Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Star Island Shark Tournament Video

Here's the film debut of the Small Fortune from last month's Star Island Shark Tournament.  No winning fish this year but we're crossing our fingers for an Oscar.  Enjoy!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Jumping Ship for Bigeye

Captain Steve jumped ship to the Ambrosia May last week on an overnight to the Fishtails Canyon.   They hauled in 10 albacore at 40lbs a piece and 2 bigeye, one of which weighed 240lbs dressed.

It was a beautiful full moon when Steve hooked the bigeye on the chunk and after 2.5 hours, with everyone pitching, in they brought him in.  

The fish fed an army at the Small house the other night.  We had tuna poke, tuna tartare, sashimi, nigiri, and marinated tuna steaks.  Looking forward to a couple more trips this season!

Monday, June 25, 2012

2012 Star Island Shark Tournament

This article below may be appearing in the PYC newsletter, so I am printing it here as well.  I need some pictures from the crew members, so send them over!

On Thursday evening, June 14th, the Small Fortune sailed from Pequonnock Yacht Club in New Haven towards Montauk, NY to participate in the 26th Annual Star Island Shark Tournament. The Shark Tournament at Star Island is one of the biggest shark tournaments in the world, with prize purses regularly topping a half of a million dollars. This year’s tournament is the seventh in a row in which the Small Fortune has participated. With Capt. Steve Small at the helm, and a mixed crew of veteran angler/deckhands and newbies, we were greeted with beautiful weather to cross Long Island Sound, through Plum Gut and on towards Lake Montauk. When we arrived, we joined the gathering of 156 boats and approximately 1,000 anglers, all dreaming of the prize Mako or Thresher Shark that would bring glory, an impressive trophy, and a lot of cold, hard cash.

The format of the 2-day tournament is a shotgun 6am start, fish wherever you’d like, and be back at the docks by 6pm on Friday for day 1, and 5pm on Saturday for day 2. On Friday (day 1), the Small Fortune decided to head straight to the grounds where we landed last year’s 2nd Prize Mako Shark. The location, above an underground hump rising from about 180 ft of water, was approximately an hour and a half ride from the Marina. When we arrived, we loaded the first block of frozen Menhaden chum into the chum bucket and started a power slick. This is a technique used to start the scent trail leading up to the boat whereby we slowly bump along for a few minutes with chum being released into the water. Once satisfied with the power slick, we kill the engines and start our drift. We position baits consisting of Bluefish, Menhaden, and Mackerel at various depths to cover the water column, all the while continuing to expand on our chum slick in order to attract sharks from miles around.

It only took about 45 minutes to have the first shark take a bait, starting the action for the day that would prove NON-STOP. The first shark was a Blue Shark of about 100-125 lbs. Blue Sharks are abundant in the waters surrounding Montauk, and while fun to catch, are typically not big enough to win significant money, and its meat carries very little table value compared to the tasty Mako and Thresher Sharks. All Blue Sharks that are caught aboard the Small Fortune are released. The only instance where one would be brought to the docks would be if it qualified for the tournament. The minimum weight for a Blue Shark to qualify is 225 lbs. This equates to a shark longer than 10 feet in length. During day 1, we lost count of the number of Blue Sharks we caught, but the number was certainly above 20. We went back to the docks with tired arms due to each of us catching several sharks up to 200 lbs, but we didn’t have shark to weigh in front of the large crowd of spectators back at Star Island. The day was fantastic however, with several anglers catching their largest fish of their lives, and other exciting moments like when a school of porpoises came to take a bite of the Mackerel we had on hand.

Day 2, we decided to try a different location, further east than we’ve typically fished for sharks in the past. Almost immediately, we were greeted by the Blue Sharks once again. Being amongst several Blue Sharks is a common curse for Montauk shark fisherman, but is a blessing for anglers not concerned with high money tournament entry fees. Within one hour’s ride from Montauk, we again caught double digit numbers of sharks. This fishery is extremely reliable and poses a great opportunity for anglers that have never tangled with a fish larger than Long Island Sound’s Bluefish and Striped Bass. Strapping into a 200 lb Blue Shark is almost a guarantee, proven by the fact that the Small Fortune has never gone sharking without catching Blue Sharks. But, alas, the second day of the tournament passed us by and we had no prize winner come to the boat this year.

One year after catching a prize winning Mako Shark, the Small Fortune finished the tournament with nothing but Blue Shark releases. The Thresher Shark still eludes our 55’ Ocean, but there is always next year. The final results of the tournament included a 422 lb Thresher Shark, a 344 lb Mako Shark, and a surprise qualifying 237 lb Blue Shark (which represented the first qualifying Blue Shark to be weighed in several years). In total, there were 47 fish weighed in this year, many of which provided shark meat for local charities. While we didn’t come home with a trophy or any cold, hard cash, we still had our Small Fortune.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Canyon Trip - October 9-10, 2011

We took another trip to the canyons with forecasts of flat seas and warm water. The crew included Steve, myself, Andrew, Brian, Gary, and Dave.

We started off heading for little-fishtails where we saw satellite shots of warm water eddies pushing up into the flats. Unfortunately, there weren't any fish to be found. We picked up and headed south east towards the edge to see what we could find. What we found was mahi only. Tuna were eluding us.

