Fishing In St Thomas

Our St. Thomas catch with Captain Chris.

What a bum I am.  I haven’t posted in so long, and I must admit I’ve pretty lazy when it comes to writing.  We worked hard at the end of December and early January getting the bottoms of the boats painted and new propellers for the Joy Sea.  I found myself getting into the presidential inauguration and getting ready for our trip to St Thomas.  We had a week in St Thomas for our twelfth anniversary, and in true bum fashion, I’ve spent a week recovering from the vacation.

We went fishing on January 27th, while we were in St. Thomas.  Gary found a real fast boat and a great captain.   We went out about 25 miles from the island because we wanted to go after sport fish and not rock fish.  We arrived at the dock early in the morning.  There weren’t many other people there.  The few that were there were people that were living aboard and taking a morning walk.  Captain Chris arrived on time, and we were off.  Gary wanted to see the bait.  I don’t know what he called them, but they are smaller fish than what we use in California.  In Mexico we also used some pretty small bait, but in both cases, it worked just fine.  Chris had caught the bait in the mouth of the harbor as he came in.  Gary asked to see a demo of how to throw the net to catch the bait and Chris obliged.  A pro makes it look easy.  Chris slowed the boat, went to the front, threw out the net.  Walked to the back of the boat as the net sank in the water around the fish.  Then he pulled out the net and added another 25 – 30 fish that were about 3 – 4” in length to the bait well.

It took us a little over an hour to get to the first location. Together Gary and I caught 14 dorado or mahi-mahi, Gary caught a fish they call a rainbow runner that looks like our yellow tail, and I caught a yellow fin tuna that was about 40 lbs.  That’s my biggest tuna so far, so it’s a nice start to my 2017 fishing year.  I was stoked, and I can’t wait to go after the Cow tuna in March.

First we caught the dorado.  They were caught on the surface of the water around a buoy that was put there by the government.  Apparently the dorado are either there that day or they aren’t, but we were hitting them left and right.  The dorado were comparable to ones we caught in California.  We finally left and went to Chris’ “secret fishing spot.”  The tuna and rainbow runner were caught there on a down rigger.  Our fishing guide Chris has a buoy that he had put down about 2800 ft.  that helps to attract the fish.  There are other buoys that the government has put down and other people know about them and go there, but he was very careful to make sure that no one was following us to his “secret fishing spot.”  Using the down rigger, he put out about 50+ feet of line, then twisted the line and attached to the down rigger.  Watching his fish finder, he would put the line down to the proper depth.  It really didn’t take long, and we had a fish on the line.  The first one I lost because it got caught around the chain on the buoy.  Then Gary caught the rainbow runner, which the captain Chris said was among the 5 biggest he’s ever caught (about 15 lbs.)   And can’t forget I caught my 40+ lb tuna.  Chris didn’t weigh anything so we really don’t know exact weights.

The St. Thomas yacht club was close to where we were staying so before we went out fishing we went on over to check it out and see what we could learn from the locals.  St Thomas is more of a sailing than a fishing club, and we weren’t able to find anyone to go out fishing with us, but we found that the club would be having a pot luck on Friday and they’d be more than happy to cook any fish we caught.  So a few days later we were back at the club with our fish.

Karl cooked them for us.  First he cooled them in a brine mixture (30 minutes) of salt, pepper and olive oil, and then he barbecued them.  Excellent!!!  We ate at the yacht club for two lunches and the potluck.  Of the places we ate, they had the best food.  The restaurants in St Thomas have some food that’s ok, but much of it is processed frozen food, which they just fry and serve.  We’re really into fresh food made from scratch.  The island doesn’t grow much of it’s own produce.  It’s a really rocky island, and they say the soil just isn’t that good for gardens.  Food on the island is expensive, and fish at the local store was selling for $27/lb.  The potluck  worked out great for everyone and we enjoyed the local company.

What did I learn?  I learned that going to the yacht club made me feel like I have friends all over the world.  I learned that you can improve your fishing luck by putting down your own chain and buoy and creating a secret spot where the fish hang out.  I learned how to use down riggers; my dad had down riggers when I was a kid, but I don’t remember using them.  I learned that you haven’t failed if you haven’t quit.  Just keep going.  I am a writer, and I will keep blogging.  Just keep going.  You will win!