With the Northeast offshore season a few months away it is prime time to address the small boat “offshore checklist”.  We are well aware that this topic can get out of control quickly so we designed the questions with a few things in mind.  Goal #1 – Work to develop a template that we hope every open skiff Captain can use to build or fine tune their own checklist.  Goal #2 – Create this detailed template without making our guest pros feel they had to spend their valuable time going into extraneous detail (you will notice a few answers left blank).

If you are new to the offshore game we hope encourage you to cut and paste the “questions” below to begin building your own checklist.  We hope our guest pros answers will serve as a solid baseline, however, it is important to build a network and ask as many questions as possible so you are ahead of the curve when the first pelagics show up.

Tight Lines!!!

THE QUESTIONS:

  1. What is on your checklist for the following categories before heading offshore
    1. Safety and First Aid
    2. Tool Kit
    3. Spare Parts
    4. Communication
    5. Terminal Tackle
    6. Line/Leader
    7. End Game Gear (gaffs, poons, tail ropes, nets, etc..)
    8. Knives, pliers, and miscellaneous gear
    9. Pre-tied rigs for the following (feel free to do some or all)
      1. Bluefin Tuna
      2. Yellowfin Tuna
      3. Bigeye Tuna
      4. Sword (day and night)
      5. Mahi
      6. White Marlin
      7. Tilefish/Wreckfish
      8. wahoo
  2. How much ice do you bring on a
    1. Canyon Day Trip
    2. Canyon Overnight (30 hour) Trip
  3. Do you double or triple rig your outriggers?
  4. How many of the following “rigged” setups do you typically carry on a canyon trip? (When applicable please note if rigs do double duty)
    1. Tuna Trolling – include class
    2. Tuna Chunking – include class
    3. Tuna Jigging – include class
    4. Tuna Popping – include class
    5. Deep Drop (include all rigs you carry) – include class
    6. Sword Rods – include class
    7. White Marlin/Pitch Rods – include class
    8. Light tackle or Fly – include class
  5. Do you pull dredges on your Center Console?  If so can you share your dredge system.
  6. During a hot chunk bite how much bait do you ideally bring given limited storage on a CC?  And is all your chunk bait pre-cut, do you cut by hand, or do you use an electric chunker?
  7. What is your baseline for a safe offshore fuel reserve?

 

THE PROS:

Captain Freddy Gamboa – Andreas Toy Charters – Perth Amboy, New Jersey

Captain Fred’s 31 Contender Fisharound is a mainstay in the offshore waters off New Jersey.  He has been a writing contributor to the Fisherman Magazine for the past 15 years and Big Game Fishing Journal for the past 5.  He has conducted countless seminars. Captain Fred is a Member of the Contender Boats Pro Fishing Team, Yamaha Pro Staff, Shimano Pro Staff and Costa del Mar Pro Staff. He’s affiliated with companies which include Garmin Electronics, Gamma Fluorocarbon, Frabill Nets, Dennis Braid Products, West Marine, Trophy Teasers, and AquaSkinz.

Captain Ryan VanderKooy – Blue Runner Sportfishing, Point Pleasant Beach, NJ

Capt. Ryan has been working on party boats, charter boats and private boats since the mid 1990s and currently runs the 42 foot Water Proof for Blue Runner Sportfishing based out of Point Pleasant Beach, NJ.  Throughout his career he has owned a 27 Ocean Master, 31 Contender Fish-Around and currently a Classic 23 Regulator. The information provided is based on his open boat experience.

