As our day began, chief engineer/second captain Brett Rouintree and I figured that it would take about seventeen to twenty fish to fill our remaining hold space depending on the size class fish landed. In the case of hold space the rule is the bigger they are, the fewer the tanks can hold as there are bigger gaps between the fish that can not be accommodated. As always, our goal is to fill the tanks with the biggest fish possible so we went into our final day with high hopes that the ratio of two hundred pound fish would be good.
Before I continue I must admit that with the exception of our second day momentum has definitely appeared to be in our favor this voyage. In fact, with what occurred yesterday, that second day where we struggled turned out to be a fortuitous event as it placed us in perfect position to take advantage of the opportunities we found.
With the full moon quickly approaching, it was no surprise to see a significant behavior change as the fish spread out on the banks somewhat reverting back to what we saw last month when the boats were able to drift for extended periods of time gathering up fish as they floated along. Although the crazy, wide open action we experienced on several occasions this voyage is the material of legends, the steady pace, long drift, keeping one to four or five fish going at a time is much more civil and actually more productive. This is the exact type action we had today, made to order as our fifteen blissfully weary anglers wound down following the previous two days incredible action. The highlight today, in addition to the once again awesome spectacle of two to three hundred pound class yellowfin hurdling lines in pursuit of baits while tearing the surface apart in breath taking, bomb crater sized boils, was the size class of the fish with eleven more over the two hundred pound mark, six of which were 260 - 288. The remaining five we put aboard were in the one hundred eighty to one hundred ninety eight pound class and although humiliating by this year's standard, will certainly make tasty table fare.
The final tale is an example of generosity and sportsmanship that will long be remembered by this crew. As this group of fifteen anglers had experienced the long range trip of their lives with flat calm weather and action on giant yellowfin tuna that in no way could be better, they decided that the boys, who put their heart and soul into each and every fish that was landed this trip, should have an opportunity to catch a two hundred pounder of their own. Once again the clock was ticking as we left our seven hour drift at two thirty p.m. hoping to find that one last stop for the boys, most of whom have never personally hooked and landed their own two hundred pound yellowfin tuna despite many years of playing a crucial role in so many angler's stories of success. As the afternoon passed into evening and nothing was to be found, it was beginning to appear that fate was not going to smile upon us as sundown came and went and several hours to find something, anything, had now become a few more minutes. With room in the final hold for what we believed to be about three more big fish, and our over two hundred count at thirty seven, our expectations we not soaring, but we hoped, at the very least, to finish the trip in perfect form. Unbelievably enough, with no more than fifteen minutes to spare, there it was. Sonar mark! It was almost dark but the response was immediate as giant yellowfin erupted on the stern while the crew and I raced to the rail giddy as children amidst the deafening cheers and friendly cajoling of our group of well satiated anglers. At this point I'd love to tell you that we all hooked and landed big cows but we didn't. For the most part the final school was all show but we did manage to land - three, a 214, a 233, and a 278. Congratulations to Joey Conrad, Chef Tommy Zee, and Sean Bickel all of whom gave an exemplary performance while landing their first two hundred pound yellowfin. With those final three, the big fish (over two hundred) tally rose to an even forty and the remaining hold space was no more. A perfect ending for a perfect trip.
Now comes the two day ride up the line that should be kind if the weather forecasters are correct. We will have plenty of time to celebrate and reflect and I will certainly find something of interest to write about during the next two days. For now we are wholly satisfied and sincerely grateful for the good fortune the ocean has bestowed upon us.