Feeding Frenzy: A chef finds relief from lockdown doldrums on an offshore fishing trip
by Chef Danny Davies
In the summer of 2020, deep into lockdown restriction, the boss decided he wanted to go offshore oil-rig fishing for tuna. And as we all know in the yachting world, what the boss wants, the boss gets! He asked the first officer if a few of us would like to join him on his 90-foot Viking. We all jumped at the opportunity to get off the boat and do something different.
There was the chief stewardess, first officer, and myself, plus the boss, his wife, and the two-man crew of the Viking sporty. The moment we left the dock, I fired up the onboard grill and started making myself at home. With Wagyu steaks, lobster tails, and veggies for dinner, we all ate like kings while we traveled up the Panhandle that night toward a bait fishing ground that the captain was fond of.
Early the next morning, we were drifting by a fueling station with huge container ships sitting at anchor waiting to fuel up. It was the perfect spot for catching bait. We were pulling out fish after fish, which we kept in the live bait tank on the aft deck. Late that night, we docked the boat, sank a few beers, and told our best fishing stories.
In the morning, we fueled the boat and set off for the oil rigs a few miles offshore of Alabama. Smaller fish gather around the rigs and larger predatory fish come to hunt these smaller fish. We caught amberjacks, barracuda, and a few small tuna. Later, as the sun began to set, the real action started. All of a sudden, a school of yellowtail tuna started attacking a bait ball of fish. The water started boiling all around us, lines were hot with strike after strike, and we were all shouting “fish on!” Reeling in the lines in a frenzy, the boss was laughing hard and our arms were burning with the work. But our success would be short-lived.
Once the sun had completely set, the atmosphere changed. Sharks had arrived. Large tiger sharks were hitting the tuna we had caught right off the lines, biting chunks off our prize fish as we tried to reel them in as fast as we could. Eventually, the captain called it a day, but we stayed on for a while to watch the sharks circling the boat as they slowly disappeared down into the depths. It was a great experience that I’d love to do again.
Not being very fond of fishing and having an absolute phobia of snakes, I was made to go out fishing with charter guests. We had pulled out a few good snappers, but then one of the guests pulled out an eel. Ob- viously, no one wanted to touch it. Me being the junior deckhand, the responsibility fell on me to take the hook out of its mouth. I was utterly terrified, as I was convinced that eels were snakes’ underwater cousins.
— Wesley Walton
Spent a day thinking I had caught a swordfish, only to find out from my social media post that it was a gar fish.
— Danielle New
While crossing the Atlantic, we had our lines out while continuing on with work. One day while scrubbing teak, I all of a sudden heard a sharp snap. Not concentrating on the fishing rods, I immediately accused the new deckie of bumping the paintwork. It took us a little time and a lot of arguing before we realized it was the fishing rods out back. Landed the wahoo and many more afterwards.
— Shaun Phillips
After not catching any fish our entire Atlantic crossing, we were a day out of Gibraltar when we heard our reels start running fast. We started reeling in with great excitement, only to find out that we had hooked a dead shark.
— Marcelle Aucamp
Currently on our Atlantic crossing, and after our one- and-only fishing line snapped while underway, along with our fishing hopes, I came across a flying fish on deck.
— Bryce Haggard