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09/03/17 - Anegada/Scrub Island, BVI - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

5th and final day September Moon North Drop BVI - Final day Scrub Invitational

1st SODIUM 5
2nd RUCKUS 4
3rd Never Say Never 4

We still suck!!! Glad that part's over. Whether it's me, the boat, or just bad luck will have to wait to be determined. The storm is everyone's immediate concern. Our plan is to run to St Lucia. Then once it passes, head on up to whatever's left of the DR. I assure everyone we will continue to stay out of the way of this storm and be as safe as possible. I hope, pray and wish the best for everyone else in its path.

09/02/17 - Anegada/Scrub Island, BVI - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

1st day Scrub Island Invitational

This is getting ridiculous. I can't begin to describe the thoughts that scramble inside your head as you approach and conclude the 13th fish day on the same boat without bending a rod while fishing one of the most prolific marlin locations in the western Atlantic, but they're not good.

It's still not a hot bite, but enough is happening that we should be seeing the tide turn for us by now. If we're saving for something big and it's still to happen, it ought to me of such epic proportions no one will believe it. Gonna need a lifeline before I go completely unhinged. Raised 2 today that didn't even tease.

SODIUM 3 - MARLIN DARLIN 2 - NEVER SAY NEVER 2/4+1 - MY PEARL 1 - A1A 1 And a handful of others seen.

09/01/17 - Anegada/Scrub Island, BVI - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

3rd day September Moon
North Drop BVI

I guess we're taking baby steps to figuring out how this is done again. LOL After another long day, around 3pm we finally had a blue take a shit at out left cockpit teaser. He lazily teased half way in and then switched to the right cockpit. Though a bit more aggressive looked as if it had faded off about half way in. Then he suddenly appears, splitting the distance between the pitch and the teaser. Before I could get the boat turned to better present the pitch he faded off having never seen it.

Maybe 6 or 7 more fish seen by 8 boats and only 1 caught. Hardly a bite and certainly not living up to reputation. Another swordfish was seen on the surface today. This time up around the "gun sight". The spotting boat managed to pace it within 15' for a few minutes. Cool sighting once again. The SCRUB ISLAND INVITATIONAL starts tomorrow. It may shorten to two days depending on Irma but we're all still monitoring her.

08/31/17 - Anegada/Scrub Island, BVI - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

2nd day September Moon
North Drop BVI

Another BLANK?!?!?

Starting to wonder if this has ever happened before. This is a long run for a place like this to not produce. If it had any less a reputation everyone would have left by now. The fish have been biting better after the moon, this summer. Yet, as luck would have it, the tournament is this weekend, in jeopardy of shortening or canceling due to impending weather. As salt on a wound, we were to head to the DR for a couple more days of fishing with our full crew, by mid week and that hangs in the balance of Irma's path. Can't catch a break any better than a blue marlin right now. Drop looked way better than Anegada did yesterday. Still never raised one.

SODIUM went 1/3 - BETSY saw 3 late in the day - BLACK PEARL blanked too.

We're all watching Irma very closely and are ready to take whatever action needed to stay safe. Just trying to tug on a few fish before turning tail to run and hide.

08/30/17 - Anegada/Scrub Island, BVI - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

Anegada, BVI

Back at it!!!! Well, sort of. Packed up everything and moved the operation over to Scrub Island. Our friends Jody and Nick from the 3AMIGOS flew in to fish with us this cycle. The last report was heavy weed conditions on the Drop so we decided to give Anegada a look. Marked bait in the usual places, kicked up flyers just about everywhere, and battled weed in various areas, never seeing much better than dingy green water and no marlin.

However, the day wasn't a total loss. Around noon as I was rambling some random useless piece of information over the headsets to pass time, an all but familiar flash of iridescent purple caught my peripheral. 50 yards outside our spread, tailing down sea, was a most amazingly lit up +400 # Swordfish. It took the guys a few seconds to realize my shrieks weren't part of the story and I'd have been labeled full of it after the fact, but I was able to swing the boat around quickly enough to run him back down. We managed to pass close by it a couple times before the noise got him spooked and wheeled around to shoot up sea and we never saw it again.

Another, amazing creature encounter to be thankful for the opportunity to have witnessed.

08/13/17 - Donald L. Hammond - Dolphin Research Project

Marine Anglers,

Our dolphin harvest study has ended for 2017 with the beginning of August. This research is conducted at a major marina in Charleston, South Carolina, where it has been carried out since 2014 to document and characterize the recreational dolphin fishery off South Carolina. This issue of the newsletter reports on some of the findings of that study and shows how the 2017 fishery compared to previous years. Also, Dr. Merten has provided us with an article that examines the migration and life stage size progression using the tagging data. I think that you will find these articles very interesting.

I am very happy to announce that the DRP has reached its annual baseline goal for the number of tagging dolphin tagged each year, with more than 1,000 dolphin having been tagged by the end of July. Only in two years, 2002 and 2016, have there been fewer than one thousand fish tagged. This remarkable accomplishment was achieved only through the dedication of recreational anglers.

See Aug. 2017 Report: Here

Good fishing,


Donald L. Hammond, Director
Dolphinfish Research Program - Cooperative Science Services, LLC
961 Anchor Rd. - Charleston, SC 29412
(843) 795-7524 - cssllc@bellsouth.net - www.Dolphintagging.com

08/13/17 - Cape Verde Islands - Bluewater Lures Report:

See recent report: Here

08/08/17 - St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

10th day August Moon - North Drop/BVI

After addressing our engine troubles we found that we'll be shut down for a few days at least. Boss flew home and arrangements have been made to fix our issues.

Yesterday I got the unique opportunity to fish with some great friends aboard the VITAMIN SEA. Captain Georgé and owner Cliffy agreed to let me run the boat for a while, and it wasn't long before I got my first shot at redemption for the last 8 days.

After draggin for only twenty minutes, a nice fish crashes the left bridge. After an aggressive tease and pitch bite we had it on. The Fish almost gave us a quick release but after our second shit at getting back on it while it was tailing down sea, it made its dive and took us to the backing. Our angler Brian put the heat on it and broke its will for the next 30 minutes. Finally, we had the leader and released our prize in a nice 400+ blue marlin.

Just about an hour goes by and we had another one make a quick pass on the same bridge teaser but never stuck around to play. Couple hours go by and it's unfolding to be another slow day for the Drop. Of course we're thankful for the one we'd caught. All of the sudden the left bridge gets zipped. As we all focus on the spread, the fish switches and shows behind the right bridge. I get the fish teasing in and the boat in a turn but we notice the pitch bait is somehow fouled. A Lott of yelling and confusion but even switching the bait out quickly didn't present the bait in time for a bite and the fish disappeared. I dropped the teaser back out to see if we could get the fish to show again. This worked far better than expected. The Fish came out of the propwash so quick I hardly had time to take a wrap before it pounced on the teaser. The wrap still wasn't enough and the line burned through my gloves and hand as the fish sped away and took the line down to the knot on the reel. We got everything back and the fish returned to the spread. However it only gave us a half tease on the cockpit teaser and never a shot on a hook. In less than an hour the weather flipped completely around and went to hell. Treacherous ride home and one hell of a night on the dock. Flooding and state of emergency conditions in the BVI. Happy we saw and caught what we did.

We should have our module and installation tech here Thursday morning. Not sure how soon we'll be back at it.


Doña Lucy Wins 45th USVI Open/Atlantic Blue Marlin Tournament

St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. A total of five blue marlin released in three days of fishing earned Doña Lucy the top boat prize in the 45th annual USVI Open/Atlantic Blue Marlin Tournament (ABMT). Incredibly, the San Juan, Puerto Rico-based team scored four of these fish on today’s last day of fishing to take the trophy over A1A, which also released five blue marlin total, but had to settle for second place based on time. Doña Lucy’s triumph was in a Davy versus Goliath-style as the 41’ Ronin sports fisher was half the size of other ABMT competitors.

Photo: Top Boat, Doña Lucy, from Puerto Rico. L to R: Bryan Ramos, Jose De Veer, Rafael Caicedo, Efrain Rodriguez, Captain Juan Garcia, and Joselo Hernandez. Credit: Dean Barnes.

“We had a team meeting last night and our captain, Juan Garcia, said he had a feeling it would be a good idea to fish the tournament’s last day up off Anegada,” says Doña Lucy angler, Rafael Caicedo. “This is where we released our first fish on Day 1. We fished the North Drop yesterday, with all the rest of the boats, and didn’t catch a thing. The idea was, as the smallest boat in the tournament, we had to break away from the pack. Luckily, we did. We found a small patch of blue water without weed and trolled in that patch.”

The Doña Lucy team raised its first fish of the day late morning, but it wouldn’t bite. Then, barely a half hour later, anglers Bryan Ramos and Efrain Rodriguez hooked up a blue marlin double header and landed both. With barely time to set the baits back out, Rodriguez hooked, caught and released a blue marlin weighing an estimated 500 pounds.

“Two minutes later, Efrain hooked up the big girl. It was about a 650 to 700-pound blue marlin and took 2 hours and 15 minutes to fight and release. It was during that time that A1A almost caught up to us. However, we were the first to reach five when we released that big fish,” says Caicedo.

There were three secrets to the Doña Lucy’s team’s success. One, the skilled anglers successfully caught everything that bit. Secondly, dead bait rather than lures was the team’s preferred fish attracting method. Third, the anglers and crew had a great boat.

“We just finished building the boat and this is only the second tournament we’ve fished,” says Caicedo.

The beautiful little Ronin was the last unfinished hull sitting in the factory when the Ponce, Puerto Rico-based yacht builder closed. Two weeks before the hull was to be sent to the crushers, says Caicedo, he and his fellow fishing team moved it to a small shed and spent five years finishing her. This is the little Ronin’s debut summer.

“It’s the little boat that could and did,” says Caicedo.

A1A, a 72’ Jim Smith based out of Florida, finished in second place in the boat standings with five blue marlin releases. Angler/owner, Bill Waldorf, earned Top Angler, caught and released all five blues. Business Stinks, a 72’ Merritt with Brazilian-based owner/angler Lucas Abud aboard, ended third with three blue marlin in the boat standings.

The 8-boat tournament fleet released a total of 22 blue marlin in the three days of fishing.

Boats competing in the ABMT were A1A, Angela, Business Stinks, Cheeseburger, Doña Lucy, Gulf Rascal, Reel Tight and Sodium.

The ABMT was run this year as a team tournament under IGFA rules only, without the call for competitors to adhere to additional special tournament rules such as the need for anglers to rotate rods hourly.

On land, the 5th Annual MarlinFest concluded with a Shrimp Boil and Caribbean Show in the parking lot of the Red Hook Shopping Mall.

The ABMT and MarlinFest benefit the locally-registered not-for-profit Marine Vocational Program (MVP). The MVP’s goal is to serve as a vocational institution that provide U.S. Virgin Islands youth with a career path into the marine/hospitality/tourism industries. Current MVP programs include learn-to-swim, sailing, scuba diving and small boat handling and operation skills.

Started by Chuck Senf back in 1972, the ABMT has evolved into one of the most competitive saltwater sports fishing events in the world or the ‘Super Bowl of Sports Fishing’.

Media Contact: Carol Bareuther - Cell: (340) 998-3650 - bareuther@earthlink.net

08/05/17 - St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

9th day August Moon - North Drop/BVI Final day 45th annual ABMT

You'll have to find a report from someone else today.

Burn up a generator water pump before leaving this morning. Have a yet unexplained ECM communication failure on my port main. Along with 8th day in a row without bending a rod.


08/05/17 - ABMT DAY #2 - PRESS RELEASE


St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. A1A was the top boat releasing one blue marlin on the second day of fishing in the 45th annual USVI Open/Atlantic Blue Marlin Tournament (ABMT). This fish, plus the blue marlin the Florida-based team aboard the 72’ Jim Smith released on the tournament’s first day, make two total and put A1A third overall going into Sunday’s last day of fishing.

“We hooked up around 4 p.m. on a pitch bait and released the marlin about 7 minutes later. It was a nice fish, around 250 to 300 pounds, and we were grateful to get it. We’re looking forward to more fish tomorrow,” says A1A Captain Mike Kalandros.

Business Stinks, a 72’ Merritt with Brazilian-based owner/angler Lucas Abud aboard, didn’t catch any marlin today. However, the team remains in the lead by being the first boat to release three marlin.

Similarly, Cheeseburger, whose team is from the Mississippi Gulf Coast, didn’t ride back in from the North Drop fishing grounds with any flags flying off their outriggers, a sign of blue marlin releases. However, the 60’ Scully remains in the number two spot on the scoreboard as the second team to release three blue marlin.

Two teams from Puerto Rico, Angela and Dona Lucy, each caught one blue marlin apiece yesterday. Both are eagerly looking forward to more bites for the last day as the fish attracting power of the month’s full moon gets closer.

“We saw just one fish today, but it wouldn’t bite,” says Angel ‘Tito’ Muntaner, owner and angler aboard the Angela, a 50’ Ronin.

The team aboard Dona Lucy, a 41’ Ronin, saw a couple of fish today. “One came up in the morning and then another around 1 p.m., but we didn’t get them to bite,” says Captain Bryan Ramos.

The 8-boat tournament fleet has released a total of 12 blue marlin in two days of fishing. Boats competing in the ABMT are: Business Stinks, Cheeseburger, A1A, Angela, Dona Lucy, Gulf Rascal, Sodium and Reel Tight.

Lines go back in the water on Sunday, the last day the tournament, at 8:30 a.m. with lines out at 4:30 p.m.

The public is invited to greet the fleet as the boats come back to the dock around sunset. The number of flags flying on the outriggers indicates how many billfish the boat’s anglers caught and released for the day. The ABMT is a conservation-conscious all-release tournament. No fish will be boated or brought to the dock for weigh-in.

The ABMT is being run this year as a team tournament under IGFA rules only, without the call for competitors to adhere to additional special tournament rules such as the need for anglers to rotate rods hourly.

Photo: Chef Gabriel Orozco (second from right), Chowder Challenge winner representing Fish Tails Bar & Grill. MarlinFest organizer, Jimmy Loveland (far left).

On land, the 5th Annual MarlinFest got underway. On Saturday, there was an Arts & Crafts Fair and Chowder Challenge in the upper parking lot at IGY’s American Yacht Harbor Marina in Red Hook. Fish Tails Bar & Grill won the Challenge, with Molly Malones second and Pesce Italian third. On Sunday, a Shrimp Boil starts at 6 p.m. and Caribbean Show, complete with Mocko Jumbies and music, starts at 8 p.m., in the parking lot of the Red Hook Shopping Mall.

The ABMT and MarlinFest benefit the locally-registered not-for-profit Marine Vocational Program (MVP). The MVP’s goal is to serve as a vocational institution that provide U.S. Virgin Islands youth with a career path into the marine/hospitality/tourism industries. Current MVP programs include learn-to-swim, sailing, scuba diving and small boat handling and operation skills.

Started by Chuck Senf back in 1972, the ABMT has evolved into one of the most competitive saltwater sports fishing events in the world or the ‘Super Bowl of Sports Fishing’.

Media Contact: Carol Bareuther - Cell: (340) 998-3650 - bareuther@earthlink.net

08/05/17 - St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

8th day August Moon - North Drop/BVI

2nd day 45th Annual ABMT

It's painful to write this one. Water continues to be far from good. Weed persists on making it uncomfortable to fish and impossible at times. Couple boat's looked at Anegada early and it was deemed terrible. Few of them roughed out the green water way up top and actually scratched out a few shots a piece. The LAY DAY 2-3-4 last I heard. A few boats had some action down below. One small patch of blueish water remained less weedy throughout most of the day.

VITAMIN SEA 2/3 - REEL EXCUSE 1/2 - DaBAIT 2/3 - AMARITA 1/? along with some others. Also some seen missed or lost.

We had a shot finally about 20 after 1pm. A boil on the right bridge turned into a decent fish pacing the chain just in the propwash. Got him to tease a little and then one half assed tug on it and he disappeared. A few seconds pass and he tears out of the spread to the right cockpit. It's a reluctant 1fwd and two back type tease, but Steve did great getting him all the way to the rigger. I pulled him in with the bridge and slid in behind the pitch...... Only to swim right under and ahead of it like he was leading into the exhaust pipe, and then disappearing for good. The Fireball came out at 3 but it didn't help either. A1A landed the only fish caught in the tournament today.

08/05/17 - St. Thomas, Virgin Islands - Capt. Eric Leech 'Reel Excuse' Report:
Day 2 for us started with a bang. At 7:20am letting the lines out a nice marlin ate the left short out of Eds hands. After a 12 minute fight we tagged and released a 300lb blue marlin. Then at 8:10 am we had a crash bite on the Right Long another blue about 300lbs took of jumping all over the ocean. After that it went deep after 7 minutes it came up jumping again this time throwing the hook. That was our last action for the day. Slow day over all da bait had 2 blues so did vitamin sea a few other boats had 1 and lots had none. With the weed and dirty water I keep 19 boats in about a 2 mile area.

