On a late September overnight trip last year we noticed a changing of tactics start to form among the “offshore city of lights” chunking fleet in our canyons. Quite a few of those lights seemed to be moving about at 6 and 7kts as opposed to drifting as the fleet normally does throughout the night.
The magic hours in the deep have always been an hour before and after sunrise and sunset. Recently trollers have been pushing that magic hour further and further into the night before setting up for the night of tuna chunking or making a swordfish or shark set. The results have been improving as crews have been fine tuning their night time trolling tactics. Capt Jake Hiles from Virginia Beach is the owner operator of his charter boat Matador says trolling at night for Big Eye Tuna can be very effective. He says night time trolling can be very effective with just a few modifications of his day time spread. Capt Hiles typically scales back his 12 rod day time trolling spread to 5 rods and brings his speed down as well. He also adds that he tends to widen his turns quite a bit when working bait or a certain piece of structure. “We have a pretty good idea of where exactly the baits are in our pattern but we still can’t see them so we are more cautious in our turns.” We have noticed that forage fish tend to ball up but don’t glow at night but squid do and tuna won’t pass up an easy target. Capt Hiles continues, “fish have evolved over millions of years to feed at all times not just during the day. Lateral lines and huge eyes are indications that fish must feed at night to maintain the body weight of an animal that is in constant movement.”
We have also had our luck on the night time troll. Years ago we chartered the Espadon with Capt Sylvain Cote’ and mate Capt. Karl Bieberich. It was Oct 1 and we had just been called into a tremendous Big Eye bite in the Washington Canyon. Capt Ronnie Fields on the DA SEA said Big Eyes were bustin his baits right in the spreader lights and they were heading home after a second wolfpack of big eyes filled their boxes and they had no more room for any overnight fish. It was past the magic hour as we approached the canyon and 7 lines went down with 70-80lb yellowfins. After clearing the deck we put out one Squidnation Rasta Bar in the short rigger. Before I could get it set a 180lb Big Eye ripped it from my hands. All this took place around 9:00pm in October, way past the magic hour.
Recently we were asked to produce a dredge with Squidnation Glow Squids by a Northeast Canyon fisherman. He wanted to use it for night time trolling for Big Eye and slow trolling at night for swords. He had heard that we just came out with the Glow Heads and inquired if we had Glow Squids. We collaborated and came up with the Squidnation Fat Daddy Glow Dredge. Capt Hiles saw the dredge and noted that a dredge like that will not only be effective at night but also would be deadly during the day. Sometimes we can’t pull fish off bait hanging around 30 fathoms. Usually yellowfins that hover around bait on the thermocline. Dropping that dredge down about 200 feet in a slow turn will pull them off the bait and they will follow an easy meal to the surface and find your spread.
Trolling past the magic hour in a crowded canyon can also bring about a whole new group of safety issues. A good radar and an attentive crew is essential. Aside from the flat lines the spread will most likely be in the blind so crews should set their eyes on the horizon for other boats, commercial gear and the radar as well as a set of eyes on the sounder. The captain will be quite busy up there keeping an eye on all these things simultaneously so a few more sets of eyes on the bridge is recommended.
The Charter Blood Money is 56 Viking and available for Charter throughout the year and travels between Ocean City, MD, Stuart, Florida and the Bahamas. Capt Anthony Pino – 410-490-0035
The Charter Boat Matador is a 42 Ray Davis available for Charter in Virginia Bach and Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. Capt Jake Hiles 757-749-6008
The Charter Boat Espadon is a 58 F & S is available for Charter in Ocean City, Md. Capt Sylvain Cote – 410-703-9191.
If you are interested in a Squidnation Glow Dredge please contact your local Squidnation dealer or contact us at 410 873 3282. These are a custom product and have not hit the website yet.