Niantic, CT Fishing Report | October 3, 2014

Over the last two weeks the big game window of opportunity seems to be getting smaller with the evident change in the weather.

With the remarkable bite at the edge, and another chance to land a close to home mako the hard chargers were eager to get after it when all the stars align, weather, work schedules, and willing crews. Although the bite has slowed in some ways, the excitement is still in full swing.

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Dave Brewer with a good read on the weather left the Niantic area late Saturday returning mid-day Sunday with good results before the fleet of 150 plus boats would arrive in the canyon for the Sunday Monday overnight.

One of the first boats to leave Sunday was the Icarus with David Sheridan, Bill Stratton and friend Michael with a plan of heading south of Montauk to an area that had already produced a few makos this season. They had a good line of bait on board with live blues, frozen albies, frozen blue fish and mackerel.

When they arrived at their numbers they found clean 72 degree water. After a quick power chum the lines were set. The morning started slow, as they watched a continuous line of boats passing them headed towards the edge. After a slow start the first balloon goes off dressed with a whole albie on it, the shark heads towards the back of the boat crossing 2 other lines and goes airborne, breaking the main line as they watch the 200 lb class mako free jumpfive times on the opposite side of the boat. Shortly after they regrouped Mike battled a very large blue shark. Continuing on with the drift just before noon the spinning rodset up starts screaming. Although this fish had no aerial show to offer, the mystery fish just had hard runs, midway thru the battlethey had reason to believe the sharkwas tail wrapped, to their surprise 45 minutes later they were greeted by a beautiful 86 inch mako boatside, the crew deployed the end game tactics, harpooned and brought tight with a tail rope Game Over.

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You can’t catch fish if you don’t go, is the motto of the Big Steam crew, a strong crew known for their successful inshore fluking ability with a competitive edge. On Sunday September 28th Glenn Rokicki, Walter Paulekas, and son Christopher would jump on the Big Steam for what was scheduled to be a 3 day trip. Blocking out three days prevented many people from accepting the invite as it is helpful to have a fourth, leaving several of them kicking themselves for what would be a trip of a life time.

Included is Chris’s detailed information not only about the battle they won, but about the boating community we live in and love, and a father- son hobby that has only enhanced their relationship and the memories they share with a dear friend!

Planning is a huge part of our trip. Chris is checking for temperature breaks and ensures all the correct tackle is ready for every trip. Glen checks for local fishing reports and always ensures to get his bait order in with J&B tackle. Once a consensus is reached on the spot to fish Walt does the trip fuel calculations with contingencies and gives the trip the final weather thumbs up. Not wanting to run out of bait some other boats were scoffing a bit as Glen picked up 12 flats of butterfish. However, as we have learned in the past, we have never regretted having too much bait but absolutely regretted not having enough. To ensure enough range Walt recommended the usual top off and loading up on ice at Montauk. At approximate 12:30 Sunday the crew cast off lines from the Star Island Yacht Club heading south. On the way out Walt rigged up Glen’s new Shimano Talica’s 20’s, chunk rigs, and flying gaff while Chris rigged up all new lines for the harpoon and cut up the first three flats of butterfish. Only going 18 mph in a downeast style boat we saw 20 other boats pass us on the same exact heading. We weren’t the only ones with this idea. Anticipating a fleet at our fishing spot the crew decided to try for Mahi when we got close to the canyon. It’s always good to get the first fish on the boat to break the ice and after all the time and effort you want to come home with something to throw on the grill. A couple naps and a couple different shifts at the helm the crew pulled up to its first high flyer at approximately 5:00pm just on the edge of the canyon edge.

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Six drifts past the first high flyer produced nothing, not a good start to the trip. As we came up to the next high flyer a boat aggressively cut us off and then told us he had two divers in the water. Not an issue, there is plenty of space on the water. Moved to the next high flyer and Chris hooked up. Not shortly afterward, Walt does as well. A couple more drifts only produce one more fish so the box has a total of three. Moving on to the next high flyer we hit a jackpot. We could see 20 fish in the water and there were even more below. After putting 12 fish in the boat including a much bigger fish from Walt we decided to go pick out our spot for the chunk bite before it got dark.