We picked up once more and continued to head east towards West Atlantis. When we got there, we picked up more mahi and set up for the chunk. On the chunk, the story remained, mahi mahi mahi mahi. We did have one interesting run on our sword line, only for a knot to fail.
In the morning, we put out our spread at first light and within the first 15 minutes we had a triple header of yellowfin tuna. FINALLY! We circled back around to try to find them again but then they were gone. At one point, we trolled through a school of porpoises that were feeding on a bait ball that seemed to be an acre or 2 in size. Somehow, either there weren't tuna around or they weren't interested in our spread.
So by the end of it, the three yellowfin were all we got. On top of that we kept 13 mahi and threw probably 10 of them back. Everyone took meat home, but it wasn't the best tuna haul ever by any stretch of the imagination.

That probably wraps up the canyon season for us. Until the spring...

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Canyon Trip - September 10-11, 2011

The Small Fortune left Saturday 4:30am from Milford with full tanks and a skeleton crew of Steve, Andrew, Artem, and me. We stopped off in Montauk for bait, ice and tackle. Ride out to Fish Tails canyon was sunny with 2 foot seas and calm swells. Absolutely beautiful while turning the corner around Montauk Point.

Total trip took 7 hrs from Milford to Fish Tails. We trolled the Tails and found not much. No tuna but lots of small Mahi stacked up under the pots. As we went passed one pot, literally about fifteen 2-3 lb mahi were jumping out of the water at high speeds towards our spread. It was as if they were mammal dolphin, the way they were breaching. They were all quite small though, I think they knocked every lure out of the clips with their aggression, but we only caught one that time.

Reports were of warm water 10 miles south of the Tails so we went there and picked up 2 albacore.

The infamous "death rattle"

Set up there for the chunk around 8pm drifting in 2700 feet of water but it got rough. Perhaps the coolest thing that happened while on the chunk was that just after dark, we saw this MASSIVE thing moving slowly at the edge of our underwater lights. Eventually it came within 10 feet of the transom and it turned out to be a giant mola mola (google it if you don't know). A very cool site and a first for me. We had few hits on the chunk and at one point I hooked into something big. Real big. It made 3 huge runs but it spit the hook after about 1/2 hour of fighting. I barely got a foot of line back from it the whole time. I had it on a 30W, so I'm suspecting it was either a big eye tuna, a very large yellowfin, or a swordfish. We had recently seen a shark, but we ruled that out when the hook came back clean with no teeth abrasions on the line whatsoever. Also, the head shakes and runs were not typical of sharks. Anyway, you always lose the big one, so no story there. Here's me locked into the mystery fish.

We had a few more hits, Andrew landed another Mahi, but we were drifting at a fast pace and getting slammed by swells. Deciding that we could not drift and fish, we came off the drift around midnight and all we could do was drive slowly west (with the waves) to the Dip. We put a couple lines out to see if anything would hit a lure trolled at night, but nothing happened. We ended up at the Dip by the time it started to get light. Then we turned around at daylight and started trolling back to where we started and we were immediately on the fish.

We fought fish all the way back to the to the tails in 6-8 plus head seas. Constant action for 3 hours. Since it was rough, we only had 5 or six lines out at a time, and each time we hit the fish, almost all lines went down. But for whatever reason, usually only 2 or 3 of them would actually hold a fish after the strike and there were plenty of skipjacks mixed in with the Albacore.

Finished fishing at 10am. We still managed full speed all the way to Montauk despite the rough seas. Total was 9 albacore to 55 lbs and 4 mahi. Also threw back probably 10 skipjacks and a few small mahi. Here's Andy, Artem & Steve with the two biggest:

2011 Star Island Shark Tournament

Details to follow...

Monday, June 21, 2010

2010 Star Island Shark Tournament

The Small Fortune fished the 2010 Star Island Shark tournament this past weekend. With beautiful weather, full coolers, plenty of bait and chum, and lots of good guys on the boat, the only thing that was missing all weekend was a tournament winning worthy shark. We fought and released dozens of blue sharks, but none big enough to land and weigh in and no exotic sharks to take down the big prize.

The winning shark ended up being an impressive 335 lb thresher. Full tournament results were:

Heaviest overall - AFISHIONADO - 335 lbs. thresher
1st place mako - CAROL LIBBY - 241 lbs
2nd place mako - PANCHO - 236 lbs
3rd place mako - CHANGE ORDER -224 lbs
1st place other species - AFISHIONADO - 335 lbs. thresher
2nd place other species - HALFWAY THERE - 330 lbs thresher
3rd place other species - WE GO - 325 lbs thresher

No qualifying blue sharks were weighed in this year. All the ones we caught were skinny skinny skinny. They say that an 8.5 foot blue weighs 250 (the minimum for the tourney) but this year they were still too light even at that length. Also, folks, make sure you know the difference in the shark species that you may encounter in our waters. One boat killed a great white shark and brought it in to the weigh station, only to be greeted by the authorities shortly thereafter. I'm not sure what happened, but I've heard the fine was $25,000. Not only will it hurt your wallet, but the restrictions on certain sharks are in place for a reason (we hope). There's no excuse for killing a protected species due to ignorance.

Anyway, it was a great weekend. The boat is running pure. The new underwater lights look fantastic at night, can't wait to break them in on an overnighter tuna trip. Shouldn't be long now... Below are some pics.

And in unfortunate news, due to moving to the left coast, David has been suspended from Team Small Fortune until further notice. The case is being reviewed, strict penalties are pending...