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07/26/16 - Donald L. Hammond - Dolphin Research Project Report

Marine Anglers,

There are not many topics that fishermen don’t care to discuss. The topic of this issue of the newsletter is one of those: parasites. This topic has made its appearance this year, confronting fishermen from the Florida Keys to the North Carolina Outer Banks. The specific issue is parasites in dolphinfish. It is not as simple as seeing a repulsive critter on or in the fish as it is being cleaned, because the particular parasite causing the major concern cannot be seen by the naked eye. However, the effect it has on the host fish cannot be ignored. This year has brought a significant increase in the number of cases of this condition being reported. Luckily the majority of the parasitic organisms found on or in dolphin do not cause such a dramatic change in the fish nor pose any danger to humans. This issue of the newsletter will likely answer a question that many fishermen have about a fish they have either caught or have seen. It will certainly amaze you about the number and kinds of parasites infesting dolphin.See Report

I hope you find this issue informative.

Good fishing,


Donald L. Hammond
Marine Fisheries Biologist
Cooperative Sciences Services, LLC
961 Anchor Rd.
Charleston, SC 29412-4902
(843) 795-7524
Visit Website

06/09/16 - St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands Report:

Greetings Fishermen!

Attached is this afternoon's photo of Lee Steiner and Ashley Mebl's catch of a 224lb swordfish. They were daytime fishing the St. Thomas famous North Drop on a 30+ Contender and finally got this tasty fish aboard after a 1 hour battle. The weigh station was alive with excitement and Stewart Loveland of Neptune Fishing Supply was the official weigh master. In attendance and witnessing the weigh in was Capt. Mike Lemon who had just hit town to start marlin fishing aboard Jose's beautiful Mojito. Summer 2016 fishing season kicks off on a nice catch!

02/28/16 - Isla Mujeres, Mexico - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

Between rough seas and herds of Bonitos, it's been a slow past couple of days. The best I heard was 7 for 10. Giving the wind a little more time to lay down we got started around 9am. Before we got out to the rest of the fleet I started marking bait. Once we got settled in, I started marking sailfish. It was only a matter of time. Unfortunately, it quickly became apparent that we've been spending too much time at the dock. It was over as fast as it started. In less than 2 1/2 hrs we raised at least 11, had 8 bites, and managed to only land 3. The bonitos found us at lunch time and there was no escape. We spent the rest of the afternoon wearing out the "speed perch" and our bait box. Never saw another sailfish until about 4:30. A double header popped up on the longs. Just to add insult to injury, they wouldn't eat. We're done fishing. Now we see if we're reading home.

02/23/16 - Isla Mujeres, Mexico - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

So I know it's been a while. We've been dockside for the last two weeks. Got to fish with another boat one day and managed to go out and put a hurting on some bottom fish. The sailfishing has been good and bad. Some days providing boats with 20-30 bites and then others not a fraction of that. We put in a half day today and unfortunately it didn't pan out to be one of those better days. To start, it blew 20-25kt when it was only suppose to be ten. When we finally managed to mark some bait, we worked it as hard as we could. Caught 2 out of a triple and pulled off two more singles before calling it quits. Here's a few shots of our bottom adventures.

02/23/16 - Donald L. Hammond - Dolphin Research Project Report

Marine Anglers,

How important is Sargassum to the abundance of dolphinfish? Dolphin are commonly caught in areas where there is not a piece of Sargassum anywhere in sight. Large schools of dolphin can be found in these wide open waters as well. So just how important is the presence of this floating macroalgae to successfully catching dolphin? The Dolphinfish Research Program has collected information to address this question for the past ten years. Information on the presence or absence of Sargassum in the area where each fish was tagged was collected. During this ten-year period, information was compiled on 15,949 dolphin that were tagged for the study. These fish were primarily tagged off the U.S. Atlantic coast but large numbers were also tagged in the Bahamas, Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico. The frequency of fish being caught in association with Sargassum did vary among regions. I don’t think anyone would argue that with an increase in the abundance of this oceanic plant, there comes a greater likelihood for large numbers of dolphin. But data suggest that while Sargassum was more abundant during 2014 and 2015 than in 2006 and 2007 the East Coast harvest of dolphin was down 31 percent from 2006 and 2007. Just because large quantities of Sargassum may show up off your coast does not guarantee large numbers of dolphinfish will be under it. This issue of the newsletter looks at the Sargassum question and how its importance varies among the regions. Hope you find it interesting. Visit Website

Good fishing,


Donald L. Hammond
Marine Fisheries Biologist
Cooperative Sciences Services, LLC
961 Anchor Rd.
Charleston, SC 29412-4902
(843) 795-7524
Visit Website

02/04/16 - Isla Mujeres, Mexico - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

Our last day fishing for the week couldn't have been any prettier. Less than 10kts South, slicked right out. Off to a good start with 2 out of 3. Not really a triple cause one jumped off before the third ate. Picked at em good through lunch. With the exception of two, we managed to turn every bite in to two or more and resulting in at least one caught. Then it shut down. I only heard of a few bites after 3. Still, we had a great day, finishing out with 11 for 20 saw a total of 27.

02/04/16 - Isla Mujeres, Mexico - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

Our last day fishing for the week couldn't have been any prettier. Less than 10kts South, slicked right out. Off to a good start with 2 out of 3. Not really a triple cause one jumped off before the third ate. Picked at em good through lunch. With the exception of two, we managed to turn every bite in to two or more and resulting in at least one caught. Then it shut down. I only heard of a few bites after 3. Still, we had a great day, finishing out with 11 for 20 saw a total of 27

02/02/16 - Isla Mujeres, Mexico - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

Yet another example of how much difference a day can make. In spite of a fresh 20kt wind from the SE the bite was on! No sooner did we put em out and the action cranked up. The fish weren't pushing bait balls like in days past. Instead, we were consistently raising them on the troll. Also we had Chance, the mate off the WHY KNOT and the extra hand in the pit allowed for effectively fishing some baits back while we maneuvered, at times turning a single fish in to a multiple.

By lunch we had seen the last of it. After 12 the only fish we saw would either raise and not eat or show while we were catching bonito, and still not eat. Then at 2pm on really hungry sail manage to eat just about every bait in the spread without getting hooked. Another 40 minutes of getting clobbered by slob bonitos and everyone had had enough. Final tally was 16 for 27 and raised another 9. Also saw a huge whale Shark. May lay in tomorrow supposed to blow some more.

02/01/16 - Isla Mujeres, Mexico - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

Back at it in Isla Mujeres. Apparently it had been pretty good while we were stateside.

First light on the rip looked like it was gonna be today as well. Birds pickin, sails cuttin bait, everything Mexico was meant to be. Gettin the bite was another story. Hey, I can appreciate the local boats tryin to please their charters, but pushin up on a plane to cut me off and throwing live bait eventually just pisses me off. We never could pull fish off the bait pods and it got even tougher when they started dropping divers in the water without so much as a flag. Not long before I had enough.

We got more shots off the fish anyhow. Unfortunately as the day progressed the bite faded. By the end of the day what fish were showing, didn't want to eat. The final tally: raised 20, had 15 bites and caught 5.

01/25/16 - Isla Mujeres, Mexico - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

Sat at the dock yesterday and watched it blow. Only boat in the marina to go out, came back with a broken rigger. Think we made a good call. With beautiful weather this morning we set out for our second day of fishing. As I rounded the point and tuned the radar I got pretty excited. I was marking thick knots of birds about 5 miles from where the bite had been. If they payed off we could get lucky to have a bunch of fish all to ourselves. Arriving at that location promoted that thought even further. With hundreds of Frigate Birds, many picking right at water level, everything looked perfect. Worked it for an hour.....not even a trash bite. Disappointed we set course for the consistent grounds of prior days. Half way there we hooked one but broke it off close to the boat. To add insult to injury, once we got in the pack, most of the fish we were seeing were behind other boats. By noon we had only caught 2 out of 6.

As we always do, we began to overthink our lack of success. More often than not we're far to hard on ourselves. While we're eating lunch, it hit the fan. Fish started showing up everywhere and on everything in the spread. Over the next 2hrs we saw another 20 fish behind the boat, not counting random pods under birds. When we finished, we had caught a daily total of 7 for 15 seeing 26. A pretty crazy couple hours, everybody had a blast.

A quick trip back home and we'll be back at it in a week.

01/22/16 - Isla Mujeres, Mexico - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

Well it's good to be back in Isla Mujeres. Been a long time since we came here to fish. Pretty excited about the 2016 season.

Our trip down was one of luck. While most would think the weather was far from acceptable for travel, we planned and caught the smallest window we could find. Riding on the backs of what were sometimes in the 10' class we made great time and pulled in to Isla in 28hrs out from Hillsboro. Towing our 42' the whole way.

