Chapter

After 15 years, Ram Powell still producing… fish

Back in September, we headed south on Vixen on an overnight bluewater trip.  After a quick stop to catch bait, we proceeded on to the Ram Powell oil rig where I caught my first yellow fin years ago while fishing aboard the Nancy B with Guy Billups and Jim Lunsford.

Roughly 100 miles offshore in 3,200 feet of water, the Ram Powell is one of the closest spots off the Mississippi gulf coast for serious bluewater fishing so we were quite surprised to find no other boats. With school starting, the beginning of football season, and with hunting season upon us, many anglers turn their attention elsewhere. It sure didn’t hurt our feelings and it was great to have such a great spot all to ourselves. During its 15 years of operation, it has developed a reputation for producing lots of pelagic fish. This trip was no exception.

Ram Powell Oil Rig

Ram Powell Oil Rig

We arrived in time to catch the evening bite and I hooked a yellow fin tuna. In a few minutes, my son, Chris Garcia, had it on the wire and Capt. Eric thrust our harpoon into its side. Just before dark, John Hairston fought another medium sized, 50-60 pound yellowfin to the boat where I wired it and Chris manned the harpoon. With two tuna in the box, Chris proceeded to jig up a half dozen more blackfin to add to our catch before settling in for the evening.

***  [Pub. in the Sun Herald on Sept. 15, 2013, p . 6B]  ***

We spent the night drifting at less than 1 knot in gentle seas. During the middle of my watch, I heard the peculiar sound of dolphin exhaling through their blow holes. A pod was hanging off our port side and periodically taking turns swooping in on the unfortunate flying fish attracted to our underwater transom lights.

The next morning, we managed to boat two more yellowfin when the right rigger clip popped and line began screaming off the Tiagra 50w reel. I grabbed the rod and made my way to the fighting chair to settle in for what appeared would be a good fight. It was not.

Just as I began fighting the fish, the line went slack. I assumed that we had pulled the hooks but after reeling in the line, we found it cut above the swivel. Maybe a wahoo hit it during the fight or better yet, maybe a billfish cut the line with its tail as Chris surmised based on the size of the bite. I happen to favor the latter possibility but then, who knows.

The morning bite was nearly over and we were still trolling when our dolphin buddies from the night before showed up to bite-off our ballyhoo just behind the hooks. In frustration, we switched to live baiting. But after continuing to feed our greedy mammal buddies, we headed away to try our luck fishing the little ELF.

After trolling for another hour or so without much action, we decided to take a quick shot at deep dropping. Capt. Eric Gill put us on some rocks where we dropped a few times and managed to add a few white snapper, bee liners, and a lonely scamp to the fishbox.

I enjoy deep dropping because like Forrest Gump said, “You never know what you’re going to get.”  We’ve caught species such as snowy grouper and golden tilefish. Though we’ve never taken the time to become proficient at it, I hope to do so someday.

We came back into shallow water to fish for amberjack. After catching our limit of 40-50 pound fish (about all any of us wanted to tangle with), we headed north once again planning one more stop to fish for grouper. I hooked a nice one up but before I could get him off the wreck, he managed to hang me up so we called it a day. With some 350 pounds of fish in the box, we set off on our final leg back to Gulfport to clean fish and plan our next adventure.

Frank Wilem with yellowfin tuna

Frank Wilem with yellowfin tuna

John Hairston with yellowfin tuna

John Hairston with yellowfin tuna

 

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.

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