This trip began with a text message from My Fishing Cape Codder Kurt Saraceno.
Kurt asked if I would be interested in fishing the Northeast Canyons with him and his dad Ted.
I jumped at the opportunity to fish offshore, and was on the ferry to Nantucket the very next morning.
Up until this past weekend the farthest I have been offshore is about 30 miles. This trip with Kurt and Ted would bring me more than 80 miles offshore, so later that night I decided to check the weather.
The predicted wind speeds were 10mph but the wind direction was out of the northeast. This caught my eye, because northeast winds often bring inclement weather and rough sea conditions to the waters off Cape Cod.
In my mind I always add 10mph to any northeast wind forecast, because I feel these cold oceanic winds are often underestimated. Forecasted 10mph northeast winds, often end up blowing 20mph or more.
Friday July 9th
The 6:15am ferry to Nantucket was enjoyable. I joined vacationers, islanders and many contractors on the Hy-Line fast ferry out of Hyannis.
As I was getting ready to board the ferry I bumped into My Fishing Cape Codder Jacob Washburn, who works at Hy-Line.
You may remember Jacob from this past spring, when he caught the earliest bluefish I know of, on April 28th from a Nantucket Sound estuary.
Conditions were very foggy on the ride over to Nantucket, but the seas were perfectly calm. I even fell asleep for a little while!
We arrived at the island an hour later around 7:15am. My plan was to spend a couple hours exploring Nantucket Harbor before meeting up with Kurt and his dad at 10am.
I purchased some food for the trip from the Nantucket Stop & Shop, and had some nice conversations with the workers. Then as I was walking out of the grocery store the skies opened up and it began to torrentially downpour.
The northeast wind had arrived! I decided to give captain Eric Stewart (who contributes to the MFCC podcast) a phone call to see what he thought of the weather.
Eric said he would check the WindFinder app on his smartphone and call me right back. A minute later my phone rang and Eric said verbally what I had been quietly thinking to myself.
The northeast wind would make sea conditions rough, wet and very uncomfortable. This was especially true since we would be fishing from Ted's beautiful 36' Yellowfin center console the Rumble.
Nevertheless we decided to cruise out of Nantucket Harbor to experience the sea conditions first hand. The wind was howling and the ocean angry!
We really had no choice but to delay the trip for another 24 hours.
Saturday July 9th
I had a really terrific night on Nantucket Island hanging with the Saraceno family. We had a great dinner at Millie's Restaurant and then went on a mini-tour of the island.
We caught a good night's sleep, enjoyed a nice breakfast, and were back onboard the Rumble the next day (Saturday) at 10:30am sharp.
The wind had diminished to northeast 10-15mph and sea conditions had improved. The ride to the canyons took around 3 hours
Seas were a little bumpy but the boat handled the chop very well. Once we arrived Kurt and Ted wasted no time at all getting lines into the water.
We began by trolling an 8 line spread along the edge of the canyon. The water temperature was above 70 degrees, much warmer than the 52 degree water temperatures we had encountered near the Nantucket Shoals.
Gulf Stream current had stacked tropical water up against the edge of the canyon wall, which dropped from 450 to 1300 feet in depth. Instantly we began marking loads of bait on the sonar.
Out of nowhere I heard the elastic on the port side outrigger go SNAP! I turned to my left and saw line peeling off one of the Penn 50 wide reel at an alarming rate.
Kurt grabbed the doubled over rod while myself and Ted began clearing lines. I reeled as fast as I could to get the Green Machines and other spreader bars out of Kurt's way.
At first we all thought we had a hooked a tuna, but little did we know the fish would end up being a vibrant 100+ pound White Marlin....
That marlin marked the start of what would turn into a very productive trip numbers wise. The west wall of Veatch canyon was thriving with life.
We never saw any fish break the surface, but we marked bait and predators consistently on the sonar.
Probably sometime around 5pm, the only other boat in the area arrived on scene. The captain introduced himself over the radio and we began a conversation with the vessel Morning Star.