After the last few days of prep, paperwork and rest, we picked up our guests and headed out for our first day of fishing. Unfortunately, the weather deteriorated all day. Sloppy 6-8' seas are hardly desirable on any day, much less our first run. No sooner did we get 'em out and we had a quad eat. A little mayhem inside and we released 1. We picked at 'em the rest of the day even hooking another quad and landing 2 of those. When we finally had enough ass kickin, we tallied up 7 for 19 seeing 24 total. Not great average but we had fun. In fact, I can't remember the last time I had that much fun on a 7 fish day.

01/22/16 - Capt. Jay Fowler - No Limt Sport Fishing - St. Thomas, VI

Left - Jeremy Fowler Jr's - First Fish!

Right - Great Wahoo Day!

01/22/16 - Donald L. Hammond - Dolphin Research Project Report

Marine Anglers,

While most of you are in the mid-winter doldrums of dolphin fishing, there are places that have reported some good fishing. South Florida has enjoyed one of its better winters for dolphin fishing, and in early January there were reports of good dolphin fishing in the Cayman Islands. Anglers on several of the Caribbean Islands are providing similar reports and that there are large amounts of Sargassum moving through the Caribbean. This could be a positive indicator of a good fishing season to come for the U.S. East Coast.

This issue of the newsletter announces those hard-working fishermen that went the extra mile in their tagging efforts and have earned the year-end awards. First-place winners receive a rod and reel outfit consisting of a Star Handcrafted standup trolling rod provided by Star Rods a division of Big Rock Sports of Graham, North Carolina, with a TLD 30 or 50 2 speed reel made possible by Haddrell’s Point Tackle and Supply of Mt. Pleasant and Charleston, South Carolina. Second-place finishers will receive a special gift package from Costa Del Mar of Daytona Beach, Florida, which will include the winner’s choice of a pair of their famous sunglasses.

This issue also announces a new grant received from the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation of Davie, Florida, that will allow the DRP to continue its long-term satellite tag tracking of the dolphin’s oceanic migration routes and continue to build the public tagging effort.

Hope you find this issue interesting.

Good fishing,


Donald L. Hammond
Marine Fisheries Biologist
Cooperative Sciences Services, LLC
961 Anchor Rd.
Charleston, SC 29412-4902
(843) 795-7524
Visit Website

01/06/16 - Mark Davis - Fishing with Capt Bubba Carter - Costa Rica

Los Suenos, Costa Rica - December 27-31, 2015

1 Yellowfin Tuna
49 Sailfish
4 Blue Marlin

(All marlin and sailfish were released)

Thanks to Capt. Bubba Carter and mates, Caesar & Eduardo! Capt. Bubba's Website

12/23/15 - Pete Wishney - Foxi Lady Report

Happy to report that the Billfish Foundation has awarded the "Foxi Lady" the top "Top Blue Marlin" tagging award in the Pacific for 2015. Our team "Denise, Ryno Mertens, Michelle Shiel and many friends. Thank you all for your help and support ($). Award Ceremony Feb. 11, 2016, Miami, FL "Drinks on Pete" Merry Xmas!

12/22/15 - Donald L. Hammond - Dolphin Research Project Report

It is amazing that each year the Dolphinfish Research Program continues to grow, revealing more amazing facts about dolphinfish. With our first tag recoveries in the Eastern Pacific and Gulf of Mexico, we hope to see the tagging activity increase in these areas to generate more tag recoveries, allowing us to map the movements of fish in these areas. This year the DRP was fortunate to have the necessary historical data plus current information for dolphin moving along the East Coast to show that the extremely poor dolphin fishing experienced by anglers from northeastern Florida to South Carolina was not because of a decline in the population, but rather an offshore shift in their migration route. In order to accurately address such sudden changes in dolphin fishing/occurrence, it takes long-term monitoring to establish a historical profile for the species. This is one of the goals of the DRP.

Every fisherman knows that dolphin love to eat flying fish but how do they catch food that takes to the wing and glides away? The British Broadcasting Corporation’s natural history section brings you an unparalleled view of how dolphin catch flying fish. This is part of a new show being produced called “The Hunt." You will be absolutely amazed by this video, and the one thing you will take away from the video is that you cannot troll too fast for dolphin. To view this amazing footage click on http://www.wideopenspaces.com/flying-fish-evade-predators/.

With this issue of the newsletter we begin a new year of research. In this issue the DRP introduces a fresh new look, thanks to the generosity of Dr. Guy Harvey. Another article takes a look at the amazingly strong 2015 tagging activity. The newsletter also announces a new partnership with the Brinton Environmental Center of the Boy Scouts of America located on Summerland Key, Florida. Center staff will use DRP materials to introduce scouts from all over North America to fisheries conservation and give them firsthand experience in fisheries science by way of tagging fish. Teaching youth solid conservation ethics will lead to better-informed and conservation-minded fishermen in the future. As you see the DRP continues to be blessed by the support from fishermen all over and by conservation-minded programs. We are ever grateful for this support.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. May 2016 be a fantastic year of fishing for you.


Donald L. Hammond
Marine Fisheries Biologist
Cooperative Sciences Services, LLC
961 Anchor Rd.
Charleston, SC 29412-4902
(843) 795-7524
Visit Website

10/29/15 - St. Thomas, Vi - Capt. Jay Fowler' 'No Limit' Catch!

Late night report - A 538lb. Swordfish was caught today on the Noth Drop after a 3+ hour fight. Largest ever captured in the Virgin Islands!

10/27/15 - St. Thomas, Vi - Capt. Blake A. Singleton's SF Cheeseburger Report:

The Cheeseburger wrapped up a 3 day North Drop trip on the October moon, going 3 for 6, +6. We lost 2 heartbreakers, one was 600lb plus this and would have been our biggest of the year no doubt... This fish did everything text book in the bait and switch game, after pilling on one of our bridge teasers and taking everything we had to get it away from her, she sees the pitch and goes for it 15 feet from the transom...we set the hook and she jumped clean out of the water, then dove straight down...30/40 minutes into the fight, with over 1000 yards of line still out, she spit the hook.

On another, we hooked her on the pitch, a much smaller fish, but as we were feeding her in free spool, she decided she liked the long teaser better and spit the bait. We saw most of our fish between 40 and 42 right on the edge. It was a good trip, we saw fish from 75lbs to 600+. Even with most of our fish being on the smaller side 150/200# they all put on a fantastic show, we couldn't be more pleased with the decision to hang around and fish the October moon. Until next year.

09/26/15 - Dominican Republic - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

Reel Tight - 2nd day Trip Home

Well with Joaquin actually still tracking into our path and gaining strength, we made the decision to duck in to the DR and wait this one out. Tied up at Ocean World and patiently waiting to see the storm take its eventual track north and out of our way.

We were 1-2 maybe 3 on blues yesterday, with a Mahi. Also caught a mahi and barracuda this morning.

09/26/15 - St. Thomas, Vi - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

6th day September Moon - North Drop, St Thomas

High hopes after yesterday. The edge was still holding up a pretty decent bite. Too bad the area up top petered out. We did have a shot at a little guy 100# or less, just before 9am. But he jumped off close to the boat. Spent the rest of the day searching for the next bite. It never came.

Listened to drop be pretty good though. Couldn't keep up with most of the numbers but everybody saw fish. At least 6 boats saw three and 3 of those saw 5. Quite a few were still fishing when we packed it in. Still anxious to get more of the action, our last day may be canceled. Best fishing of the season and we're quitting early? I don't get it!

Need to add this story: the MARLIN PRINCE, local charter boat down here, had a tale like no other. After having a few encounters for the day, they did manage to keep one on and get him in for release. As the mate, Travis Morrison, got a hold of the leader, the fish darted under the boat but never came out. Fearing the line was hung around the rudder and the fish would be chopped if the boat was put in gear, Young Travis sprang into action. He jumped overboard to untangle the leader and free the fish! What he found the fish had actually bit down on the shaft and wouldn't let go. Travis managed to pull the fish loose of the shaft, remove the hook, and swim the fish to resuscitation. A fish story for the ages.

Top boats for release, that I could recall: BLUE VIEW 3+1sailfish - SHARKEYS 2 - JICHI 2 - BETSY 2.

09/25/15 - St. Thomas, Vi - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

5th day September Moon - North Drop, St Thomas

With only two days left in our season and it finally feels like St Thomas. The drop was on fire today. Tunas and birds everywhere and a full fleet. The bite even started pretty early. Even though we had a good solid teaser pull at 9:50am, it never felt right and we pushed on up the line. I have to mention that somehow today became a crew day. Jimmy's choice to take a back seat certainly became more comical than anticipated. The end result probably won't be getting us too many crew days. Not soon anyway LOL!

