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Jan 2009

Highlights of the 2008 Fishing Season

     This has been a year of ups and downs, for the Oregon Inlet charterboat fleet, and so many other things.  Fuel prices skyrocketed thru the summer, charter boat prices were up, big dolphin fishing was excellent, sailfishing better than we've ever seen off the Outer Banks, and a good early season blue marlin bite.  On the other hand, spring tuna fishing was unusually slow, charterboat business way off, and fuel prices dropped dramatically this fall!  Nevertheless, we had some excellent catches; boated and released a lot of citation earning fish, and won a little bit of money in a tournament.
     The OBSESSION's 2008 season started in Mexico for the 5th straight year, with Sean Broaddus in the cockpit.  Sailfishing was outstanding.  We caught 780 sailfish out of 1306 bites in 53 trips, an average of 14.5 releases/day and 25 bites/day.  Our overall hookup & capture rate of 59% releases/bite on circle hooks was good.  We adjusted our technique from years past and it worked!  A lot of days our catch to bite ratio exceeded 75%.    The daily average was on par with the last few years.... seems  that even with more boats,  fishing is holding its own, likely because  the  fleet is now using circle hooks, so survival rates of released fish is 98%sailfish
     After returning from Mexico, mate Sean took the bold, though not necessarily timely, step of purchasing a 38 ft boat to run nearshore trips for bluefish, cobia, flounder, Spanish and king mackerel and unfortunately left the OBSESSION.  Luckily, I was able to hire an experienced old-timer Mark Mitchum, who gave up fishing crab pots to help me out.
    April usually offers great tuna fishing off Oregon Inlet, but that was not the case this year.  There were some tuna around, and most days we scrapped out a decent catch of something, often a mixed bag of tuna, school and "gaffer" dolphin, the occasional wahoo and some tasty tilefish.  David Tooker captured and released a 300# blue marlin on April 19, while his crew boated a limit of nice school dolphin.
       Slow tuna fishing in May was compensated for by schools of "gaffer" dolphin that showed up the first week in May and provided great action.  And there were some big blue marlin around!!  Bobby King boated a 46# dolphin, his crew filled the box with big dolphin, and we lost a 600+ lb blue marlin.   Jim Rooney and Tim Huckstettler each boated 35# citation earning dolphin.  Neil Bruck and crew boated 5 bigeye tuna after an hour of cockpit chaos, including citation size fish by Jake Banks and Tim Kickham.  Reports of good blue marlin fishing off Hatteras had the OBSESSION charging down towards the Rock Pile in spite of $4.00/gal fuel, and Jim Rooney's  400# blue marlin after a 30 minute battle with two good series of jumps and some exciting close to the boat action made it all worth it (although my accountant thinks I'm a fool!!).   A few days later, Charles Williams released a blue marlin closer to home.  And the last week in May, though we did not catch any prize winning fish during the Oregon Inlet Tuna Roundup, Charles Medford released a 300# blue marlin...his first ever! 
      In June, dolphin and marlin continued to provide great action, while yellowfin tuna remained MIA!   Prior to the Big Rock Tournament, Sam Hardesty battled a 700# blue marlin for 2 hours, only to lose the fish when the drag failed; hopefully the boxful of big dolphin was some consolation.  Michael Shreiner, from Enola, PA boated a 115# bigeye tuna after a grueling hour battle.  The 50th Annual Big Rock Tournament had its ups and downs for team OBSESSION; after three slow days, Day 4 started with Tony Cameron fighting a 500# blue marlin, only to have the  !@#$%*#  hooks pull... disappointed, we went back to work and  a short while later some big dolphin charged our baits and a whopper was hooked..... Wayne Decker's son Geoffrey, from Newport, NC boated the giant dolphin which weighed 56.5#.  Turned out it was the largest junior angler dolphin prizewinner, the daily dolphin prize winner, and the overall biggest dolphin in the tournament winner....YEE HAH!!  big dolphinOur seasons first white marlin, caught by Albert Isennock, and sailfish by Robert Everstine, were released the third week in June.  Keith Ravan's crew from South Carolina set an OBSESSION record for North Carolina waters of 6 sailfish in one day.  Sixteen year old Tyler Britt released 400# blue marlin the same day Uncle Doug Britt released a 250# blue marlin!