08/04/17 - ABMT DAY #1 - PRESS RELEASE


St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. The bite, fight, catch and release of a blue marlin less than an hour after lines-in landed the team aboard the 72’ Merritt, Business Stinks, first on the scoreboard on the first day of fishing in the three-day 45th annual USVI Open/Atlantic Blue Marlin Tournament (ABMT). What’s more, the Brazilian-based team’s luck held throughout the day. It’s anglers, Paulo Cecchetti and Business Stinks’ owner, Lucas Abud, were the first to release two more blues to remain in the top boat spot by lines-out.

“The day started early with that first release by Lucas,” says Capt. Scott Leon, at the helm of Business Stinks. “Then, Paulo caught one of a double-header in the early afternoon and another about an hour later when the third blue of the day teased up to the bait.”

Business Stinks wasn’t the only team in the 8-boat tournament fleet to release a trio of blues. Cheeseburger, a 60’ Scully whose team is from the Mississippi Gulf Coast and who traveled to St. Thomas from the Dominican Republic just days ago to fish in the ABMT, also released three blue marlin.

“We headed out to the North Drop this morning, the first time since we were last here in the summer of 2015,” explains Rimmer Covington, who with Rod Ladner, own the Cheeseburger and are two of its three anglers. “Roman Davila released the first one just after 9 a.m.. Then we got our second bite around 11 a.m., but couldn’t get it to the pitch. Mid-day was pretty quiet. Then, Ron caught a blue around 2:30 p.m. and Roman our third. That last one was a beautiful bite. It came up on the right teaser, down tight and released in less than 10 to 15 minutes.”

Five boats each released one blue marlin today. Angela, a 50’ Ronan with sports fishermen from Puerto Rico aboard, were the first of the team’s reeling in singletons to round out third in the boat standings. The Gulf Rascal, Dona Lucy, A1A and Sodium also caught one marlin today.

“There seemed like a decent pick of fish in the morning, based on what we heard on the radio from the boats around us, then midday it really slowed. The bites picked up in the afternoon and that’s when we caught one and lost another,” says A1A Capt. Mike Kalandros, from Stuart, Florida.

Photo: Four hundred-pound blue marlin released by Chad Damron aboard the 75’ Weaver, Sodium, off the North Drop. Credit: Travis Butters.

Sodium, Florida’s Chad Damron 75’ Weaver, which earned Top Boat at the July Open Billfish Tournament last month, had a slow day with only one release. Yet, Damron’s evening was much busier, as he led the shrimp fry on the end of IGY’s American Yacht Harbor’s famous ‘A’ Dock.

“I peeled 25 pounds of shrimp and caught a blue marlin today. Life is awesome,” says Damron.

Lines go in the water on Saturday at 8:30 a.m. and out at 5:30 p.m. On Sunday, fishing is from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.

The public is invited to greet the fleet as the boats come back to the dock around sunset. The number of flags flying on the outriggers indicates how many billfish the boat’s anglers caught and released for the day. The ABMT is a conservation-conscious all-release tournament. No fish will be boated or brought to the dock for weigh-in.

The ABMT is being run this year as a team tournament under IGFA rules only, without the call for competitors to adhere to additional special tournament rules such as the need for anglers to rotate rods hourly.

“The sport of fishing has changed over the years. Now, families are more involved and as a result, owners want to participate in a tournament in the same way they do while fishing on their own on an everyday basis, while at the same time supporting the local community,” says Andrea ‘Andy’ Courteau, with Gulf Rascal’s Capt. Billy Borer are co-directing the ABMT this year.

Both Courteau and Borer, as angler and captain, respectively, have competed in the ABMT since the 1980’s. Thus, both have extensive knowledge of the sport and local fishing grounds to their credit.

On land, the 5th Annual MarlinFest takes place this weekend. On Saturday, there’s an Arts & Crafts Fair and Chowder Challenge from Noon to 6 p.m. in the upper parking lot at IGY’s American Yacht Harbor Marina in Red Hook. On Sunday, a Shrimp Boil starts at 6 p.m. and Caribbean Show, complete with Mocko Jumbies and music, starts at 8 p.m., in the parking lot of the Red Hook Shopping Mall.

The ABMT and MarlinFest benefit the locally-registered not-for-profit Marine Vocational Program (MVP). The MVP’s goal is to serve as a vocational institution that provide U.S. Virgin Islands youth with a career path into the marine/hospitality/tourism industries. Current MVP programs include learn-to-swim, sailing, scuba diving and small boat handling and operation skills.

Started by Chuck Senf back in 1972, the ABMT has evolved into one of the most competitive saltwater sports fishing events in the world or the ‘Super Bowl of Sports Fishing’.

Media Contact: Carol Bareuther - Cell: (340) 998-3650 - bareuther@earthlink.net

08/04/17 - St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

6th day August Moon - North Drop, BVI

7th day August Moon - North Drop/BVI 1st day of the 45th Annual - USVI Open/Atlantic Blue Marlin Tournament (ABMT)

Not super thrilled on the end of our day so this one will be brief.

A handful of boats went to Anegada. Conditions were reported to be scattered but manageable weed and pretty water. Tally relayed was only 4 fish caught and a few others seen. Not sure yet on what the tournament boat's up there caught by end of day.

The Drop received a pretty healthy crowd including 6 of the 8 tournament boats. Water looked awful most of the day only getting a little better color to the lower numbers by the afternoon. Of course the bluish water was socked full of weed. Everything up higher and cleaner was green. However, a few fish were seen and caught in it.

Tho I marked more fish than I have for days now, only one ever showed itself. Around 4:30pm as I took my attention from the mark on the screen back to the spread, a really large fish showed under the left cockpit but was gone just as fast.

For tournament unofficially: BUSINESS STINKS-3 - CHEESEBURGER-3 - ANGELINA-1 - SODIUM-1 - A1A-1. Unconfirmed: DONNA LUCY-1 - GULF RASCAL-1. Quite a few other bites and catches on the Drop but also a handful of other boats to not catch or even see a fish today.

Conditions seem to be improving. Sure hope the fishing does too.

08/04/17 - St. Thomas, Virgin Islands - Capt. Eric Leech 'Reel Excuse' Report:
Our first day fishing started with a little fish on the bridge teaser teased in ate the pitch. But pulled the hook after 5 minutes. About 8am I marked one on the sounder before I could let everyone know it ate the right short and was down and on tagged and released about 125lbs it had someone else hook set in his mouth. Then at 10am had one blow up on the left bridge but never came back and that was our day on the reel excuse.

08/03/17 - St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

6th day August Moon - North Drop, BVI

Howling pretty good for the 3rd day in a row. Most were reluctant to fish today, but one full day in the rock during a Moon is plenty. Turns out we had some company out there after all. I took an easterly path thru the islands so we could get a better angle on the ride. This put us a good bit up the road and Set up for a down sea tack if it was too ugly. It really wasn't so bad. The Drop has always been predominately rough. we get a couple of calm weeks out here and suddenly a good blow is too treacherous to fish.

Starting out on the 46 line it was very green. The word bellow was cleaner and bluer water so we started that way. Wasn't long when around 9:30 we had something rip down the center rigger. We got it hung back up and after about 20 seconds I could see the fish had caught back up to us. It was pacing the lure it had just ate before, but all our efforts couldn't get another bite out of it. At 10:15am a slight turn exposed a fish pacing us right down the center of our prop wash. Just out for a cruise I guess, cause it never showed interest in anything back there.

At 11 my attention was diverted to the guys messin with something below on the left when I heard my right teaser reel over my had losing line in a hurry. My initial reach for the line met a three finger burn and all I could do was slam the drag to full and pray. Even in park the fish was taking line as if it were free spool. When about half my line was gone she finally let go and never showed again. 11:15 As we worked the area trying to find her again another fish pulled down the center rigger. No sooner did it come tight it shook its head and threw the bait.

Still pounding a one mile area between our last three encounters, a really nice fish comes tailing in on the center rigger. She pulls it down and spits it. We hang it and she tries three more times. We try to get her to tease in and she does for a bit but eventually lost interest and faded. The weed pushed in and my little honey hole just got unfishable. So we found some clean water low and to the west and worked it no avail. Heading black to the edge for the last hour o so, the weed still had our numbers locked up but it still looked pretty good in the corner. Just as we were about to wrap it up for the day a fish shoots in from outside to the right bridge. The tease was good but the turn into the sea and wind made it difficult to present the pitch in a clear pocket. I dropped my teaser back out and he came again, but the pitch had drifted back just a bit far and was in whitewash again. In a last ditch effort the pitch was shortened up and the fish made the switch. Still thru all the wind, wash and confusion, the bite was a fobble and the bait dropped back to a wrapped up bill. He made a lunge for the left cockpit but never did tease or show up elsewhere. Ugh!!

AMARITA 2/3 - ANAMARINA 1/2 - GULF RASCAL 1/3 in Anegada

08/01/17 - St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

5th day August Moon - North Drop

Last day of the Fish For Haiti Charity Tournament. NEVER SAY NEVER ran away with it. Leading in to today with 2blues and a White, their 2/3or4 today sealed the deal. MARLIN PRINCE made a strong run with 2/3 SODIUM held on to 2nd with two but probably wished any or all or the 4 they saw today would've cooperated. We did see two today. The first coming around 9am. I made a turn to go down sea and before we could get straight, had a real aggressive bite on the left bridge. Only got a few hops out of the lure before she got a hold of it and took off. Eventually it took full drag to get the lure out of her mouth. She never did come back.

Long day of big seas and thick weed just seemed longer until the next one showed around 2pm. In a slight turn, her dorsal popped up behind the right cockpit just coming out of the whitewater. It wasn't a terribly aggressive tease but she did come all the way in. A good switch to the pitch but in her effort, the wake in front of her head,pushed the bait away from her mouth and she faded away. We waited for what felt like an eternity for her to show again. Just before I started my turn back, she piled on the left cockpit. This time she wouldn't tease, tho every time Steve would drop the lure back to position, she'd charge back out and eat the cockpit. She faded again for some time and made one last meal out of the right cockpit. This time, once she spit it, she was gone. Another really nice fish.

Last word from the DaBAIT out in Anegada was 2/2 and rough. We're gonna take a day off tomorrow. It's to blow even harder and we've got plenty of fish bay to come om.

07/31/17 - Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

4th day August Moon - Anegada/North Drop

Final day of the VGIMT - Slow fishing continues to plague both the Drop and Anegada. None of the VG tournament boats caught a fish today. Two were pulled off, and three others seen including out little guy that swam into the spread around 10am but never tried anything. Looks like the VENATOR will be this year's champ with the fish they caught on the first day.

The Fish for Haiti Charity Tournament started today. Best I could get off the radio for the drop was: NEVERY SAY NEVER- 1/3 saw one more and catch a white SODIUM 2/? Another boat fighting one and a couple others seen throughout the day. DaBAIT was 2/3 in Anegada.

07/30/17 - St. Thomas, Virgin Islands - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

3rd day August Moon - North Drop,BVI

2nd day of the VGIMT - Correction for yesterday. The VENATOR a contestant, was one of the fish caught on the drop. Putting them in the lead. Most if not all of us started on the Drop today, along with the rest of the fleet. Weed was really bad when we started. I worked right on up the edge looking for less weed, better color and any sign of a fish. About 8:30, A brief glance at the sounder and "oh s**t!!! We just ran over one". Only a second passed and there it was, all over the right cockpit. It teased in but faded down sea. It shot back through the spread as I made a hard turn but we never did see it again, nor did we see anything else.

Water looked bad all day and the weed was relentless. 7 boat's stayed on the Drop and including ours, only 1 fish caught and two others seen. At least that was all I heard on the radio. The couple boats that picked up early and ran back out to Anegada saw cleaner water and each had a shot. RUCKUS pulled one off and the INDIGO caught one. When the bite finally goes off, it's gonna be anybody's ball game.

07/29/17 - St. Thomas, Virgin Islands - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

2nd day August Moon - Anegada/North Drop

1st day of the 2nd Annual Virgin Gorda International Marlin Tournament wasn't exactly red hot. In fact, the lack of success extended to even a number of boat's not participating.

We returned to Anegada along with a handful of the other tourney boats. The water remained green and the weed only allowed us to work a limited area. Still the sounder showed consistent bait marks and occasionally larger ones so it still felt fishy. Every so often a radio report would reach us from the north Drop. Sounded like the weed had cleaned up a little but even with a few more boats than where we were, they weren't exactly setting the seas on fire. I think 3 fish were caught on the drop and about the same seen. Even a couple of our Anegada compadres picked up and ran over and only had a teaser bite at best.

I stuck to my gut and pounded the numbers best I could. The Champagne Lady had a couple encounters in there by us. Finally around 1pm we had ours. The fish showed up just outside the right dredge and deep. It followed the dredge up but never excited. It faded back and followed the bridge a little and same in the cockpit, even a quick look at the center. If it was hungry enough to eat, there was ample opportunity.

Just wasn't in the cards today. Not a fished released for the tournament. Disappointing but still two days to go for this one. The Fish for Haiti starts tomorrow and there's many more viable fish days to come through this moon cycle. It's gonna happen, it's gonna happen out there, and I'm thrilled to know we're gonna be there when it does.

07/24/17 - St. Thomas, Virgin Islands - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

In my reports from last moon I relayed the story of our incident with BVI authorities. After the moon, many emails and phone calls were being made to various people of interest. Some of these correspondences were troubling enough in their content that I felt compelled to get involved. So I used my writing ability and personal resources to reach out to whomever would listen and or forward my take and plead on the situation. Within 24hrs, the BVI Minister of customs called me and granted us fishermen a meeting.

We had the meeting today. At the conclusion of this meeting we felt new acquaintances had been established and forward progress was made. Both sides of the table stated their concerns and made quality suggestions as to the future of our use of the BVI fishery. While the authorities take their time to draft up the initial proposal, the US boats have been granted the next 30 days as a grace period. We will be allowed to fish the BVI waters without physically having to clear customs when traveling from St Thomas to the North Drop. This makes it possible for the Fish For Haiti and the ABMT to proceed as planned.

We will probably be meeting again sometime in later August to fine tune the custom and immigration requirements they plan to implement. Just for reference, some of the suggestions made included: submitting a fishing type float plan, providing boat information, passenger info including copies of identification, and whatever fees deemed appropriate. This will be submitted by phone, email, or possibly through an established agent located in St Thomas, currently suggested as Neptunes Fishing Supply. This compliance would be done prior to a fishing cycle, for it's duration, or even daily if the passengers change at any point. Again, these are finer points within the suggestions made today. There is a road ahead of us through this entire process but it seems safe to say that a firm foundation has been laid.

We will be starting the next fishing cycle later this week. We will also be participating in the 2 tournaments aforementioned and the 2nd annual Virgin Gorda Marlin tournament. Very excited to be a part of all of it and very thankful to be allowed to continue to enjoy these waters. Thanks to all the individuals that took part in our meeting and everyone that has supported our efforts thus far.

07/18/17 - Capt. Tim Richardson - DR & Australia Charters

Our Caribbean season for 2017 is winding down this week, and its been another great year on the CHASER.

She is pretty much the perfect fishing machine, with a bunch more projects carried out in the off season, and then I installed all of the new GARMIN electronics and 2kw full CHIRP transducer in February. The ability to mark fish is incredible over the older generation of electronics. and the ease of navigation and daily work is a game changer for me. TRADITION is getting the same set up next month.

In Casa De Campo we caught 64 blue marlin and 3 whites in 28 days, and then moved to Cap Cana where we started with fly fishing. Jeremy came from Africa to fish with us and we caught him his atlantic blue marlin and 2 white marlin that he needed for his slam on fly, a hell of an achievement. We also caught 2 other guests their first marlin on fly as well. Lots of day trips with people down on vacation and for weddings, and so many first marlin for so many guests. We have 36 whites in Cap Cana, not the numbers we had hoped, but with the grass a pain this season and not too many trips we did pretty good.

The next 12 months looks amazing !!! I am heading home in a few weeks to put all new Garmin Marine electronics in the Tradition Charters, pretty much the same set up, the incredible Airmar CHIRP PM411 2kw Low/medium and screens as I installed on the Chaser Caribbean earlier this year. Tradition is getting 2 x 12" screens in the tower, and a massive 22" screen on the bridge, and the new digital radar.

