The “correct” moon phase usually brings plenty of fishing, so along with knowing the annual movement of BIG FISH the yellowfin tuna (YFT), we planned our kayak fishing trip for the middle of February for Venice Louisiana. We did not need to MapQuest driving directions because it was 6 hrs South until the road ends. However, we had to play the typical unpredictable winds and high waves by ear. As it turned out, the fishing report was perfect…72 degrees. We needed some good luck with the weather and hitting the pelagic zone of the first tuna run coming back into the “Horseshoe.”
As, we rolled our tandem kayak loaded down with Kayak gear and fishing equipment onto the pier at 5:45 am through a maze of fishermen who were watching us with amusement. Actually, they started laughing and making choice remarks, like: “Hey…only real fishermen allowed,” and “Boy, you won’t catch no tuna in that thing,” and “Nobody has done that…you’re going to kill yourself.” But our spirits were high, and the remarks made us even more determined. After all, as experienced kayak fishermen, we were used to taking measured risks, not crazy ones.
As kayak angler's we loaded our custom hobie "oasis" tandem kayak into a ocean fishing kayak for deep ocean fish and quickly aboarded the 34 ft "mother ship" from Super Strike Charters and departed the fisherman's wharf . As we entered the Mississippi River from the backwater canals, the temperature dropped dramatically, and visibility went to 40 ft. The captain eased us slowly south towards the Louisiana Gulf of Mexico, steering around barges, boats, and pylons for about 20 minutes and as we entered open water the fog lifted. 30 miles and an hour later we arrived at the famous fishing grounds. "Go Fish" yelled the Captain. Our fishing equipment was the best gear on the planet, we thought: (2) - Shimano Talica 25' fishing rods & (2) 10,000 Stellas - fishing reels However, our captain looked at it and said, "You ain't gonna catch nothing with those pea-shooters." And told us to use his Shimano 50W's with 80 lb. braid and 80 lb. mono top-shot. "GET OUT OF OUR WAY...THEY'VE HOOKED A BIG ONE...ON THE KAYAK!" our captain radioed to the fleet. He tracked our path with his onboard sonar as the giant tuna fish took us on a sleigh ride over 2.5 miles at top speeds of 4.5 knots. Excitement was everywhere! This is not bass fishing or fishing games but deep sea fishing for massive saltwater fish.
After almost 2 hrs, it started going in large circles the last 10 minutes as the tuna tired. Finally…we spotted “color”, and as I spooled up the leader and with the tuna next to the kayak, We got great clips with video as we moved aside to the mother ship for the final gaff. It took 2 people to pull the monster fish aboard the mother ship.
No one was laughing at us now. In fact, fishermen were shouting encouraging remarks as they watched us unload at the dock. During our two days of offshore fishing we caught the largest YFT in the fleet each day. When we weighed them, we were totally amazed! Later that night at the fisherman’s restaurant after dinner, with a black sharpie I wrote on the Venice Marina bathroom wall the following, “Colby Blackwell caught a 165 lb and 182.5 lb YFT on a KAYAK”.
Some say, it’s the largest tuna ever caught on a kayak in the continental U.S., let alone from a tandem kayak. Is it a world record? Was it an assisted or an unassisted catch? Let the debate begin. I don’t care, because I don’t fish for records. I fish from my kayak because I love it.