Hi, my name is Roy Rose, captain of the Royal Polaris. I’ve been aboard the Royal Polaris for the last twenty years, and today I’d like to share with you some of my personal insight to helping you catch the fish of a lifetime.
I particularly enjoy fishing Hurricane Bank because we are able to soak big baits and catch big tuna. I enjoy watching our passengers fish with bigger baits like skipjack and little yellowfin tuna, and use bigger hooks and heavier line. Seeing somebody get bit on a 10 pound skipjack tuna and get worked around the boat is a very rewarding feeling for me because I know that guy is fighting the biggest fish of his life. Another reason I like the Bank is because we get to use flying fish, I love putting those out on the kite and watching them get boiled on. There is nothing more exciting than watching a 300-pounder blow out on a kite bait and watching the angler’s face light up when the line comes tight and he’s on. Though these long-range trips to Hurricane Bank reap many rewards, it is not without trial-and-error that some of these guys have fought and caught their coveted 200-pound+ fish.
One of the most common mistakes I’ve seen in my two decades on this boat is the reuse of hooks while sardine fishing. I’ve seen passengers use the same 6/0, 7/0 hook after they just reeled in a 150-pounder. Here’s why you don’t want to do that: we take our dykes and we twist and tweak that hook, we put nicks in that hook, it’s buried in the corner of the mouth of your fish. You can tie it back on and hook the fish of your lifetime, but that hook is going to snap in half and you’ll lose the fish you’ve been dreaming of catching your whole life. Any long trip that I run, I tell our passengers this: after you catch your fish, throw that hook away. We do not reuse sardine hooks. Another error I have seen (and one that I personally hold to be the most egregious) is the use of 100-pound test or less. If you’re on a 5 or 8-day trip, this line is fine. But on a long trip when we are fishing for bigger fish, this line shouldn’t even be in your tackle box. A standard rule on any long trip I run is this: 130-pound test. If you’re serious about catching the fish of a lifetime, you should be using 130- pound test. Not 80. Not 100. I don’t care if you see 60-120 pounders boiling around the boat; you’ve already caught all those. You came out here for one thing and one thing only: to catch a 200-pound+ fish, the biggest fish of your life. And your chances decrease significantly when you use 80 or 100-pound test.
It’s not just the size of the fish that distresses the effectiveness of your line, the weather also has a large impact—a fact most people do not realize. Let’s say we are on the anchor and the wind is blowing 18-25 knots—a standard day on the Hurricane Bank. The boat goes up 8 feet and down 8 feet every 4-6 seconds, your line is falling off the reel in the same spot over, and over, and over for two hours. Guess what happens if you have 100-pound test on your reel? If you thought you were going to outsmart everyone and use 80-pound? What do you think is going to happen? The fish either chews you off, or your line breaks. And it usually happens at color. If you are using 130, there is more material and the line can withstand more wear and tear, more chewing of the teeth, and your chances of landing that much sought-after fish increase considerably. Another situation I’ve experienced is this: we’re anchored up, were watching fish blow out around the boat and they’re all 120-150 pounds. You say, “hey, I can catch one of those on 100-pound test.” Plot twist: 8-10 fish over 200 pounds get mixed in and we break every one of them off except for two. On one trip to the Bank, we landed 26 fish over 200 pounds in our first afternoon. Everyone was using 130, nothing less. If we had let everyone use 100-pound, I guarantee we would have broke off the majority of those fish. Granted, some were caught on the kite, but the bulk was sardine fish.