This season had been particularly good for our crew. We had already scored good numbers of bluefin, bigeye and yellowfin tuna, along with a few white and blue marlin, some mahi and a few makos. This particular day started with our sights set on an overnight trip to Toms Canyon, a 105-mile run from our home inlet of Fire Island. Our targets were bigeyes and yellowfins. On the way out we passed a fairly productive bluefin area and were called in by the captain of the New Jersey based ADIAMO. We didn’t know him prior to the call, but what a good guy. We talked on the radio for a while, shared our respective plans for that night and planned to stay in touch.
We continued to fish the area while ADIAMO headed out to the canyons looking for bigeyes and yellowfins. Shortly thereafter, I hooked a nice bluefin and fought him to the deck of my fishing buddy Chris Madonia’s 36-foot Yellowfin, INSUFISHENT FUNDS. Chris and I have fished together for years both inshore and offshore. While fighting the tuna, black and green flies were attacking my calves. After we put the fish on ice, I remembered I had bug spray in my bag. Chris and I applied it, while the rest of the crew, Brian Dorety, Paulie Noto and Phil Heilpern, were able to tolerate the pesky flies. Less than a minute later, Chris shouts “we have fish under the boat again.” I grabbed a jigging rod, which was owned by another buddy, Mike Desimone of White Water Life Fishing Clothing, but who couldn’t fish with us that day.
On the first drop, I had a solid whack on the jig, and the rod shot out of my hands like a rocket. In utter disbelief, I watched a $1,200-custom rod and reel disappear into the blue depths. I could not believe it. Frustrated, mad and shocked, I looked down at my hands coated in a clear sheen of bug spray that I had forgot to wipe off—a rookie mistake for sure. Brian was right next to me and saw the whole thing happen, and couldn’t help but send a few zingers my way.
We fished the area for another hour and left for Toms Canyon. We had a great trip that saw us go 10/10 on yellowfins to 50 pounds to go along with a nice big bluefin already on ice. A great trip except for the lost rod, which I knew was going to cost me quite a few bucks to replace.
Now remember, we were in 250 feet of water 65 to 70 miles out in the ocean when I lost that rod. The very next day, Capt. Mike Nolan, fishing his boat, the Irish Jig out of New Jersey was fishing that same area with his son Hunter, his brother Kevin and Kevin’s son Jared. Jared hooked what he thought was a tuna and with the help of Capt. Mike they teamed up to reel up the rod I had lost the previous day. They grabbed the rod out of the water and then realized a cow nose ray was still attached to my lost jig. The big ray was worn out but the crew took special care to revive it and watched it swim off in good shape.
Capt. Mike knows fishing and he could tell this was a custom rod and reel he had just found. While checking out the reel he noticed it had a serial number. When they got home, he called Accurate and gave them the serial number only to learn that my buddy, Mike Desimone, had the reel serviced before and they had his cell number on file. Capt. Mike Nolan contacted Mike Desimone and made plans to return the pole they had snagged. I had already dropped off a check for $1,200 to Mike, who had some fun with me because he already knew that his rod had been found.
What a fish story and what a lesson for Mike’s son and nephew who learned a great lesson from Capt. Mike that day. The odds of them snagging my line in 250 feet of water a day later, reeling in the ray, and safely releasing it are astronomical. Capt. Mike seized the opportunity to teach his son and nephew a lesson that day to do the right thing. Thank you to Capt. Mike, Hunter, Kevin and Jared. May your fishing days be blessed with many laughs and plenty of fish. You guys are a class act.