Gloucester Times: ‘Catch of a Lifetime’

“It was definitely a catch of a lifetime,” said Michael Mann, captain of the 72-foot Lady Sea recreational fishing vessel, about the approximately 190-pound Atlantic halibut. He estimated that was the weight when they hooked it during a roughly 20-hour overnight deep sea fishing trip from Sunday to Monday.

At the docks, the fish weighed in at 161.5 pounds and measured 6 feet, or 72 inches long, Mann said.

Mann said he’s only caught small halibut, but never anything like that, though Atlantic halibut is considered the largest flatfish in the world and one of the largest fish found in the Gulf of Maine, according to NOAA Fisheries Atlantic halibut webpage. It can reach up to 15 feet in length and live up to 50 years. Fully grown females average 100 to 150 pounds, while males tend to be smaller.

Mann owns Gloucester Fleet Deep Sea Fishing and Charters with his father, Booty, and his mother, Carolann.

Mann said they started doing overnight trips, called “Super Marathon Fishing,” in part because of lower passenger capacity due to safety restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Such trips are designed for 13 serious fishermen to get out to Fippennies Ledge, about 60 miles east of Gloucester, and only once a month. They do about three or four such trips a year.

Mann said on this trip about nine guys came with gear to catch a giant Atlantic halibut, bringing “every manner of tackle.” That includes 8-inch metal lures called jigs that can weigh 10 to 14 ounces.

But the person who hooked the monster fish on Monday, customer Nick Kirychuk, was using a boat rod from the 1980s. Mann said the man did not know what he hooked.

“He gave me the rod, and after an hour of battling, we got it on the boat,” said Mann, who wound up fighting and landing the halibut. Crew members also involved were Capt. Tim MacDonald and mates Brian Blaquiere and Matt Clark.

Mann said Kirychuk hooked the fish on a 12-ounce jig in 240 feet of water. He then handed the rod to Mann, but the halibut was not ready to give up the fight.

“After approximately 30 minutes, we got the fish to the surface, but it quickly (dove) down 200 feet again,” Mann said in an email. “We repeated the process; and when we saw it next, we got a gaff in it. The fish propelled itself off the gaff, and dove down 200 feet again. On the third try, all three crew members plus a customer gaffed it and brought it aboard.”

Mann said the landing of a fish this size was even more impressive when one considered the tackle that was used: a 6-foot solid fiberglass boat rod and a 1980s Penn Jigmaster reel with 50-pound test line.

Mann said after landing the halibut, they bled it and packed it on ice for the six-hour trip home. Mann said when they weighed it at the dock, it still weighed 161.5 pounds. It probably weighed about 190 pounds when they landed it, he said.

They are allowed to catch one halibut per boat per trip, Mann said.

Halibut was more prevalent in the 1970s and ‘80s, he said, but the fish has been wiped out. NOAA considers Atlantic halibut stock “at a very low level.”

Mann, who turns 37 this year, said he started working on fishing vessels when he was 12, and “catching halibut wasn’t a thing.”

When they arrived back in Gloucester on Monday around 8 p.m., they needed a place to weigh the fish, but everyone was closed, and Mann said Tessa Browne, owner of Cape Ann Lobstermen on East Main Street, let them use the company’s winch and scale. He said everyone on the boat went home with about 10 pounds of halibut, while the gentleman who hooked the giant fish got to keep 40 pounds.

Nick Giacalone, an owner of Fishermen’s Wharf seafood market on Rogers Street, said it’s “not too rare” for a large commercial dragger to come in with a halibut of anywhere from 85 to 200 pounds. The market has gotten those in the past. But Giacalone said he’s never heard of someone landing such a large halibut using a rod and reel.

“Me, personally, I’ve never heard of one coming in that big. That’s awesome,” Giacalone said.

NOAA Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries spokesperson Allison Ferreira said in an email that this was not a record fish or even unusual, after consulting with the agency’s groundfish team. NOAA’s Atlantic halibut webpage states that the largest Atlantic halibut ever recorded was taken off Cape Ann with a weight of 615 pounds, eviscerated with its head attached. It likely weighed 700 pounds when alive.

So, while this was not a record fish, it was still quite a feat. Ferreira said the International Gamefish Association says the largest Atlantic halibut landed in the United States with rod and reel gear weighed 255 pounds in 1989, and it was caught off Gloucester. She said colleagues told her the size of a halibut typically caught with a rod and reel are less than 100 pounds.

“So, although not unusual, this is a great fishing achievement!” she noted. Recreational fishing regulations for Atlantic halibut are one fish per vessel that is at least 41 inches in total length.

Andrea Holbrook contributed to this story by Ethan Forman, who may be contacted at 978-675-2714 or eforman@northofboston.com.