As expected, there was a parking lot on the Fishtails. It was good to connect on the radio with two fellow boat anglers. Curt from Hammer Down in his new Grady White and John Baez fishing on John Eisenhower’s Grady White welcomed us to the fleet. As we maneuvered around the fleet we couldn’t believe that big battle wagons were fishing their massive green sticks around the boats chunking. It was going to be an interesting night. In the middle of the fleet between Fishtails and Block Canyon we found the pilot whales and marked the bait in 500-700 ft of water. We set up for our first drift with the generator and underwater lights. We got out three rods while Chris rigged up his deep drop swordfish rig. Some sewing and treading of the 400lb leader and we were ready to drop down for a big sword. However, our drift speed was over one mph and we drifted off the bait from 1200 ft to 700 ft. The decision was made to pull up and move back to the bait. While moving, we saw two boats hooked up to nice fish. We set up again and dropped the deep rig to complement the other three rods. On this drift the squid showed up and Glen snagged a live squid with his net he bought when he ordered his bait from J&B. This advice would pay off in a huge way. Once again, we drifted off the bait. Now at about 10:00pm we wanted to try and get a long drift. Looking at our drift direction and where the bait was holding we went on the complete other side of the fleet. Setting out our lines we had our 200 ft deep drop dead squid on a Penn International 80W, 50 and 100 foot butterfish rigs on Penn International 80W, then a live squid 10 feet down just outside of the lights on a Shimano Talica 20. Glen was providing entertainment as he was having a little too much fun trying to catch the squid which kept darting in and out of the lights. Finally he got another squid which got dropped down to 30 feet on his other Shimano Talica 20. Just as we planned it at approximately 10:30pm with all lines in the water we drifted through the bait ball and pilot whales. What was interesting was there weren’t many boats around us. Perhaps they drifted off as we had?

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As we were commenting on how whales breathe stinks Walt went to check the lines. As his hand was on the leader of the 10 foot live squid line to see its relation to the underwater light he said, “I got something, feels small”. The fish took the line right out of his hands. Soon after he got the rod in his hands the fish burned off 300 yards of line like it was nothing. Walt’s tune quickly changed to, “Ok, this is a good fish”. Glen and Chris quickly cleared the other four lines and Glen started up the boat and followed Walt’s instructions. Our typical rule is that the angler calls the shots on where he wants the boat positioned. This prevents confusing from multiple people yelling to the helm. After 10 minutes we transitioned Walt from the belt to full standup fighting harness. Since the fish hit our smallest rod we couldn’t use the swivel rod holder. Not only that but this fish didn’t hit the deep drop rig on 400lb mono leader, this fish was on 40 lb fluorocarbon leader! Thirty minutes into the fight Chris cleared all the rods from the deck, had multiple gaffs, the harpoon, and tail rope ready to go. Walt had the fish up close to the boat but it seem as though whenever he got close to the underwater lights he took off. We even tried to turn off the underwater lights but that didn’t seem to help. This guy wasn’t going anywhere. Chris and Glen both took turns at the helm as Walt settled in for a long fight. Thankfully being just on the outskirts of the fleet we had maneuverability which was critical for this fish. About an hour and a half into the fight the fish did break the surface behind the boat but it was just out of the sight of the lights. This was the last opportunity we had to see this fish. The crew kept Walt hydrated with Gatorade and water through his battle. He would spend 30-45 minutes painstakingly gathering up line and as soon as we thought it was close to the boat would run off 300-600 yards of line in a matter of seconds. We didn’t know what it was but figured it had to be either swordfish or bigeye. We just wanted to see the fish. Walt was diligent on the rod as he fought a textbook fight. After standing for two hours on the stern with a harpoon in his hand Chris took a quick 30-45 minute nap. Yes, can you believe that, he was so exhausted he took a nap while fighting a fish of a lifetime! Chris and Glen were sure to motivate Walt if the rod tip started to drop or he wasn’t working the reel. After about four hours Walt said he needed a relief. He had certainly done his job.
Our crew does a great job as a team. We consider all of us to be captains. Unlike some reality fishing shows there is little drama on the boat. We have disagreements but work them out. After every fishing trip we review what and how we did to try to continually get better. While we all can do any job on the boat some of us are better at some jobs. Walt gave us the 10 minute warning before the transition. The decision was made to put Glen on the rod. For our crew the angler is the least important aspect of catching fish. We rank the importance of our positions as leader man, helmsman, and then angler. There is no pride lost in who is catching as long as we are catching. Knowing this was a big fish Glen wanted Chris ready for the end game and Chris certainly wanted the responsibility of the fish when it came up boat side. With the plan in place we made sure the transition was smooth. Chris took the rod from Walt and fought the fish while Walt got Glen set up with the standup harness. Only when Glen was fully ready and comfortable did the rod go back to the next angler. With boat maneuvering and fish fighting there were no mistakes. Glen continued the streak of flawless fish fighting and Walt took the helm to keep the fish as vertical as possible. We all hoped our patience would pay off as we wanted nothing more than to see what was hooked. Another hour later and Chris took the helm from Walt and no one thought less of him when he took his hour long nap. This fish was hooked at 10:30pm and now around 5:00am the sun was on the horizon. The good news was the line was still tight and the sun would be welcomed if this fish ever came to the boat. At 6:00 Glen said the words the entire crew had been praying for all night, “I’ve got color!!!” Chris gave the helm to Walt and both Chris and Glen saw the massive silver body come up from the deep. Then Chris said, “Big swordfish!” as he grabbed the harpoon.

