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A TRIP
TO REMEMBER

By Capt. Bob Bogan

   November 15, 2023, was a late season canyon tuna trip, our final one of the year, and I had my doubts about running the Gambler a much farther distance than we had all season – 110 nautical miles – on a hunch. Steaming down to the Southern canyons had been hit and (mostly miss), this fall.
  On the Gambler’s previous trip, a week earlier, we managed to make a nice catch of 50- to 75-pound yellowfin along with a handful of bluefin tuna inshore of the Hudson Canyon in a tiny swath of warm-blue, but it had been hard to find sea surface temperatures over 60 degrees from the Hudson Canyon all the way to South Toms Canyon since mid-October.
  For this trip, however, I had seen a satellite shot that barely peered through some cloud cover and showed a 65-degree rip of water between the Spencer and Wilmington Canyons. It was a long shot, but the weather forecast was nice and since the Hudson and Toms canyons had not panned out recently, I figured it was worth the run.
  I like to think I am always optimistic before the boat leaves the slip. The captain and crew need a good attitude and, theoretically, that attitude should rub off onto our customers. This day was not an exception; the 24 passengers and 4 crew were excited about the prospect of their adventure as I gave my dockside talk.
  Besides letting our passengers know of the Gambler’s planned destination, I introduced the crew, gave brief instructions on bunk room courtesy, reminded them to always wear boots on deck, check drags on the way out and try to get some rest during the 6-plus hour ride off. Shortly after roll call, the crew casted the dock lines and Gambler rumbled smoothly out of the slip toward the opening of the jetties. It was 8 p.m.
  For nearly 35 years the Gambler has been hitting the canyons for big game, tuna, swordfish, mahi-mahi and other deep-blue beasts. This is the third version of Gambler that has been built for our family business. The current Gambler, built in 2005, was constructed by craftsmen in Maine. She is extra heavy-duty construction. Very wide and deep-powered by four 740-horsepower turbo diesels pushing four big props. Gambler is arguably the fastest party boat of its size on the coast. She was built with this type of fishing in mind – with enough bunks for everyone on board, two big fish holds, overhead rod racks, super wide deck space and built-in underwater lights from stem to stern.

Bringing a tuna to the boat for gaffing is more complex on a party boat like the Gambler. The potential for crossed lines is why they urge anglers to leave the braid at home.
Bringing a tuna to the boat for gaffing is more complex on a party boat like the Gambler. The potential for crossed lines is why they urge anglers to leave the braid at home.
A window of nice weather led to action that delayed the Gambler's return to the dock on its last trip of 2023. Longfin tuna (left) mixed in with yellowfin.
A window of nice weather led to action that delayed the Gambler's return to the dock on its last trip of 2023. Longfin tuna (left) mixed in with yellowfin.

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