A couple miles short of our numbers we get aggressive little 150# on the right bridge at 12pm. Not aggressive enough cause he snubbed the mackerel and faded off. 12:20 another right bridge. 300# Good tease and eat but spits it. Switches to left cockpit, teases in hot all the war under the rigger, piles on the pitch, jumps over the center rigger and coughs up the bait. Fires back up and piles on the center rigger. After a solid 30 minutes of battle pulls off inside of the rigger distance. 12:58 another right bridge fish, this one about 200#. Teases in aggressive and crushes the pitch, drops back and turns back to the boat as we come tight and the bait pulls out. He fades back and eats the rigger too, and we finally catch one.

2pm right cockpit bite. Gets a hold of it a few good times and cools off on the way in. Never showed. 200# 2:55 down and tight on center rigger. Boss wanted to run the boat on one so I went down and caught it 200#. 3:45 left cockpit crash. Streaks across spread and hits right cockpit. Super hot tease all the way to the boat and eats pitch. As we clear the lines the fish make a few huge jumps away and throws the hook +400#. 5:20 we get another super hot fish on the left bridge about 150-200#. Teases under the rigger and full body airs it out on the pitch. Pulls off without pulling drag. Tries both cockpit teasers but never comes in again.
The day was surreal. I'm sure not every raised fish, bite or even catch, was put on the radio but these numbers were the best I could keep up with:

JICHI 5/6 - A1A. 2/4 - BETSY 2/2 - MARLIN PRINCE 2/4 - NO AGENDA. 2/6 - THERAPY. 1/1 - NEVER SAY NEVER 0/? - BLUE VIEW. 1/2 - AISIAN PEARL 1/2 - WAVE PAVER 2/2 - SHARKYS ? - BLACK PEARL. 1/1 - CHEESBURGER. 0/0? - RUCKUS 1/1, 9 tuna, 9 mahi and a load of deep snapper.

Click on photos to enlarge:

09/25/15 - Donald L. Hammond - Dolphin Research Project Report

Marine Anglers:

Where has the fishing season gone? We are already into fall and we are not finished with our summer fishing. Think of it this way: it just offers us the opportunity to fish new areas where the fish are.

Fishermen are well aware of the competition for fish between the commercial sector and the recreational sector. When it comes to stock allocation there is a sense of us against them from both groups. There are even contentious arguments over harvest shares within the commercial fishery between gear types. Fishery managers, however, are more keenly aware that there is a subdivision within the recreational sector than most anglers realize, and that is the subject of the feature article in this issue of the newsletter. Using the harvest study conducted by the DRP at a marina located in Charleston, South Carolina, a comparison is drawn between the private boat and for-hire (charter) boat segments in the recreational fishery.

This issue also highlights the achievement by one of the tagging program’s most successful tagging crews. Don Gates and his crew aboard his boat Killin Time II tagged their 2,000th dolphin this summer, making them the first private boat crew to reach this lofty goal. This accomplishment means that they have generated more tagged fish recaptures than any other boat crew in this study. As a result of their effort in support of the scientific study of dolphinfish, Florida Sportsman magazine in its September 2015 issue recognized Don and his crew as exemplary Florida sportsmen. In the same issue of the Florida Sportsman magazine is an excellent article about the DRP study by David Conway. I encourage you to pick up a copy to read this informative article.

See October 2015 Dolphin Report: Here - Also, fishermen should be aware that they can read the DRP’s newsletter on Sports Fishing magazine’s Web site on line.

Good fishing,


09/24/15 - St. Thomas, Vi - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

4th day September Moon - North Drop, St Thomas

Hardly got up on a plane this morning and smoke from the engine room. Well it ended up being steam. Something blew on the stbd genset and we had coolant spraying everywhere. Oh well, fix it later, switch gennys and keep Rollin. Intending on getting back up top to the numbers, we still managed to get sidetracked. We chased a school of big yellowfin for a good while, but never could get them to eat. By the time we got back to the fleet not much had happened yet.

We saw our first fish at 11:15am. A nice fish over 300#. Crashed the left bridge and lazily teased in. Checked out the Mack pretty good but wouldn't eat and faded off. Most of the time we get a fish in the spread, I try to call out specifically what teaser position it has appeared. At 11:47am all I could get out other than a few colorful expletives was "Big Fish"!!! She exploded out of the white water, head and shoulders after the left bridge but never got it. She spun around and tapped me one more time but then faded back to the left cockpit. As her bill came up behind the lure in sailfish fashion, it was pushing a wake. Never would tease up. All I know is she was bigger than anything we called 500# this year.

Working the area, at12:07 a fish I thought to be 150# crashes the lure on the right dredge reel. As he fades back I get him to switch to the squid chain and tease him in. He eats the pitch but is locked up on too quickly and after a short drag pull, spits the bait. Still in the turn and resetting the teasers, the center rigger comes down. After over an hour battle our guest angler released her first blue marlin. A feisty 275#. Not sure that was the same fish. Never did see another fish and eventually worked back down to the saddle where fish are starting to show again. The bait was also pretty thick there. Hopefully the drop will turn on here soon.

MARLIN PRINCE 4/5 - NO AGENDA 1/2 - THERAPY 2/3 - A1A 0/1 - JICHI 1/? Plus 1 sailfish - WAVE PAVER 0 - BLUE VIEW. 1/?

09/23/15 - St. Thomas, Vi - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

3rd day September Moon - North Drop, St Thomas

Well it seemed doomed to be another slow day. We had pounded the saddles and good bit of west of the corner by lunch and hadn't seen a thing. Rest of the fleet was up around the 51 line where most of the action had been yesterday. Even though only three fish had been seen and one caught, we decided to join the crowd. Good call. Our first fish showed at 1:09pm. A good tease in on the right bridge and an aggressive bite on the pitch, but not long after clearing the spread we jumped off the 150# little guy. 30 minutes later making a pass in the same area,?we get another crash bite out of a little guy on the right bridge. He teases well to the boat but snubs the mackerel and barely taps the left cockpit as he leaves. Frustrating.

Around 2:30 we get an explosion on the left cockpit. In the glare it looked to shoulder back up on it but never fully appeared. The guys bring the lure in for inspection as I turn to pass over he same spot. I get a pull on my right bridge. A fish about 150# we figure to be the same one just won't tease in. Goes away. Again we make a turn and I get wa-powed! on the left bridge. Looks like the same fish. This is ridiculous! Now I'm thinking this one fish is following us and just "tasting" everything in the spread. Bound and determined to catch this bugger, we make another pass. I get crushed again on the left bridge. Different fish this time for sure, about twice the size of our previous bandit. In bigger fish style this one teases perfect and eats the pitch. Nearly an hour later we get her boat side and turn her loose. 300#. No sooner do we get the spread back out and fish piles on the center rigger. The 200#'r stays near the surface and we turn it loose quickly.

Now it's about 4:00. We get the spread reset and all of the sudden a fish explodes out of the water adjacent to the left bridge and greyhounds on its side right down the side of the boat nearly jumping through the salon window. Some think it's was the fish we had just released escaping sharks, I thought the fish looked bigger. Pretty damn cool either way. Having salvaged out a pretty awesome day, we were just a bit down the line when we called it quits and began packing it in for the day at 5:30. A fish pulled on the center rigger as it was the only thing left in the water. Gets us down 3/4 spool in a hurry. Dean ends up donning the stand up harness and planed up what ends up being a 350# tail wrapped fish. She still had some color so we spent the next 10-15 minutes dragging her until she came around. And we released in good shape well into dark at 1/4 til 7. What a day.


09/22/15 - St. Thomas, Vi - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

2nd day September Moon - North Drop, St. Thomas

Tough to get too colorful about today. Numbers didn't have it terribly slow, but the results didn't feel much better. Starting the morning off right. My routine engine room inspection uncovered a blown valve cover gasket and 4 gallons of oil to clean up. Still we only lost a half hour of fishing. Unfortunately, we didn't see our first fish til after lunch. A nice 250-300# crashed the left bridge, but that was the last of his effort. It only teased a little and never ate. Throughout the afternoon two more little blues and one white did even less than that. Though they showed up behind something, none of them ever tried to tease or eat, leaving us as quickly as they appeared. Other boats experienced some of the same and some were able to connect on a few. Caught/Seen: A1A 2/6 NO AGENDA 2/4 GULF RASCAL 0/4 THERAPY 0/2 + 1 white BLVK PEARL 0/1

09/21/15 - St. Thomas, Vi - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

1st day September Moon - North Drop, St Thomas

Last few days for the couple of boats that have been fishing sounded pretty good. A bit of a disappointment as the day unfolded to be relatively slow in comparison.

We had an extremely aggressive 225# show up on the left cockpit around 9:50am. No matter how fast Dean could pull that teaser this fish was catchin it. After 4 or 5 solid eats and drag pulls, he switched and ate the pitch. Stayed right up on top and let us turn him loose in just a few minutes. Around lunch we had ventured off to the west to check things out when we had an interesting encounter. A school of football sized bonitos, 100yds square, ponied up next to our spread and paced us for about 10 minutes. Neat to see but they were far too comfortable for us to assume our target was anywhere near that area.

