We broke Jones Inlet at 7 a.m., greeted by a surprise...the weatherman was wrong again. We expected clear and sunny skies with little wind in the forecast, but changing afternoon conditions so we hoped we could get the trip in before it turned. Anyway conditions this morning were dark and gloomy, a southeasterly wind of 15 knots and some sloppy seas in and outside the inlet.
I was sailing this trip with the Bottom Line (516-488-2288) charter boat from Freeport, LI with Capt. Nick Montello whom many of you have seen on "The Fishing Line" each season and we were joined by Jake Hartwick, executive vice president of the Outdoor Channel (www.outdoorchannel.com), a network of fishing and hunting 24 hours per day that is now making it's way into our area.
You've all seen the ads for the Outdoor Channel on my television show and I invited Jake to fly into New York from his California office to be a guest on my show for the 2002 season, which we are currently producing. Jake puts in 80,000 miles in the air traveling around the country promoting the Outdoor Channel and told me he had caught bluefish in the past on a visit to Rhode Island and really enjoyed it.
When I asked him how big, he told me up to 4 pounds, so I knew we had to put him onto some real gorilla blues. I called Capt. Nick Montello and off we were to the 17 Fathoms area to battle with some real choppers. Anchoring in these conditions was tough, but once we set up on the anchor and started the chum slick, the blues were fast, furious and large.
Using Seeker BA 30-7 & BA85-7 rods teamed with Ambassaduer 7000 reels and 40-pound Big Game line, we counted pulls as we let the baits out into the chum slick at first using Daiichi Bleeding Bait hooks in 6/0 and 8/0 Octopus style or the Bleeding Bait 11/0 Wide Gap circle hooks attached to 60-pound leader material. These blues were so large, some to 18 pounds they were chewing their way right up to the leader and many hooks were lost so we were forced to go back to the standard bluefish hook with wire leaders.
Right away Jake was into some the largest and meanest blues he'd ever seen, amazed by their stamina, brute force, how they peeled line from the reel and the set of dentures they possessed. We filmed this non-stop action for an episode of my 2002 television season. We finished with two dozen blues in just a couple of hours from 12 to 18 pounds!
Jake was thoroughly tested, but passed with flying colors as tired arms and backs were the rule after battling gorilla blues for a half tide. Jake is already looking forward to coming back to our area next season to find another quarry to pursue and as we finished filming, he thanked us for "reel" New York hospitality.