Australia 2017

I have some great specials and 3 prime season spots open for live aboard, can also arrange Lizard Island and mothership if needed- September madness special prices for 4-10 day live aboard trip, great fishing, spearing, light tackle, fly and big marlin on the GBR !! A few openings left for us for main season: Sept 20-30, Oct 15-19, 24-31, Nov 5-13 and Nov 26 to Dec 18 Cairns, Coral Sea, Lady Musgrave and Fraser Island

2018 Caribbean/Dominican Republic

St Lucia and island hopping in January, finishing in Marina Casa de Campo Fishing Cluband ready to go Feb 1 thru April 30 fishing the FADS for blue marlin, we cater for both fly and conventional light tackle fishing. Swords as well. This morning I went and looked at a few properties, and decided on this incredible 3 bedroom home with pool, huge back deck and yard. Less than 10 minutes in the golf cart to the boat in the marina.
Rick Alvarez’s tournament is available, we finished 3rd overall and Champion Angler this year, as well as 2nd by 1 fish in the Casa De Campo Cup, a month long tournament for the most releases, we had 44 to the Fa La Me with 45. Pretty good for a charter boat with many of our angler hooking their own fish everyday.


APR 18 - Registration & Kickoff - APR 19 - 1st Day of fishing - HAPPY HOUR at the docks - APR 20 - 2nd Day of fishing - Evening Fiesta Latina - APR 21 - 3rd & final day of fishing - Evening Awards Banquet.

May 1st we return to Marina Cap Cana for the white marlin season. And then Cairns for my 25th season !!! We have half of the 2018 season already booked, so get in now to book your week with us. Also available for the tournaments as well.

Thanks to my great Sponsors and Supporters

Cant Tim Richardson

07/14/17 - St. Thomas, Virgin Islands - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

9th day July Moon - North Drop ST THOMAS!!

What a beautiful day for our last fish day this moon. Water as pretty as it comes, birds and bait everywhere and tho the standard 4'-6' sea it got better as the day progressed.

. Still waited a good bit for our first shot which came as a solid down and on center rigger bite at 11am. Stevie got to catch this one and I came off the bridge to wire. He made short work of it and soon I was rolling into a double wrap as the 400 lb'r took to the air. SNAP!!!! The 300# leader parted as the fish jumped away. The stretch shot back like a bullwhip and hit old cappy square in the upper chest. With an initial grunt and quite a few expletives I was quickly reminded of one of the many things that can get ya. New battle scar.

At almost noon a little 150# shot in on the left cockpit. He teased great, making awesome lunges at the lure. Once switched to the pitch he became erratic and never ate.

At 1:30 another nice 300+ crashed the right bridge. He teased in great but shot past the pitch and piled on the left bridge. Teased in again the switched to the pitch. 5 different head and shoulder out of the water shots at the pitch missing until the last. Then spits it out, fades back to right cockpit teaser teases in again but dives. As exciting as you can get without catching them.

4:45 a nice one piles in the left bridge. Perfect everything. The fish teased great. Ate great! And stayed on the surface for a quick run down and release, with a spectacular jump on the wire. 400#

Then the fish to beat all and end the moon. Working the area of our last fish and the same spot from yesterday, I mark her on the sounder. 2nd pass then 3rd mark her again. On the 5th run thru the mark swallowed to 50' under the boat and she eats the left bridge and takes drag. The tease is fast and intense, but as I catch up to the dredge and slow just a bit, she gets a hold of it and heads away. I go into a double wrap and immediately realize it was a bad idea. As the thought of getting pulled through the 1/2" stainless eye the teaser line passes through on the overhead handrail, crosses my mind, I dump the line as fast as I can, still taking a good line burn through my left hand and over the forearm. The only thing that stopped her the loose coils had hung my helm chair.

As we figure she's gone and I straighten the boat out, she piles on the left squid chain and zips drag there. I get that one coming but she never teases up. Instead she piles on the left bridge again. I get back on that one to tease and half way in she gets me again. Bad habits die hard and I take a wrap in both hands and go to battle. I get cinched pretty good on the right hand but she let's go and just proceeds to tease. Still she never made the switch and gone again she was. We get everything where it should be and I'm just about to turn and try to raise her again when she surfs a wave right in to eat the center rigger. Got her on!!!! As everyone is trying to pass her off, I see her make a futile attempt at getting her fat ass out of the water and shouted, I'll come catch her!".

Down the ladder I go and don on the harness. Getting to nearly the rigger mark twice and then back down to 1/4 spool, full drag, a heavy rain squall and a sunset, finally after an hour and a half we're a mere 50' from the leader in the dark, and the hook pulls. Crushing blow for sure, but at least what may have been the biggest blue I could ever have caught, at least got away alive and well and not eaten by sharks. It would have been nice to see it closer to give it an official size estimate, but I feel it was the biggest fish we'd hooked this summer and we'd already let one go that could've gone 600#

More pics and vids coming. See Here

07/13/17 - St. Thomas, Virgin Islands - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

8th day July Moon - North Drop Great Tobago VI

After TS conditions on the hook last night, we rose from what little sleep was achieved to find it still blowing 35kt + in the heavy squalls and a steady downpour. At least the ear splitting lightning and thunder quit around 5am So we proceeded along with two other boats to head out to fish, in conditions most can't comprehend, and the rest of us even asking "why?".

9:13 a 200lber piles on the left bridge and teases in just like he should. We finally got the boat to turn into the wind and present the pitch, he ate right away. Of course the damn fish would have to go straight up sea for a good twenty minutes. The 6-8' seas with occasional 10's breaking into the cockpit, with one even coming in right over Tristan's shoulders. Finally the fish got down sea of us and we're got the release.

The day got progressively better, and around 12 we had a 2nd fish show up on the right cockpit. A few boils and one zip and he was gone again. 3rd fish showed just before 3pm. Never did see the fish itself but the hole it left behind the left cockpit looked as if it was half the size of the boat. Certainly not a garbage fish but never came back to play.

In about 3-4 passes through this area, we did have something pull down the center rigger but never id'd it to be a blue. At just after 5pm a nice fish comes tearing in on the left cockpit. Aggressively teases in on the glare side, only giving us glimpses as it piles on the incoming teaser. She switched and ate the bait. As we just get the spread cleared the fish erupts out of the water in a series of jumps that look as if she's gonna end up in the boat. Tristan cranked like hell to catch up to the fish as I sped up to get out of her way. It stayed in the surface and gave another series of splendid aerials before we rushed back and popped her off in the leader. 500+

Only minutes after resetting the spread and passing over the same spot we first raised the last fish, a bill the size of a baseball bat comes up behind the squid chain and whips at it like a silly sailfish. The fish was a beast but just as quickly, it was gone. I pounded the area for 40min but never did see her again.

Finally as the day faded and we worked our way closer to home, a fish snuck in and grabbed the flap on the back squids pulling off drag very slowly, but it never did tease or show elsewhere. 2/2 and maybe 5 more is why we go.

SODIUM saw a couple - GULF RASCAL 1/5

07/13/17 - Donald L. Hammond - Dolphin Research Project Report

Marine Anglers,

I am happy to report the recent surge of young-of-the-year dolphinfish showing up from the Florida Keys to North Carolina’s Outer Banks. More small fish are being reported than in either 2016 or 2015. Even better news is their mid-June arrival, which places their arrival closer to where their run normally occurred in past years. Does this mean that we may have had a reset to our dolphin fishing season? We do believe that this should result in a better season next year for large dolphin.

This issue of the newsletter is very unique and will likely surprise you. I hope that you will be as excited as I am about what is instore for the Dolphinfish Research Program.

See Newsletter Here

Good fishing,

Dolphinfish Research Program
Cooperative Science Services, LLC

07/12/17 - St. Thomas, Virgin Islands - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

7th day July Moon - North Drop, someone's VI

You would hope that if they want us to do this regularly, they could make the process even the least bit as troublesome and uncomfortable. Maybe I'm not as well traveled as I think, but how many other offices in the world treat their money spending visitors, like criminals for missing a checked box or date on their paperwork?After wasting an hour, suffering through the unwelcoming attitude of the customs agents while clearing in to the BVI, we managed to arrive on the drop at about 9am. SODIUM already had 2 by the time we all got there.

With lines out for only about 5 minutes we raised a small blue on the right bridge. However the fish never really got excited and faded off. Just before 11 another fish erupts on the left bridge and pulls drag. He never came back. Luckily it wasn't too much longer before one cooperated. Just before 12 another fish raises to the left bridge but is hardly fired up. I snatch quite a few times but it just wouldn't get lit. As it faded back, steve got the cockpit moving and it was just enough to get him to tease in enough to find the pitch. He missed it the first time but the second bite was solid and we were off to the races. A cool little fish about 200#

At 2:30 we had a nice fish maybe 400 show on the left bridge. It was another lazy fish and never did actually try the teaser. A few overcast rain clouds gave a glare that made it even harder to see the fish. We managed to keep its attention for a good bit but once the tease and turn took us up on the edge into less than 300' the fish quickly faded off and we never saw it again.


Everybody saw some real nice fish. Tonight we drop the hook on Great Tabago

07/12/17 - Casa Viejo News:

See Newsletter Here

07/11/17 - St. Thomas, Virgin Islands - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

6th day July Moon - West of some stupid little line on a chart, St Thomas

While officials from the BVI met and our US contacts keep their ear to the door, three of us went west of the BVI line and fished today. The SODIUM spent the night in the BVI and went to the drop. They were 3/5 at time of post.

The three of us fished all day to the west for very little. We and the GULF RASCAL never had a bite out there. The DEEP DEVITION did raise a sea monster but she never ate. Late in the afternoon we all encroached just a bit over the line just to take a peek. One or more of us may or may not have been fishing and just maybe one boat might have actually caught 3 reel quick before going in, but that just only might have happened. Now we'll have to figure out what happens for the rest of the summer.

07/10/17 - St. Thomas, Virgin Islands - Capt. Eric Leech 'Reel Excuse' Report:
Started the day at 9:05 with a white marlin grabbing the right bridge then fading off. Then at 9:55 we had a double header of blue marlin 1 on the center rigger and the other on the left short. Never came tight on the center rigger fish then pulled the hook on the other after 5 minutes. Then the bvi boat came out harassing the boat sending some home. We trolled to the west in us waters. At 1:25 on a fad we raised a blue on the left bridge . It faded back to the LS and hung himself after a quick fight with Kevin driving and me on the wire we released a 500lb blue tag and released. At 2pm we had 2 whites come follow the bridge teasers but not eat the pitch baits. Then at 3:30 back in the corner we had a big hole on the left short down and on but pulled her off a couple minutes. Headed in early to figure what hoops the bvi is going to make us jump through. From what I have heard if they make it to difficult most boat will be leaving and there won't be anyone to fish the tournaments or spend money here. Maybe back in the DR sooner then later.

07/10/17 - St. Thomas, Virgin Islands - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

5th day July Moon - North Drop St Thomas

Well, what could've ended up being a stellar day pretty much ended before it could start. MOJITO had caught 2 before we even got out. DaBAIT was 1/3 or more when they stopped. ABIGAIL 1/2, BLACK PEARL 1/2, REEL EXCUSE had seen a handful and a white maybe a few more around It was so calm today I had to try running from the tower just for the vantage point. We didn't see our first til just after 10am. The fish aired it out on the left bridge gave a short tease and then faded back to the cockpit. It teased a little better this time and seemed to eat the pitch well. However, it dropped the bait. Luckily, still hungry, it gave an explosive bite on the center rigger and came tight. I had the unique pleasure and opportunity to come down from the tower and don on the standup harness. Tristan got the chance to run the boat for this one. With him taking direction from bothe me and his dad, and me putting on the heavy hand in pressuring the fish, we subdued the 400+ blue in just over an hour and a half.

During the battle BVI law enforcement stopped the DaBAIT to check licensing before coming to us. They reached us while we were still doing battle and waited for us to release the fish before running our paperwork. Turns out that that with all the paperwork plus $1300 we spent on licensing, they still expect us to clear in to customs everyday we fish if we aren't staying in their islands. With a very stern warning and threat of criminal court proceedings we were told we could no longer engage in fishing activities today unless we rode in and cleared. DaBAIT was given the same instruction. We are now on the list, if we get caught Committing the same violation, we will have to stand before the courts for the matter. This is not the way to invite us to spend more time and money in the BVI. It will be very interesting to see how this unfolds. For today, we return to STT.

07/09/17 - St. Thomas, Virgin Islands - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

4th day July Moon - North Drop St Thomas

My long time dear friend and owner of everyone's favorite bar XO, Cindy rode along with us today. We certainly didn't disappoint and neither did she. Around 10:30 after working an area I had marked a fish earlier, persistence paid off as a nice 250# blue came tight on the center rigger. As Cindy got rigged up in the chair, Jimmy took the wheel and I went down the ladder to put on the gloves. After a solid 35 minute fight we had our first release.

Just before lunch another nice fish showed up on the squid chain. He teased in well but we turned into a grass line as we tried to pitch and he never saw the bait. The day lagged a little after that but only til about 3pm. Just as I noticed a large mark on the sounder, a real Nice blue about 425# raised to the left bridge. I got a good tease in and he piled on the pitch. As Tristan locked up the fish was already teasing back in on the left cockpit. We nearly had a release before it even knew it was hooked. Cindy hopped in the chair again and made short work of this one as it stayed on the surface through the fight.

We get the lines back out and proceed down the edge when around 3:40 a big fish piles on the center rigger. Jimmy drive again and I went down to coach. Cindy had to earn this one. This blue wasn't gonna come easy. After getting nearly to the leader twice and then down to almost bottom spool the hour and 40minute battle would all come down to how long Cindy could hold out. And she won! The fish was certainly over 500# and may have even been close to 6.

Getting late in the day we made direction down the edge towards home but it wasn't over yet. At about 5:45 I mark another one and almost instantly he's on the left bridge. He teases in good but fades into the wash. After a bit, I let my teaser back out and he emerges again. This time he teases to the pitch and eats twice. Somehow tho the bait fouled and he faded off again. As I get the teaser back out one more time he darts out of the wash and piles on it one more time but only teases in part way and fades off. Crazy 3 minutes. And one hell of a day.

I couldn't keep up with the radio much but what I could gather is that some saw a few and some saw one or none but it was a beautiful slick calm day. What I did get was MOJITO had seen 5 by 1pm. LAY DAY caught 2 or 3.

07/08/17 - St. Thomas, Virgin Islands - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

3rd day July Moon - North Drop, St Thomas - Final day 'July Moon Open'

First fish tugged on the right cockpit around 9:45. Little guy that just didn't want to fire up enough to tease in. About a half hour later a nice fish maybe around 300# crashes the squid chain and teases in perfectly for the pitch. The bite and drop back can't get any more perfect yet he still came unglued.

For the greater part of the rest of the day we really felt snake bit. If fish weren't getting hooked right next to us, then they were just behind us where we had just come from. Around 1:30 a little flurry of hookups had begun and we slid into the mix to play in traffic and try our hand. At 1:42 a blue shows up behind the left bridge. He teases well but becomes erratic on the pitch. After studying it for some time he finally darts out of the wash for what looked to be a good bite. As he dove away I could see that the bait was outside its mouth tho it had grabbed the leader. When Tristan engaged he just spit the bait. Fortunately, the little nugget was still fired up cause he still ate the center rigger and hooked himself. Jimmy made short work of it and we had the release at 1:50.

As we were putting the spread back out I noticed the telltale mark in my sounder and as quickly as I could say "we'd just run over another one!", another fish shows up on the right bridge. It took some coaxing, having to drop back the chain or snatch on it a couple times. Anything to get him fired up. It did eventually tease nearly all the way in but not well enough to find interest in the pitch. He looked at the cockpit teaser and the rigger on his way out but had cooled off.

SODIUM with 2 today cinched the win with 6 - NEVER SAY NEVER kept the pressure on catching 2 more to finish with 5.

Pretty sure everybody on the rip caught at least 1 and seen more today. MOJITO was fighting their 4th as we picked up. DaBAIT 3/3. Certainly no shortage of fish and many boats are reporting of some really nice fish up 400 and 600#. Heard of one seen today estimated at 800 and MOJITO lost one yesterday that the captain felt may have bested a grander he caught in Madeira. Looking forward to a few of those with a few more days of fishing for us.

07/07/17 - St. Thomas, Virgin Islands - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

Day 2 July Moon - North Drop St Thomas - 2nd day of the tournament.

Standing in for the committee boat since they went east and out of radio contact, I was hoping the courtesy would become good fortune. Not so much. We're all friends here but it's even harder to feign compassion for lost fish and congratulate those released when your own day hardly successful. Had our only aggressive shot show up with his head buried in the left dredge around 9:30am. He then shot over to the right dredge and hid out of sight a bit once they were both cleared.

07/06/17 - St. Thomas, Virgin Islands - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

1st day July Moon - North Drop, St Thomas - Also 1st day of the July Moon Open Tournament

After watching a few boats coming in with flags flying over the last few days, it wS finally our chance to get out there and get after it. The day couldn't have started any better when 15min after lines in a little blue showed up on the left bridge and did everything we expect them to. Even after hookup, he either tailed down sea on the surface or jumped right at us. In only a few quick minutes we had the release on our first blue of the day-moon-and tournament!!! That one fish was enough to keep us in the lead until about lunchtime.