As we worked back inshore we finally got back up on the edge in some scattered weed around the 45 line around 1:30pm. A little guy about 150# shows on the right bridge squid chain and gets a few good shots at it on the tease. He never shows on the pitch bait. As we start to straighten out, he crashes the left bridge and continues to crush it all the way in to the boat. This time he switches to the pitch and takes an aggressive shot at it but misses. The drop back over shot him and he never found the bait. Instead he piles on the left cockpit and teases up to the boat again. The bait had not yet got into proper position, so he passes it up and crashes the right cockpit. Unfortunately only teasing in half way and never giving us another shot. Exciting to say the least. That was the extent of our action.

MARLIN PRINCE 1/2 - A1A 0/2 + 1 white - NO AGENDA 0 - GULF RASCAL 0 - THERAPY 0/2

08/30/15 - St. Thomas, Vi - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

6th and last day August moon - North Drop, St Thomas - Last day Boy Scout

Struggled with the option of running to Anegada or just stay on the drop. Knowing it would take at least 3 fish to take the lead with the standings at the beginning of the day and probably more to keep it, we figured a 5 fish day could happen anywhere. Shut down offshore of the 45 line just before lines in. Right at lines in the bait popped up offshore of us. In pursuit we get a fish on the right bridge. Hooked up!! 5 minutes after lines in. A fairly easy catch we released a 275# quick and got back to it.

The bait disappeared so we worked back inshore. Got to the saddle and went to turn on a another bait pod. Never finished the turn when a fish about 300# shows on the right bridge. Very aggressive, catching me a couple times on the way in. Just inside the pitch he manages to snatch line out of my had which slows him to turn. Once I wrestled it away he cooled off and disappeared. As we come around to possibly raise him again. A small fish about 125# tugs on my left bridge. Again teases up to the boat and fades without showing anywhere else.

At 10 til 2, we get back into the edge and have another right bridge bite. Fish teased to under the rigger, ignored the pitch and faded into the spread. 30sec. Later, blasts the right cockpit but never teases in again.

Just after 3pm as Dean was clearing weed on the left cockpit, a nice fish comes screaming out of the wash to look, spins around and vanishes. Well, guess we got our 5 fish day.

Anegada was dead. Three boats out there and 4 fish seen. 3 caught. Though once again the winning boat finishes out in Anegada. Most of the boats on the drop saw around three fish each that I could gather from the radio. Some maybe more.

Tournament standings: 1st PESCADOR 5, 2nd NEVER SAY NEVER 4, 3rd MARLIN RAPTOR 3, 4th WAVE PAVER 2, 5th REEL TIGHT 2, 6th SHARKYS 2, 7th JICHI 1, 8th STALKER 1, 9th BLACK PEARL 1.

08/24/15 - St. Thomas, Vi - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

3rd day August moon - North Drop, St Thomas

Laid in yesterday. Had to do some work on the boat. Prep tackle for tourney and swap out some guests. The few boats still around all got together and collectively agreed, in the best interest of the BoyScout participation, we'd fish Saturday and Sunday and have a 60/40 split. By 12pm today. Most of those boats fled to Puerto Rico. Possibility of a tournament has faded.

In the meantime, we headed out fishing late due to a last minute repair. Put the lines out at 10:30am. At 11:05 had a nice aggressive 150# blue tease in on the left bridge, eat perfect and let us catch him pretty quick. At 12:41 we get a little zip on the right cockpit. This fish also teases in nice and eats well. We catch this one relative fast too. Great aerials on the wire for photos. About 300# Then at 3:47 we get another fish on the right cockpit. Great tease and pitch. About 250#.

NEVER SAY NEVER 2/4 - GULF RASCAL 2/3 - SHARKEY's REVENGE 1/4 - JICHI 1/5. Would've been a great start to the BoyScout. Storm is minimal. We're riding it out at the dock and hopefully back at it on Friday.

08/24/15 - St. Thomas, Vi - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

2nd day August Moon - North Drop, St Thomas Pretty cool how today played out. Last day of the Billfish Tournament for Haiti. At lines in the standings were: GULF RASCAL 2, THERAPY 2, REEL TIGHT 1. Right after lines in RASCAL hooks up and lands their fish in 20min. Three minutes later we have a fish show up on the left cockpit. Teases in aggressively, lunges up and snatches my bridge teaser which was still hanging at water line. Never sees the pitch and screams across spread to the right cockpit. As we tease in and switch everything to that side, another fish hangs itself on the center rigger. We proceed to tease the first fish up again and it drops the pitch. Switches back to the left bridge that I had let back out. Meanwhile we're into the backing on he rigger fish. We tease the fish in again, now out of gear and get it to finally eat.

Double header!!! Both over 300# In an effort to get some line on the fish furthest out, we lose a good bit on the second fish hooked. For nearly an hour we had on fish straight off the bow and one dead astern. With both fish to the bottom of the spool, one actually to the knot, we essentially had a 1400yrd roadblock on the North Drop. With a lot of communication, extensive drag manipulation and a whole bunch of luck we got both fish to go down sea and began to run them down. We got the rigger fish within 100ft from the boat when she sounded and was eaten by sharks. Another 35 min of heavy battle and we released the pitch fish. RASCAL missed another fish around 1pm.

We finally get a nice little 150# aggressive fish up on the right cockpit at 1:26pm. And catch him in less than 5 minutes. Then with 30 minutes left THERAPY hooks a double to make for a real nail biter. Almost catch one real quick but pulled the hook and the second was eaten by sharks. Tragic. His day was salvaged when they caught one reeling the lines in after lines out. So GULF RASCAL held on to 1st - We got 2nd - THERAPY 3rd - MARLIN PRINCE 2/4 - UNO MAS 2/3 - SHARKY's REVENGE 0/1 - FULL TIME ??

08/23/15 - St. Thomas, Vi - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

1st day August moon - North Drop, St Thomas

Really starting to feel like St Thomas again. Weed wasn't bad. Water was perfect. Birds and bait working all day from the corner to the saddle. Click on photo to enlarge Quite a few boats saw two or more fish today and it sounded like they're still pretty nice fish.

We had our first encounter at 7:30am. Came in and made a good shot at the right cockpit teaser but never appeared again. At almost 10 one grabbed the right bridge outta nowhere and ripped it back to the cockpit under full drag. Never came back. I suppose the rubber mudflap was filling enough. Just past 12:30pm we get another teaser ate on the left bridge. I finally got it away from her and she still charged all the way to the boat on the left cockpit. After almost an hour we let her go. A nice 400#'er. Finally had one more shot at almost 5pm. Another 250# on the left cockpit. Teased in and ate very aggressively. We almost got the release and a few heads shakes threw the hook. The numbers may only reflect fish seen not necessarily bites: GULF RASCAL 3/3-4, THERAPY 2/4-5, MARLIN PRINCE 0/4, CHEESBURGER 1/2, BLACK PEARL 0/2-3, NEVER SAY NEVER 1/1, AMARITA 2/3, SHARKY'S REVENGE 0/0=4.

08/02/15 - St. Thomas, Vi - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

Unbelievably beautiful water up to the 43 line and west. A couple fish were seen on the edge and 1 caught but the bulk of the action was a good bit out to the west. We picked up early cause the boss is flying out. By the time we left 9 boats had only released 4 fish.

We did finally have a shot around 1pm. My smallest blue marlin was only 15lb. This one couldn't have been too much bigger. As it teased in on the cockpit teaser I repeatedly stated it was small but when asked if they should throw the ballyhoo, I said mackerel. Wrong call. As I looked at the fish under the rigger I realized just how wrong I was. Dean was already in motion getting the ballyhoo in the water as I called an audible. It wasn't enough. The hungry little bugger grabbed the Mack, took a quick look at the ballyhoo as he fled the spread with his oversized meal. Trying an extra long drop, hoping he could get it down, only put him well out of play when the drag engaged and he dropped it.

Not what we'd hoped to finish out the moon with, but everyone had a great time and we all can't wait to get back at it later this month.

08/01/15 - St. Thomas, Vi - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

10th day July Blue Moon - St Thomas - Really hard to be upbeat at this point. The only consolation is that out of the numerous fish seen on the drop today, only 6 or 7 were actually caught and 3 of those were on one boat. Only one showed up in our spread today. Nothing more than a quick swirl behind the squid chain. Blue marlin, clear as day, but gone as fast as he came. One more day. Will it be misery or success? Tomorrow will tell.

07/31/15 - St. Thomas, Vi - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

Hobbly gobbly rough today. Pretty weed free from the corner to the 43 line. Then again above the 46.5 Had something yank on a cockpit teaser and the center early but never saw it. Just a boil. Sometime after 2pmwe finally get one on the right bridge. Teases all the way in and eats the pitch. Drops it. Then a fish shows up on center. Follows for a good bit then fades. Shows up again a few seconds later and knocks it down. Never shows again. I describe it this way, because it may have been two different fish. I thought it appeared a good bit bigger on the center than it did under the rigger. Irrelevant. Without a catch. Had another smaller fish take a good head and shoulder out of the water pass on the right cockpit and just keep heading off down sea.

