This warm weather has me so jacked up to head offshore fishing I can barely stand it.
I realize many of you have never experienced blue water fishing either because you hail from some inland state or are simply terrified of getting seasick while being stuck 60 miles offshore for an entire day. On that last assumption, I have had seasick folks on board that have offered to sign over to me the deed to their home if I would agree to turn the boat around and take them back in.
Have I ever been seasick? Heck yeah. It’s been quite some time since it has happened, but I have great sympathy for people affected by the motion of the ocean. Even now when the seas are towering over me I can joyfully munch on a bologna sandwich, but put me on a carnival ride and I darn near have a heart attack. I even get queasy on that silly teacup ride for toddlers! Go figure.
My love of blue water fishing was due to my dad starting me out when I was at most 40 pounds soaking wet. And talk about getting seasick, I would get violently ill on rough days. But as unpleasant as that was, my dad could always convince me to give it another try, and I finally outgrew that horrible affliction. All it took was his reminding me in vivid detail of certain epic battles we had with big fish on fair weather days, and I was ready to go no matter what.
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If you have never seen a 400-pound blue marlin crash a trolled bait and skitter across a half mile of ocean without missing a beat, it is a sight that will dominate any person’s dreams for weeks. One thing about blue water fishing that I believe makes it so addictive is anything can happen and it usually happens when you least expect it. Out there the water is so blue it almost hurts the naked eye. And because the water is so clear, if you are an observant type, you’ll see the best nature show of them all.
Replaying some of my favorites, here are a few examples. While sitting and watching trolled baits or lures skipping across that blue water, you look down at the one a mere 10 feet from the back of the boat, and in the space of five seconds that purple and blue lure grows a hundred fold. It takes a few seconds to grasp what you are seeing because not only has that purple and blue grown, it’s now flashing colors that definitely weren’t in the lure you purchased – bright neon colors, pulsating while fading in and out. It’s then that that you see a shape. Some days it’s a blue and purple striped wahoo zigzagging behind the lure while sizing it up as a meal.
Other days it might be a green, yellow and orange dolphin, fin out of the water, changing colors every millisecond before taking the lure. And then there is the ultimate: a huge blue marlin flashing shades of blue you never knew existed. I have had marlin do this that are so massive, it’s actually so scary you become frozen in place.
On more than one occasion a big blue sucked in a lure of mine and dumped 800 yards of line off a reel with the drag set as tight as it could go. There was simply no way of stopping it because their power is simply amazing. You see, most blue water pelagic fish have the ability to instantly change a full spectrum of vibrant colors at will when they get excited. It’s definitely worth the price of admission.
Back in the ’70s and ’80s, marlin tournaments were the name of the game. Harbour Town in Sea Pines had some awesome marlin tournaments. A lot of marlin were caught each of those years, and because it was local, it was a blast.
Next came king mackerel tournaments that exploded in popularity. I fished in some that had over 500 boats entered. Then came the cobia craze with tournaments almost weekly. Now it’s wahoo.
The South Carolina Wahoo Series started out right there on Hilton Head with a couple of dozen boats, but by this year, there are over a hundred boats entered from ports as far away as Murrells Inlet all the way down the Georgia coast. I have fished at least a hundred different tournaments over the years, but you know what? I really miss the old-school local tournaments where everybody knew one another. They were just plain good fun with more than enough high jinks to go around.
What better time to give this kind of fishing a try than right now, especially since gas prices are fairly low? I’ll admit that it’s one long day on the water, but from sunrise all the way until you set foot on terra firma, it’s pretty much guaranteed to be a visual feast.
Imagine watching the sun rising over the horizon as hundreds of flying fish take flight, scared into the air by the boat’s noisy entry into the water. These winged wonders never cease to amaze me no matter how many times I witness their graceful ability.
One tip though, it pays to keep your eyes keenly tuned into your surroundings because as incredible as these things I have described are, they often happen in a matter of seconds. With that said, should you catch even one three-second event, it will be forever etched in your memory. So head for the blue water because for me at least, there is no other place on this entire planet quite like it.