We departed Royal Island 0730 under sunny skies and winds about 10 kts, great conditions for our crossing of the big water between Royal Island and the Abacos, a cruise of about 60 miles. We enjoyed a very smooth ride with seas around 2-3 ft but long period waves, making for a very comfortable cruise. We dropped lines into the water as soon as we cleared the dropoff, and hoped for some action. Our first hit came an hour or so later, and we landed a nice mahi, about 42″. Conditions were calm enough to clean and filet the fish right away, and the filets went right into the cooler to chill. Another hit came a bit later, a bigger fish, but just as I went to pull the fish up over the swim deck, it flipped, levering its tail against my pull on the leader. The lure popped out and the fish flopped off the swim deck and back into the water. CRAP!! Should have had a gaff! Another hit, and a lot of horsing to get the next one up to the boat, and again, as I pulled him up over the stern, same thing, and GONE!! Now, I’m peeved. Mostly at myself for not heeding my big sister’s sage advice- “Where’s your gaff? You oughta have a gaff!” Well, in my own paltry defense, most of the fish we have landed have been of the size that a firm grip on the leader followed by a smooth lift over the swim deck, easily puts the writhing mahi securely in the cockpit, where they can flop around until they settle. We lost two nice ones a few weeks ago, now two in a row. Necessity is the mother of invention, so in true cruiser form, I broke out the 5″ side grinder, a piece of stainless rod from my miscellaneous parts stores, a few stainless hose clamps, an old boat hook, and, voila. We now have a gaff! No more lost fish!! Of course I’ve just stacked the odds against hooking a big fish in the first place now, but with the losses over the stern, our odds weren’t too great anyway!
Our cruising companions on Celebrate were also fishing, and during the afternoon we received a panicked VHF call of “FISH ON- GOTTA GO!!” Generally these quick VHF calls are just an indication of why the boat suddenly heads off course or stops. We received another call that they had what they thought may be a swordfish, a most unusual hookup considering the rigs that were in use. After watching Celebrate do the hokey-pokey for a half hour about 3/4 of a mile ahead of us, we finally received confirmation that they had landed a long billed spearfish after a hard fight to bring it to the boat. Quite a chore considering the fish was seven feet, and probably weighed in around 50 pounds! Quite a monster to land on 25 pound test tackle! They were understandably excited!
The rest of our run was uneventful with the exception of our loss of the two mahi, most aggravating! We arrived at Lynyrd Cay and joined a few other boats anchored there, with plans to stay a day and visit Little Harbor the following day.