Darren_282

 

Day 1 was BIG… 

Darren’s fish was the biggest fish I’d ever seen live.  It was such a big jump from the 100-ish size fish that had been caught.  Darren handled it well too.  He told me before his personal best was 288.  So he had experience besting a beast of this size.  Watching him handle it brought to mind two thoughts…

If he can do it, I can do it.  My second thought was, “I have a shot at catching a really big fish here!”  🙂

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Dr. Cliff when we first boarded

It had been a long day, but I was excited to stay at the rail and fish.  It was starting to get dark.  People were starting to file into the galley for dinner.  I was happy to stay at the rail and let someone else eat first.

I decided to change things up though for my evening presentation.  I didn’t go to the jig.  I decided drop one of Dr. Cliff’s Humboldt squids down on a rubberband rig.

(Bringing the squid in was a story unto itself…)

While people sat inside having dinner, I settled in on top of Cliff’s cooler and tended my pole hoping for a bite.  Awhile later, John had finished his dinner and came out to relieve me.  “Armando’s saying last call, better go in and have some dinner.”

Maximus_188_022616I stood up.  I was just about to hand my rod over to John when it happened.  Zzz.  Zzzzz.  ZZZZZZ!!!  Line was pulling out rapidly.  Unlike the kite scenario earlier in the day, there wasn’t a big catching up to get the line tight.  Still, I heard Capt. Keith’s voice in my head yelling, “Don’t set, just wind!”  I pointed the rod toward the fish and wound.

Aside from the inspiration of Darren’s fish, the other big revelation this day for me was finding my comfortable rail position.  The fight was almost immediately up and down.  I set the rod on the rail, widened my stance, and crouched into my fighting position.  It worked well.  Big hook, big string (130) , the right gear…there was never a moment of doubt.  Thirty five minutes later, I redeemed myself from the day’s earlier fish when it hit the deck.  It taped out to 188…another new personal best.

 

 

The night wasn’t over yet though…

I went in and had my now cold dinner and a cold cerveza.  It felt good.  Not quite a cow, but anything else that happened from here was gravy in my mind.  The Maximus didn’t have a big fish hold, so Keith and the crew had setup a production line to vacuum seal the fish of the day.  The meat had a darker, more bluefin like quality than even the 55 lb. fish I caught on the Amigo last summer.  I wondered if that was because of where we were or just the size of the fish?

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My catch seemed to inspire our group to fish instead of heading off to bed.  I was still too keyed up to go to bed, even after a few cervezas.  I sat on deck to see if anyone else would get bit.  Fittingly, it was Dr. Cliff’s turn to get bit on the squid.

It was a loooong fight.  Cliff had brought his own setup.  He’s a lefty, and he had a reel made for him by a manufacturer who will remain nameless.  He had just picked it up prior to leaving for the trip.  At some point during the fight, it lost some of it’s drag.  It made the death circles excruciating to watch.  It would seem that the fish would get just beyond gaff range…and then take off again, and again, and again.  An hour in, Cliff resorted to thumbing the spool.  I had a good vantage point on the bow.  At one point, the line got scarily close to the hull as the fish circled under the boat.  When I finally saw the splice knot go into the guides, I breathed a sigh of relief!

It was a MONSTER!  It ended up taping out at 292!

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