 

THE ANSWERS

Captain Freddy Gamboa

  1. What is on your checklist for the following categories before heading offshore
    1. Safety and First Aid At least 3 different weather forecasts (Texas Tower Buoy, Buoyweather, Windguru) and a Terrafin Sat Shot
    2. Tool Kit Basic Tool Kit including a bag of diapers
    3. Spare Parts Set of props, spare plugs, spare filters
    4. Communication Satellite Phone
    5. Terminal Tackle hooks in appropriate size for chunking 2/0-8/0 J Hooks, Spro swivels 80-200#, assorted crimps and sleeves
    6. Line/Leader All of my conventional gear has wind-on leader but I carry spare spools of 40#, 60#, and 80# Flourocarbon
    7. End Game Gear (gaffs, poons, tail ropes, nets, etc..) At least one of each are on board.  We carry 3 gaffs offshore varying in length and hook.
    8. Knives, pliers, and miscellaneous gear
    9. Pre-tied rigs for the following (feel free to do some or all)
      1. Bluefin Tuna chunk rigs 40#, 60# and 80# flourocarbon wrapped around different colored pool noodles
      2. Yellowfin Tuna same as above
      3. Bigeye Tuna same as above
      4. Sword (day and night) sword rigs with bait stored in cooler (either mackerel, squid, or belly strips)
      5. Mahi light spinning setups pre-rigged with bucktails, waxwings, and poppers
      6. White Marlin 1-3oz. Rigged Joe Shutes with dink ballyhoo in bait cooler
      7. Tilefish/Wreckfish All tile rods are pre-rigged and stored under gunnel
      8. Wahoo N/A
  1.  How much ice do you bring on a
    1. Canyon Day Trip 300lbs
    2. Canyon Overnight (30 hour) Trip 300lbs
  1. Do you double or triple rig your outriggers? Triple Rigged
  2.  How many of the following “rigged” setups do you typically carry on a canyon trip? (When applicable please note if rigs do double duty)
    1. Tuna Trolling – include class 10 rigs all 50W class double for sword duty too
    2. Tuna Chunking – include class 5 Rigs all Talica 16 2 speeds
    3. Tuna Jigging – include class Same as Chunking
    4. Tuna Popping – include class N/A
    5. Deep Drop (include all rigs you carry) – include class Same as chunking – use Talica 16 2 speeds for Tilefishing
    6. Sword Rods – include class Same as tuna trolling
    7. White Marlin/Pitch Rods – include class don’t carry pitch bait rods
    8. Light tackle or Fly – include class don’t carry fly offshore
  1.  Do you pull dredges on your Center Console?  If so can you share your dredge system. We stopped pulling dredges and now pull Spreader Bars and Diving Plugs
  2.  During a hot chunk bite how much bait do you ideally bring given limited storage on a CC?  And is all your chunk bait pre-cut, do you cut by hand, or do you use an electric chunker? I use a chumchunker and average 2 hours per flat.  Bait is precut and stored at dock before we leave. Day trip need 6 hours of bait and overnight need 12.

