Cast & Blast

Reels humming: Mama said there’ll be days like this fishing off Hilton Head, mama said

3 fish fun to catch off Hilton Head Island for sport

Capt. Brian Vaughn of "Off the Hook Fishing Charters" offers these three fish that are fun to catch for sport off Hilton Head Island.
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Capt. Brian Vaughn of "Off the Hook Fishing Charters" offers these three fish that are fun to catch for sport off Hilton Head Island.

Almost everyone has at least one “tick” that irritates people close to them.

To my wife, it would have to be that I hum songs very softly. Do I know I’m doing it? Most of the time I would say yes but I have been doing it so long that it catches me by surprise when she says “stop it Collins!”

In those instances, I get pretty defensive because I wasn’t doing it to intentionally agitate her but was simply thinking of some song I like.

You see, I love music of all types and once a song gets in my melon it stays there until another takes it place. Is this weird? My answer might be, “Consider the source.”

So, what does my tick have to do with anything?

Since my wife is at work right now, I reckon I could belt out the song in my head, but I’ll stick to humming it. It popped in there as I prepared to write this tale of an offshore fishing trip last Wednesday. The song? It’s an oldie but goldie called “Mama Said” by the Shirelles.

If you aren’t familiar with this song, the main chorus line is:

“Mama said there’ll be days like,

There’ll be days like this Mama said

(Mama said, mama said)“

Let me tell you that those words describe perfectly the nearly perfect day Hilton Head Boathouse manager Grant Kaple, Blufftonian Aaron Dowell and I had in the Gulf Stream.

Having kept a journal since the early 1970’s, I was thumbing through a couple of weeks ago and realized that year after year accounts had one common thread. On or around Good Friday, I always had slayed fish in the Gulf Stream.

When I told Grant this, being a whole lot more logical than myself, he replied, “But Collins, don’t you realize Good Friday’s date changes from year to year?”

I reckon he had a point, but regardless, some of our best days were always right around Good Friday.

After some begging, he said we would go. Good Friday was out of the question due to his work, but he could go two days before on Wednesday. Needing a third person, I called Aaron Dowell, owner of Bluffton Marine Supply. After juggling his work load, he called me back saying he was good to go.

Pulling away from the dock at 4 a.m., we headed out. Rounding the north end of Hilton Head Island into Port Royal Sound the familiar slapping from waves was non-existent. No roll, no bounce, and because it was pitch black, all I could do was wish that the long ride out would remain the same.

Just about the time false dawn came, I was able to see just enough to realize the ocean was flat calm. It was like we were on a lake somewhere and not the mighty Atlantic Ocean.

As the sun began to peek over the horizon, reds, oranges and pinks reflected on a shimmering piece of glass as far as the eye could see.

This kind of ocean is wonderful for running but once we started trolling, experience has shown me that the fish don’t always bite on such calm waters.

Reaching our destination, Aaron and I began putting out baits. I swear we hadn’t even finished putting out our spread of eight or nine rods when a reel screamed. I had rigged mostly for wahoo, since Grant had entered the Wahoo Series tournament, and by the way that line was peeling off the reel, I pretty much knew it was the target species.

Unfortunately, just as we had the fish to the back of the boat, one violent headshake and it was gone.

I thought to myself, there goes our one shot at a wahoo.

That thought disappeared quickly as another rod bent double and quite honestly our rods stayed bowed up the remainder of the day.

“Mama said there’ll be days like this,” and what a day it was.

Boating five out of seven wahoo we hooked, several barracuda, bonita, amberjack and fine dolphin (mahi), it was non-stop action. At one point we hooked four rather large amberjack, or as we call them “reef donkeys,” and though they are a pain in the you-know-what, we landed all four before releasing them. Talk about strong fighters, these fish can kick even the biggest boy’s butt.

The finale happened just before we headed home as we trolled parallel to a huge sargasso weed line. A haven for dolphin, I watched the dorsal fin a big dolphin cutting through the slick surface away from the boat but as soon as our lures went by the fish it did a 180-degree turn and shot through our entire spread. It hit one bait so hard it caused the line to wrap around the rod tip and with a snap broke off.

Having a full box of fish, it didn’t bother me one bit as that dolphin greyhounded a good 100 yards with my $40 lure hanging from its jaw.

It might not have been Good Friday but sure was one hell of a Wedenesday!