      In July, dolphin and sailfish were the main attractions.  July 4th weekend, Dr. Ron Householder, from Tazwell, NC boated his first ever 102# bigeye after a 35 minute struggle.  A few days later, James Catino, Steve and daughter Ashley Vincent from Texas all released white marlin.  The next day, Mike Hall's crew from Maryland filled the box with gaffers, including Mike's 35# and Steve Nash's 39# citation earning fish, plus three 28# to 32# bull dolphin, all on light tackle.  In mid July, Chris Johnson released a 550# blue marlin that went wild, charging the boat as we had to literally run away from it for a few minutes till things settled down.  Things don't always work that well... the next day 13 year old  Alex Buckley  fought a 250# blue marlin for 10 minutes, but the hook pulled... that same day, Michael Lowe released a sailfish and Thomas Allen a white marlin.  The last week in July a makeup group released 4 sailfish, and Mark Blaylock's group released 4 sailfish.
    In  August, mate Mark Mitchum needed to return to his commercial crab operations, so Sean Broaddus, who was struggling to get his inshore business going, returned for a few more months.  Ranger Cutright's crew earned 9 citations one day, three for sailfish and 6 for tilefish. Tony Akerman's crew released two sailfish and boated a limit of dolphin. My wife Ruth Ann and good friend Katherine Jackson each released white marlin during the Alice Kelly Tournament, and we placed 6th in the 87 boat field.  Kenny Stalling's 250# blue marlin, his first ever, on 30# line, was one of the year's most exciting fish; later that day Sullie Morabito released a white marlin and their crew boated their limit of dolphin. The month ended with Nick Bocchicchio's crew releasing 4 white marlin, a sailfish and boating a limit of dolphin.
    September fishing was excellent.... unfortunately we didn't get to fish much!  The first week, Terry Steele's crew boated a limit of dolphin and earned citations for four white marlin, and Alexis Steele and Catherine Seller's  36# & 43#  dolphin.  The next day, Henry Braxton, Wes Paylor and company, released 4 white marlin and the first blue marlin ever by Wes Utley, who has worked on boats since he was 17, a 250# fish on 30 lb line.   And then the month started tanking like the U.S. economy.... business was slow for the entire fleet, and weather forced cancellations of the few days we had booked.  When we finally got out after 8 days of inaction,  Les Winner's crew caught their limit of dolphin on spinning rods,  had a small blue marlin chase us around for 5 minutes, caught a few gaffers, including a 47# stud  by Bryan Donner, and  Mikhail Aurarev, from Muramesnk, Russia  released the first white marlin he has ever seen!  The third week of September, Joaquim Hernandez and his clients from Girona, Spain, who had fished with me back in the glory days of giant tuna fishing off Hatteras, in two days of fishing, caught four white marlin and their limit of dolphin both days.   And then the wind blew and the bookings were few and we didn't get out again till October! 
     By that time, Sean had to get on with his inshore business, and Tanner Harden, who has worked for 7 years on local charterboats, signed on to finish out this season and go to Mexico with me.  The first week in October, Tommy Hester and family had perfect weather, so we ran 68 miles (didn't make much that day) to a body of warm water.... found a nice school of dolphin and the action was fast and furious. Chandler Stainbeck, age 7, on his first offshore fishing trip boated his limit of school dolphin, ..... we raised a double header of white marlin, and Matthew Jackson released his first ever.....  then raised a triple header, hooked two of them, pulled the hook on one after 15 minutes, and Tommy captured his. After another week of bad weather and slow bookings (anyone heard whether the government is offering a bailout for charterboats?  probably a leaky 5 gal bucket!), the weather moderated for the Finch family, and they caught a limit of yellowfin tuna.  Bob Forehand's crew boated a limit of dolphin and half dozen tuna.   Then 8 more days of bad weather, and the first day out Dan Harrison's crew boated their limit of yellowfin tuna.
     We fished a few days in November and December.  Tuna fishing slowed up for a few days as cold water covered the tuna grounds, but tilefishing was a great fallback option and good eating.  Rosser Doyle, from Madison Heights VA boated our season largest bigeye, a 188 lb whopper!  As soon as the water improved tuna fishing picked back up.   The last day we fished, Tom Palmer and crew boated their limit of yellowfin tuna.
      Overall, anglers on the OBSESSION caught 28 sailfish, 51 white marlin and 11 blue marlin releases, 6 tilefish, 5 bigeye citations, and 12 dolphin citations for a total of 113 North Carolina Citations earned.  Whereas the 2007 OBSESSION ANGLER OF THE YEAR prize went to one of my senior citizen anglers, Joe Osinchak, from New Jersey for his individual grand slam, a blue marllin, white marlin and sailfish one day in late June.  This year's prize goes to a teenager, Geoffrey Decker, from Newport NC, for his 57 # bull dolphin during the Big Rock which is the biggest dolphin ever boated on the OBSESSION.  The HARD LUCK AWARD goes to Sam Hardesty for the unsuccessful two hour battle with a 700 # blue marlin (we'll get him yet Sam!).  

