Chapter

Finding Heaven in Green Canyon

To me, each offshore bluewater trip is special in its own way. But perhaps my favorite was one we made on Vixen to Green Canyon with my daughter Brittany. Green Canyon is an area 120 miles off the mouth of the Mississippi River where the water is some 3-7000 feet  deep.

On the way out there, we came across a current rip loaded with small “chicken” dolphin so we broke out the light tackle. Britt made a perfect cast into the middle of the school and immediately hooked up. After a brief fight, she handed the trout rod to me and we left the fish in the water just behind the boat to keep the school’s attention. Meanwhile, Ryan Lawrence handed her a second rod and in seconds she was hooked up again.

We then boated her first fish, handed the rod back, and repeated the process until she finally cried, “Uncle.” We then put the boat back up on a plane and continued south to Green Canyon.

The weather was perfect, the seas were slick, and the tuna were hungry. We had already caught several nice dolphin and tuna when I hooked up with a blue marlin. After an exciting fight, we released it and went back to fishing.

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[This post ran in the Sun Herald on Mar. 31, 2013 p . 6B]

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With the sun getting low in the sky, we prepared for the evening tuna bite. We caught several more good-sized tuna including a 120 pounder that Britt hooked. By the time we had her fish in the boat, it was dark and we eased down current from the rig to spend the night.

Brittany Wilem and Ryan Lawrence with her 120lb tuna.

I love spending the night offshore.  Generally it’s calm and we just drift all night. If it’s rough, we’ll tie up behind another boat or a buoy. Otherwise, we will run with the seas or can always rely on our trusty parachute drogue which can be deployed to keep the bow headed into the waves. After dinner, I’ll assign shifts as we always have at least one person on watch.

Vixen’s underwater lights attract all manner of marine life ranging from squid, to toothy ribbon fish, and one time even a huge mola-mola or sunfish. These are some of the weirdest fish God created and can weigh over a ton. This one hung beneath the boat freaking out the man on watch who had never heard of the fish.

Occasionally, a pair of dolphin (the mahi mahi kind) will happen by feeding in the light. But this past year, we had several dolphin (the mammal variety) remain with the boat all night long. You could hear the sound of their blow holes as they circled the boat taking turns swooping in to dine on flying fish.

After catching the morning tuna bite the next day, we had nearly half a ton of tuna in the fishbox along with several  dolphin and a few wahoo. I don’t think we could have gotten another pinfish in the box when we finally told Eric, “Enough with the tuna.” He replied that he had spotted another blue marlin feeding and wanted to continue fishing for another 15 minutes so we could catch it.

Right, I thought to myself, not willing to believe that we could be so lucky. But sure enough, a short while later, we had the fish hooked up. While Ryan had wired any number of billfish, he had never caught one. So he took the rod while we cleared the cockpit and proceeded to catch his first.

As we headed back in, we passed close to the Chandeleurs where a number of our friends were anchored up for the weekend.  So I told Eric, “Let’s stop by and spend an hour or so visiting.” Well, Ryan took his first billfish plunge, Rick Carter prepared some of our tuna on his boat Miss Stephanie, we had a few celebratory drinks, and our hour became overnight.

But I wasn’t complaining, it was the perfect end to a perfect trip.

Ryan Lawrence getting ready for first billfish plunge with Frank Wilem.

Disclaimer: Frank Wilem is an author, speaker, and all around funny and entertaining guy. On this blog, his stories are based on his real life experiences, often with a satirical twist.

Invite Frank to speak to your next conference, corporate retreat or club meeting. Ask about having his speaker's fee waived when you purchase his latest novel for each of your attendees!

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