The drop in general is getting right. Quite a few fish seen today. Some didn't eat, others were pulled hooks. Still got another day and a half to keep plugging away and make it happen. Though, too many more fish get hooked right next to me and I just might lose it!

Some of the 2nd numbers include fish raised and maybe not bites as best I can recall: MARLIN PRINCE 3/4, A1A 2/4, THEARAPY 1/1, MIXED BAG 1/3, BLACK PEARL 1/2, NEVER SAY NEVER 2/3, BETSY 0/2, CHEESEBURGER ?

07/30/15 - St. Thomas, Vi - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

Last day July Moon Open - Went with my gut and chose to fish the Drop while most of the fleet went to Anegada. Ended up with hardly any company and a decent stretch of manageable weed on about 3-4 miles of edge. Meanwhile, the weed pushed in to Anegada and the fleet was docked in. The decision seemed gold when at about 9:15am we raised a blue about 250# to the right bridge. He teased right upto the boat and shot into the whitewater. As we waited for him to show I gave the wheel a back and forth and there he was, 5ft off the transom, dead center. As if he was memorized by the wheels. Then he peeled off and took a fleeting shot at the left bridge. We did catch a white before lunch but the only blues we saw the red of the day were behind someone else. Two different fish were hook just a stones throw away.

Even though the fleet was putting on the full court press, and amidst the weed, the top two boats still managed to put on a clinic out to the east. WAVE PAVER caught 3 today giving them 7 overall and locking in the win. MISTRESS caught 2 taking 2nd daily and 2nd overall. Sadly for fishing, those were the only fish caught out there. Congratulations and mad respect to the top boats for some tough fishing. Still got a few more days. Probably gonna kill it tomorrow.

07/30/15 - Ryan 'Ryno' Mertens - Foxi Lady- Costa Rica Report:

we just got back from a 6 day trip offshore to a few different FADs , ended up going 30/45 raising 51 blues. The bite here has been un real the last month and should only get better the next couple months. Calm seas and no sea weed, hard to beat.

07/29/15 - St. Thomas, Vi - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

7th day July Blue Moon - North Drop, St Thomas

2nd day of Tourney

Finally got on the board. At 12:21pm working some clean water a couple miles shy of the Cuban Hole, a nice fish crushed the squid chain. Aggressive teases in to the boat but faded off of the mackerel pitch. Crashed once on the right cockpit and then ate the center. Got nearly 3/4 spool of line off by the time we were cleared and started the chase. Almost three miles in reverse at a good clip to get most of it back, then the battle began. The stubborn fish fought straight up and down for the remainder of an hour no further than the rigger mark away. Tristan did a bang up job of manipulating drag and ultimately changing the fish's mind. We got her at 1:37. 350#.

Pretty slow on the drop more hooks were pulled today than fish caught. 9 fish for the day total. 2 on the edge, ours way up top, and 6 in Anegada. Hmmmmm, where do we go tomorrow?


07/28/15 - St. Thomas, Vi - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

6th day July Blue Moon - North Drop, St Thomas 1st day 52 Annual July Open - Unofficial results: 1st MISTRESS 2/3, 2nd NEVER SAY NEVER 1/2, 3rd GULF RASCAL 1/2, 4th WAVE PAVER 1/?, 5th PESCADOR 1/? Not in tourney - THERAPY 3/4.

We pulled one off on the center rigger around 3:45. We were probably a 1/4 mile or less from any of 9-10 bites Pretty frustrating.

07/27/15 - St. Thomas, Vi - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

5th day July Blue Moon - North Drop, St Thomas. The seaweed favored us through the saddles most of the day. NEVER SAY NEVER tried to fish up the road around mid day but was eventually forced to venture back down where we were virtually weed free. Wasn't a stellar bite for the fleet but we were fortunate to see a few today.

Our first shot came at 8:50, very aggressive left bridge teaser bite. Smoked the pitch bait. Then after chasing him a good bit around and a few arial displays we pulled the hook a hundred feet away. 200# 9:24 another 200# paces along side the same bridge teaser. Then he fades back and takes a look at the left cockpit. He never really fired up and faded off without eating. 11:55, starts off slow tease on the left bridge. Gets more fired up with a few short bites. Turns into an explosive pitch bite. Run him down in a 3 mile backdown. 250#. 1:58 another 200# lazily starts in on the left cockpit. Once it gets about half way to the boat, bolts into the center of the spread like he was shot out of a cannon. Never showed again. 3:53 another left cockpit bite. Gets more aggressive the more it teases in and turns into a powerful pitch bite. Boss-man takes the wheel and I jump down to wire our 2nd fish of the day. 250#

Fleet Report - NEVER SAY NEVER 1/1, MARLIN PRINCE 0/1, BLACK PEARL 0/2, MIXED BAG 0/1. Three other boats no report.

Editor's additional notes from Black Pearl: 0/2+4 Capt Jim said the 4 were slapping teasers all over the boat but didn't bite anything they threw at them.

07/27/15 - Donald L. Hammond - Dolphin Research Project Report

Marine Anglers,

This issue of the newsletter will bring you up to date on the tags that have been reported recovered through the end of June. There was one recovery that even opened my eyes wide. It was recovered more than 1,400 miles from where the fish was released, which isn’t that spectacular, since we have had fish recovered 2,500 miles from the release site. However, the direction of the recovery site from the release point was a total surprise, northwest. I never thought that a tag recovery would come from this state. Other tag recoveries this year create a picture that has never been seen before and raise many questions as to what it means about the health of the fish stock.

The way tag recoveries are reported in this issue has changed to a new format, where we utilize the new general movement maps that were introduced in 2014. The movement routes, shown on the Web site's General Movement Patterns page, were constructed from the more than 500 tag recoveries reported in this study. These are used to discuss the current movements from a broader perspective. Details of each tag recovery are provided in a spreadsheet on the Results Page and on the enlarged version of each Movement Map.

I hope you find this issue interesting. See latest Dolphin Report


Donald L. Hammond
Marine Fisheries Biologist
Cooperative Sciences Services, LLC
961 Anchor Rd.
Charleston, SC 29412-4902
(843) 795-7524
Visit Website

07/26/15 - St. Thomas, Vi - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

4th day July Blue Moon - North Drop, St Thomas. Six boats started today. Three went in at lunch each with 1 bite. We stayed below the 43 line all day with MARLIN PRINCE who also had one bite and caught it. beautiful water, bait everywhere and no weed. Separated from us by three miles of unfishable weed filled water was the NEVER SAY NEVER WHO FISHED ABOVE THE 46 line all day. They ended up seeing 5 blues and a white. They caught 3 and the white. All the blues being nicer fish with one 500# and the fish that didn't eat even bigger.

Our first sighting was at 9am. A very big fish, over 600#, showed up on a cockpit teaser. She paced it as we brought it in closer and only made one half assed attempt at it before fading off and never showing again. I was trying to find that fish the rest of the day.

Our 2nd shot came at 11. A massive explosion and zip on the squid chain, teases up to the boat, turns on the pitch, snubs it and fades back to another explosive shot at the right cockpit. Gone. We spin around hard to try and get on him again and he shows back up in the left bridge, but only for a second and again fades away. 300# 30 minutes later in the same area, another fish a little smaller crashes the right bridge again,?this one eats. The pitch, spits it out and comes back in to eat it right the second time. We catch this one quick. About 200#.

At about 2:15, we get an anonymous knockdown on the center. Never came back but left solid billfish sign on the leader. Then nothing until we're about to clear the lines at the end of the day when we get another massive explosion on the right cockpit. As we're trying to tease it up and see it, it blows up just as huge on the left cockpit, but we never see it again. These may have been big yellowfin busts but we'll never know.

07/25/15 - St. Thomas, Vi - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

3rd day July Blue Moon - North Drop, St Thomas - Well the day certainly started off right. At about ten til eight we get a huge crash on the right cockpit. The fish pulls drag passed the center rigger which it switches to and eats on the way back in. Though we got close a few times, it still took a solid hour to subdue our biggest fish of the season. 4-500# and I'm leaning towards 5. About an hour later we get a whitey on the center, but he throws the hook in an arial backflip. Dropping the lure back and cranking in quickly got him to come back in and try a cockpit teaser but he still faded off when the lure got covered in weed.

Didn't see another thing until nearly 3:15 pm. While shaking grass on the squid chain, a fish boils right behind it. Never see him again until he comes sizzling in on the center rigger, noses right up to it and bolts out like he got electrocuted. A few of the boats were pretty quiet on the radio. Best I can put together is there were probably about 10 fish seen again today. Couple boats only saw 1. NEVER SAY NEVER was 0/2+1, BLACK OUT went 2 for 4 and Black Pearl was 0/1.