7.  What is your baseline for a safe offshore fuel reserve?  50 gallons of fuel in reserve.

Captain Ryan VanderKooy

  1. What is on your checklist for the following items?
    1. Safety and First Aid
      • Watertight box stocked with all medical supplies
      • Bandages, gauze, medical tape, duct tape and band-aids for wound care
      • Iodine solutions and Neosporin for cleaning wounds
      • Basic medicines for headaches, motion sickness
      • Benadryl to treat/slow allergic reactions
      • Ace Bandage
      • Scissors
      • Small bolt cutter for cutting hooks if someone is impaled
      • Properly sized anchor and chain with 1200’ of rope – may need more if planning to anchor in over 400’
      • Foul Weather Gear – like to keep a few sets for crew that may be in the weather when running
    2. Tools
      • Full set of basic tools, sockets, wrenches, screwdrivers
      • Specialty tools – filter wrenches, prop wrench, etc
      • Small block of wood with lanyard to hold prop if removal is needed
      • Multimeter for testing electrical circuits
      • Crimper for electrical and assortment of connectors
    3. Spare Parts
      • Spare oil and fuel filters, plugs
      • Spare belts
      • Spare fuses for all accessories
      • Spare Propeller Hub Kit
      • Wooden plugs sized to match through hulls
      • Small screw kit with misc sizes and types
      • Any mechanical parts that are motor specific, have a history of failing, and can be easily changed at sea.
    4. Communication
      • Two hard mount VHF Radios
      • One Handheld VHF Radio in Ditch Bag
      • One Handheld Satellite Phone
      • Cell Phone for times when in service areas
      • EPIRB Registered to Vessel
      • EPIRB in ditch bag
    5. Terminal Tackle
    6. Line / Leader
    7. End Game Gear
      • 3 Gaffs
      • One Harpoon, extra shafts and darts, basket with small poly ball and 300 feet of dart-line
      • 3 tail ropes
      • Flying Gaff rigged with the minimum amount of line needed to gaff the fish from the tie off point.
    8. Knives, pliers and misc
      • Fishing plier
      • Mono cutter
      • Spectra scissors
      • Serrated knife
      • Small bait knife
      • Release knife
      • Scissors
      • Rigging Needles
      • Wax Floss
      • Monel Wire/Copper Rigging Wire
      • Crimping pliers
      • Gloves
      • Stand-up belts and Harnesses
    9. Pre-Tied Rigs
      • All trolling rigs
      • Bait rigs for mahi rigged on 30lb fluorocarbon
      • Chunking rigs on 40, 60, 80 fluorocarbon
      • Sword rigs tied on 250 – 400 lb
      • Tilefish rigs
      • Sabiki Rigs
      • Squid jigs
  2. How much Ice do you bring?  I generally take as much ice as I can hold. Usually bring 400 lbs on the smaller center consoles for either a day or night trip.  There is a limit to how many fish we can properly ice down in our holds and bags. Once we hit that limit we are done taking fish.
  3. Do you double or triple rig your outriggers? I double rig my outriggers and center rigger
  4. How many of the following “rigged” setups do you typically carry on a canyon trip? (When applicable please note if rigs do double duty)  On a typical canyon trip I bring the following rod/reel setups.  I like to take advantage of any rods that are capable of doing double duty as space is always hard to come by on the boat.
    1. Two 50 wides on bent butts for trolling and sword fishing
    2. 3 50 wides on straight butts for trolling
    3. 4 30 wides for trolling and chunking
    4. 1 Spinning rod for jigging Tuna
    5. 1 Conventional Jigging rod that doubles as a bottom rod for tile fish.
    6. Sometimes add two Electrics for bottom fishing
  5. Do you pull dredges on your Center Console?  If so can you share your dredge system.

I typically do not pull a dredge off my center console on standard canyon fishing trips.

  1. During a hot chunk bite how much bait do you ideally bring given limited storage on a CC?  And is all your chunk bait pre-cut, do you cut by hand, or do you use an electric chunker? 4-5 flats of cut bait in buckets if I am planning to chunk the night and part of the day.  In smaller boats we are typically fishing better weather and can sometimes get away with 2-3 flats of cut bait.  In addition to the bait we cut at the dock I like to take one flat of butters and one flat of sardines for hook baits.  The time of year we are fishing will also determine how much bait we are taking. When days are longer we may put in more time trolling and require less cut bait.
    1. In addition to chunk bait it is a good idea to have some large squids on hand and save some belly cuts that can be used for strip baits when swordfishing.
  2. What is your baseline for a safe offshore fuel reserve?  Baseline for safe fuel reserve is 1/3, 1/3, 1/3.  This will allow a nice safety margin should weather take a turn for the worse.  It will provide the fuel needed if you have to slow down to a less efficient speed and may also allow you to run to a different inlet should the need arise.

 

Although many of the same principles apply when fishing smaller open boats versus large sportfish boats there are certain challenges that present themselves.  The weather is of course the first that comes to mind, storage (especially true dry storage) is always hard to come by and the safety and comfort of the crew are just a few things that require more attention when running an open boat. Crews are typically smaller and will appreciate the extra steps in preparation when dealing with the wind and sea on an open boat.

Editor’s Note: The purpose of “Ask a Pro” is not to confuse but to provide legitimate opinions from a variety of professionals that test their equipment and techniques on a regular basis. While there may be quite a lot of information to filter through – remember – this is not a “forum” with “armchair fishermen” commenting on the latest and greatest gear. We want you to TRUST our information!!! As a result, our mission is to be professional angler driven and provide you with the best information possible. We are confident that any of the gear or techniques discussed in our “Ask a Pro” series will increase success the next time you fish. Fish the Front!!!