by David Nolan
and I left in the Tolman
Skiff Thursday Night about 11pm. Filled up with
gas (47 gallons in the 24 g saddle, 12 g aft, and two portables)
and got four buckets of frozen chum. Launched and were out the
inlet about midnight. Stopped at the Tolten Lump 18 miles out
and tried for fresh bluefish. No good except for some dogfish.
Motored on in alternating rain until about 4:30 am until 60
miles from inlet. Got scary at dawn in a squall with confused
seas and not being able to see the waves. Stopped to fish. I
went inside and plunked down on my foam pad and pulled the sleeping
bag over me. Thought I'd puke, and I haven't done that in ten
years plus. Woke up to rain in my face from that silly port
hole we have up there in the front above the anchor well.
Gary had a bluefish in the boat, and he put it
back out and all our baits were devoured. Just heads left from
dogfish that came up in the chum. They ate everything like piranhas.
Moved a few miles inshore hoping for warmer water
but the best we got all day was 62.3 F on the Garmin. I think
it needs to be calibrated as the water FELT a lot warmer. Set
up, and in about 2 hours proceeded to catch four blue sharks
from about 100 to 150 lbs. Fun, but on third fish I tried to
cut close to the leader and lost my pliers. Gary
couldn't find his heavy fish cutting pliers since the last night
we were out stripering. Tried to wrap the leader with Gary's
small meat hook thing he bought at restaurant supply, and it
worked well, but the fish twisted and came so close to my hand
I let go and it went down. Gary was not happy. Cut the last
fish off altogether as we had no pliers. Moved inshore to the
25 fathon lump. Started fishing, and we were talking and BS-ing
and making sandwiches in a break in the weather, and the rod
went off screaming. It took the wimpy leader we put on after
having no cutting tools - about 4-5 foot of 100 lb test leader
and ran on the TLD 30 loaded with 60. Pulled drift sock and
chum bucket in, and Gary screaming, and motor wouldn’t
start. Think the saddle tank was about out. Got the kicker started
and the boat turned around, and Gary was about out of line.
Really close. Then he saw the fish way out on top and said look,
and I looked up, and the thing came totally out of the water.
Big sickle like fin. I didn't know Threshers did that. Fish
was all over the place, and I alternated running to steer with
main and back to turn the motor throttle up and down, and we
ended up breaking off the fish. Line was all frayed up. Threshers
have a big ass tail, so he probably wrapped. I’d say a
250 lb class fish seeing it one time clear out of the water.
It was awesome.
was totally psyched, and I was mad. Honda fired right up as
Gary lost the fish. We put the lines out with best stuff we
could, hoping for another Thresher, and I went in to lay down.
Gary did also after about an hour. It was about 3pm, I was totally
out and woke to Gary screaming. The Senator 6/0 High speed Wide
spool was screaming and the chum bucket was gone???? Cleared
lines, and this fish screamed. It didn't jump so I thought big
I fought it for about an hour (no gimbal or any
of that crap), and just followed it with the boat. Unlike the
tuna, which like to try to pull the boat to the bottom, this
fish fought mostly right on top. He didn't jump, but stayed
right up, and we could see the fish fin way out. Fish hit a
half filleted bluefish 60 feet down and floated back on a water-bottle
float. We had a bimini twist (double line) for about 10 feet
and about 8 foot of leader so we felt good. Near the end I was
beat, and Gary took the fish. We got downwind of him, and he
kept turning to the right as we approached. I ended up idling
slow ahead as Gary reeled, and the fish came close to the boat
about 5-6 times, but no shot with the harpoon. Finally got it
all right and put to idle- grabbed the harpoon and slammed it.