The Night Bite
By 7pm the crew of the Morning Star had already caught several yellowfin tuna and two wahoo of more than 60 pounds, trolling pretty much right next to us along Veatch's west wall.
The Morning Star was on fire!
The captain was certainly a good fisherman, yet we were still holding our own, with several more knockdowns and the first of three 50+ pound yellowfin tuna.
The consistent action continued as darkness approached. Most of the tuna were "rats" or "babies" but they still hit awfully hard and put up a surprisingly good fight on the Penn 50 wides.
As night descended upon the Atlantic Ocean, Ted realized he was having a lot of difficulty spotting high flyers on his radar. The last thing we wanted to do was run over an offshore lobstermen's gear, so we decided to reel in the lines and spend the night adrift.
The plan was to sleep in shifts while always keeping one man on watch. Ted then turned on the LED underwater lights and within minutes we had squid gathering at the stern.
Then the porpoises showed up and began to put on a show. They chased the squid right in the lights, and I was able to stick my GoPro underwater and capture footage of the mammals as they hunted in the light.
Eventually I retired to a bean bag chair at the stern of the Rumble. I covered myself with a waterproof blanket and tried to fall asleep.
Not long afterward I saw the first bolt of lightning and heard a deafening clap of thunder. An intense electrical storm had engulfed the canyon and there was nowhere to run to.
Finally the storm passed, when suddenly the wind completely died off. We thought we were in the clear until the temperature plummeted 10 degrees in a matter of seconds.
Then like clockwork a strong and cold 20+mph wind swept across the ocean's surface and smacked us in the face. We all hoped and prayed it would not get any worse.
Sunday July 10th
We were safe and perfectly OK, but the situation was a little unnerving, considering we were 80 miles from the nearest piece of land.
Fortunately the wind did not increase above 25mph, and by sunrise conditions had substantially improved.
Kurt had just set all our lines in the water, when out of the blue the radio crackled to life - it was Morning Light, already calling in with a fishing report.
Within just minutes of putting their lines out they had caught small yellowfins and whopping 180 pound Bigeye Tuna. Their hot streak had continued and they were still on fire!
Then our lines started getting tight and our drags started to sing. For the next several hours we caught one fish after another. We doubled up, tripled up and even quintupled up with tuna.
We caught most of our small tuna along the west wall, while the larger tuna were caught along Veatch's east wall.
We also caught an elusive white marlin...
By 9:00am we had basically had our fill of catching fish. A reel would go off with a tuna every 10-15 minutes. It was the most offshore consistent action Kurt and Ted had ever experienced.
Yet most of the fish were on the small side. The main catch consisted of baby yellowfins and even skipjack tuna. With all these small tunas in the canyon, we figured there just had to be a 500+ pound Blue Marlin in the area hunting them down.
At 9:30am the wind began to pick up again out of the northwest. The skies were relatively clear but it was obvious our time at the offshore fishing grounds was coming to an end.
Not only were seas increasing, but our gas supply was becoming depleted. We needed to get going soon in order to make sure we had enough fuel for the 100 mile ride to Osterville where Ted keeps the boat.
That was when we got one last surprise. One of the green machine spreader bars got slammed and Ted was on with a solid fish.
Then I got slammed by another yellowfin as I was retrieving one of the lines on the starboard outrigger. My fish got tail wrapped and I wound up losing the tuna.
Ted on the other hand was able to get his 60ish pound yellow to the boat and I was fortunate to plant a gaff shot straight into the tuna's head.
What an incredible way to end the trip! I was absolutely amazed by how productive the fishing had been. In total we landed around 15 yellowfin tuna, 2 marlin, and had several knockdowns and missed fish.
The ride home was long but we were all happy. The Rumble ran well and we arrived safely in Osterville by 4pm. Minus the wild thunderstorms, I could not of asked for a more enjoyable offshore experience.
The canyon bite has definitely turned on!
If I can find the time I will publish another post later this week with more details on the techniques and strategy used during this trip.
Tight lines! 🎣