Last week we saw the Viking FiveStar wrap up the second leg of its East Coast Voyage and its cumulative list of species surge to an astounding 46. Entering into the third leg, Capt. Steven Jr. and Capt. Bobby were within easy striking distance of their 50 species goal and poised to pull off an incredible feet. This portion of the expedition would bring the duo, and their fares, from Port Canaveral, Florida up north to Rudee Inlet in Virginia Beach and ever closer to their home port of Montauk.

Casting off on Saturday, April 27, the ship ran a few hours offshore from Port Canaveral when the team of captains decided to set out some lures and form a trolling spread enroute to the Gulf Stream. This move prompted the initial catching of the trip. Just prior to sunset, the FiveStar hit the edge of the Gulf Stream and so too did a flurry of mahi on the trolled offerings. Nightfall saw the FiveStar’s steam into the abyss and by morning it was time to troll once more. This time, a wolf pack of voracious wahoo ravaged their spread and proved to be more than formidable adversaries. Of the four scissor-jawed gladiators that were hooked, not a single one made it into the boat.

As morning gave way to afternoon on day two, Capt. Steven Jr. and Captain Bobby shifted their sights toward bottom fishing and called for the first drop of the trip. The ensuing action was both instantaneous and steady on red snapper, jumbo vermillion snappers, champagne porgies, triggerfish and a smattering of other reef species. In the midst of bottom fishing, a school of very respectable sized mahi swam through and provided some exhilarating light tackle angling. By the time the school departed ten fish were on deck. After this passing frenzy allowed bottom fishing to resume, a fare by the name of Frank managed to whack a 30-pound gag grouper which was released in accordance with the season closure.

Another night of traveling brought the FiveStar over more productive bottom on the morning of day three. Each drop yielded a few fish and the typical roster of species with the exception of a solitary hogfish. This oddball specimen fell victim to a customer named Jose and added another valuable hash mark next to the lengthy tally of species Capt. Steven Jr. and Capt. Bobby had been recording. After morning’s bottom probing it was time to set up an afternoon trolling spread and the shift in tactics produced a few more mahi, a couple small yellowfin tuna and some bonita. A smoker kingfish of approximately 40 pounds came as an added bonus.

%pullstart%"When the FiveStar pulled into Rudee Inlet on May 1st, everyone onboard had copious amounts of fillets to take home."%pullend%The prevailing conditions for the first three days of the East Coast Voyage’s third leg had been a bit lumpy overall, but a break in the weather on day four provided just enough of a lull needed to do some deep dropping. This rare blessing was not to be squandered and so Capt. Steven Jr. and Capt. Bobby motored over to a couple different wrecks and ledges in hopes of finding pay dirt. The subsequent result was a catch consisting of some nice gray tilefish and a couple beautiful snowy grouper as well as jacks. Of the snowy grouper landed, one went around 30 pounds another monster topped out at approximately 40 somewhat pounds. Still there were other fish that popped leaders and pulled hooks, which begs the question if this hefty snowy grouper was actually the true emperor among the fish in the area.

As day four wore on, the weather began to deteriorate which forced a retreat to an inshore wreck. This particular piece proved to be loaded with lots of quality sea bass but they all had to be released. Unfortunately this catch and release sea bass bonanza would happen to be the last of the fishing conducted on leg three. An updated forecast projected 20-25 knot winds on the last two days of the trip which wasn’t something anyone wanted to contend with; especially for deep drop fishing.

The untimely conclusion to leg three, though disappointing was nothing to be lamented. When the FiveStar pulled into Rudee Inlet on May 1st, everyone onboard had copious amounts of fillets to take home. More importantly, however, the East Coast Voyage had succeeded in achieving a great milestone. Of the 26 different species caught during this portion of the expedition, seven were new to to the score card making for a monumental 53 species tabulated. One final leg still remains with the boat departing on Cinco de Mayo on course for Montauk. Until then, we’ll just have to wait and see what other magic the Viking FiveStar can conjure up.