WELCOME TO WORLD CLASS AMBERJACK JIGGING!
※ Anglers on team: Ty, Merv, Frenchi, Olu (Philadelphia & D.C.)
※ City of Port: Wilmington, North Carolina March 26, 2011
※ Fishing Location: 63 miles offshore on the Continental Shelf, 68 degrees F
※ Captain Name: John Mallette
※ Boat Name: "Pura Vida"
※ Species Caught: Greater Amberjack (Kanpachi), Almaco Jack, False-Albacore
The moment I took off to go jigging for Amberjack the weather took a turn that limited us to a good 5-6 hours one day and a canceled trip for our 2nd schedule day out. As mother nature plays her role, I'm thankful just to get out and on the water with a good group of guys. I'd like to take the time to thank both Aki and Christian for their generosity in supplying me with jigs, hooks, rings, plugs, swimbaits, a Shimano T-bar handle (which was used on the Saragosa 10k) and a whole lot of MOJO! Thanks guys, I hope I can make yall proud.
Foremost I want to say that it was great to meet many of the guys from 360tuna.com for the first time and getting on the water with some great spirited fishermen. I know it’s not easy to fish with me sometimes (as Ty knows my on water antics) but I really think we have a good group here :D
As I was lugging my gear into the hotel that Saturday morning I realized that a lot of us had made some sacrifices to get to Wilmington and I wasn’t alone when it came to balancing life’s game and affording the opportunity to get on the water.
I heard Frenchi’s voice on speakerphone around 1:30am while cruising on I-95 South and I knew we would be having a good time based on the enthusiasm in his voice.
I had the chance to finally meet the captain Kil was talking about when it comes to commercial grouper in NC. Without a doubt I was wishing I had tagged along when asked for 2 seasons in a row. Oh, well it was destiny to finally get to NC and fish together.
There was no lack of high end gear on board. I must say that the Jigging and Popping scene has come a long way in stateside and although I usually stick to my own trusty gear, I did have an eye on some other rods/reels/poppers/jigs/hooks/rings/gloves/belts and sunglasses.
Anyhow, enough ranting… onto the trip:
I realized that I had only 3 setups. I was super confident in my line systems and so I figured I only needed 3.
1. Spinal 150g – Capt. John’s Special edition. I have been receiving request per the performance of this tiny thin blank. I decided to pair it up with the VanStaal VM 150 back the fall and put it to the test for our second day of inshore jigging. I was thinking to target grouper (with throwback action) with cobia and snapper thrown in as some fish I could target with this rod. In fact I never thought the rod would be used for amberjack but needless to say Captain John had other thoughts. I think Travis has the rod rated at 18lbs max drag. We played around with about 13-14lbs drag. Enough for the above species but not for big jacks. The reel as I knew was astonishingly smooth and the drag got a serious workout on a fish that took a FISHERMAN Crazy Long Jig. (John, this was the blank you were asking about. I can send it to you if you like, April 1st is here already).
2. Blackhole 250g – I paired this guy with a Saragosa 10k. This setup was a last minute idea with a line system I really felt confident with. So, I was thinking big fish and tuna style fights since everyone said that AJ’s first run could be even stronger then a bluefin. I’m here to learn and this was my inaugural trip to the mecca so I had #60JB Hollow as the main and spliced #80 C16 for some end game confidence. Finally fingertraped #100 Jinkai mono for about 10-12 feet. I was ready and the Flexcoat was still drying as the rod spun on the dryer Thursday and Friday morning.
This rod gave me the jinx as It hooked the first AJ and the fish took a tempered run that dumped half the spool. I realized that my drag setting was light and I needed to crank up if I wanted to land the fish. As the fish ran and ran I started to smirk and feel that every fish in the sea had to try to be a tuna and put me to shame. There was no way I would lose the guy. At that second I felt a tug and pop and realized I hadn’t a fight to fight anymore as up came a leaderless end of Cortland C16. I didn’t even get to use my end game tactics but at least the chomp from a shark cut somewhere on my #80 segment. I quickly FG’d my way back into the game (while Olu tagged his first AJ which was nice and lively) and threw down a MG-Craft Skill jig 270g. This setup also caught a baby AJ and false albacore with a tuna jig: Nature Boys Swim Rider Short 175g.
3. Hots 56XH 420g - This was my no respect for Amberjack setup . I had just lost my favourite skill jig in my favourite colour. So I was going to muscle the next poor guy in. I slapped on a 400g Nagamasa that had been sitting in my jig back begging for action. I decided to teach the next fish a lesson. To all the guys on board that have jigged lead over 400g in over 300 feet of water I ask you to never be afraid to drop it down again after a hook-up-less drop or two. On the second drop I nailed a quality hookset and put the beans (beans in a can like the type eaten in Mexico waters) to the fish. I know the fish wasn’t smiling because I never let the fish run. From hookset to gaff the AJ was on his heels. I learned if you can control the head from the beginning, these fish will literally succumb to your exertion of short pumps and verbal taunts . This one had no chance. Thank you SOM Stella 8000swpg-16000 tuna gear.
If I could make a highlight of our boat time it would be that I could see and feel the satisfaction of other guys hooking up on fish. I love sitting back and watching my buddies work hard and fight through the art of enticing the bite. (Merv, I know you did a lot of this action)
The other highlight was meeting with Mikey at his restaurant and hearing him talk about how much he loves fishing, his restaurant, and largemouth bass and eventually eating his famous Coconut Cake! That was delicious (picture shown below). It was great to meet his partner, along with Frenchi’s family, Jimmy, and his buddy Andrew as well.
Ty thanks for letting me burn some clutch and feel the power of your turbocharged r-design. As much as that was I still wish I was riding the afterburners that Olu did that Friday evening. Haha…
I can't get over how nice the ride was. Captain John has a 2004 Contender 31' with dual Yamaha 4.2L V-6 300's. If I could own a offshore capable boat this one would be a dream.
In addition to the fishing and dinner at Terrazo's on Saturday night I wanted to upload some stickbaits that Merv created (designed & manufactured). They were sweet to say the least. Along with it were two carbon fiber poppers that Mikey introduced to me. I believe they are prototype and some amazing finish lead me to believe they are along the lines of the same kevlar weave material found in the Synit rods (Mikey owns the US distribution rights for that brand). Photos are top secret:
Finally the end result was some deliciously fresh Almaco Jack & Amberjack. The following is a photo of what Merv & I created. Cut to slivers and placed on a plate then drizzled with Ponzu and Soy sauces then seared with scorching hot olive oil! Chef Morimoto inspired!
I'm looking to get back to North Carolina as soon as possible to re-live the fun of jigging for these beasts. Also there is a world class American Red Snapper and Grouper fishing from these warm waters and the captain has extended an invite to come back and fish anytime.
At last I learned a bit about snacking down south as these pork rinds kept me away during the 9 hour drive!
Also, since this was the first real big fighting pelagic fish for our buddy Olu, I uploaded a video of him fighting. He did a great job.
※ Gear used:
Jigging Master Jig Bag
HPA Jig King Bag
HPA Dry Duffle 90
Hots Split Rings
McWorks TT Belt
Smitty's Spyder Harness
Hots One Pitch Slider
Blackhole Cape Cod Special
Spinal Series 1 & 2
McWorks Jigging Rod
Smith Komodo Dragon
Synit Tuna Pro
Shimano Saragosa 10000sw
Shimano SOM 16000sw Stella
Shimano 10000sw, 20000sw
Daiwa Saltiga LD35
Jigging Master PS PE5
Van Staal VM150