After that it started to turn out to be a pretty good day on the rip. Most boats having quite a few encounters, except for us. Albeit frustrating to be centered in all the action and not getting bit, it's just as exciting to think that any second it's gonna be our turn. At half passed 3 it was. A white showed up on the left bridge. He aggressively teased all the way in. Ate the pitch. Pulled off. Then teased all the way in again but had finally lost his appetite.

We worked our way back to an area that was holding bait this morning and found it again. At about 4:30pm I caught a mark on the sounder, and before I could say I had marked one, the blue boiled on my left bridge. It was a fast tease and even faster switch to the pitch, and unfortunately he didn't get hooked.

Over the next half hour to lines out I saw at least 3-4 other encounters for other boats in our vicinity, so we knew the spot was hot. On another pass through the numbers at about 4:45 a nice fish, looking to exceed 300#, airs it out on the left cockpit teaser. It then faded back to the center rigger and made some aggressive attempts but never actually ate the lure. Not as successful as we may have liked but a few day none the less. We barely hang on to 2nd for the daily. With 2 more days to fish, a lot can happen.

SODIUM leads with 3 - NEVER SAY NEVER keeping the pressure on us with 1 and DONA LUCY with a white. Non-tourney boat's to note: MOJITO-3 - VITAMIN SEA-2/4 and fighting 2 more - BLACK OUT- 2maybe3 and a handful more boat's catch at least one with more bites.

07/06/17 - St. Thomas, Virgin Islands - Capt. Eric Leech 'Reel Excuse' Report:

We missed a blue at 8am about 400lbs on the right Long then caught a 400lb on a pitch bait nice quick fish then hooked a big girl on the left short after 1 hour and 20 minutes the sharks ate her I look I got one time when she was 40' away looked like 600lbs oh well not the first or the last the sharks will get but it sucks the vitamin sea was 3 for 5 Mojito had 3 sodium had 3 blackout had 2 and everyone else had 1 blue good fishing.

07/01/17 - Maderia - Charles Perry Report:<

CP - The old man can still pull on them! A 550# that we put a Sat. tag on for 8 months.

John Tierney - CP and Barkey back together again fishing Madeira ...2 legends one more time!


Florida’s Captain Scott Leon skippered the 72’ Merritt, Casca Dura, to victory at the 23rd annual International Billfish Shootout in Cap Cana, Dominican Republic, June 8th thru 11th with anglers Lucas Abud from Brazil and Venezuelans Aquiles Garcia, Rafael Revenga and William Morrison releasing a total of eight white marlin plus three blue marlin over the three days of fishing.

“We saved the best for last” said a smiling Scott Leon referring to their five whites and a blue last day, which put them over the top as the team toasted with ice cold champagne. Boat owner Lucas Abud added “finally after so many years competing we are the winners of the International Billfish Shootout”. In addition team members Lucas Abud and Aquiles Garcia took second and third place respectively in the individual angler standings.

However, it was Puerto Rico’s angler Luis Mario Fernandez who won Top Angler honors fishing aboard local boat Tomahawk by releasing an individual total of five whites and a blue during the three day event. Tomahawk finished second in the boat/team category while Puerto Rico’s Dulce Coco finished third with angler Lisa Evans earning the Top Lady Angler spot.

The International Billfish Shootout was the second leg of the Dominican Billfish Triple-Header series and both Tomahawk’s and Casca Dura’s success placed them in second and third place respectively in the series within striking distance of the current leader, Venezuela’s Amazing Grace. The last leg of the series will take place October 5th thru the 8th during the Cap Cana Classic tournament in the heart of the blue marlin season. Another important bit of related news is that in 2018 the Shootout will be moving to the fall-early winter blue marlin season in either October or November final dates to be announced shortly.

We thank the management and staff of Marina Cap Cana for their support during this year’s tournament, the International Game Fish Tournament Observers for keeping an eye on things and also thank Dubar Imperial Rum for keeping us in good spirits as well as AlSol Luxury Village for their impeccable attention. Photo credit: CLEO

06/11/17 - St. Thomas, Virgin Islands - Capt. Billy Borer 'Gulf Rascal' June Report:

Fished 4.5 days on June Moon and went 4/11 on blue marlin.

06/11/17 - St. Thomas, Virgin Islands - Capt. Eric Leech 'Reel Excuse' Report:

We took 3 days off to enjoy the Islands. Yesterday the 10 of June we went 1 for 2 on white marlin. The Betsy had a blue and a white and saw 3 other blues. The da bait had 2 blues and a white one blue was 600lbs. The Mojito had a blue and so did the Sodium. Today the 11 of June the Mojito caught a blue missed a white. The Sodium saw 4 blues, the Betsy caught a white. We were 1 for 2 on whites and never saw a blue, it was our last day for this moon.

06/07/17 - St. Thomas, Virgin Islands - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

5th day June Moon
St Thomas 2017

Maybe our last day for the moon or we might squeeze in another with guests in town, we'll see. Fish still acting weird. Three boats out today and all of us still raising fish that don't respond well to the program. Anyway you look at it, there's a number of fish here, they're bite switch isn't set to on yet.

First thing this morning we had a young booby infatuated with our center rigger. He'd dove and missed it so many times, you wonder how he doesn't starve to death. However, in the same thought, you know that a 9/0 on cable at 8kts could mean sudden death if he succeeds. Then he does. Fortunately, I got out of gear quickly and the bird kept is wings out enough to prevent being snatched under water, and we were able to retrieve him, remove the hook and set him free.

Our first fish encounter at 9:22 was early enough to get us optimistic. A small blue showed up on the left cockpit. Never bit, never really teased. Needless to say that was a tough one to hold us over, all the way to our next fish at 4:45. This blue was a little more interested, even teasing all the way in. However, I'd hardly call it St Thomas aggressive. He faded deep without looking at the pitch. Came back up on the left cockpit but never made an attempt at it either.

Another little late action as we made the sunset tack down edge when a pretty big white piled on the center rigger. He stayed on long enough for us to just about clear the spread and then threw the hook. As we got everything back into position, a very small billfish, probably another white but never determined, teased all the way in on the right cockpit. Tristan got the small pitch out and fed it to him. Came tight-pulled off. He ate again! Pulling drag-spit the bait! Now winding in a half eaten bait almost rigger distance away, Tristan feels the bite again and let's him have it. Now all has been cleared and we're ready to go catch him..... gone for good. We gave it another half hour but once more the day concluded without rags flying. Whenever this bite turns on, it should be stellar. I hope we're fishing when it does.

06/06/17 - St. Thomas, Virgin Islands - Capt. Eric Leech 'Reel Excuse' Report:

Our first day we got lucky and caught a grand slam but had to stick it out till 6:45 for the blue that was 350lbs. The second day we fished we went 0 for 1 on blues and came in early with generator problems. We fixed our generator and fished the whole next day going 2 for 2 on blue marlin a 150lb and 300lbs also tagged a white marlin.

Today the 6th we went 1 for 2 on. Blues about 250lbs we got lucky and were 1 of 2 boats to release a marlin today. We are taking the next 3 days off to dive and enjoy the islands.

06/06/17 - St. Thomas, Virgin Islands - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

4rd day June Moon
St Thomas 2017

I'd say it was another long day. Again one without flags in the riggers, but for me nothing short of exciting. The last two seasons we fished down here before skipping last year to build the new rig, the fish on the the earlier moons seemed to have lockjaw or act lazy, but we saw plenty. Same thing is happening now. But everybody's seeing fish! Of course we want to catch them all, but honestly, there's enough folks out there that don't appreciate how hard it is to catch one. Catching 5 or more in a day for that person is a waste really. So, seakeeper broke today. I'm tired, sore, and frustrated, but damn it! I'm blue marlin fishing in St Thomas and had 6 billfish encounters today. How bad, really, does that suck!?!

We missed a billfish in a rigger bite before lunch.

Around 1pm we had a nice fish about 350-400 try 3or 4 different teasers over a 3 minute tease attempt before knocking the pitch bait away from its self on the first bite attempt. Then fading off after lazily billing at it as if it was half blind. How awesome was that?!? Then my persistent pounding of the same 1/4mile of area for the next hour or so, produced 2 more encounters with fish relatively the same size(same one???)that would crash or halfassed tease but not eat.

Then around 4 we had a crazy little white marlin that showed up on the left bridge but when the tease caught up to the dredge, had his head so buried in it, we could have probably free tagged him next to the boat. So what? He didn't eat a bait.

Then on our sunset tack back down the edge, a little blue marlin of no more than 75lb teased all the way in on the right cockpit but faded away in the poor light, never seeing the pitch.

The way I see it, there's 2-4 blues and a white just seen by us alone, that didn't get sore mouthed and just might bite tomorrow. Can't wait to be there.

06/05/17 - St. Thomas, Virgin Islands - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

3rd day June Moon
St Thomas 2017

Well, there's gonna be days where we don't catch one. Sometimes you fish all day and don't even see one. At least today was only the former of those days. We certainly put in overtime but it just wasn't in the cards for us. Quite a handful of window shoppers for all 4 boat's on the rip today. Fortunately for our colleagues a few fish bit and hung on with a few blues and whites being caught today.

Around 11:15am as the right dredge began to come in to clear grass, a blue pealed off it and slid up behind the right bridge. He never really fired up and faded back to the right cockpit. He followed it in for a bit but still never got excited and never saw the pitch. At 1:15 we were circling the DeBait as they fought one. Almost as soon as we heard the unfortunate result of a pulled hook, Steve and I both look back to see a giant Tiger shark tailing down sea in to the spread. Seen that before, but then for my first ever, it turns on the left cockpit and shoulders up on it. This beast was pushing water like a Manhattan garage barge barge. It was a short lived effort though when it realized that the "tictac" it turned on was moving at 8kts, so it lazily faded into the deep.

Just after 2 the center rigger lure pops down. The billfish chasing it was hardly larger than a houndfish on steroids and also lost interest. Just shy of 3pm we had our last encounter. This small blue showed up on the right cockpit teaser. Teasing a bit more aggressively we thought this was our shot. However, again, just short of the pitch bait, he faded off and never shows again. Guess you'll have that.

Long day but it had its moments. Enough for a story anyhow.

06/04/17 - St. Thomas, Virgin Islands - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

2nd day June Moon
St Thomas 2017

Today was a good bit slower than yesterday. The grass at times makes areas unfishable, but would open up for a mile or two of edge here and there. DaBAIT started off strong with 2/3 by 10am. Infrequent sightings and a couple of whites was about the sum of all else. We had a whitey encounter just before ten but he got tangled up in the pitch leader and never got hooked. A couple of blues were caught on the tide change around 1 but we struggled to find any action.

By 4pm I contemplated summoning interest in cutting our losses and getting a good night's sleep. 4:25 Some birds had started working offshore of us as we came down the edge so I started my turn to intercept. As I did, a fish streaked across the wash towards the fast side of the spread and aired it out on the right cockpit teaser. I spun the wheel back to that side to start the tease but the fish never showed. Still in that turn I pushed the throttle a bit and started to come around to get back on him. Just as we've turned around, he zips the left cockpit teaser. I get the boat straightened out and he peels out of the wash towards my left bridge teaser. Never really teases in much and fades away again. We get everything set to where it should be and I'm just about to turn back on him again, when he fires right back up on my bridge and comes in with it. This time, so committed to the teaser, that it sits under it as it hangs from the rigger. Finally realizing the teaser isn't coming back down he spins into the spread and eats the mullet pitch. Then as it head shakes away from the boat it pikes on the center rigger lure. Two leaders and two rods make pretty short work of this one and we release it quickly and in good shape.

I guess patience payed off again with another exciting end to a days work. I think most of the boat's that stuck it out, caught a blue by the end. DaBAIT had a good handful more shots and caught at least 3 maybe 4 for the day.

06/03/17 - St. Thomas, Virgin Islands - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

First a quick recap since my last update and then I'll get to it.

Everything went in to high gear after I reported of our first sea trial. Though finding ourselves near breaking point a handful of times, Steve and I did persevere and saw through one hell of a boat build. Many thanks to everyone who aided the project and made it all possible. On literally our third sea trial, we brought the boat home. 4 days later we were making tracks across the stream to end up in Boat Harbor for the Custom Boat Shootout. Granted it was a tournament, but it was also our shakedown cruise. You really don't want to be bothered by any pesky blue marlin during a shakedown anyhow, so for once the fish actually cooperated. After showing off the new boat and testing every possible system over the ten day trip, it was back to Merritts for a very small fix it list and a few days left of the two weeks to load for our summer tour. Which I'm very happy to say brings us to today.

We arrived in ST Thomas on Thursday. Though I believed it to be the most comfortable ride we've ever had down, in the standard southern Bahamas/north Caribbean Sea conditions, I doubt a few of our riders will make the trip again. Lol

One day of tackle prep and cleaning and it's time to fish. We put the spread out around 8 am. At about 8:45 we had a short zip on the left cockpit teaser. The culprit billfish showed us some color but never truly ID'd itself or returned to eat.

About a half hour later a big wahoo certainly north of 80# skied on our center rigger lure. It made 4 more attempts before finally getting hooked, but to our dismay pulled off anyhow.

Another ten minutes later our first blue rips the left bridge. I manage to get one more grab out of him on the tease but he never shows on the pitch and never tries anything else.

It was a drawn out mid day but at 2:48pm all that changed. As it comes off the dredge a nice fish piles on the left bridge. With a little coaxing, I get her fired back up and teasing well. The switch was textbook perfect and Tristan fed her the pitch as if on cue. She stayed on top and the near mile long chase in reverse at heavy throttles made enough prop wash to airlock nearly every raw water pump on board. An easy fix later. Steve grabs the leader as she makes one leap as she wins her freedom. A quick release on a nice +300# fish to break the new boat's cherry and start the venture in to a new REEL TIGHT legacy. We nearly got a leap forward on that venture.

At about 4:30pm I was making a turn back up the edge and noticed some birds working just offshore of me. So instead I made for their location. With my back to the spread I scanned for the birds to adjust for the best approach. As I turned back to our lures, there she was.... It looked like a black Lincoln town car paddling under the left cockpit teaser. In fact, I'm sure the guys below heard twice the amount of references to her size as they did direction to her whereabouts. As quickly as she appeared, she faded into the center of the spread and never showed again. Big fish always look surreal, really big fish leave a burn spot in your visual memory banks. This one scorched her mark in my top ten.

Hours later, I still feel a tremble as I relive today's moments. It's refreshing to be reminded occasionally why we've chosen to do what we do.

The bite has been good and today was as well. Quite a few blues seen today. The BETSY topping the fleet with a blue,3whites and two sails. REEL EXCUSE fighting their blue for a slam as well, as we're running in.

Welcome back to the Reel Tight boys! ABMT


07/26/16 - Donald L. Hammond - Dolphin Research Project Report

Marine Anglers,

There are not many topics that fishermen don’t care to discuss. The topic of this issue of the newsletter is one of those: parasites. This topic has made its appearance this year, confronting fishermen from the Florida Keys to the North Carolina Outer Banks. The specific issue is parasites in dolphinfish. It is not as simple as seeing a repulsive critter on or in the fish as it is being cleaned, because the particular parasite causing the major concern cannot be seen by the naked eye. However, the effect it has on the host fish cannot be ignored. This year has brought a significant increase in the number of cases of this condition being reported. Luckily the majority of the parasitic organisms found on or in dolphin do not cause such a dramatic change in the fish nor pose any danger to humans. This issue of the newsletter will likely answer a question that many fishermen have about a fish they have either caught or have seen. It will certainly amaze you about the number and kinds of parasites infesting dolphin.See Report

I hope you find this issue informative.

Good fishing,


Donald L. Hammond
Marine Fisheries Biologist
Cooperative Sciences Services, LLC
961 Anchor Rd.
Charleston, SC 29412-4902
(843) 795-7524
Visit Website

06/09/16 - St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands Report:

Greetings Fishermen!

Attached is this afternoon's photo of Lee Steiner and Ashley Mebl's catch of a 224lb swordfish. They were daytime fishing the St. Thomas famous North Drop on a 30+ Contender and finally got this tasty fish aboard after a 1 hour battle. The weigh station was alive with excitement and Stewart Loveland of Neptune Fishing Supply was the official weigh master. In attendance and witnessing the weigh in was Capt. Mike Lemon who had just hit town to start marlin fishing aboard Jose's beautiful Mojito. Summer 2016 fishing season kicks off on a nice catch!

02/28/16 - Isla Mujeres, Mexico - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

Between rough seas and herds of Bonitos, it's been a slow past couple of days. The best I heard was 7 for 10. Giving the wind a little more time to lay down we got started around 9am. Before we got out to the rest of the fleet I started marking bait. Once we got settled in, I started marking sailfish. It was only a matter of time. Unfortunately, it quickly became apparent that we've been spending too much time at the dock. It was over as fast as it started. In less than 2 1/2 hrs we raised at least 11, had 8 bites, and managed to only land 3. The bonitos found us at lunch time and there was no escape. We spent the rest of the afternoon wearing out the "speed perch" and our bait box. Never saw another sailfish until about 4:30. A double header popped up on the longs. Just to add insult to injury, they wouldn't eat. We're done fishing. Now we see if we're reading home.