Fish took off, and the harpoon was floating. The aluminum tube
bent, and the harpoon tip was off. I was insane. Gary stayed
with it holding pressure and the fish took off maybe 100 yards
real fast. He was MAD. I got an older wooden gaff out, snapped
the gaff off and duck taped it to the aluminum bent shaft in
record time. We got set up again and same thing. This time I
got the dart in the fish, and the fish was off, and the line
tight at the aft end of the boat, and I was a bit worried about
picking the aft cleat to tie off to. The dart pulled out of
the fish, and the harpoon shaft dart shaft was hopelessly bent.
I was so mad because I have a new SS shaft I bought when I got
the Garmin, but never made a stouter harpoon.
took the blue line rope off the fish harpoon to make a flying
gaff from the big gold AFtco gaff. Slipped the gaff point through
the eye clip and tied off rope to the shaft, and we were a go.
Next time the fish came up with blood coming from its side in
two places from harpoon attempts, and I sunk the big gaff and
Gary got the smaller stout double-walled epoxied alum gaff I
made. I hit the fish in mid section, and Gary hit him forward.
He was thrashing and trying to roll, and all we could do was
hang on. When he finally got quiet, I gave Gary my gaff and
made record time grabbing a stout half inch line and got it
around the tail. Fish was on the starboard side with his head
at the transom and his tail by the helm, and I had no cleat
except the one I used screws to put in temp for outrigger lines.
(I have WAY too much temp stuff on the boat now). I wrapped
the line around the wood I put in for the helm way back when
I didn't know how it would be mounted. Got another line on the
tail and across boat to the port aft cleat. We had him. Got
a line cinched around the front of the body and tied off to
the starboard cleat, and he was still trying to swim, but I
had Josh's 20 gauge with me. Gary wanted to tow the fish till
dead. I wanted to shoot him. Put one low brass birdshot between
the eyes and lights out.
Getting the fish in was a MF-er. We tried pulling
the tail, the head, the middle. No good. Ended up using boat
tie down straps. Got the tail up as high as both of us could
pull it and tied off to the cooler tie down point. Same with
head. Fish would not come over the side strake, so we had to
both pull hard and then take up slack. We finally got the other
meat hook in the side and a second gaff and pulled straight
up and rolled the fish right over side, and he plunked down
on the deck.
had a lot of blue paint on him. Ended up looking at the rod
and realized the hook FELL OUT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Must have
been in its teeth or something??
Drove home 53 miles at top speed and ended up
dumping the 2 cycle fuel into saddle tank as we were real low.
Not sure what the final fuel mileage was until I check the GPS
log, but we had maybe 4-5 gallons total fuel left over. Way
Called Tanya at 10 miles from the inlet (about
3-4 off the beach as we were way south). Ended up coming into
Hoffmans and stopped traffic in the river as boats were staring
at us. It was the first fish weighed this year in Manasquan
and a whopper. 336lbs. live weight on the certified scale at
Hoffmans. Lots of people I never met shaking hands and whatnot.
Tanya showed up with babies, neighbors Mr Schnieder, neighbor
Charlie, Neighbor Dee, two of other four kids. One kid wanted
to gut it right there and somebody said something about "that
Kitner boy spilling all over the dock" (Scene from Jaws).
the fish back home and back up went the deer hanging 2x4, and
then the Vietnamese neighbor and his friends and neighbor Keith
came, and we gutted the fish, then put him on the picnic table
and beheaded him. Cut up huge chunks of fish and have two coolers
of fish to steak out and vacuum seal. Wish Uncle Rich was here
to make smoked Mako.
Learned a lot from this. Harpooning Tuna is easy.
Not so shark. Need a strong shaft, razor sharp, and stout. Perfect
shaft and dart alignment helps too. Just a great day.
Told wife about South Jersey Tourney where the
top fish will be worth about $60 K and watch, it'll be ours
not entered. Decided to not paint deck. It'd be way too slippery.
Got about 30 lbs of shark liver I forgot to put away last night,
and it is fly city out there. Head and fins went to my Chinese
guy who's in heaven. I love a big working deck. I can't see
this on some of the "sportfishing" boats... We were
definitely shorthanded on this trip.
Tolman skiff builder