Q: What is the worst weather in which you have ever caught fish?
One day immediately comes to mind. We were down in St. Thomas, and there was a tropical wave approaching. We thought we could get the day in before the weather got ugly, but we made it only halfway through and finally surrendered. I’d make a down-sea tack and there were waves breaking into the cockpit. We ended up catching two blues that day, but I remember trying to avoid backing down at all costs.
Fishing the Pelican tournament in Fort Pierce, Florida, a few years back, the forecast was that it was supposed to be ugly but clearing up, and it did exactly the opposite. The weather sat on top of us all day and got worse as the day went on. My anglers were complaining that the rain was stinging their faces — think about me on the bridge! That’s the most miserable day of fishing that I can remember. But we ended up winning the daily with six sails, and winning the tournament. Some days, you’re just waiting for it to be over.
If you know anything about bluefin tuna fishing off Cat Cay, it can’t blow hard enough — until it does. Flat calm is your worst enemy. It’s dicey handling big fish when it gets that rough. I remember it was breaking on the bar out in front of Cat Cay; our issue was how the hell we were going to get out. Then we made it out, and we were like, “Now what?” The bluefin were screaming down-sea, and we just said, “OK, let’s try to catch one of these things without getting hurt.” Understand that you’re in the tower for all of this. When it comes to bad weather, be careful what you wish for.
A day off Cabo San Lucas was definitely memorable. It was blowing 25 knots and the seas were 8 to 10 feet, with some bigger sets. We were dead-bait trolling by bumping the boat in and out of gear and crabbing our way around. I couldn’t go down-sea because we buried the bow into every wave. We started seeing tailers and got bites from some big striped marlin. A few doubles later and we started to get cocky, until a slow recovery from a big set convinced me to pull the teasers in and get out of there. We ended up going 7-for-9 in that mess.