02/23/16 - Isla Mujeres, Mexico - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

So I know it's been a while. We've been dockside for the last two weeks. Got to fish with another boat one day and managed to go out and put a hurting on some bottom fish. The sailfishing has been good and bad. Some days providing boats with 20-30 bites and then others not a fraction of that. We put in a half day today and unfortunately it didn't pan out to be one of those better days. To start, it blew 20-25kt when it was only suppose to be ten. When we finally managed to mark some bait, we worked it as hard as we could. Caught 2 out of a triple and pulled off two more singles before calling it quits. Here's a few shots of our bottom adventures.

02/23/16 - Donald L. Hammond - Dolphin Research Project Report

Marine Anglers,

How important is Sargassum to the abundance of dolphinfish? Dolphin are commonly caught in areas where there is not a piece of Sargassum anywhere in sight. Large schools of dolphin can be found in these wide open waters as well. So just how important is the presence of this floating macroalgae to successfully catching dolphin? The Dolphinfish Research Program has collected information to address this question for the past ten years. Information on the presence or absence of Sargassum in the area where each fish was tagged was collected. During this ten-year period, information was compiled on 15,949 dolphin that were tagged for the study. These fish were primarily tagged off the U.S. Atlantic coast but large numbers were also tagged in the Bahamas, Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico. The frequency of fish being caught in association with Sargassum did vary among regions. I don’t think anyone would argue that with an increase in the abundance of this oceanic plant, there comes a greater likelihood for large numbers of dolphin. But data suggest that while Sargassum was more abundant during 2014 and 2015 than in 2006 and 2007 the East Coast harvest of dolphin was down 31 percent from 2006 and 2007. Just because large quantities of Sargassum may show up off your coast does not guarantee large numbers of dolphinfish will be under it. This issue of the newsletter looks at the Sargassum question and how its importance varies among the regions. Hope you find it interesting. Visit Website

Good fishing,


Donald L. Hammond
Marine Fisheries Biologist
Cooperative Sciences Services, LLC
961 Anchor Rd.
Charleston, SC 29412-4902
(843) 795-7524
Visit Website

02/04/16 - Isla Mujeres, Mexico - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

Our last day fishing for the week couldn't have been any prettier. Less than 10kts South, slicked right out. Off to a good start with 2 out of 3. Not really a triple cause one jumped off before the third ate. Picked at em good through lunch. With the exception of two, we managed to turn every bite in to two or more and resulting in at least one caught. Then it shut down. I only heard of a few bites after 3. Still, we had a great day, finishing out with 11 for 20 saw a total of 27.

02/04/16 - Isla Mujeres, Mexico - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

Our last day fishing for the week couldn't have been any prettier. Less than 10kts South, slicked right out. Off to a good start with 2 out of 3. Not really a triple cause one jumped off before the third ate. Picked at em good through lunch. With the exception of two, we managed to turn every bite in to two or more and resulting in at least one caught. Then it shut down. I only heard of a few bites after 3. Still, we had a great day, finishing out with 11 for 20 saw a total of 27

02/02/16 - Isla Mujeres, Mexico - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

Yet another example of how much difference a day can make. In spite of a fresh 20kt wind from the SE the bite was on! No sooner did we put em out and the action cranked up. The fish weren't pushing bait balls like in days past. Instead, we were consistently raising them on the troll. Also we had Chance, the mate off the WHY KNOT and the extra hand in the pit allowed for effectively fishing some baits back while we maneuvered, at times turning a single fish in to a multiple.

By lunch we had seen the last of it. After 12 the only fish we saw would either raise and not eat or show while we were catching bonito, and still not eat. Then at 2pm on really hungry sail manage to eat just about every bait in the spread without getting hooked. Another 40 minutes of getting clobbered by slob bonitos and everyone had had enough. Final tally was 16 for 27 and raised another 9. Also saw a huge whale Shark. May lay in tomorrow supposed to blow some more.

02/01/16 - Isla Mujeres, Mexico - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

Back at it in Isla Mujeres. Apparently it had been pretty good while we were stateside.

First light on the rip looked like it was gonna be today as well. Birds pickin, sails cuttin bait, everything Mexico was meant to be. Gettin the bite was another story. Hey, I can appreciate the local boats tryin to please their charters, but pushin up on a plane to cut me off and throwing live bait eventually just pisses me off. We never could pull fish off the bait pods and it got even tougher when they started dropping divers in the water without so much as a flag. Not long before I had enough.

We got more shots off the fish anyhow. Unfortunately as the day progressed the bite faded. By the end of the day what fish were showing, didn't want to eat. The final tally: raised 20, had 15 bites and caught 5.

01/25/16 - Isla Mujeres, Mexico - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

Sat at the dock yesterday and watched it blow. Only boat in the marina to go out, came back with a broken rigger. Think we made a good call. With beautiful weather this morning we set out for our second day of fishing. As I rounded the point and tuned the radar I got pretty excited. I was marking thick knots of birds about 5 miles from where the bite had been. If they payed off we could get lucky to have a bunch of fish all to ourselves. Arriving at that location promoted that thought even further. With hundreds of Frigate Birds, many picking right at water level, everything looked perfect. Worked it for an hour.....not even a trash bite. Disappointed we set course for the consistent grounds of prior days. Half way there we hooked one but broke it off close to the boat. To add insult to injury, once we got in the pack, most of the fish we were seeing were behind other boats. By noon we had only caught 2 out of 6.

As we always do, we began to overthink our lack of success. More often than not we're far to hard on ourselves. While we're eating lunch, it hit the fan. Fish started showing up everywhere and on everything in the spread. Over the next 2hrs we saw another 20 fish behind the boat, not counting random pods under birds. When we finished, we had caught a daily total of 7 for 15 seeing 26. A pretty crazy couple hours, everybody had a blast.

A quick trip back home and we'll be back at it in a week.

01/22/16 - Isla Mujeres, Mexico - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

Well it's good to be back in Isla Mujeres. Been a long time since we came here to fish. Pretty excited about the 2016 season.

Our trip down was one of luck. While most would think the weather was far from acceptable for travel, we planned and caught the smallest window we could find. Riding on the backs of what were sometimes in the 10' class we made great time and pulled in to Isla in 28hrs out from Hillsboro. Towing our 42' the whole way.

After the last few days of prep, paperwork and rest, we picked up our guests and headed out for our first day of fishing. Unfortunately, the weather deteriorated all day. Sloppy 6-8' seas are hardly desirable on any day, much less our first run. No sooner did we get 'em out and we had a quad eat. A little mayhem inside and we released 1. We picked at 'em the rest of the day even hooking another quad and landing 2 of those. When we finally had enough ass kickin, we tallied up 7 for 19 seeing 24 total. Not great average but we had fun. In fact, I can't remember the last time I had that much fun on a 7 fish day.

01/22/16 - Capt. Jay Fowler - No Limt Sport Fishing - St. Thomas, VI

Left - Jeremy Fowler Jr's - First Fish!

Right - Great Wahoo Day!

01/22/16 - Donald L. Hammond - Dolphin Research Project Report

Marine Anglers,

While most of you are in the mid-winter doldrums of dolphin fishing, there are places that have reported some good fishing. South Florida has enjoyed one of its better winters for dolphin fishing, and in early January there were reports of good dolphin fishing in the Cayman Islands. Anglers on several of the Caribbean Islands are providing similar reports and that there are large amounts of Sargassum moving through the Caribbean. This could be a positive indicator of a good fishing season to come for the U.S. East Coast.

This issue of the newsletter announces those hard-working fishermen that went the extra mile in their tagging efforts and have earned the year-end awards. First-place winners receive a rod and reel outfit consisting of a Star Handcrafted standup trolling rod provided by Star Rods a division of Big Rock Sports of Graham, North Carolina, with a TLD 30 or 50 2 speed reel made possible by Haddrell’s Point Tackle and Supply of Mt. Pleasant and Charleston, South Carolina. Second-place finishers will receive a special gift package from Costa Del Mar of Daytona Beach, Florida, which will include the winner’s choice of a pair of their famous sunglasses.

This issue also announces a new grant received from the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation of Davie, Florida, that will allow the DRP to continue its long-term satellite tag tracking of the dolphin’s oceanic migration routes and continue to build the public tagging effort.

Hope you find this issue interesting.

Good fishing,


Donald L. Hammond
Marine Fisheries Biologist
Cooperative Sciences Services, LLC
961 Anchor Rd.
Charleston, SC 29412-4902
(843) 795-7524
Visit Website

01/06/16 - Mark Davis - Fishing with Capt Bubba Carter - Costa Rica

Los Suenos, Costa Rica - December 27-31, 2015

1 Yellowfin Tuna
49 Sailfish
4 Blue Marlin

(All marlin and sailfish were released)

Thanks to Capt. Bubba Carter and mates, Caesar & Eduardo! Capt. Bubba's Website

12/23/15 - Pete Wishney - Foxi Lady Report

Happy to report that the Billfish Foundation has awarded the "Foxi Lady" the top "Top Blue Marlin" tagging award in the Pacific for 2015. Our team "Denise, Ryno Mertens, Michelle Shiel and many friends. Thank you all for your help and support ($). Award Ceremony Feb. 11, 2016, Miami, FL "Drinks on Pete" Merry Xmas!

12/22/15 - Donald L. Hammond - Dolphin Research Project Report

It is amazing that each year the Dolphinfish Research Program continues to grow, revealing more amazing facts about dolphinfish. With our first tag recoveries in the Eastern Pacific and Gulf of Mexico, we hope to see the tagging activity increase in these areas to generate more tag recoveries, allowing us to map the movements of fish in these areas. This year the DRP was fortunate to have the necessary historical data plus current information for dolphin moving along the East Coast to show that the extremely poor dolphin fishing experienced by anglers from northeastern Florida to South Carolina was not because of a decline in the population, but rather an offshore shift in their migration route. In order to accurately address such sudden changes in dolphin fishing/occurrence, it takes long-term monitoring to establish a historical profile for the species. This is one of the goals of the DRP.

Every fisherman knows that dolphin love to eat flying fish but how do they catch food that takes to the wing and glides away? The British Broadcasting Corporation’s natural history section brings you an unparalleled view of how dolphin catch flying fish. This is part of a new show being produced called “The Hunt." You will be absolutely amazed by this video, and the one thing you will take away from the video is that you cannot troll too fast for dolphin. To view this amazing footage click on http://www.wideopenspaces.com/flying-fish-evade-predators/.

With this issue of the newsletter we begin a new year of research. In this issue the DRP introduces a fresh new look, thanks to the generosity of Dr. Guy Harvey. Another article takes a look at the amazingly strong 2015 tagging activity. The newsletter also announces a new partnership with the Brinton Environmental Center of the Boy Scouts of America located on Summerland Key, Florida. Center staff will use DRP materials to introduce scouts from all over North America to fisheries conservation and give them firsthand experience in fisheries science by way of tagging fish. Teaching youth solid conservation ethics will lead to better-informed and conservation-minded fishermen in the future. As you see the DRP continues to be blessed by the support from fishermen all over and by conservation-minded programs. We are ever grateful for this support.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. May 2016 be a fantastic year of fishing for you.


Donald L. Hammond
Marine Fisheries Biologist
Cooperative Sciences Services, LLC
961 Anchor Rd.
Charleston, SC 29412-4902
(843) 795-7524
Visit Website

10/29/15 - St. Thomas, Vi - Capt. Jay Fowler' 'No Limit' Catch!

Late night report - A 538lb. Swordfish was caught today on the Noth Drop after a 3+ hour fight. Largest ever captured in the Virgin Islands!

10/27/15 - St. Thomas, Vi - Capt. Blake A. Singleton's SF Cheeseburger Report:

The Cheeseburger wrapped up a 3 day North Drop trip on the October moon, going 3 for 6, +6. We lost 2 heartbreakers, one was 600lb plus this and would have been our biggest of the year no doubt... This fish did everything text book in the bait and switch game, after pilling on one of our bridge teasers and taking everything we had to get it away from her, she sees the pitch and goes for it 15 feet from the transom...we set the hook and she jumped clean out of the water, then dove straight down...30/40 minutes into the fight, with over 1000 yards of line still out, she spit the hook.

On another, we hooked her on the pitch, a much smaller fish, but as we were feeding her in free spool, she decided she liked the long teaser better and spit the bait. We saw most of our fish between 40 and 42 right on the edge. It was a good trip, we saw fish from 75lbs to 600+. Even with most of our fish being on the smaller side 150/200# they all put on a fantastic show, we couldn't be more pleased with the decision to hang around and fish the October moon. Until next year.

09/26/15 - Dominican Republic - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

Reel Tight - 2nd day Trip Home

Well with Joaquin actually still tracking into our path and gaining strength, we made the decision to duck in to the DR and wait this one out. Tied up at Ocean World and patiently waiting to see the storm take its eventual track north and out of our way.

We were 1-2 maybe 3 on blues yesterday, with a Mahi. Also caught a mahi and barracuda this morning.

09/26/15 - St. Thomas, Vi - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

6th day September Moon - North Drop, St Thomas

High hopes after yesterday. The edge was still holding up a pretty decent bite. Too bad the area up top petered out. We did have a shot at a little guy 100# or less, just before 9am. But he jumped off close to the boat. Spent the rest of the day searching for the next bite. It never came.

Listened to drop be pretty good though. Couldn't keep up with most of the numbers but everybody saw fish. At least 6 boats saw three and 3 of those saw 5. Quite a few were still fishing when we packed it in. Still anxious to get more of the action, our last day may be canceled. Best fishing of the season and we're quitting early? I don't get it!

Need to add this story: the MARLIN PRINCE, local charter boat down here, had a tale like no other. After having a few encounters for the day, they did manage to keep one on and get him in for release. As the mate, Travis Morrison, got a hold of the leader, the fish darted under the boat but never came out. Fearing the line was hung around the rudder and the fish would be chopped if the boat was put in gear, Young Travis sprang into action. He jumped overboard to untangle the leader and free the fish! What he found the fish had actually bit down on the shaft and wouldn't let go. Travis managed to pull the fish loose of the shaft, remove the hook, and swim the fish to resuscitation. A fish story for the ages.

Top boats for release, that I could recall: BLUE VIEW 3+1sailfish - SHARKEYS 2 - JICHI 2 - BETSY 2.

09/25/15 - St. Thomas, Vi - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

5th day September Moon - North Drop, St Thomas

With only two days left in our season and it finally feels like St Thomas. The drop was on fire today. Tunas and birds everywhere and a full fleet. The bite even started pretty early. Even though we had a good solid teaser pull at 9:50am, it never felt right and we pushed on up the line. I have to mention that somehow today became a crew day. Jimmy's choice to take a back seat certainly became more comical than anticipated. The end result probably won't be getting us too many crew days. Not soon anyway LOL!

A couple miles short of our numbers we get aggressive little 150# on the right bridge at 12pm. Not aggressive enough cause he snubbed the mackerel and faded off. 12:20 another right bridge. 300# Good tease and eat but spits it. Switches to left cockpit, teases in hot all the war under the rigger, piles on the pitch, jumps over the center rigger and coughs up the bait. Fires back up and piles on the center rigger. After a solid 30 minutes of battle pulls off inside of the rigger distance. 12:58 another right bridge fish, this one about 200#. Teases in aggressive and crushes the pitch, drops back and turns back to the boat as we come tight and the bait pulls out. He fades back and eats the rigger too, and we finally catch one.

2pm right cockpit bite. Gets a hold of it a few good times and cools off on the way in. Never showed. 200# 2:55 down and tight on center rigger. Boss wanted to run the boat on one so I went down and caught it 200#. 3:45 left cockpit crash. Streaks across spread and hits right cockpit. Super hot tease all the way to the boat and eats pitch. As we clear the lines the fish make a few huge jumps away and throws the hook +400#. 5:20 we get another super hot fish on the left bridge about 150-200#. Teases under the rigger and full body airs it out on the pitch. Pulls off without pulling drag. Tries both cockpit teasers but never comes in again.
The day was surreal. I'm sure not every raised fish, bite or even catch, was put on the radio but these numbers were the best I could keep up with:

JICHI 5/6 - A1A. 2/4 - BETSY 2/2 - MARLIN PRINCE 2/4 - NO AGENDA. 2/6 - THERAPY. 1/1 - NEVER SAY NEVER 0/? - BLUE VIEW. 1/2 - AISIAN PEARL 1/2 - WAVE PAVER 2/2 - SHARKYS ? - BLACK PEARL. 1/1 - CHEESBURGER. 0/0? - RUCKUS 1/1, 9 tuna, 9 mahi and a load of deep snapper.

Click on photos to enlarge:

09/25/15 - Donald L. Hammond - Dolphin Research Project Report

Marine Anglers:

Where has the fishing season gone? We are already into fall and we are not finished with our summer fishing. Think of it this way: it just offers us the opportunity to fish new areas where the fish are.

