J. C. Tilton
It's been several years since the family has vacationed in South Carolina. The recent graduation of one of the children gave us another excuse to journey South for a week in the sun to celebrate another offspring leaving the nest. This vacation I wanted to do something different. We had never gone deep sea fishing before and having watched shows on TV as a youngster where they hauled in some really big fish it was something that I had always wanted to do.
After doing some research on the internet I found a charter boat that was available for the week we would be there. It was a 38' Bertram set up for sport fishing - the ship was named the ‘Blessed Adventure'. The owner is a surgeon who uses it personally, but runs charters during the times he was not using it. As one can guess, he is a religious man. Our captain, Jim, was a veteran captain. The first mate was Charlie, was younger, but who had spent most of his life on the sea. My two younger children, Chelsea and Joe, were on the trip as well as two of their friends, Josh and Jody.
The trip was for 12 hours. We had to travel offshore for 2 hours or so to get to the fishing areas offshore of Charleston, fish for 6-8 hours and then get back. To do this we had to get to the dock at 4:15am and load up. The trip out was a bit bumpy. We tried to doze, but I don't know that anyone got any real sleep. Finally we reached the area where we wanted to fish and the first mate rigged the lines and we began trolling.
It wasn't long before we had a fish on the line - a small species of tuna. Next we caught a barracuda. I had gone pike fishing before so I had seen fish with teeth. But the barracuda was definitely nothing to mess with, the teeth were long and jagged - it looked like it could rip you up even with a leather glove. It was the first of four barracuda's that we would hook. The next fish was caught by Josh Brown, who had to work to pull it up from the depths. He was in the chair and was straining to pull in his catch. When he finally pulled it up, his hard work yielded a nice sized wahoo. Charlie estimated that it was 40 to 50 pounds. Wahoo is a muscular, streamlined fish known for it's fine tasting meat.
The ship used live baits rigged to run on top of the water and also had several rigs of teasers strung behind the boat. The teasers floated on top and had several strings of squid-like lures with no hooks. Their purpose was to stir up the top of the water with splashing and bubbles to make them think that many bait fish were active. I got to observe one miss when a colorful green and yellow mahi mahi knifed thru the baits, breaking the surface, and just missed striking one of the baits. Its acceleration was amazing.
There were a couple of features the captain was looking for during the trip. Many miles offshore from Charleston there is a steep drop off. It was along this ledge where we caught two wahoo, Joe catching the second one. There were also several places that Charlie called rifts. Ocean currents that ran along the sea grass. According to him the mahi mahi liked to lurk in the long beds of seagrass and ambush smaller fish. We caught several of these. Chelsea's friend, Jody Strong, seemed to have a knack for catching them.
Twice we had double hookups where we had two fish fighting at the same time. We had to scramble to keep the lines from getting crossed and to clear the other lines out of the water. We also had some lulls in the action where we would go for an hour or so without a bite. It was during one of these long lulls where we hooked a sailfish. We scrambled into action. It broke the water in spectacular fashion and put up quite a fight. I let it run a little to wear out. When it tired, I began to reel it in. We finally got it in the boat where it thrashed its long bill aggressively. In my picture, you can see that I have a nervous grin. I was worried that the fish would get a second wind and start whipping that bill around again. The other fish we ate, but with the sailfish we did a catch and release. Marlin and sailfish are prized by sportsfishermen, and we released it so that someone else could have the thrill of catching it someday.
Finally it was time to head back. It had been a great day. Everyone had caught two or more fish. We had seen some dolphins come close to the boat which was a thrill. The ride back was smoother and almost everyone snoozed in the cabin. Joe stayed up in the perch above the pilot house. Chelsea and I awoke after an hour and went out on the stern. We all gazed at the deep blue sea and sky during the last hour of the ride. When you have 4 teenagers doing anything and keep them satisfied, then you have accomplished something. For all of us the trip on the Blessed Adventure made memories that will last a lifetime. Comments: email: Chris Tilton