Tidelines – Aug 16, 2018
I knew the risk. When you run your mouth, you often have to eat those words, and that’s exactly what happened to me on an annual Fisherman’s Post bottom fishing trip.
“I’m going to outfish both of you” was followed up by “I hope you each get amberjacked,” and you can already guess what happened by the end of our day with Capt. Ryan Jordan of Fugitive Charters out of Oak Island.
Rocky (writer) and Hayden (distribution and events) were the lucky two Fish Post employees that got to hear me trying to talk smack on the run from South Harbour Village Marina to a spot about 40 miles out of the Cape Fear River.
To be clear, I didn’t really think I was going to outfish everyone. I probably just wanted to hear the sound of my voice as we made steady time running offshore in the quiet 2-3’ seas.
The amberjack comment? Well, that’s a Fisherman’s Post tradition and our in-house form of hazing. All new employees on bottom fishing trips are expected to do battle with multiple amberjacks, and I retain the right to add in a kidney punch or even a slinger mahi slap while they’re locked in the struggle.
The bite started slow for all of us that day. Maybe it was the wind and current going in different directions? Maybe there was more of a current on the bottom then we were seeing up on top of the water column? Or maybe the super moon was having an effect?
Ryan, though, did what we’ve seen him do on previous trips. He just kept moving from spot to spot until we located fish that were willing to cooperate.
We soon found an American red, and were able to keep it since we were on one of the days opened for recreational harvest. I say “we,” but Rocky was the one that reeled it up. Then we found a rainbow runner, or rather Rocky found a rainbow runner, and on the next drop Rocky brought up a scamp.
While Rocky was finding our higher profile fish, Hayden and I kept busy with black sea bass, beeliners, and porgies. I mixed it up a little with a triggerfish, Hayden had a knack for hooking barracuda, and then I found the one and only amberjack of the day.
Luckily Rocky and Hayden are new, because if previously-amberjacked employees had been on the boat, then there’s no doubt in my mind I would have felt the sting of a cold beeliner across the back of my calves.
Perhaps, though, I closed the gap a little with Rocky when I followed my trigger with a strawberry grouper and then a rock hind grouper.
Every August for several years now we have fished with Ryan, and he typically takes us to 100’ of water where we drift over live bottom areas and fill up a cooler with tasty bottom fish.
This year we got to fish with Kate Douglas, his new mate who on our day was only on her fifth trip mating. Kate’s commercial fishing background had her comfortably working the back of the boat, removing fish from hooks, keeping all of us in bait, and doing it all with a smile and friendly chatter.
I time our trip with Ryan to be during my last week of summer, fitting in one last trip before I’m back down at CFCC wearing black shoes and a black belt while I get together syllabi and course schedules. Maybe this summer went by way too fast and I was in a weakened and emotional state, but whatever the reason, a conversation I have no problem ending with a “no” somehow ended with a “yes.”
I’m guessing many of you have had the same conversation several times yourself. The conversation might center on any number of different species of fish, but most of the dialogue goes something like this:
“Have you ever eaten a ________?” the person will ask, and the “blank” might be a lizard fish, an oyster toad, or an amberjack, among others.
“It’s good. You should try it.”
“Really. It’s some of the best you’ll ever eat.”
“Okay, I believe you,” I’ll say, though I really don’t.
“So you want to try it?”
“But it really is good.”
“I believe you, but I’m still not going to try it.”
Chances are, like me, you didn’t believe them either, but you think that if you agree with them then the conversation will end sooner. With Ryan, this conversation happened after we hooked into a short barracuda, but for whatever reason, I let him talk me out of “nope.”
Yes, Ryan, it was edible, in fairness the white and flaky fillets—prepped with butter, salt, and pepper and then grilled—were more than edible, but I’m not sure “some of the best you’ll ever eat” was accurate. Still, I’m already looking forward to my 2019 bottom fishing trip with Ryan.
If you’d like to fill up a cooler with all different kinds of tasty bottom fish (and he also likes to troll, too, if that’s more your style), then give Capt. Ryan Jordan of Fugitive Charters out of Oak Island a call at (919) 616-4873 or visit him online at www.fugitivecharters.com.
You can be different from me. You can choose to turn down the barracuda, because you’ll probably have enough sea bass and beeliners for several fish taco dinners, as well as some grouper to grill and a rainbow runner or African pompano for sashimi.
And if your fishing buddy hooks an amberjack…