Fishermen are well aware of the competition for fish between the commercial sector and the recreational sector. When it comes to stock allocation there is a sense of us against them from both groups. There are even contentious arguments over harvest shares within the commercial fishery between gear types. Fishery managers, however, are more keenly aware that there is a subdivision within the recreational sector than most anglers realize, and that is the subject of the feature article in this issue of the newsletter. Using the harvest study conducted by the DRP at a marina located in Charleston, South Carolina, a comparison is drawn between the private boat and for-hire (charter) boat segments in the recreational fishery.

This issue also highlights the achievement by one of the tagging program’s most successful tagging crews. Don Gates and his crew aboard his boat Killin Time II tagged their 2,000th dolphin this summer, making them the first private boat crew to reach this lofty goal. This accomplishment means that they have generated more tagged fish recaptures than any other boat crew in this study. As a result of their effort in support of the scientific study of dolphinfish, Florida Sportsman magazine in its September 2015 issue recognized Don and his crew as exemplary Florida sportsmen. In the same issue of the Florida Sportsman magazine is an excellent article about the DRP study by David Conway. I encourage you to pick up a copy to read this informative article.

See October 2015 Dolphin Report: Here - Also, fishermen should be aware that they can read the DRP’s newsletter on Sports Fishing magazine’s Web site on line.

Good fishing,


09/24/15 - St. Thomas, Vi - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

4th day September Moon - North Drop, St Thomas

Hardly got up on a plane this morning and smoke from the engine room. Well it ended up being steam. Something blew on the stbd genset and we had coolant spraying everywhere. Oh well, fix it later, switch gennys and keep Rollin. Intending on getting back up top to the numbers, we still managed to get sidetracked. We chased a school of big yellowfin for a good while, but never could get them to eat. By the time we got back to the fleet not much had happened yet.

We saw our first fish at 11:15am. A nice fish over 300#. Crashed the left bridge and lazily teased in. Checked out the Mack pretty good but wouldn't eat and faded off. Most of the time we get a fish in the spread, I try to call out specifically what teaser position it has appeared. At 11:47am all I could get out other than a few colorful expletives was "Big Fish"!!! She exploded out of the white water, head and shoulders after the left bridge but never got it. She spun around and tapped me one more time but then faded back to the left cockpit. As her bill came up behind the lure in sailfish fashion, it was pushing a wake. Never would tease up. All I know is she was bigger than anything we called 500# this year.

Working the area, at12:07 a fish I thought to be 150# crashes the lure on the right dredge reel. As he fades back I get him to switch to the squid chain and tease him in. He eats the pitch but is locked up on too quickly and after a short drag pull, spits the bait. Still in the turn and resetting the teasers, the center rigger comes down. After over an hour battle our guest angler released her first blue marlin. A feisty 275#. Not sure that was the same fish. Never did see another fish and eventually worked back down to the saddle where fish are starting to show again. The bait was also pretty thick there. Hopefully the drop will turn on here soon.

MARLIN PRINCE 4/5 - NO AGENDA 1/2 - THERAPY 2/3 - A1A 0/1 - JICHI 1/? Plus 1 sailfish - WAVE PAVER 0 - BLUE VIEW. 1/?

09/23/15 - St. Thomas, Vi - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

3rd day September Moon - North Drop, St Thomas

Well it seemed doomed to be another slow day. We had pounded the saddles and good bit of west of the corner by lunch and hadn't seen a thing. Rest of the fleet was up around the 51 line where most of the action had been yesterday. Even though only three fish had been seen and one caught, we decided to join the crowd. Good call. Our first fish showed at 1:09pm. A good tease in on the right bridge and an aggressive bite on the pitch, but not long after clearing the spread we jumped off the 150# little guy. 30 minutes later making a pass in the same area,?we get another crash bite out of a little guy on the right bridge. He teases well to the boat but snubs the mackerel and barely taps the left cockpit as he leaves. Frustrating.

Around 2:30 we get an explosion on the left cockpit. In the glare it looked to shoulder back up on it but never fully appeared. The guys bring the lure in for inspection as I turn to pass over he same spot. I get a pull on my right bridge. A fish about 150# we figure to be the same one just won't tease in. Goes away. Again we make a turn and I get wa-powed! on the left bridge. Looks like the same fish. This is ridiculous! Now I'm thinking this one fish is following us and just "tasting" everything in the spread. Bound and determined to catch this bugger, we make another pass. I get crushed again on the left bridge. Different fish this time for sure, about twice the size of our previous bandit. In bigger fish style this one teases perfect and eats the pitch. Nearly an hour later we get her boat side and turn her loose. 300#. No sooner do we get the spread back out and fish piles on the center rigger. The 200#'r stays near the surface and we turn it loose quickly.

Now it's about 4:00. We get the spread reset and all of the sudden a fish explodes out of the water adjacent to the left bridge and greyhounds on its side right down the side of the boat nearly jumping through the salon window. Some think it's was the fish we had just released escaping sharks, I thought the fish looked bigger. Pretty damn cool either way. Having salvaged out a pretty awesome day, we were just a bit down the line when we called it quits and began packing it in for the day at 5:30. A fish pulled on the center rigger as it was the only thing left in the water. Gets us down 3/4 spool in a hurry. Dean ends up donning the stand up harness and planed up what ends up being a 350# tail wrapped fish. She still had some color so we spent the next 10-15 minutes dragging her until she came around. And we released in good shape well into dark at 1/4 til 7. What a day.


09/22/15 - St. Thomas, Vi - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

2nd day September Moon - North Drop, St. Thomas

Tough to get too colorful about today. Numbers didn't have it terribly slow, but the results didn't feel much better. Starting the morning off right. My routine engine room inspection uncovered a blown valve cover gasket and 4 gallons of oil to clean up. Still we only lost a half hour of fishing. Unfortunately, we didn't see our first fish til after lunch. A nice 250-300# crashed the left bridge, but that was the last of his effort. It only teased a little and never ate. Throughout the afternoon two more little blues and one white did even less than that. Though they showed up behind something, none of them ever tried to tease or eat, leaving us as quickly as they appeared. Other boats experienced some of the same and some were able to connect on a few. Caught/Seen: A1A 2/6 NO AGENDA 2/4 GULF RASCAL 0/4 THERAPY 0/2 + 1 white BLVK PEARL 0/1

09/21/15 - St. Thomas, Vi - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

1st day September Moon - North Drop, St Thomas

Last few days for the couple of boats that have been fishing sounded pretty good. A bit of a disappointment as the day unfolded to be relatively slow in comparison.

We had an extremely aggressive 225# show up on the left cockpit around 9:50am. No matter how fast Dean could pull that teaser this fish was catchin it. After 4 or 5 solid eats and drag pulls, he switched and ate the pitch. Stayed right up on top and let us turn him loose in just a few minutes. Around lunch we had ventured off to the west to check things out when we had an interesting encounter. A school of football sized bonitos, 100yds square, ponied up next to our spread and paced us for about 10 minutes. Neat to see but they were far too comfortable for us to assume our target was anywhere near that area.

As we worked back inshore we finally got back up on the edge in some scattered weed around the 45 line around 1:30pm. A little guy about 150# shows on the right bridge squid chain and gets a few good shots at it on the tease. He never shows on the pitch bait. As we start to straighten out, he crashes the left bridge and continues to crush it all the way in to the boat. This time he switches to the pitch and takes an aggressive shot at it but misses. The drop back over shot him and he never found the bait. Instead he piles on the left cockpit and teases up to the boat again. The bait had not yet got into proper position, so he passes it up and crashes the right cockpit. Unfortunately only teasing in half way and never giving us another shot. Exciting to say the least. That was the extent of our action.

MARLIN PRINCE 1/2 - A1A 0/2 + 1 white - NO AGENDA 0 - GULF RASCAL 0 - THERAPY 0/2

08/30/15 - St. Thomas, Vi - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

6th and last day August moon - North Drop, St Thomas - Last day Boy Scout

Struggled with the option of running to Anegada or just stay on the drop. Knowing it would take at least 3 fish to take the lead with the standings at the beginning of the day and probably more to keep it, we figured a 5 fish day could happen anywhere. Shut down offshore of the 45 line just before lines in. Right at lines in the bait popped up offshore of us. In pursuit we get a fish on the right bridge. Hooked up!! 5 minutes after lines in. A fairly easy catch we released a 275# quick and got back to it.

The bait disappeared so we worked back inshore. Got to the saddle and went to turn on a another bait pod. Never finished the turn when a fish about 300# shows on the right bridge. Very aggressive, catching me a couple times on the way in. Just inside the pitch he manages to snatch line out of my had which slows him to turn. Once I wrestled it away he cooled off and disappeared. As we come around to possibly raise him again. A small fish about 125# tugs on my left bridge. Again teases up to the boat and fades without showing anywhere else.

At 10 til 2, we get back into the edge and have another right bridge bite. Fish teased to under the rigger, ignored the pitch and faded into the spread. 30sec. Later, blasts the right cockpit but never teases in again.

Just after 3pm as Dean was clearing weed on the left cockpit, a nice fish comes screaming out of the wash to look, spins around and vanishes. Well, guess we got our 5 fish day.

Anegada was dead. Three boats out there and 4 fish seen. 3 caught. Though once again the winning boat finishes out in Anegada. Most of the boats on the drop saw around three fish each that I could gather from the radio. Some maybe more.

Tournament standings: 1st PESCADOR 5, 2nd NEVER SAY NEVER 4, 3rd MARLIN RAPTOR 3, 4th WAVE PAVER 2, 5th REEL TIGHT 2, 6th SHARKYS 2, 7th JICHI 1, 8th STALKER 1, 9th BLACK PEARL 1.

08/24/15 - St. Thomas, Vi - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

3rd day August moon - North Drop, St Thomas

Laid in yesterday. Had to do some work on the boat. Prep tackle for tourney and swap out some guests. The few boats still around all got together and collectively agreed, in the best interest of the BoyScout participation, we'd fish Saturday and Sunday and have a 60/40 split. By 12pm today. Most of those boats fled to Puerto Rico. Possibility of a tournament has faded.

In the meantime, we headed out fishing late due to a last minute repair. Put the lines out at 10:30am. At 11:05 had a nice aggressive 150# blue tease in on the left bridge, eat perfect and let us catch him pretty quick. At 12:41 we get a little zip on the right cockpit. This fish also teases in nice and eats well. We catch this one relative fast too. Great aerials on the wire for photos. About 300# Then at 3:47 we get another fish on the right cockpit. Great tease and pitch. About 250#.

NEVER SAY NEVER 2/4 - GULF RASCAL 2/3 - SHARKEY's REVENGE 1/4 - JICHI 1/5. Would've been a great start to the BoyScout. Storm is minimal. We're riding it out at the dock and hopefully back at it on Friday.

08/24/15 - St. Thomas, Vi - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

2nd day August Moon - North Drop, St Thomas Pretty cool how today played out. Last day of the Billfish Tournament for Haiti. At lines in the standings were: GULF RASCAL 2, THERAPY 2, REEL TIGHT 1. Right after lines in RASCAL hooks up and lands their fish in 20min. Three minutes later we have a fish show up on the left cockpit. Teases in aggressively, lunges up and snatches my bridge teaser which was still hanging at water line. Never sees the pitch and screams across spread to the right cockpit. As we tease in and switch everything to that side, another fish hangs itself on the center rigger. We proceed to tease the first fish up again and it drops the pitch. Switches back to the left bridge that I had let back out. Meanwhile we're into the backing on he rigger fish. We tease the fish in again, now out of gear and get it to finally eat.

Double header!!! Both over 300# In an effort to get some line on the fish furthest out, we lose a good bit on the second fish hooked. For nearly an hour we had on fish straight off the bow and one dead astern. With both fish to the bottom of the spool, one actually to the knot, we essentially had a 1400yrd roadblock on the North Drop. With a lot of communication, extensive drag manipulation and a whole bunch of luck we got both fish to go down sea and began to run them down. We got the rigger fish within 100ft from the boat when she sounded and was eaten by sharks. Another 35 min of heavy battle and we released the pitch fish. RASCAL missed another fish around 1pm.

We finally get a nice little 150# aggressive fish up on the right cockpit at 1:26pm. And catch him in less than 5 minutes. Then with 30 minutes left THERAPY hooks a double to make for a real nail biter. Almost catch one real quick but pulled the hook and the second was eaten by sharks. Tragic. His day was salvaged when they caught one reeling the lines in after lines out. So GULF RASCAL held on to 1st - We got 2nd - THERAPY 3rd - MARLIN PRINCE 2/4 - UNO MAS 2/3 - SHARKY's REVENGE 0/1 - FULL TIME ??

08/23/15 - St. Thomas, Vi - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

1st day August moon - North Drop, St Thomas

Really starting to feel like St Thomas again. Weed wasn't bad. Water was perfect. Birds and bait working all day from the corner to the saddle. Click on photo to enlarge Quite a few boats saw two or more fish today and it sounded like they're still pretty nice fish.

We had our first encounter at 7:30am. Came in and made a good shot at the right cockpit teaser but never appeared again. At almost 10 one grabbed the right bridge outta nowhere and ripped it back to the cockpit under full drag. Never came back. I suppose the rubber mudflap was filling enough. Just past 12:30pm we get another teaser ate on the left bridge. I finally got it away from her and she still charged all the way to the boat on the left cockpit. After almost an hour we let her go. A nice 400#'er. Finally had one more shot at almost 5pm. Another 250# on the left cockpit. Teased in and ate very aggressively. We almost got the release and a few heads shakes threw the hook. The numbers may only reflect fish seen not necessarily bites: GULF RASCAL 3/3-4, THERAPY 2/4-5, MARLIN PRINCE 0/4, CHEESBURGER 1/2, BLACK PEARL 0/2-3, NEVER SAY NEVER 1/1, AMARITA 2/3, SHARKY'S REVENGE 0/0=4.

08/02/15 - St. Thomas, Vi - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

Unbelievably beautiful water up to the 43 line and west. A couple fish were seen on the edge and 1 caught but the bulk of the action was a good bit out to the west. We picked up early cause the boss is flying out. By the time we left 9 boats had only released 4 fish.

We did finally have a shot around 1pm. My smallest blue marlin was only 15lb. This one couldn't have been too much bigger. As it teased in on the cockpit teaser I repeatedly stated it was small but when asked if they should throw the ballyhoo, I said mackerel. Wrong call. As I looked at the fish under the rigger I realized just how wrong I was. Dean was already in motion getting the ballyhoo in the water as I called an audible. It wasn't enough. The hungry little bugger grabbed the Mack, took a quick look at the ballyhoo as he fled the spread with his oversized meal. Trying an extra long drop, hoping he could get it down, only put him well out of play when the drag engaged and he dropped it.

Not what we'd hoped to finish out the moon with, but everyone had a great time and we all can't wait to get back at it later this month.

08/01/15 - St. Thomas, Vi - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

10th day July Blue Moon - St Thomas - Really hard to be upbeat at this point. The only consolation is that out of the numerous fish seen on the drop today, only 6 or 7 were actually caught and 3 of those were on one boat. Only one showed up in our spread today. Nothing more than a quick swirl behind the squid chain. Blue marlin, clear as day, but gone as fast as he came. One more day. Will it be misery or success? Tomorrow will tell.

07/31/15 - St. Thomas, Vi - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

Hobbly gobbly rough today. Pretty weed free from the corner to the 43 line. Then again above the 46.5 Had something yank on a cockpit teaser and the center early but never saw it. Just a boil. Sometime after 2pmwe finally get one on the right bridge. Teases all the way in and eats the pitch. Drops it. Then a fish shows up on center. Follows for a good bit then fades. Shows up again a few seconds later and knocks it down. Never shows again. I describe it this way, because it may have been two different fish. I thought it appeared a good bit bigger on the center than it did under the rigger. Irrelevant. Without a catch. Had another smaller fish take a good head and shoulder out of the water pass on the right cockpit and just keep heading off down sea.

The drop in general is getting right. Quite a few fish seen today. Some didn't eat, others were pulled hooks. Still got another day and a half to keep plugging away and make it happen. Though, too many more fish get hooked right next to me and I just might lose it!

Some of the 2nd numbers include fish raised and maybe not bites as best I can recall: MARLIN PRINCE 3/4, A1A 2/4, THEARAPY 1/1, MIXED BAG 1/3, BLACK PEARL 1/2, NEVER SAY NEVER 2/3, BETSY 0/2, CHEESEBURGER ?

07/30/15 - St. Thomas, Vi - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

Last day July Moon Open - Went with my gut and chose to fish the Drop while most of the fleet went to Anegada. Ended up with hardly any company and a decent stretch of manageable weed on about 3-4 miles of edge. Meanwhile, the weed pushed in to Anegada and the fleet was docked in. The decision seemed gold when at about 9:15am we raised a blue about 250# to the right bridge. He teased right upto the boat and shot into the whitewater. As we waited for him to show I gave the wheel a back and forth and there he was, 5ft off the transom, dead center. As if he was memorized by the wheels. Then he peeled off and took a fleeting shot at the left bridge. We did catch a white before lunch but the only blues we saw the red of the day were behind someone else. Two different fish were hook just a stones throw away.