07/24/15 - St. Thomas, Vi - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

2nd day July Blue Moon - North Drop, St Thomas REEL TIGHT - WOW! Did that day ever suck! Whatever optimism came from our day yesterday has flown out the window. We couldn't drum up a trash bite today. The rest of the fleet hardly set the world on fire either. Five other boats out with us today and only 9 or 10 fish seen and only 2 maybe a third caught.

07/23/15 - St. Thomas, Vi - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

What a day on the drop! Only boat out and had the entire edge to ourselves. First encounter came at 9:03am. A nice fish about 200# showed up on the left bridge but never teased in. Then at 9:50 am. another nice 225# crashed the right bridge, teased all the way up under the rigger, switched and piled on the mackerel. Unfortunately it was a thrash with the bill and we came up denied. Twenty minutes later a little 150# teases in on the left bridge, eats the pitch, spits it out, then fades back to left cockpit. Teases all the way back in but won't eat. Takes two more shots at the right cockpit but won't tease in again. After an hour of angst another 225# shows on the left bridge. This one teases perfect and eats the mack. On the drop back, he shows up on the left cockpit. Dean proceeds to tease the fish back up under the rigger while Tristan winds up the line. We get 15' from the leader when the fish realizes there's a hook in its mouth and takes off. 30 minutes later we get our first release. At 12:01 a little tiny fish shows up paddling behind the left cockpit. As he disappears, momma piles on the right cockpit. She teases all the way in and eats the pitch; game on! After an awesome arial display and a grueling 1 hour battle on stand up, the line breaks less than a foot away from grabbing the leader for release. 3-400#.

Until then the best parts of the drop had remained weed free. During the fight that all changed as the weed socked in all the way to the 45 line. Up the road we go. Finally, at 3:20pm we get a little fish about 150# on the right cockpit. Teases in right up to the pitch and then fades off. Working the area, at 3:45, a nice fish teases in on the right bridge and eats right. We catch this one quick and it's right about 300#. Pounding the numbers, at 4:26pm. Another +300# piles on the left bridge, teases in, eats the pitch but spits it and fades. 4:57 a fish about 150# shows on the right cockpit, tease all the way to the boat and disappears in the glare. Finally, 5:30, a very small fish shows behind the right cockpit again. Only teases in half way, never shows. So in all we were 2 for 6 saw 11. Of course not the ratio you look for but a very fun day and very promising for the moon.

06/30/15 - St. Thomas, Vi - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

Though the seas ranged from fearful to frightening, and played hell with trying to make a lure spread look good, there were a few fish to be had today. NEVER SAY NEVER started everyone off early catching one fish out of a double. MARLIN PRINCE did his best to pick away at shots and put on a clinic. He was able to land 2 out of the 5 fish he saw all day. We had two cheap tease bites during most of his action. Neither of the fish ever teased in close enough to pitch and never showed anywhere else. We eventually got way up the line again in our hunt. Around 2:45 it paid off when we got a hungry little fish to tease in and give us two solid shots on the pitch before getting hooked. 175# Shortly thereafter back down in the corner, NEVER SAY NEVER landed both fish in another double. A 300# and a 400#. NO AGENDA - 0/1, BLACK PEARL - no report

06/29/15 - St. Thomas, Vi - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

6th day St Thomas June/July moon Water continues to improve, though today was roughest it's been. We even managed to take blu Ayer through the forward curtain while trolling up sea. Had a fish raise pretty early to a cockpit teaser but went away without an attempt. Caught a white around 10 and expected the day to progress from there but no such luck. We did finally get a half assed tease out of a little 100#'r around 3pm but he never tried a hook. Two other boats never saw a fish. MARLIN PRINCE 0/2 NEVER SAY NEVER 1/3 or 4

06/28/15 - St. Thomas, Vi - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

5th day St Thomas June/July Moon

Still slow but he water color was the best it's been overall, from corner to gunsight. The seaweed was also quite manageable and in some cases nearly gone. We managed to land the only blue marlin today. A nice aggressive 225-250#. Teased in on squid chain but after catching me a few times cooled off and didn't eat the pitch right away. Once it switched to the left cockpit though, it fired right back up and did everything right. Later o. In the afternoon, back down in the short saddle, we had one other encounter. A nice fish 3-400# came sizzling in to the spread from outside, but disappeared as quickly, never having tried anything we had to offer. Also towards the end of the day we had something make three pretty solid attempts at a cockpit but never teased in. Other boats had some meat fish action, so at this point we believe it to have been a large wahoo. Other boats as radio would have it: ABIGAIL - 0/1 maybe 2 on blues, w/80lb yellowfin - NEVER SAY NEVER -0/1 - MARLIN PRINCE - lost a large yellowfin at boat and boxed a +70# wahoo.

06/27/15 - St. Thomas, Vi - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

4th day St Thomas. June/July Moon Pretty slow day for the drop. Though the weed cleaned up a bit and the water got a little more blue in the saddle, the best looking area was again offshore and a bit above the gunsight. We had a blue knockdown the center and never really eat it right again and caught a white. NEVER SAY NEVER 0/1 - CHEESBURGER 0/1 - NO AGENDA 2/3 - Two other boats never reported.

06/26/15 - St. Thomas, Vi - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

3rd day St Thomas June/July Moon In comparison, the slowest day this week for us. Though the grass allowed us to venture off to areas we haven't been to this season, it didn't pay off as we may have hoped. Not until almost 1pm and way up the line and around the bend of the drop did we see our first and only blue of the day. A little fella maybe 100#, teased in on a bridge teaser ate the Mack but struggled to get it down. After lettin go, he still crashed the center rigger and took a ton of line but threw the hook after a spastic arial display. A little over an hour later we had a similar encounter with a little white marlin. Won't be hangin any laundry this evening. Some fish seen today With a handful more boats out a bit of action was to be had. Best of my knowledge: THEARAPY 1/1blue, 0/1white - CHEESBURGER 1/3 blues - NEVER SAY NEVER 2/4 blues

06/25/15 - St. Thomas, Vi - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

2nd day St Thomas June/July Moon

Combined with yesterday, today brings about the age old question "if only a bite or two, would you rather have them early or late in the day?" Certainly it doesn't matter if any of them get caught, and for us it was early. Around 9am we had another nice fish 250# or better tease all the way to the boat on a cockpit teaser only to fade off and never show again. Then just after 10 a smaller fish, about 150#, shows on the squid chain. Teases in and piles on the mackerel just as it get smothered in seaweed. Never ate it. Switched to the opposite side cockpit teaser. Teases again all the way to the boat, but never sees the pitch that never clears the propwash. Switches again to opposite side cockpit teaser but only teased in half way. Then fades back and hangs itself on the center rigger. "Rodney" saves us again. The rest of the day was spent shagging grass. Though towards the end of the day the weed started to clear near the low end of the drop, the water had turned green. Hopefully, it clears and the blues are back up tomorrow.

06/24/15 - St. Thomas, Vi - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

1st day St Thomas June/July Moon

An agonizing day on the North Drop to say the least. Only boat out. After battling with awful clumps and lines of seaweed all day, and only one little billfish shot on the center in the am, by 3:30pm we started to discuss actually heading in early. Then at about 4:40pm working down the edge towards home, I had to rub my eyes as I saw a blue of about 150-200# coming in on the center rigger. Unfortunately it pulled off after on taking a little line. As we worked the area trying for another crack at it, not ten minutes later a much larger fish crashed my bridge teaser. The fish disappeared as we maneuvered for the pitch but came crashing back in on the same lure. After another vanishing act, it came out of the glare and whitewater to finally eat the mackerel pitch. To our dismay the fish was facing us and shaking its head hard when we came tight and it gave up the hook. Fish was definitely over 400#. Not as successful is one would like, but seeing a few does offer hope for this moon. We should get a little more company out there as the week progresses as well.

06/24/15 - Donald L. Hammond - Dolphin Research Project Report

Marine Anglers:

I hope that you have had a good start to your 2015 fishing season. The U.S. East Coast dolphin season appears to be about two weeks ahead of last year’s season. 2015 has also produced its share of unusual occurrences, like a large school of ten-inch dolphin that showed up off the south coast of St. Johns, Virgin Islands, in the first week of June. As our research progresses, we are beginning to see that many of the dolphin occurrences that we initially considered unusual are not odd at all but part of a large protracted pattern. Likewise, the research is also revealing major threats to the western north Atlantic dolphin population that previously were unknown.

Having served as a state marine fisheries manager in my first career, I learned how weather can have a greater effect on fish stocks than fishing pressure, and the changing weather patterns we are experiencing will alter the distribution and seasonality of dolphinfish. Factors unknown and unseen by the public can devastate fish stocks. Just like the six-month track of the dolphin traveling from South Carolina to the Caribbean revealed areas where dolphin could be vulnerable to commercial exploitation without public knowledge, recent research into the effect of crude oil spills on marine life is revealing another invisible threat to dolphin stocks.

