Cast & Blast

Lowcountry anglers uses ‘spidey sense’ to hook many fish, release the winter doldrums

Ben and Michael Parker with wahoo.
Ben and Michael Parker with wahoo. Submitted photo

Being an outdoor writer who targets fishing more than other outdoor activities can sometimes be a tough pill to swallow.

All the rain we’ve had recently, plus wind and gray skies, makes me want to turtle. Yep, I want to tuck my head inside my shell until the sun shines, the water warms up and all is good again.

For weeks now, I have been dying to get offshore to the Gulf Stream. I do all the prep work — rigging lures, re-rigging rods along with the multitude of other tasks needed to do this type of fishing — and every single time the weather has put the smack down on my plans.

Well guess what? The weather gods finally gave me a break. Worried that the fog that had been rolling in for days would once again keep me landlocked, it magically dissipated recently as Dan Cornell, Jason Bulloch, Stefan Patrick, Ben and Michael Parker and I eased out of the locks around 5 a.m. aboard Dan’s boat the Reel Deal.

Even better, there was no wind, and looking up at the night sky, a perfect Carolina moon was front and center. The trip was a go. I don’t know about you, but I have a “spidey sense” at times. If you are not sure what that means, then chances are you never read Spiderman comic books or seen one of the Spiderman movies. In essence, it’s a tingling sensation I get periodically that indicates something dramatic is about to happen. After years of questioning whether this connection was indeed real, I have learned to pay attention to this phenomenon and, on certain days, I absolutely, positively know I will catch fish.

I would guess most of you saw the movie “Avatar” and if you remember one of the biggest discoveries was that everything on the Avatar planet was connected — people, plants, water and animals. Personally, I feel that is the case right here on our planet, but to access this connection you must open all your senses and believe in what you feel.

Able to run 70 miles out on flat calm seas, I put out our spread of lures and we hadn’t trolled for minutes before two of the rods screamed. Now this was odd because for the next two or three hours, it was fish after fish and of all species —mostly king mackerel mixed in with bonito. We were mainly targeting wahoo and tuna, so to see that many king mackerel in the Gulf Stream was just not I expected. I didn’t keep count but we caught a bunch of them. Even when we switched over to a technique called high speed trolling — a wahoo mostly style of fishing — kings were creaming lures going 18 m.p.h. and faster. Wahoo can reach 60 m.p.h. and have no problem catching these fast moving lures. But I never expected a king mackerel to swim that fast.

Having our fill of kings, we decided to ease into deeper water, thinking a wahoo or two or three might get our baits before another king came along. That plan paid off. It took a few minutes of boredom when one rod bent double and line screamed off the reel and the rod started bucking.

Immediately I knew it had to be the pit bull of the sea — a wahoo — and as fast as the line was peeling off I suspected it was a big one.

Michael, who was visiting from Kentucky, got the honors of bringing the beast in as Stefan and I hurriedly brought in all the other lines to prevent this bad boy from tangling in another rod’s line. That wahoo gave Michael the “what for,” making run after run and basically not giving an inch.

Finally Michael started gaining line on the fish and, after about ten minutes, Stefan and I caught sight of the lure in the wahoo’s mouth. At the same instant, it’s tail surfaced a good five or six feet behind the glow of the lure. It was a stud all right. I carefully leadered the fish up to the boat and in one smooth motion, Stefan gaffed it. Onto the deck it fell amidst cheering, back slapping and fist bumping.

With the fish box nearly full, we decided to stop on a spot we had passed earlier where the sonar showed massive schools of fish on the bottom. Quickly rigging bottom rigs using bonito strips as bait, Dan, Jason and Ben dropped their baits to the bottom. It didn’t take long before Jason was hooked up, as was Dan.

Jason pulled up a big mutton snapper, an extremely unusual catch this far north.

As for Dan, I believe he had a big grouper before it popped off. Only fishing for a few minutes we caught big porgies and vermillion snapper before we headed in.

Thank the Lord for “spidey sense” because everyone had a blast, caught some mighty fine vittles and best of all, got a break from the dreaded winter doldrums.