Even though the fleet was putting on the full court press, and amidst the weed, the top two boats still managed to put on a clinic out to the east. WAVE PAVER caught 3 today giving them 7 overall and locking in the win. MISTRESS caught 2 taking 2nd daily and 2nd overall. Sadly for fishing, those were the only fish caught out there. Congratulations and mad respect to the top boats for some tough fishing. Still got a few more days. Probably gonna kill it tomorrow.

07/30/15 - Ryan 'Ryno' Mertens - Foxi Lady- Costa Rica Report:

we just got back from a 6 day trip offshore to a few different FADs , ended up going 30/45 raising 51 blues. The bite here has been un real the last month and should only get better the next couple months. Calm seas and no sea weed, hard to beat.

07/29/15 - St. Thomas, Vi - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

7th day July Blue Moon - North Drop, St Thomas

2nd day of Tourney

Finally got on the board. At 12:21pm working some clean water a couple miles shy of the Cuban Hole, a nice fish crushed the squid chain. Aggressive teases in to the boat but faded off of the mackerel pitch. Crashed once on the right cockpit and then ate the center. Got nearly 3/4 spool of line off by the time we were cleared and started the chase. Almost three miles in reverse at a good clip to get most of it back, then the battle began. The stubborn fish fought straight up and down for the remainder of an hour no further than the rigger mark away. Tristan did a bang up job of manipulating drag and ultimately changing the fish's mind. We got her at 1:37. 350#.

Pretty slow on the drop more hooks were pulled today than fish caught. 9 fish for the day total. 2 on the edge, ours way up top, and 6 in Anegada. Hmmmmm, where do we go tomorrow?


07/28/15 - St. Thomas, Vi - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

6th day July Blue Moon - North Drop, St Thomas 1st day 52 Annual July Open - Unofficial results: 1st MISTRESS 2/3, 2nd NEVER SAY NEVER 1/2, 3rd GULF RASCAL 1/2, 4th WAVE PAVER 1/?, 5th PESCADOR 1/? Not in tourney - THERAPY 3/4.

We pulled one off on the center rigger around 3:45. We were probably a 1/4 mile or less from any of 9-10 bites Pretty frustrating.

07/27/15 - St. Thomas, Vi - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

5th day July Blue Moon - North Drop, St Thomas. The seaweed favored us through the saddles most of the day. NEVER SAY NEVER tried to fish up the road around mid day but was eventually forced to venture back down where we were virtually weed free. Wasn't a stellar bite for the fleet but we were fortunate to see a few today.

Our first shot came at 8:50, very aggressive left bridge teaser bite. Smoked the pitch bait. Then after chasing him a good bit around and a few arial displays we pulled the hook a hundred feet away. 200# 9:24 another 200# paces along side the same bridge teaser. Then he fades back and takes a look at the left cockpit. He never really fired up and faded off without eating. 11:55, starts off slow tease on the left bridge. Gets more fired up with a few short bites. Turns into an explosive pitch bite. Run him down in a 3 mile backdown. 250#. 1:58 another 200# lazily starts in on the left cockpit. Once it gets about half way to the boat, bolts into the center of the spread like he was shot out of a cannon. Never showed again. 3:53 another left cockpit bite. Gets more aggressive the more it teases in and turns into a powerful pitch bite. Boss-man takes the wheel and I jump down to wire our 2nd fish of the day. 250#

Fleet Report - NEVER SAY NEVER 1/1, MARLIN PRINCE 0/1, BLACK PEARL 0/2, MIXED BAG 0/1. Three other boats no report.

Editor's additional notes from Black Pearl: 0/2+4 Capt Jim said the 4 were slapping teasers all over the boat but didn't bite anything they threw at them.

07/27/15 - Donald L. Hammond - Dolphin Research Project Report

Marine Anglers,

This issue of the newsletter will bring you up to date on the tags that have been reported recovered through the end of June. There was one recovery that even opened my eyes wide. It was recovered more than 1,400 miles from where the fish was released, which isn’t that spectacular, since we have had fish recovered 2,500 miles from the release site. However, the direction of the recovery site from the release point was a total surprise, northwest. I never thought that a tag recovery would come from this state. Other tag recoveries this year create a picture that has never been seen before and raise many questions as to what it means about the health of the fish stock.

The way tag recoveries are reported in this issue has changed to a new format, where we utilize the new general movement maps that were introduced in 2014. The movement routes, shown on the Web site's General Movement Patterns page, were constructed from the more than 500 tag recoveries reported in this study. These are used to discuss the current movements from a broader perspective. Details of each tag recovery are provided in a spreadsheet on the Results Page and on the enlarged version of each Movement Map.

I hope you find this issue interesting. See latest Dolphin Report


Donald L. Hammond
Marine Fisheries Biologist
Cooperative Sciences Services, LLC
961 Anchor Rd.
Charleston, SC 29412-4902
(843) 795-7524
Visit Website

07/26/15 - St. Thomas, Vi - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

4th day July Blue Moon - North Drop, St Thomas. Six boats started today. Three went in at lunch each with 1 bite. We stayed below the 43 line all day with MARLIN PRINCE who also had one bite and caught it. beautiful water, bait everywhere and no weed. Separated from us by three miles of unfishable weed filled water was the NEVER SAY NEVER WHO FISHED ABOVE THE 46 line all day. They ended up seeing 5 blues and a white. They caught 3 and the white. All the blues being nicer fish with one 500# and the fish that didn't eat even bigger.

Our first sighting was at 9am. A very big fish, over 600#, showed up on a cockpit teaser. She paced it as we brought it in closer and only made one half assed attempt at it before fading off and never showing again. I was trying to find that fish the rest of the day.

Our 2nd shot came at 11. A massive explosion and zip on the squid chain, teases up to the boat, turns on the pitch, snubs it and fades back to another explosive shot at the right cockpit. Gone. We spin around hard to try and get on him again and he shows back up in the left bridge, but only for a second and again fades away. 300# 30 minutes later in the same area, another fish a little smaller crashes the right bridge again,?this one eats. The pitch, spits it out and comes back in to eat it right the second time. We catch this one quick. About 200#.

At about 2:15, we get an anonymous knockdown on the center. Never came back but left solid billfish sign on the leader. Then nothing until we're about to clear the lines at the end of the day when we get another massive explosion on the right cockpit. As we're trying to tease it up and see it, it blows up just as huge on the left cockpit, but we never see it again. These may have been big yellowfin busts but we'll never know.

07/25/15 - St. Thomas, Vi - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

3rd day July Blue Moon - North Drop, St Thomas - Well the day certainly started off right. At about ten til eight we get a huge crash on the right cockpit. The fish pulls drag passed the center rigger which it switches to and eats on the way back in. Though we got close a few times, it still took a solid hour to subdue our biggest fish of the season. 4-500# and I'm leaning towards 5. About an hour later we get a whitey on the center, but he throws the hook in an arial backflip. Dropping the lure back and cranking in quickly got him to come back in and try a cockpit teaser but he still faded off when the lure got covered in weed.

Didn't see another thing until nearly 3:15 pm. While shaking grass on the squid chain, a fish boils right behind it. Never see him again until he comes sizzling in on the center rigger, noses right up to it and bolts out like he got electrocuted. A few of the boats were pretty quiet on the radio. Best I can put together is there were probably about 10 fish seen again today. Couple boats only saw 1. NEVER SAY NEVER was 0/2+1, BLACK OUT went 2 for 4 and Black Pearl was 0/1.

07/24/15 - St. Thomas, Vi - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

2nd day July Blue Moon - North Drop, St Thomas REEL TIGHT - WOW! Did that day ever suck! Whatever optimism came from our day yesterday has flown out the window. We couldn't drum up a trash bite today. The rest of the fleet hardly set the world on fire either. Five other boats out with us today and only 9 or 10 fish seen and only 2 maybe a third caught.

07/23/15 - St. Thomas, Vi - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

What a day on the drop! Only boat out and had the entire edge to ourselves. First encounter came at 9:03am. A nice fish about 200# showed up on the left bridge but never teased in. Then at 9:50 am. another nice 225# crashed the right bridge, teased all the way up under the rigger, switched and piled on the mackerel. Unfortunately it was a thrash with the bill and we came up denied. Twenty minutes later a little 150# teases in on the left bridge, eats the pitch, spits it out, then fades back to left cockpit. Teases all the way back in but won't eat. Takes two more shots at the right cockpit but won't tease in again. After an hour of angst another 225# shows on the left bridge. This one teases perfect and eats the mack. On the drop back, he shows up on the left cockpit. Dean proceeds to tease the fish back up under the rigger while Tristan winds up the line. We get 15' from the leader when the fish realizes there's a hook in its mouth and takes off. 30 minutes later we get our first release. At 12:01 a little tiny fish shows up paddling behind the left cockpit. As he disappears, momma piles on the right cockpit. She teases all the way in and eats the pitch; game on! After an awesome arial display and a grueling 1 hour battle on stand up, the line breaks less than a foot away from grabbing the leader for release. 3-400#.

Until then the best parts of the drop had remained weed free. During the fight that all changed as the weed socked in all the way to the 45 line. Up the road we go. Finally, at 3:20pm we get a little fish about 150# on the right cockpit. Teases in right up to the pitch and then fades off. Working the area, at 3:45, a nice fish teases in on the right bridge and eats right. We catch this one quick and it's right about 300#. Pounding the numbers, at 4:26pm. Another +300# piles on the left bridge, teases in, eats the pitch but spits it and fades. 4:57 a fish about 150# shows on the right cockpit, tease all the way to the boat and disappears in the glare. Finally, 5:30, a very small fish shows behind the right cockpit again. Only teases in half way, never shows. So in all we were 2 for 6 saw 11. Of course not the ratio you look for but a very fun day and very promising for the moon.

06/30/15 - St. Thomas, Vi - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

Though the seas ranged from fearful to frightening, and played hell with trying to make a lure spread look good, there were a few fish to be had today. NEVER SAY NEVER started everyone off early catching one fish out of a double. MARLIN PRINCE did his best to pick away at shots and put on a clinic. He was able to land 2 out of the 5 fish he saw all day. We had two cheap tease bites during most of his action. Neither of the fish ever teased in close enough to pitch and never showed anywhere else. We eventually got way up the line again in our hunt. Around 2:45 it paid off when we got a hungry little fish to tease in and give us two solid shots on the pitch before getting hooked. 175# Shortly thereafter back down in the corner, NEVER SAY NEVER landed both fish in another double. A 300# and a 400#. NO AGENDA - 0/1, BLACK PEARL - no report

06/29/15 - St. Thomas, Vi - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

6th day St Thomas June/July moon Water continues to improve, though today was roughest it's been. We even managed to take blu Ayer through the forward curtain while trolling up sea. Had a fish raise pretty early to a cockpit teaser but went away without an attempt. Caught a white around 10 and expected the day to progress from there but no such luck. We did finally get a half assed tease out of a little 100#'r around 3pm but he never tried a hook. Two other boats never saw a fish. MARLIN PRINCE 0/2 NEVER SAY NEVER 1/3 or 4

06/28/15 - St. Thomas, Vi - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

5th day St Thomas June/July Moon

Still slow but he water color was the best it's been overall, from corner to gunsight. The seaweed was also quite manageable and in some cases nearly gone. We managed to land the only blue marlin today. A nice aggressive 225-250#. Teased in on squid chain but after catching me a few times cooled off and didn't eat the pitch right away. Once it switched to the left cockpit though, it fired right back up and did everything right. Later o. In the afternoon, back down in the short saddle, we had one other encounter. A nice fish 3-400# came sizzling in to the spread from outside, but disappeared as quickly, never having tried anything we had to offer. Also towards the end of the day we had something make three pretty solid attempts at a cockpit but never teased in. Other boats had some meat fish action, so at this point we believe it to have been a large wahoo. Other boats as radio would have it: ABIGAIL - 0/1 maybe 2 on blues, w/80lb yellowfin - NEVER SAY NEVER -0/1 - MARLIN PRINCE - lost a large yellowfin at boat and boxed a +70# wahoo.

06/27/15 - St. Thomas, Vi - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

4th day St Thomas. June/July Moon Pretty slow day for the drop. Though the weed cleaned up a bit and the water got a little more blue in the saddle, the best looking area was again offshore and a bit above the gunsight. We had a blue knockdown the center and never really eat it right again and caught a white. NEVER SAY NEVER 0/1 - CHEESBURGER 0/1 - NO AGENDA 2/3 - Two other boats never reported.

06/26/15 - St. Thomas, Vi - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

3rd day St Thomas June/July Moon In comparison, the slowest day this week for us. Though the grass allowed us to venture off to areas we haven't been to this season, it didn't pay off as we may have hoped. Not until almost 1pm and way up the line and around the bend of the drop did we see our first and only blue of the day. A little fella maybe 100#, teased in on a bridge teaser ate the Mack but struggled to get it down. After lettin go, he still crashed the center rigger and took a ton of line but threw the hook after a spastic arial display. A little over an hour later we had a similar encounter with a little white marlin. Won't be hangin any laundry this evening. Some fish seen today With a handful more boats out a bit of action was to be had. Best of my knowledge: THEARAPY 1/1blue, 0/1white - CHEESBURGER 1/3 blues - NEVER SAY NEVER 2/4 blues

06/25/15 - St. Thomas, Vi - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

2nd day St Thomas June/July Moon

Combined with yesterday, today brings about the age old question "if only a bite or two, would you rather have them early or late in the day?" Certainly it doesn't matter if any of them get caught, and for us it was early. Around 9am we had another nice fish 250# or better tease all the way to the boat on a cockpit teaser only to fade off and never show again. Then just after 10 a smaller fish, about 150#, shows on the squid chain. Teases in and piles on the mackerel just as it get smothered in seaweed. Never ate it. Switched to the opposite side cockpit teaser. Teases again all the way to the boat, but never sees the pitch that never clears the propwash. Switches again to opposite side cockpit teaser but only teased in half way. Then fades back and hangs itself on the center rigger. "Rodney" saves us again. The rest of the day was spent shagging grass. Though towards the end of the day the weed started to clear near the low end of the drop, the water had turned green. Hopefully, it clears and the blues are back up tomorrow.

06/24/15 - St. Thomas, Vi - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

1st day St Thomas June/July Moon

An agonizing day on the North Drop to say the least. Only boat out. After battling with awful clumps and lines of seaweed all day, and only one little billfish shot on the center in the am, by 3:30pm we started to discuss actually heading in early. Then at about 4:40pm working down the edge towards home, I had to rub my eyes as I saw a blue of about 150-200# coming in on the center rigger. Unfortunately it pulled off after on taking a little line. As we worked the area trying for another crack at it, not ten minutes later a much larger fish crashed my bridge teaser. The fish disappeared as we maneuvered for the pitch but came crashing back in on the same lure. After another vanishing act, it came out of the glare and whitewater to finally eat the mackerel pitch. To our dismay the fish was facing us and shaking its head hard when we came tight and it gave up the hook. Fish was definitely over 400#. Not as successful is one would like, but seeing a few does offer hope for this moon. We should get a little more company out there as the week progresses as well.

06/24/15 - Donald L. Hammond - Dolphin Research Project Report

Marine Anglers:

I hope that you have had a good start to your 2015 fishing season. The U.S. East Coast dolphin season appears to be about two weeks ahead of last year’s season. 2015 has also produced its share of unusual occurrences, like a large school of ten-inch dolphin that showed up off the south coast of St. Johns, Virgin Islands, in the first week of June. As our research progresses, we are beginning to see that many of the dolphin occurrences that we initially considered unusual are not odd at all but part of a large protracted pattern. Likewise, the research is also revealing major threats to the western north Atlantic dolphin population that previously were unknown.

Having served as a state marine fisheries manager in my first career, I learned how weather can have a greater effect on fish stocks than fishing pressure, and the changing weather patterns we are experiencing will alter the distribution and seasonality of dolphinfish. Factors unknown and unseen by the public can devastate fish stocks. Just like the six-month track of the dolphin traveling from South Carolina to the Caribbean revealed areas where dolphin could be vulnerable to commercial exploitation without public knowledge, recent research into the effect of crude oil spills on marine life is revealing another invisible threat to dolphin stocks.

This newsletter looks at some of the reported effects that crude oil has been found to have on marine life and larval fish in particular. The issue also presents a comparison of the recreational dolphin harvest experienced during May of 2014 and 2015 in one marina in South Carolina, utilizing the expanded data being collected by the DRP. See latest Dolphin Report

I hope you find it interesting.