Source: https://www.gloucestertimes.com/news/a-catch-of-a-lifetime/article_6ec063b2-ece9-11ec-bd8c-4f13630d62cf.html

May 20th – 22nd, Weekend Wrap-Up

Friday, May 20th

Friday, we had a private charter from 7AM to 4PM. The fishing was very slow east of Gloucester. We covered a lot of bottom, ranging from 200 ft to 280ft. Nothing seemed to work. The weather was almost too perfect: no breeze, no tide. A slow pick all day with one halfway decent stop at the end of the day. 

Saturday, May 21st

After the slow fishing on Friday to the east, we ventured north to Jefferies on Saturday. Much better choice: steady pick all day in 150 ft of water. We did have to deal with some codfish, but it was well worth it. 

Sunday, May 22nd

Best day of the weekend for fishing. We went to Jefferies again, but fished off the edge from 165 to 215 ft of water. The haddock were extremely hungry, biting both jigs and bait. We only had 25 people on the boat, we had almost a full limit of haddock. Each customer averaged 13 keepers. Home run. 

FROM THE DECK OF THE LADY SEA
CAPTAIN MIKE & CREW

April 30th & May 1st, Weekend Wrap-Up

Saturday, April 30th, Fishing Report

This weekend was a mixed bag for both the fishing and the weather. Saturday was a rough day, with winds around 20mph, and 4ft seas. But, the fish were active and we ended the trip with a respectable number of keeper haddock on board. The pool winner was a 10lb cusk. 


Sunday, May 1st, Fishing Report

Sunday was the opposite of Saturday: sunny with a 5mph breeze and 2ft seas. However, the fish were significantly less hungry, and we had to work for every fish that came over the rail. After 4 days straight of high winds and rough seas off Cape Ann, it looks like the nice day lulled everything to sleep. 
Even though the fishing changed so much over the course of a couple of days, some things stay the same. Our dedication to trying to give customers the best experience possible in shifting fishing and weather conditions never changes. When the weather is less than ideal, we attempt to fish in areas that are more protected.  If we think that’s not possible, we cancel. We are also sticking to a 35 person max in order to give our customers space to enjoy their fishing time. We’re still not charging a fuel surcharge despite the rising cost of fuel; we’ll try to continue this way as long as possible in an effort not to drive up the cost of a trip. 
So give us a call, and give us a try. We’ll always do our best for you. 

FROM THE DECK OF THE LADY SEA
CAPTAIN MIKE & CREW

OPENING DAY!

Saturday, April 23rd, 2022 Fishing Report

 

The first trip of the year was definitely one for the books. Obviously, we wanted to start our season on April 1st, but things didn’t work out that way with unavoidable complications with construction at the marina. However, the wait seems to have been worth it.

 

Saturday’s marathon trip was a perfect mix of circumstances that led to an awesome day. The weather was beautiful, the fish were biting, and the customers were up to the task.

 

We started our day with a 2 hour stop, in 250ft of water. We only drove 1:45 minutes to get there (fairly short ride). The bite started within minutes, almost exclusively all haddock. Bait fishing was the way, although we had customers using everything from clams and squid to leftover shrimp from their freezer. The fish didn’t seem to care. We did have to weed through some codfish at times, but never anything too crazy. We ended the day with a complete boat limit of almost 600 keepers.

 

Hopefully this bite continues through the rest of the spring…

 

We are still limiting the number of passengers on our trips for comfort’s sake; however, we have bumped the full-time number up to 35. With the price of fuel being so high, we are raising the passenger count to try not to have to charge any fuel surcharge to our ticket prices. 35 is still a low number and affords passengers lots of room to fish and spread out. 

Our regular schedule is Friday, Saturday and Sunday for the month of May, so make sure you call for reservations sooner than later. Don’t miss out. 

Our spring problems are behind us, we are running on all cylinders again. 
We look forward to seeing you all soon.

FROM THE DECK OF THE LADY SEA
CAPTAIN MIKE & CREW

FISHING REPORT

July’s Fishing Report to date: 

Apologize again for the radio silence over the last few weeks.  Without going into too much detail about individual trips, here’s a report on the fishing lately. 

The all day trips last week alternated between very productive stops and slow stops. No one day has been exceptional all day long. We’ve had to be on our game, and in the right place at the right time. When the bite is happening we’ve been lucky enough to capitalize. We’ve been steadily catching haddock and redfish during those times of the day. We’ve been doing a good job avoiding the dogfish so far as well. 

The half day trips over the last 2 weeks have been pleasantly productive, with a bunch of haddock to be found inshore. We’ve been lucky to be getting a decent bite a little over 5 miles from the harbor. 

And lastly, our super marathon last weekend was a total homerun. We ventured a little further than normal, and found a big school of medium to large size pollock. The bite on the jig was fast and furious, and we put a good hurting on them. We managed a around few hundred for just 13 anglers. 

FROM THE DECK OF THE LADY SEA
CAPTIAN MIKE & CREW

Weekend Wrap-Up

FISHING REPORT

June 18th – June 26th

I apologize for the lack of fishing reports over the last 2 weekends, we’ve been very busy aboard the Lady Sea.