        Right after New Years, I plan on running the OBSESSION back to Isla Mujeres, Mexico for the light tackle sailfishing season.  The waters off the northern Yucatan Peninsula hold the world's greatest seasonal concentration of Atlantic sailfish, and provide some incredible light tackle billfishing.  The OBSESSION will be available for charter from January 10 thru March 15.      You can reserve dates by email ([email protected]) or phone 252-480-0094.  
    The OBSESSION will again be docked at Enrique's Marina.   Isla Mujeres is as beautiful as it is fun.  Great beaches, great restaurants, excellent snorkeling, and a great night life.  Walk out of the marina, and you are in the heart of town, a block from the beach, 2 blocks from many of the town's shops, restaurants, bars and night clubs and a short walk  to your hotel. 

The OBSESSION is available for charter out of Pirates Cove beginning the first week in April and will run trips thru the first or second week of December.  I am currently taking bookings for 2009.  You can reserve dates by phone (252-480-0094) or e-mail ([email protected]). In 2008, with skyrocketing fuel prices we were forced to raise our prices $200, then an additional $100 in mid season to $1800.  With the prices now dropping more than I ever imagined, the Pirates Cove Charter boat fleet recently voted to REDUCE our price back to $1650/day in 2009.

     I am booked for the Oregon Inlet Tuna Roundup May 29 & 30 and the Alice Kelly Ladies Tournament August 9.  I am not booked for the Hatteras Village Blue Marlin Tournament May 13-May 17 or the Dare County Boat Builders Billfish Tournament on July 18 & 19;   I have several spots available to join others for the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament June 11-16.  I am holding the Pirates Cove Billfish Tournament (Aug 11-14); and the Virginia Beach Billfish Tournament (Aug 20-22) for the groups that fished with me last year until I return from Mexico (mid March) at which point they will be asked to commit one way or the other, but it is possible I will be available if anyone is interested in fishing one of these great tournaments.  If interested in fishing any of these tournaments, whether you have a full group or want to join one, please call/email and I will discuss availability and get you the relevant tournament information.
     I will try to post some fishing reports from Mexico on the www.obsession-charters.com website this winter.  Next season, I will again post fishing reports and photos most every day we get offshore.  In the future, I would be more than happy to send by email the photos I take of you and your catches...just send me an email address!   Be sure to check out the new photo album on board next year with 2008 catches.  

  I would like to thank those who went fishing with us last year for your business.  Hopefully you had a great fishing trip, exciting adventure offshore, and maybe even a memorable catch.  
P.S. PLEASE feel free to forward this to any of your fishing buddies....  need all the business we can get!!
My wife, Ruth Ann, is a NC Real Estate Broker with Coldwell Banker Seaside Realty in Nags Head. If you are interested in buying , selling or  would like to following the market please let her know.  She would love to speak with you!
Ruth Ann can be reached at 252 473-8495


Captian Jeff Ross
3102 S Ocean View Ct
Nags Head, NC 27959