Donald L. Hammond
Marine Fisheries Biologist
Cooperative Sciences Services, LLC
961 Anchor Rd.
Charleston, SC 29412-4902
(843) 795-7524
Visit Website

Click on photo to enlarge 06/08/15 - Key West, Florida Keys - Outter Limits Report:

Nicole Stiver of Key West caught a 22.72-pound dolphin fish to earn top individual honors for the largest fish in the 2015 Mercury Marine Ladies Dolphin Championship that took place May 30. Stiver fished on the Outer Limits skippered by Captain Jason Miller of Key West.

06/06/15 - St. Thomas, Vi - Capt. Jim Estraca

Black Pearl was 1 for 1 today on the North Drop.

Click on photo to enlarge06/02/15 - St. Thomas, Vi - Capt. Rob Richards 'Mixed Bag' Report:

1 for 1 on blues day on the north drop + some small tunas !!

Click on photo to enlarge 05/30/15 - Kona Hawaii - FishTrack Report - Charter Captain Killed: Click on photo to enlarge

Sad news,,,see story: Here
Capt. Randy's note to charter guests Here

Click on photo to enlarge05/30/15 - St. Thomas, Vi - Capt. Rob Richards 'Mixed Bag' Report:

1 for 1 blue marlin and tunas on the north drop!!

05/29/15 - St. Thomas, Vi - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

3rd and possibly out last day fishing the May/June moon.

Unfortunately what was already slow found its way to decline even more. Only two of us worked the drop most of the day. MARLIN PRINCE managed to raise a nice blue in the morning but it failed to cooperate. The MIXED BAG caught a big fish out to the west. We covered as much area as possible until near sunset and never saw a thing. Oh well. by this time last year we only had one blue so with our white yesterday we're way ahead of the game.

05/29/15 - Bluewater Fishing Lures - Cape Verde Report

See Here

05/28/15 - St. Thomas, Vi - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

2nd day fishing St Thomas May/June moon.

After a long day of chasing birds and working huge pods of bait we saw everything but what we came for. Flyers, skippys, tuna, porpoise, and even humpback whales but alas no blues. Fortunately enough, persistence salvaged us from a total loss when we got our only shot of the day. On a late afternoon upsea tack, staring into the impossible glare of the falling sun, I caught a glimpse of the tiniest tip of a fin pacing along side our squid chain. Even though he didn't tease in aggressively, it faded back and managed to hang itself on the center rigger. After a short but spastic display, we landed a little white marlin. And so, there will be no shutout today.

Only three of us on the rip. One boat saw caught a Mahi and the Marlin Prince was high hook with 1/2 on blues and 0/2 on whites.

05/27/15 - St. Thomas, Vi - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

First day out for the season in the North Drop in St Thomas. The wind all but fell out, the Sahara dust cleared out, and the sea weed had subsided to quite manageable.

First lines out and in a short time we had a center rigger shot from something. It came down hard but never showed again and left no sign. Later two other boats had white marlin encounters in the same area.

Around 10:30. We were working a weed line and current edge out in the deep when a nice fish showed on the right bridge squid chain. It only teased a bit but faded back to the cockpit and became much more aggressive. Teasing in hot it gave quite a few attempts at the pitch mackerel before finally taking the bait and hooking up. 10 minutes later we had our first drop release for the season. About 250#

Later, working back down the edge we had a little white try a few things in the spread but never got hooked. Later still, we had a massive wahoo bite on the bridge teaser but never saw him again. On other boats another blue seen but not hooked today. One white caught out of two or three.

Slow Start but very promising.

05/27/15 - Donald L. Hammond - Dolphin Research Project Report

I hope you find the article informative. See latest Dolphin Report

Good fishing,


05/25/15 - Capt. Jeremy Fowler - SF Pescador - St. Thomas, Virgin Islands

Click to enlarge photo Two blue marlin releases yesterday (Sunday).

05/22/15 - Casa De Campo, Dominican Republic - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

Well our last fishing excursion was over a week ago and didn't amount to much. In a day and a half on the edge we managed to pitch wiff one blue, jump off a white, and get a halfassed attempt out of a small billfish on a rigger bite.

The time has come for different venue. We'll be heading to St Thomas this weekend and hopefully start fishing sometime next week.

05/21/15 - Capt. Jeremy Fowler - SF Pescador - St. Thomas, Virgin Islands

Click to enlarge photo Here's a different way to fight the weeds. No blues one white pulled off. Nice wahoo last weekend.

05/09/15 - Capt. Skip Smith - Adventures Madam and Hooker

Click to enlarge photo The Hooker and The Madam are among the most recognized names in the sport fishing industry. During Capt. Skip Smith's tenure with Jerry and Deborah Dunaway, they traveled the world as part of sportfishing's most dynamic team. They explored 26 countries from the west coast of Africa to Australia and south to Peru, the entire Caribbean and more.

Captain Skip Smith starts at his beginning with The Hooker and how they added The Madam to the fleet. The stories are about the numerous IGFA world records being caught and the background stories and adventures of his crew. Along the way he and his crew had more than their fair share of misadventure: sex, drugs and rock and roll on the high seas. Smith has committed many of those stories to paper in his new book, Tales of a Hooker and Her Madam. Visit Capt. Skip's website for more information: Visit Website

Click to enlarge photo

05/03/15 - Virgin Islands Game Fishing Club (VIGFC) Dolphin Derby Report - St. Thomas, USVI

Today's 2015 Dolphin Derby sponsored by Budget Car Rentals was a huge success and all 18 entries caught fish!! Click to enlarge photo At the time of this posting we haven't learned of the official winner (largest fish) but we do know the boys on Backlash with Capt. Mark Blackburn caught 137 dolphin - they are certainly in the run for catching the "most" fish!! Awards will be presented tomorrow night at the Club along with with a fresh fish dinner! St. Croix is also enjoying a good dolphin run and lots of billfish are being seen! See Press Release: Here

05/03/15 - Casa De Campo, Dominican Republic - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

Fourth round of fishing in Casa de Campo.

Not many boats left or even fishing here now. The seaweed has moved in heavily and the last few days had a swell like no one has ever seen here. Our first day out was Wednesday. Wind against the current made our trip offshore more than uncomfortable. Once there we battled to find clean enough water to even fish. Only one other boat out and neither of us saw a billfish.

On Thursday, we fished the edge of the bank near Isla Saona just SE of the marina. Beautiful water and manageable grass, it felt good to be trolling an edge again rather than a slalom course of styrofoam floats. By the end of the the day we had four or five billfish encounters. We raised three that never ate. Had one mystery knockdown. Had a late teaser bite that did everything perfect and we finally caught a blue. The other boat fished in there with us and saw three billfish.

On Friday, the seas started to subside, two of us continued to fish the edge and one boat went out to the FADs. We had at least 3 billfish encounters. We caught a white that swam up to the boat while we were out of gear fighting a blackfin tuna. The white was rather large at what we estimate to be over 100#. The other boat saw a few fish as well, catching one blue out of a double and a white that also ranked as a large specimen. The offshore boat missed a few fish early and finally caught one later.

On Saturday the fleet split. Three boats went offshore and two of us went back to the edge. We started the day with a 3 bait drop for swordfish. After a two hour soak we began retrieving the lines. The second line to come up was showing signs of load but not life. Some were even convinced the weight had never broken off. However, when the leader surfaced, so did a swordfish of about 75#. Baffled but thankful, we switched to trolling.

By the end of the day the GAME ON fishing the edge with us had caught 1 out of a double sailfish, lost one blue and seen three or four large whites.

Offshore, the BLUE LINE caught one blue, the BLUE VIEW caught 3 out of six or seven with one out of a triple and the BETSY caught 4 seeing 8 or 9.

We had one Blue shot and even though it was a loss, it defined why we teaser fish. The fish of about 2-250# first showed up on the long left teaser. Aggressively teasing all the way to the boat, and spectacularly missing the pitch as it launched from the water, it then turned to eat the pitch bait. However, as the angler came tight, the fish was still facing the boat as it was trying to eat something else in the spread. The hook pulled. It then faded back and crashed the center rigger but failed agin to get hooked. I put the boat into an aggressive turn to get back in front of the fish as it swam down sea. As we excitedly awaited another bite, the fish piles on the squid chain bridge teaser. I managed to stop it at a 20 yards loss and the fish got a hold of me twice as I teased it back up. It faded into the wash, and as we waited for the pitch bite, the fish airs out under the rigger, still trying to eat my teaser. Then heels around to head and shoulder miss the pitch yet again and finally eating a secondary pitch that was laying as back up. Unfortunately, the fish erratically jumped all over creation and eventually double backed and cut itself off. All worth the price of admission!

Can't wait to get cranked back up in a week or so.

Click to enlarge photo

05/03/15 - Chris Whitley Report - Miami Florida

Team "Hit That" got 2nd place in the Grove Slam yesterday in Miami

04/29/15 - Donald L. Hammond - Dolphin Research Project Report

Marine Anglers:

For many anglers the dolphin season has already started and for many others it is just around the corner. With a new year starting I thought it would be appropriate to provide some specific tips on how to improve the likelihood of your fish being recaptured. After viewing some of the tagging photos sent in, I realized there was confusion on how to properly handle and tag dolphin. This issue of the newsletter offers six easy steps that you can follow to significantly increase the chances of the fish surviving and retaining the tag for its full life. This does not eliminate the chance factor in a tag recovery, but when the fish is given the best chance to survive the tagging experience, the odds that it can be recaptured increase.

I hope you find the article informative and the photos useful in improving your tagging technique. See latest Dolphin Report

Good fishing,


Donald L. Hammond
Marine Fisheries Biologist
Cooperative Sciences Services, LLC
961 Anchor Rd.
Charleston, SC 29412-4902
(843) 795-7524
Visit Website

04/27/15 - Mike Callahan - Cape Verde - West Africa Report

Fished "16 days with Matthias on Smoker. 21/29 blues. Biggest about 500. 1 spear fish and a few wahoo. Lots of cold water and wind.

Click to enlarge photo 04/16/15 - Lace Rose on Magazine Cover!

Everyone check out Lace's cover shot - Sol & Mar's June/July issue! Click on photo to enlarge. Magazine's website: visit here

03/30/15 - Casa De Campo, Dominican Republic - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

Third round of DR fishing even worse. Only a few boats fishing the last few days. Some boats not even seeing fish.

As for us, Tuesday the 14th was our first day. Had a nice aggressive fish tease all the way to the boat on a cockpit teaser, then hung between the boat and the pitch-bait for what felt like an eternity, only to dive before the bait could be moved into position.

Wednesday the 15th we worked a lot of FADs out to the west until the weed got so bad we had to pick up and run. turned out to be a good move when we ended up with a handful of Mahi, one blue around #125 and raised another that didn't eat.

Thursday the 16th our last day for a while. Went back out to the west again with no success. This time not even able to raise a simple blue. However, we did catch a nice wahoo that may have reached 50#. Gonna be a while before we get cranked up again, but the re[ports will continue as soon as the fIshing does.

03/30/15 - Casa De Campo, Dominican Republic - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

Second round of fishing fell off a bit in the DR. The weather had picked up throughout the week and there was a bit of residual sea left. Also the current had taken a 180 degree turn which may also have affected the fishing.

On Saturday, we had one blue about #175 tease in and do everything right. Even ate the pitch twice but never got hooked. The center rigger then came down but not tight and the fish showed back up on the opposite cockpit teaser. A feat easily accomplished by a fish this size, however, with the amount of doubles being seen, certainly can't rule out the possibility. Everyone saw fish and had shots. A couple boats caught 2 and one boat caught a slam (blue,white,and sailfish).

On Sunday, the seas continued to subside but the current was still off. Had a blue come crashing in on a cockpit teaser only to disappear just as quickly. Worked a couple different FADs that were loaded with life but never had another shot. Dead for most everybody else except GAME ON had seen 3, and SERAPHIN had seen 8 by the time we picked up and headed in to catch the plane. Just goes to show how specific this fishery is to it's FADs.

Could be down for a week or two, reports will fire back up when we do.

03/26/15 - Casa De Campo, Dominican Republic - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

Just finally got internet here in Casa De Campo in the Dominican Republic. As you can see, the trip from Florida was about as calm as it can get. We left in the middle of the night on the 18th and arrived at 6 am on the 21st. With little rest for the wicked, we geared up and fished the next 3 days.

On Sunday we fished amongst the boats finishing out a three day tournament. In the interest of learning the area and not cramping anyone trying to better position themselves, we managed to fish fads that were not being hit hard by everyone else. This still produced 4 fish. Two of which bit but we did come up empty handed. Nice to be fishing again tho, and there were quite a few tournament boats that never saw any, three boats caught 2 each. Only 11 fish caught all day. 18 or more boats fishing.

Our 2nd day was a lot more exciting. We ended up raising 11 fish plus one that was just chasing bait next to the boat. 4 fish came up at once and was total chaos. Out of everything we saw, we had 5 bites and caught 3, tying us with one other boat for high hook.

3rd day we rigged all morning to try the sword fishing out. We only made one 3 hook drop with no luck but there will be more of that in the future. We got our marlin hear out at 11 am. At 11:15 we raised a double and caught the only one that bit. Over the next hour, we pulled off two more. Then at 3:15 we caught our first teaser fish to do everything right. At the end of the day had a huge bite on the shotgun but never saw the fish.

In three days we've seen as many blue marlin as we may have caught sailfish all season back home, and we're just getting started! A few days here to get some things caught up and we'll get a couple more days of fishing in this weekend. Hope the bite continues. With Internet access I should be able to keep up the reports.

03/23/15 - Donald L. Hammond - Dolphin Research Project Report

Marine Anglers:

“Don’t you just love it when a plan comes together?” I believe that was an iconic saying from the A Team TV series. Well, that is how my associate Dr. Wess Merten and I feel after processing the information from a dolphinfish that carried a satellite tag for six months. This fish was tagged off Charleston, South Carolina, and the tag surfaced off the Dominican Republic. We have had roughly a dozen East Coast dolphin recovered off Caribbean islands, so the fact that another East Coast fish traveled to the Caribbean is not new. However, because of the satellite tag that it carried, we now can show its actual travel route.

To understand the odds that we were up against, you have to recognize that dolphinfish are the blue water menhaden. Every predator in the ocean eats them and they never grow too big to be eaten. This is the primary reason why only three of the 18 satellite tags programmed for 30 days in our first study using this high-tech equipment successfully carried the instrument for the full period. This is also why we considered the long-term tracking of these fish to be a major challenge, one that would probably require several years of effort before achieving a full-period track of a fish.

Thanks to the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, who believed in our dream to track these fish during the five-month period when they travel the international waters of the north Atlantic, we were able to accomplish this mammoth task at the start of the study.

This issue of the newsletter takes you through the amazing travels of GHOF-01 as it makes its way to the Caribbean in 180 days. I think you will be amazed.

Good fishing,


Donald L. Hammond
Dolphinfish Research Program
Cooperative Science Services, LLC
961 Anchor Rd.
Charleston, SC 29412
(843) 795-7524

02/19/15 - Donald L. Hammond - Dolphin Research Project Report

Marine Anglers,

The U.S. East Coast dolphin season has already started. Florida anglers from Key West to Cape Canaveral have reported making very nice catches of dolphin with some fish going into the 30- and 40-pound size range. As early as these fish are showing up in good numbers and the distance north that they have been found could mean they might show up off the Carolinas early, possibly by mid-March. Is this a sign that the East Coast is in for a good dolphin run in 2015? I hope so.

This issue of the newsletter reports on work conducted in 2014 at Ripley’s Light Marina and Yacht Club in Charleston, South Carolina. DRP staff intercepted a majority of recreational offshore fishing trips made by boats fishing out of this marina on week days as well as weekends from late April through mid-August. Every dolphin caught on each intercepted boat was measured and its sex determined. This resulted in 141 boat trips being intercepted and data collected on 999 dolphin. One of the main objectives of this study was to describe how, if any, the size composition of the harvested fish changed over time, i.e. as the year progressed. The survey was conducted from when boats began making regular offshore trips in the spring to when they basically quit catching dolphin and few trips were being made. The results of this study should be viewed as representing the dolphin population as it is found off South Carolina. Similar studies in other areas such as south Florida or the Outer Banks of North Carolina may show different results.

I hope that you find this issue interesting. See latest Dolphin Report

Good fishing,


Donald L. Hammond
Dolphinfish Research Program
Cooperative Science Services, LLC
961 Anchor Rd.
Charleston, SC 29412
(843) 795-7524

01/29/15 - Michael Callahan - Samoa Final Report

Fished 12 days. 6/13 blues. Biggest 500. 2 sails. 3 yellow fins 60/ 80 lbs. Captain Chris Donato. Boat 37 Merritt.

01/29/15 - Los Suenos Anglers Crush Records!

Fishing in Costa Rica is off the charts: See Release

Click for information - USVI Open ABMT Wet N' Wild Center Console - Billfish Tournament Virgin Islands Game Fishing Club - July Open Click for 2014 SJU IBT Information Alvarez - Intl. Cap Cana Shootout  Fish For Haiti Tournament Aug 23-24, 2015