Deep Drop Show
In a bit of departure from the many shallow water shows we’ve shot in the past, this week’s episode followed a mission out into some very not shallow water to get Tom and Rich some new species for their catch list and some meat for the dinner table. The plan was to head out to the blue water and drop baits deep for Tile Fish, Snowy Grouper, Barrel Fish and Queen Snapper. The wind had laid down a ton from earlier in the week when we were getting wet tarpon fishing at the bridges, and it looked like it was going to be a pretty smooth ride. Tom and Rich were fishing out of a 32’ Yellowfin and we had a nice new 39’ as a camera boat to make the day even smoother. It was a slick enough ride out, that I was able to attempt to shoot some flying fish as we ran south of Hawks Cay. Over the last couple of years, I’ve tried to get good shots of flyers, but it’s a pretty tricky shot. It’s rare to have a day that’s calm enough to shoot while running on the open ocean, but I managed to a get a couple of decent shots on this day.'
Captain Dave Jones was along to teach Tom and Rich his deep dropping techniques, and as they set up their rigs, I climbed up into the tower to get an elevated view of the Yellowfin and the big blue ocean. If it’s a rough day, or you get sea sick, the tower is not the place to be, but on this relatively calm day, the elevation gave me a great view down into their boat and better visibility down into the clear water. I always try to take advantage of any opportunity to change my angle on a day of shooting, getting as low as possible or getting up in a tower can really change the perspective and give each photo a little different look.
They rigged up an electric set up to drop down and bounce the bottom in well over 500 feet of water. On the first drift they started in over 700 feet of water but quickly drifted over an underwater plateau that rose up to 500 feet. Right as the baits approached the edge of the shelf, they got bumped, and they set the hook with a push of a button and began the long pull up from the depths. Captain Dave inspected the rod tip and guessed tile fish, a few minutes later, Tom’s first tile fish came to the surface. They re-rigged and pulled back around setting up for another drift. Each drift, Tom and Rich took turns and for a few the tile fish continued to grow a bit each time, then switched over to snowy grouper, then barrel fish. Each time, Dave would watch the rod tip during the fight, and identify the fish by the action and was right each time.
It’s always fun watching someone catch a fish for the first time, doesn’t matter if it’s their first fish ever, their first of that species or first fish with a certain technique. On this trip they each had a few firsts, and enjoyed checking out the new species and learning some new techniques. For me, the best part was watching them handle the barrel fish, which is well known for its oily skin. As soon as it came out of the water, it began secreting oil out of its skin and became increasingly hard to hold as the seconds wore on.