This newsletter looks at some of the reported effects that crude oil has been found to have on marine life and larval fish in particular. The issue also presents a comparison of the recreational dolphin harvest experienced during May of 2014 and 2015 in one marina in South Carolina, utilizing the expanded data being collected by the DRP. See latest Dolphin Report

I hope you find it interesting.

Donald L. Hammond
Marine Fisheries Biologist
Cooperative Sciences Services, LLC
961 Anchor Rd.
Charleston, SC 29412-4902
(843) 795-7524
Visit Website

Click on photo to enlarge 06/08/15 - Key West, Florida Keys - Outter Limits Report:

Nicole Stiver of Key West caught a 22.72-pound dolphin fish to earn top individual honors for the largest fish in the 2015 Mercury Marine Ladies Dolphin Championship that took place May 30. Stiver fished on the Outer Limits skippered by Captain Jason Miller of Key West.

06/06/15 - St. Thomas, Vi - Capt. Jim Estraca

Black Pearl was 1 for 1 today on the North Drop.

Click on photo to enlarge06/02/15 - St. Thomas, Vi - Capt. Rob Richards 'Mixed Bag' Report:

1 for 1 on blues day on the north drop + some small tunas !!

Click on photo to enlarge 05/30/15 - Kona Hawaii - FishTrack Report - Charter Captain Killed: Click on photo to enlarge

Sad news,,,see story: Here
Capt. Randy's note to charter guests Here

Click on photo to enlarge05/30/15 - St. Thomas, Vi - Capt. Rob Richards 'Mixed Bag' Report:

1 for 1 blue marlin and tunas on the north drop!!

05/29/15 - St. Thomas, Vi - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

3rd and possibly out last day fishing the May/June moon.

Unfortunately what was already slow found its way to decline even more. Only two of us worked the drop most of the day. MARLIN PRINCE managed to raise a nice blue in the morning but it failed to cooperate. The MIXED BAG caught a big fish out to the west. We covered as much area as possible until near sunset and never saw a thing. Oh well. by this time last year we only had one blue so with our white yesterday we're way ahead of the game.

05/29/15 - Bluewater Fishing Lures - Cape Verde Report

See Here

05/28/15 - St. Thomas, Vi - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

2nd day fishing St Thomas May/June moon.

After a long day of chasing birds and working huge pods of bait we saw everything but what we came for. Flyers, skippys, tuna, porpoise, and even humpback whales but alas no blues. Fortunately enough, persistence salvaged us from a total loss when we got our only shot of the day. On a late afternoon upsea tack, staring into the impossible glare of the falling sun, I caught a glimpse of the tiniest tip of a fin pacing along side our squid chain. Even though he didn't tease in aggressively, it faded back and managed to hang itself on the center rigger. After a short but spastic display, we landed a little white marlin. And so, there will be no shutout today.

Only three of us on the rip. One boat saw caught a Mahi and the Marlin Prince was high hook with 1/2 on blues and 0/2 on whites.

05/27/15 - St. Thomas, Vi - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

First day out for the season in the North Drop in St Thomas. The wind all but fell out, the Sahara dust cleared out, and the sea weed had subsided to quite manageable.

First lines out and in a short time we had a center rigger shot from something. It came down hard but never showed again and left no sign. Later two other boats had white marlin encounters in the same area.

Around 10:30. We were working a weed line and current edge out in the deep when a nice fish showed on the right bridge squid chain. It only teased a bit but faded back to the cockpit and became much more aggressive. Teasing in hot it gave quite a few attempts at the pitch mackerel before finally taking the bait and hooking up. 10 minutes later we had our first drop release for the season. About 250#

Later, working back down the edge we had a little white try a few things in the spread but never got hooked. Later still, we had a massive wahoo bite on the bridge teaser but never saw him again. On other boats another blue seen but not hooked today. One white caught out of two or three.

Slow Start but very promising.

05/27/15 - Donald L. Hammond - Dolphin Research Project Report

I hope you find the article informative. See latest Dolphin Report

Good fishing,


05/25/15 - Capt. Jeremy Fowler - SF Pescador - St. Thomas, Virgin Islands

Click to enlarge photo Two blue marlin releases yesterday (Sunday).

05/22/15 - Casa De Campo, Dominican Republic - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

Well our last fishing excursion was over a week ago and didn't amount to much. In a day and a half on the edge we managed to pitch wiff one blue, jump off a white, and get a halfassed attempt out of a small billfish on a rigger bite.

The time has come for different venue. We'll be heading to St Thomas this weekend and hopefully start fishing sometime next week.

05/21/15 - Capt. Jeremy Fowler - SF Pescador - St. Thomas, Virgin Islands

Click to enlarge photo Here's a different way to fight the weeds. No blues one white pulled off. Nice wahoo last weekend.

05/09/15 - Capt. Skip Smith - Adventures Madam and Hooker

Click to enlarge photo The Hooker and The Madam are among the most recognized names in the sport fishing industry. During Capt. Skip Smith's tenure with Jerry and Deborah Dunaway, they traveled the world as part of sportfishing's most dynamic team. They explored 26 countries from the west coast of Africa to Australia and south to Peru, the entire Caribbean and more.

Captain Skip Smith starts at his beginning with The Hooker and how they added The Madam to the fleet. The stories are about the numerous IGFA world records being caught and the background stories and adventures of his crew. Along the way he and his crew had more than their fair share of misadventure: sex, drugs and rock and roll on the high seas. Smith has committed many of those stories to paper in his new book, Tales of a Hooker and Her Madam. Visit Capt. Skip's website for more information: Visit Website

Click to enlarge photo

05/03/15 - Virgin Islands Game Fishing Club (VIGFC) Dolphin Derby Report - St. Thomas, USVI

Today's 2015 Dolphin Derby sponsored by Budget Car Rentals was a huge success and all 18 entries caught fish!! Click to enlarge photo At the time of this posting we haven't learned of the official winner (largest fish) but we do know the boys on Backlash with Capt. Mark Blackburn caught 137 dolphin - they are certainly in the run for catching the "most" fish!! Awards will be presented tomorrow night at the Club along with with a fresh fish dinner! St. Croix is also enjoying a good dolphin run and lots of billfish are being seen! See Press Release: Here

05/03/15 - Casa De Campo, Dominican Republic - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

Fourth round of fishing in Casa de Campo.

Not many boats left or even fishing here now. The seaweed has moved in heavily and the last few days had a swell like no one has ever seen here. Our first day out was Wednesday. Wind against the current made our trip offshore more than uncomfortable. Once there we battled to find clean enough water to even fish. Only one other boat out and neither of us saw a billfish.

On Thursday, we fished the edge of the bank near Isla Saona just SE of the marina. Beautiful water and manageable grass, it felt good to be trolling an edge again rather than a slalom course of styrofoam floats. By the end of the the day we had four or five billfish encounters. We raised three that never ate. Had one mystery knockdown. Had a late teaser bite that did everything perfect and we finally caught a blue. The other boat fished in there with us and saw three billfish.

On Friday, the seas started to subside, two of us continued to fish the edge and one boat went out to the FADs. We had at least 3 billfish encounters. We caught a white that swam up to the boat while we were out of gear fighting a blackfin tuna. The white was rather large at what we estimate to be over 100#. The other boat saw a few fish as well, catching one blue out of a double and a white that also ranked as a large specimen. The offshore boat missed a few fish early and finally caught one later.

On Saturday the fleet split. Three boats went offshore and two of us went back to the edge. We started the day with a 3 bait drop for swordfish. After a two hour soak we began retrieving the lines. The second line to come up was showing signs of load but not life. Some were even convinced the weight had never broken off. However, when the leader surfaced, so did a swordfish of about 75#. Baffled but thankful, we switched to trolling.

By the end of the day the GAME ON fishing the edge with us had caught 1 out of a double sailfish, lost one blue and seen three or four large whites.

Offshore, the BLUE LINE caught one blue, the BLUE VIEW caught 3 out of six or seven with one out of a triple and the BETSY caught 4 seeing 8 or 9.

We had one Blue shot and even though it was a loss, it defined why we teaser fish. The fish of about 2-250# first showed up on the long left teaser. Aggressively teasing all the way to the boat, and spectacularly missing the pitch as it launched from the water, it then turned to eat the pitch bait. However, as the angler came tight, the fish was still facing the boat as it was trying to eat something else in the spread. The hook pulled. It then faded back and crashed the center rigger but failed agin to get hooked. I put the boat into an aggressive turn to get back in front of the fish as it swam down sea. As we excitedly awaited another bite, the fish piles on the squid chain bridge teaser. I managed to stop it at a 20 yards loss and the fish got a hold of me twice as I teased it back up. It faded into the wash, and as we waited for the pitch bite, the fish airs out under the rigger, still trying to eat my teaser. Then heels around to head and shoulder miss the pitch yet again and finally eating a secondary pitch that was laying as back up. Unfortunately, the fish erratically jumped all over creation and eventually double backed and cut itself off. All worth the price of admission!