To give you an update, the fishing has remained very mediocre on our all day fishing trips. Although, this past Saturday’s trip produced a good bite that saw healthy haddock coming over the rail at a good pace for a few hours. Last weekend and throughout the week, we caught a lot of redfish and cusk with haddock mixed in. 

Our first overnight trip from Sunday into Monday,  was a pretty good one. The first 2 stops of the day were slow, and the dogfish were heavy in the shallower water. But the haddock stacked up well in the deeper water. The weather was bumpy, with a solid 4ft out of the south. 

FROM THE DECK OF THE LADY SEA
CAPTAIN MIKE & CREW

June 11th – 13th Weekend Wrap-Up

Friday, June 11th through Sunday, June 13th Fishing Report

Well, not too much to report from fishing this past weekend. We went all day fishing Friday and Saturday, and marathon fishing on Sunday. All three days had about the same weather, nothing rough throughout. The fishing was just all around mediocre.  Since the beginning of June when the temperature shot up, the fishing definitely slowed down a bit. Average to slow fishing was the story of the weekend, with some customers coming close to the ten fish mark, and others doing significantly less.  It didn’t seem to matter whether you used bait or jig; Sunday the codfish were biting pretty much anything put in front of them unfortunately. It wasn’t for lack of trying though, we definitely put in the work to catch what we did.  Anyone who fishes regularly will tell, you can’t crush it everyday.  The new moon definitely played a role, with a running tide making things unmanageable at times. 

We’d like to put our appreciation out there for our customers who fish with us week in and week out, no matter what the fish decide to do.  We can’t make them bite for you, but we’ll always give you folks our all. 

FROM THE DECK OF THE LADY SEA
CAPTAIN MIKE & CREW

 

May 28th, Fishing Report

Friday, May 28th, Fishing Report

Today was another one of those epic bites for us. We left the dock at 6 am to avoid an extreme low tide, and were fishing by 7:45am. The bite started right away, and didn’t stop for 4 hours. It lulled here and there, then would pick up again. We fished in 260 feet of water, and bait was the way to go. The bite was so strong, it didn’t matter what was used for bait; mackerel, squid and clams all were productive. If it wasn’t for 7 to 10 people not feeling well, I’m confident we would have limited out much sooner in the morning. A few anglers caught upwards of 40 keepers per person, and distributed the overage of their personal quota to others who didn’t hit their own. 

Unfortunately it looks like we’re going to lose the weekend to a heavy northeasterly wind. But, give us a call, we’ll be back at it next week.

FROM THE DECK OF THE LADY SEA
CAPTAIN MIKKE & CREW

May 14th – May 16th – Weekend Wrap-Up

Friday, May 14th 

Unfortunately, we had to cancel Friday’s trip due to a scheduling mistake with the Coast Guard. For that we would like to apologize to our customers. Sometimes, even the captain makes mistakes….

Saturday, May 15th, Fishing Report

Saturday’s marathon was was one of the nicest weather days we will see all year. It was 70 degrees, without a breath of wind all day. We started out the day on southern Jeffrey’s, and although there was a ton of life, the fishing was slow. The whales, dolphin and basking sharks were a great distraction though. As the day went on, we worked our way east with much more success. Through the afternoon the fishing was much more productive, and the numbers added up well by the end. It was a real pleasure drifting all day and catching fish. 

Sunday, May 16th, Fishing Report

Sunday’s all day trip actually topped Saturday in all ways. The weather was slightly cooler, and there was a small amount more wind. The fish were very active throughout the whole day, after 1 slow hour first thing in the morning. Being in the right place when the tide changes is a big part of a successful day, and Sunday we did just that. We had a above average pick for a few hours, drifting along at about .3 knots. Then we ended the day with a great stop that saw us put another 70 fish or so on board in a matter of 45 minutes. We averaged about 9 fish per person, with the more experienced anglers reaching between 15 to 20 fish. Both jigs and bait were productive all day.
The weather is getting nicer, and the phone is ringing. Make sure to get reservations in before trips fill for the summer.

FROM THE DECK OF THE LADY SEA
CAPTAIN MIKE & CREW

Sunday, May 2nd, Fishing Report

Sunday, May 2nd

Well, I’m writing this report while sitting outside the breakwater waiting for the guys to finish filleting. We had ourselves a day today aboard the Lady Sea. One stop shopping, 15 miles from home, in 250 feet of water.

There was noticeably more life out there today, balls of bait and whales all over on the ride out. As soon as we stopped, the fish started coming over the rail, and it lasted for over 2 hours. Bait or jig, it didn’t matter; everything worked. We had a true boat limit in those 2 hours, with everyone catching 15 keepers by 11:30am. The fish were all of good quality and size, very few shorts, with most fish in the 4 to 7 lb range. Very rarely do we see fishing at such a sustained pace for hours on end.

This was definitely one for the books. The pool winner was a 15lb pollock that beat out a couple of large cusk. 

FROM THE DECK OF THE LADY SEA
CAPTAIN MIKE & CREW