With the goal being a hook up on a Bluefin Tuna, we left Cohasset at 5am and arrived on Stellwagen Bank just after sunrise. When we hit the western edge of an area between Middle Bank and the South West corner, we decided to put out some squid bars and troll until we saw some activity. On our troll South, we started to mark schools of bait and noticed a few whales off in the distance. As we got closer the activity became more prevalent around the Southern edge of the bank.
Within minutes we were surrounded by Humpback Whales bubble feeding and a couple breaching. As we continued our troll we did our best to stay out of the fleet of boats (we counted 76 boats at 9am) but still in the whale and bait action. The life demonstrated by the whales and the marking of bait on our fish finder meant we were in a good place to find the tuna we desired. While we started to debate setting up a drift with live bait, or stick with our plan on the troll we were dodging Humpbacks coming up for air.
We decided to stick with our troll and make sure a spinning rod was ready up front in case of any quick blowup we saw on the surface. We didn’t see any other boats hooked up which made us feel better about our decision to keep trolling; we followed the whales north. At about 9:30am while everything was quiet except for a few whales coming up to the surface periodically, while looking off our bow all of the sudden I am locking eyes with a 400-500lb Bluefin flying out of the water chasing Mackerel. I quickly reached for our stickbait lure that was on the spinning rod we had set up on the bow, but by the time I was able to cast I knew the fish had moved on; of course I casted anyway. Waiting for a miracle to happen and the fish to turn on my lure on the surface, it never came. We trolled right by the hole it left in the water again with no luck and no further evidence of tuna being in the area.
That is how the game works out there sometimes, these fish can be there one second, and vanish the next. While we didn’t have any luck, we did get some awesome drone videos of Humpbacks feeding and resting on the surface. Every experience out on the Bank or offshore is exciting and we can’t wait to get back out there. Even though we came up empty handed we are working on mastering the next trip to get a bite. Constantly reading and watching to come up with the next best idea or spot we can find. There is always next time.
On a day that the afternoon was booked with work, I decided to head out at sunrise to see if I could find some fish before it got busy. Leaving the dock at 6am we were in search of Mackerel out around the outer harbor islands. While drifting and slow trolling we marked what I am convinced was a massive school of pogies, our sabiki rigs bounced through the school with no hookups which is what lead to my conclusion. Continuing on, we found a few schools of Mackerel in some larger rips inside of Graves Light.
When we decided we have enough bait, I wanted to see if there were still some Stripers hanging offshore like the last few weeks. During our troll, the fishing proved to be a bit slower than it had been. It took just under an hour to find our first fish around Martin’s Ledge. The fish was very aggressive and hit like a bluefish in open water. She came up to the surface and with that slow, powerful pump of her tail I knew it was a Stiped Bass. The fish turned out to be a fat 36” and we were happy with the catch though it took longer than we had hoped. Getting closer to the time we needed to be off the water, I wanted to give some leeway if we found pogies on the way in.
On our way in, we just passed the Deer Island rip and there they were, flopping pogies. We saw one, then two, then three come up to swipe at some food on the surface. Pogies consume plankton which in turn produce the energy the rest of the ocean needs when they become prey. Though, when I saw them in their feeding behavior that means they are totally comfortable and there are not larger game fish below. Blue Fish and Striped Bass will stalk the schools and when a pogy tries to make a break for it, the game fish strike. So, a strategy while fishing with pogies is the snag and drop method.
You need a treble hook that is weighted down with lead. When you locate a school, you cast past it and slowly reel back. When you feel a “tap…tap…tap” that is your weighted treble moving through the school, and you act by essentially setting the hook; snag. When you bring the fish in, and you can tell the school you are near is being harassed by Stripers of Blues, put a circle hook in it and quickly return it to the water. If the school is feeding and seem to be calm, then gather the bait you need and move on until you find another school that is more active.
The schools we found were not being harassed so we had to move on, and with our time constraint we did not find a school being pushed by Stripers or Blues, but I plan to be back out soon enough. It is an awesome way to catch big fish when you do it correctly!
- Jack Murphy
Recently because of issues with my 90hp 1990 Yamaha, I have invested in a new 90hp Evinrude E-TEC. Though it was gut wrenching shelling out the money to make this investment, once I got over that part of the process I started to get very excited. The thoughts of flying through Boston Harbor with a much quieter and more efficient engine quickly made the stress go away.
The first part of the process was towing my 17’ Boston Whaler out of South Boston to a ramp near the Quincy Yacht Club. Once that was completed we were able to get it on the trailer, and back to Cohasset to work on a plan the next day (Monday). I spent most of the next morning finding the phone numbers of Evinrude dealers in Massachusetts to find the best deal that worked for me. One of my biggest criteria was who had the motor in stock so that I could be back on the water the fastest. At the end of the day I had 3 quotes from shops in the North and South Shore ranging from $9,500-$11,200 with tax included. With those written down the decision was easy, I called back Jeff at Diamond Marine in Ipswich and on Tuesday I was to bring my boat up there for a much-needed upgrade.
One of the best parts of the process was Jeff and his crew at Diamond Marine. I pulled up to the shop Tuesday afternoon, and within a couple minutes we were running through everything going on in the boat. He started telling me about why they designed certain pieces on the older Whalers and what he liked and disliked about them. Of course, the next thing we started talking about was the Yamaha that was on the boat, and the E-TEC that was soon to be. The wiring and controls were to look much cleaner than the current set up, and he had no problem with the state of the boat and battery location. With that completed, we went inside to talk about which tachometer I wanted and settled some minor details. I left the shop feeling great and confident about my choice, he also tipped me off to put my broken Yamaha online to see if anyone wanted it.
Wednesday the old Yamaha was sold and that cash went straight to the new engine, thanks Jeff…
A little over a week later Jeff and I talked, we decided on the next Monday I could come pick up my Whaler with a pretty, new E-TEC strapped on it. Arriving on Monday he walked me through what they did, what they needed to change, and explained how the water test went. After I had all my questions answered we shook hands and I was on my way back to the South Shore to launch. In short, the boat was dropped in, ran great, we had an awesome first ride and I moored it back in its rightful spot.
I return to the boat in the morning, she fired right up, everything is great again. Though… after about 45 mins of running through Boston Harbor I get an overheating alarm, come to find the engine is no longer dispelling water out of the exhaust. Given that it was July 3rd and the late afternoon, I knew I would not hear from Jeff, but I called and left him a message anyway. I got a call back Thursday morning at 7:30am, which I would consider ASAP given the holiday on the 4th. We decided it was best for the Whaler to find its way back up to Ipswich, so they can figure out what went wrong.
I was able to bring the boat up to the shop Friday mid-morning, and to say I was happily in and out of there in a jiffy is an understatement. I pulled up, Jeff and another mechanic immediately start taking the lower unit off to check the water pump, come to find out the problem was a mis-manufactured impeller. Within 35 mins I was back on the road and now the moment I have been waiting for, the rest is history. She runs great and I would still be dead in the water if not for the effort from Jeff and his team.
No one can go through a big fix with a boat, car, or any kind of large toy and always expect everything to be perfect. Flat out stuff happens, and it so happened that this time it was me that got a faulty impeller. It was at no fault of Jeff and his team, and I cannot commend them enough for the effort they put in to get me back on the water as soon as possible. Thanks again Jeff, hopefully I don’t see you again soon though I wish you the best!