Can't wait to get cranked back up in a week or so.

Click to enlarge photo

05/03/15 - Chris Whitley Report - Miami Florida

Team "Hit That" got 2nd place in the Grove Slam yesterday in Miami

04/29/15 - Donald L. Hammond - Dolphin Research Project Report

Marine Anglers:

For many anglers the dolphin season has already started and for many others it is just around the corner. With a new year starting I thought it would be appropriate to provide some specific tips on how to improve the likelihood of your fish being recaptured. After viewing some of the tagging photos sent in, I realized there was confusion on how to properly handle and tag dolphin. This issue of the newsletter offers six easy steps that you can follow to significantly increase the chances of the fish surviving and retaining the tag for its full life. This does not eliminate the chance factor in a tag recovery, but when the fish is given the best chance to survive the tagging experience, the odds that it can be recaptured increase.

I hope you find the article informative and the photos useful in improving your tagging technique. See latest Dolphin Report

Good fishing,


Donald L. Hammond
Marine Fisheries Biologist
Cooperative Sciences Services, LLC
961 Anchor Rd.
Charleston, SC 29412-4902
(843) 795-7524
Visit Website

04/27/15 - Mike Callahan - Cape Verde - West Africa Report

Fished "16 days with Matthias on Smoker. 21/29 blues. Biggest about 500. 1 spear fish and a few wahoo. Lots of cold water and wind.

Click to enlarge photo 04/16/15 - Lace Rose on Magazine Cover!

Everyone check out Lace's cover shot - Sol & Mar's June/July issue! Click on photo to enlarge. Magazine's website: visit here

03/30/15 - Casa De Campo, Dominican Republic - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

Third round of DR fishing even worse. Only a few boats fishing the last few days. Some boats not even seeing fish.

As for us, Tuesday the 14th was our first day. Had a nice aggressive fish tease all the way to the boat on a cockpit teaser, then hung between the boat and the pitch-bait for what felt like an eternity, only to dive before the bait could be moved into position.

Wednesday the 15th we worked a lot of FADs out to the west until the weed got so bad we had to pick up and run. turned out to be a good move when we ended up with a handful of Mahi, one blue around #125 and raised another that didn't eat.

Thursday the 16th our last day for a while. Went back out to the west again with no success. This time not even able to raise a simple blue. However, we did catch a nice wahoo that may have reached 50#. Gonna be a while before we get cranked up again, but the re[ports will continue as soon as the fIshing does.

03/30/15 - Casa De Campo, Dominican Republic - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

Second round of fishing fell off a bit in the DR. The weather had picked up throughout the week and there was a bit of residual sea left. Also the current had taken a 180 degree turn which may also have affected the fishing.

On Saturday, we had one blue about #175 tease in and do everything right. Even ate the pitch twice but never got hooked. The center rigger then came down but not tight and the fish showed back up on the opposite cockpit teaser. A feat easily accomplished by a fish this size, however, with the amount of doubles being seen, certainly can't rule out the possibility. Everyone saw fish and had shots. A couple boats caught 2 and one boat caught a slam (blue,white,and sailfish).

On Sunday, the seas continued to subside but the current was still off. Had a blue come crashing in on a cockpit teaser only to disappear just as quickly. Worked a couple different FADs that were loaded with life but never had another shot. Dead for most everybody else except GAME ON had seen 3, and SERAPHIN had seen 8 by the time we picked up and headed in to catch the plane. Just goes to show how specific this fishery is to it's FADs.

Could be down for a week or two, reports will fire back up when we do.

03/26/15 - Casa De Campo, Dominican Republic - Capt. Joe Figiel's 'Reel Tight' Report:

Just finally got internet here in Casa De Campo in the Dominican Republic. As you can see, the trip from Florida was about as calm as it can get. We left in the middle of the night on the 18th and arrived at 6 am on the 21st. With little rest for the wicked, we geared up and fished the next 3 days.

On Sunday we fished amongst the boats finishing out a three day tournament. In the interest of learning the area and not cramping anyone trying to better position themselves, we managed to fish fads that were not being hit hard by everyone else. This still produced 4 fish. Two of which bit but we did come up empty handed. Nice to be fishing again tho, and there were quite a few tournament boats that never saw any, three boats caught 2 each. Only 11 fish caught all day. 18 or more boats fishing.

Our 2nd day was a lot more exciting. We ended up raising 11 fish plus one that was just chasing bait next to the boat. 4 fish came up at once and was total chaos. Out of everything we saw, we had 5 bites and caught 3, tying us with one other boat for high hook.

3rd day we rigged all morning to try the sword fishing out. We only made one 3 hook drop with no luck but there will be more of that in the future. We got our marlin hear out at 11 am. At 11:15 we raised a double and caught the only one that bit. Over the next hour, we pulled off two more. Then at 3:15 we caught our first teaser fish to do everything right. At the end of the day had a huge bite on the shotgun but never saw the fish.

In three days we've seen as many blue marlin as we may have caught sailfish all season back home, and we're just getting started! A few days here to get some things caught up and we'll get a couple more days of fishing in this weekend. Hope the bite continues. With Internet access I should be able to keep up the reports.

03/23/15 - Donald L. Hammond - Dolphin Research Project Report

Marine Anglers:

“Don’t you just love it when a plan comes together?” I believe that was an iconic saying from the A Team TV series. Well, that is how my associate Dr. Wess Merten and I feel after processing the information from a dolphinfish that carried a satellite tag for six months. This fish was tagged off Charleston, South Carolina, and the tag surfaced off the Dominican Republic. We have had roughly a dozen East Coast dolphin recovered off Caribbean islands, so the fact that another East Coast fish traveled to the Caribbean is not new. However, because of the satellite tag that it carried, we now can show its actual travel route.

To understand the odds that we were up against, you have to recognize that dolphinfish are the blue water menhaden. Every predator in the ocean eats them and they never grow too big to be eaten. This is the primary reason why only three of the 18 satellite tags programmed for 30 days in our first study using this high-tech equipment successfully carried the instrument for the full period. This is also why we considered the long-term tracking of these fish to be a major challenge, one that would probably require several years of effort before achieving a full-period track of a fish.

Thanks to the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, who believed in our dream to track these fish during the five-month period when they travel the international waters of the north Atlantic, we were able to accomplish this mammoth task at the start of the study.

This issue of the newsletter takes you through the amazing travels of GHOF-01 as it makes its way to the Caribbean in 180 days. I think you will be amazed.

Good fishing,


Donald L. Hammond
Dolphinfish Research Program
Cooperative Science Services, LLC
961 Anchor Rd.
Charleston, SC 29412
(843) 795-7524

02/19/15 - Donald L. Hammond - Dolphin Research Project Report

Marine Anglers,

The U.S. East Coast dolphin season has already started. Florida anglers from Key West to Cape Canaveral have reported making very nice catches of dolphin with some fish going into the 30- and 40-pound size range. As early as these fish are showing up in good numbers and the distance north that they have been found could mean they might show up off the Carolinas early, possibly by mid-March. Is this a sign that the East Coast is in for a good dolphin run in 2015? I hope so.

This issue of the newsletter reports on work conducted in 2014 at Ripley’s Light Marina and Yacht Club in Charleston, South Carolina. DRP staff intercepted a majority of recreational offshore fishing trips made by boats fishing out of this marina on week days as well as weekends from late April through mid-August. Every dolphin caught on each intercepted boat was measured and its sex determined. This resulted in 141 boat trips being intercepted and data collected on 999 dolphin. One of the main objectives of this study was to describe how, if any, the size composition of the harvested fish changed over time, i.e. as the year progressed. The survey was conducted from when boats began making regular offshore trips in the spring to when they basically quit catching dolphin and few trips were being made. The results of this study should be viewed as representing the dolphin population as it is found off South Carolina. Similar studies in other areas such as south Florida or the Outer Banks of North Carolina may show different results.

I hope that you find this issue interesting. See latest Dolphin Report

Good fishing,


Donald L. Hammond
Dolphinfish Research Program
Cooperative Science Services, LLC
961 Anchor Rd.
Charleston, SC 29412
(843) 795-7524

01/29/15 - Michael Callahan - Samoa Final Report

Fished 12 days. 6/13 blues. Biggest 500. 2 sails. 3 yellow fins 60/ 80 lbs. Captain Chris Donato. Boat 37 Merritt.

01/29/15 - Los Suenos Anglers Crush Records!

Fishing in Costa Rica is off the charts: See Release

Click for information - USVI Open ABMT Wet N' Wild Center Console - Billfish Tournament Virgin Islands Game Fishing Club - July Open Click for 2014 SJU IBT Information St. Martin Billfish Tournament Alvarez - Intl. Cap Cana Shootout Antigua & Barbuda Marlin Classic  Fish For Haiti Tournament Aug 23-24, 2015