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BrianBM

Starstream VIII, August 31 trip

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Sometimes you have to give a boat and captain a thumbs-up because you had a great trip.  Sometimes you have to approve because of the way the boat and captain handled lousy circumstances.  This is one of the latter.

 

I go to Freeport only now and then.  Starstream VIII (captained, on this occasion at least, by Anthony Gillespie) had a 3:00 AM to 6:00 PM on August 31.  This is a fairly fast boat, I thought he'd go offshore, for better sea bass then the runts that are all that's left inshore now. The trip was advertised for red hake (ling), sea bass and cod.  The last NOAA forecast I checked before making the necessary reservation showed a small-craft advisory inshore, but this isn't a small craft, so I made the reservation and off we went. This was a limited-load trip, by reservation only. I think we had 32 people.  

 

The first inkling I had that things were getting huffy was a comment from a mate (four of them, and an interesting bunch) as he was preparing the boat. "I hope you all took your dramamine this morning, we're going for a rodeo ride!"  On the way out, Gillespie cautioned us that the ride out would be a little rougher then predicted, but that he expected things would be better when we got to the first drop, about 40 miles out. 

 

NOAA had called inshore for 4-6 foot rollers.  We drove into an east wind of 30 +, 6-8' seas and occasional sets of 9-10' swells (Gillespie's figures, he kept the passengers informed) and you needed both hands to hang on, even when seated. Things got worse with travel. After a while, Gillespie announced that getting to the intended first drop would take six hours at nine knots, so we'd be fishing closer to home. First drop was probably 20 miles out, plus or minus, and (my guess) in a hundred feet of water, or less.

 

The current was brutal. I had called the boat office to see what kind of lead I should be prepared to fish (this is my personal SOP when on a boat I don't know.)  I was told to be ready to fish 8-12 oz. sinkers. I brought my own 12-16, and that wasn't even close to enough. Twenty ounces would probably have helped a lot, but I had none and neither did the boat. The double anchors used needed to be reset a few times. I wish I knew the speed at which the current was running, at that location, but it was very strong.

 

The boat was certainly more stable at anchor then when banging into head seas, but you needed to work hard to keep your feet. Not too much seasickness, but people were getting beaten up.  The usual mix of braid and mono, in a boat anchored in severe current, made for some nasty tangling even with everyone fishing 16 oz. 

 

After about an hour and a half, Gillespie announced that he'd poll the passengers. Conditions were not improving. We had a choice; we could stay and fish, but if we wanted, he'd take us home early, and give us all a $75 discount ticket for another trip.  (By that time, I was back in the cabin, unwilling to risk my knees further.) The vote was overwhelming, and we never made any drop on the seabass / cod location. 

 

Sometimes, NOAA gets it wrong, and if you have to make an advance reservation, you just have to go with the flow.  I liked the way the Captain handled the situation.  Thumbs up.

 

NOW, for further random notes ....

 

1. I like the way the boat is operated. You board when your name is called, Gillespie had a list, boarding was orderly. There was ice available on the dock. There was ice available on the boat. Four guys for 32 people, that's comfortable. The mates managed the parking lot, Starstream boats on the right, Capt. Lou boats on the left; maximum use of available space. This will keep you out of the inevitable flow of inebriated patrons leaving the Nautical Mile's bars over the holiday. Gillespie pushed the boat as hard as weather would permit. 

2. I like Gillespie's presence. He was active and vocal. There were two people on the boat besides myself with significant physical limitations, and he noticed. On the way out, he instructed everybody to keep to their seats, don't move unnecessarily, let's not get hurt, the mates are here to take care of you. Before departure, he instructed the fares that tips and the pools are not a part of the fare. Make sure you have cash for both, and if you don't, there's an ATM machine on the side of the restaurant across the street. He reminded the fares to load up with ice, if they hadn't already done so. It's a warm day, your fish will not keep without ice.  (The only other boat I know that carries ice like that is the Shinnecock Star.)  At the drop site, he was active on the upper deck, too, correcting rigs.  He was very reasonable and rational in dealing with one cranky passenger, who was convinced that another fare was the cause of her tangles.

3.  I like the boat, fast, clean and comfortable. No bunks, but you can't have everything. No galley, but there's a microwave. I hope he does a tuna trip or two, I'd fish with him offshore quite happily. 

4.  I like the operation. I emailed the office for information on sinker weights. The young lady there (Melissa? :howdy:)  gave me the captain's phone. He couldn't speak but she got back to me with sinker weight data.

5.  Long range trips attract a more serious angling crowd then the half day boats. One guy was from Poughkeepsie; another had driven from Cape May. Just the same, there was some entertainment to be had in some of the tackle brought on board. One gent had a small baitcaster with twin handles, on a rod perfectly suited for largemouth bass. Another had a spincast reel (I kid you not.)

 

Now, is there ANYPLACE to eat on the nautical mile that isn't grossly overpriced?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Brian:  Sounds like you had a reasonable time despite the conditions.  It could have been a lot worse if the captain hadn't been as sensitive to his patrons and knowledgable of sea conditions.  Thanks for the report.  Bob

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Just as a side note, Bring some electrical tape and flat bank sinkers to tape together. I have cut down on the lead that I haul big time. Going on multiple day trips from Seabass to Tile killed me. Now I can have anything up to 28oz by taping two together.Then a couple bigger singles if I need to go heavier, I quit at 3# now at my age .lol,  No helicoptering either.

The flat bank sinkers pop out of the crevices when Toggin better in my experience.

 

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Good boat & Capt. He tries hard. I've been on it in similar conditions. The last day of Sea Bass of few years ago. My son & I fished the bow with 20's & killed 'em. We were supposed to limit on Biscuits & go for Cod. The 12oz crowd in the stern hiding from the wind got tangled & no limits. The last few hours were catch & release with the occasional Ling or Pout.

 

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