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To everyone’s surprise this fish wasn’t tail wrapped or foul hooked. Hook placement was perfect in the corner of his mouth. Great job Walt with the unintentional hand line! As the fish got close Chris knew two things. One, never, never, never take a wrap on this leader. There are too many tales of guys ripping hooks out of swordfish’s mouth by the boat and this is only 40 lb leader. Number two was, do not throw the gaff. While Wicked Tuna clearly shows professionals throwing the gaffs by the boat, our experience has been so much more can go wrong if you are not a professional. As the fish came off the stern, Chris took one stab but the fish was still too far away. This sent the fish into a fit as it ran up the starboard side of the boat. Glen got the head turned again and this time as the fish came across the stern Chris hit it with a perfect harpoon shot. Glen stayed on the rod and lowered the drag in case the harpoon pulled out. Walt came off the helm and grabbed the straight gaff to get the tail for Chris. Chris then got the tail rope on the fish and after seven and a half hours you better believe there were some choice words of celebration! Walt pulled the tuna door and we’re still not quite sure how Chris was able to squad thrust this beast into the boat. Then there was one hell of an adrenaline high as we really celebrated for ten minutes. After bleeding the fish it took all three of us to get the fish bag under the fish and the entire 150 quart Yeti cooler of ice was poured on the fish.

Now that it was daylight the crew set up for the troll as there was some hope of topping things off with another tuna. We were playing on house money and the trolling allowed us to relax and enjoy breakfast as Glen brewed up some coffee. Clearly we were not going to spend another night. We picked up one small Mahi to total 15 and trolled past Curt in Hammer Down as we came back into the fleet. He was just as excited as we were and offered his fish bag as well, got to love the Niantic and Boats Inc. family. We started our trip north around 11:00 as there was a lot of weed and not much action. Everyone got in some good naps in the four hours it took to get back to Montauk. Once in cell phone range Chris called J&B and talked to Connor about getting the fish weighed. We could have weighed the fish at Montauk but didn’t want to take it off the ice so far from the dock. Connor called Kyle Douton who had a professional scale and was more than willing to help. Kyle called Don from Boats Inc and they had all hands ready at the dock when we got in. I really can’t say enough about J&B and Boats Inc. These guys are really like family, all three of us can’t thank them enough. Putting the fish up drew quite a crowd and the fish weighed in at 220lbs. After cutting up the fish and cleaning all the gear a very tired crew headed home. In the immortal words of Glen, “Yeah Baby!”

Next day as Glen was dropping off fish to J&B and Boats Inc he tested the Shimano rod to see how much pressure we put on the fish. The drag when on Full was producing 16 lbs of drag. It was a bit on the light side of where we set it up but thankfully it was the perfect weight for a sword. Also, J&B said that the swordfish was a bit rare as it had more of a pink color inside than white. This fish’s diet was more shrimp based to produce this color. As always, this team is going to take a couple more learning points to try to duplicate success next year and the year after. Again, total team effort, no one believes they caught the fish, it was what we accomplished. That’s what makes it fun for us and keeps us going back for more.

Congratulations to them and thanks for sharing your experience.

After that story, it’s hard to capture any excitement about the inshore fishing, it is what it is, and bluefish lock and load in the race on some days, porgies and sea bass making up for what has been a disappointing stripe bass season. Time to set the crab trap Connecticut Blackfish opens October 10th.

Tight Lines
Captain Tom Clapsadle

1 thought on “Niantic, CT Fishing Report | October 3, 2014

  1. Fishing champ

    wow… Great read… Great action.. Fish on brothas & sistas!!!

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