handlines while steaming 12 knots. A nice marlin whacked one of the jigs a few times before we watched him fade away.
Twenty minutes later a very nice bull mahi mahi was hooked. I was able to gain some line while the fish was skiing on the surface. When the fish was able to get his head down, I couldn’t hold any line even wearing gloves. The line would rip right out of my hands. One of the other guys hailed the bridge on the squak box to please slow down. Our new (new to the ship) chief mate didn’t know what to do and it took a couple minutes for him to start slowing down. Just as the ship slowed, the mahi came loose and got away.
The next day, after a long day of recovering two science moorings in blistering humid heat, I decided to take the night off from fishing and enjoy an evening of air conditioning. One of my shipmates set out a few lines and one got worked by a nice marlin. The marlin got away with the hook and jig.
We’ve been putting our hooks in the water and getting some action, but this science group planned their whole cruise around hauling ass at flank speed from station to station and our opportunities have been fairly limited unless we want to fish at 12 knots (not really…six would be better). If we had a week or two down here with a sport boat, I think you could put up some pretty impressive catch numbers on a mixed bag of game fish.
A very special mention goes out the very rare oarfish that made an appearance off of stern one afternoon as we were just about to bring the last item onboard from a science mooring. As we looked into the water at the deep color of the instrument, it appeared there was a wad of line tangled in it. As we brought the instrument closer the was slowly unfurled itself and slowly swam away just five or six feet below the surface. I could see all of the vibrant reds, blues and silver colors and the long fin that runs along the back. This one was 12′-15′ in length. They can get up to 40′ in length. Not much is really known about them and it is very rare to see one alive. We’re pretty lucky I suppose, even if we have no “meat in the box”.
Hopefully the next fishing report will have some fish pictures to go with it. Until then, stay classy.