Editor’s note: this story is reprinted with permission from the Baton Rouge Advocate.
If there’s an offshore adventure to be had at this time of year, then Joey Maciasz is one of a handful of men to guide you there.
Maciasz is from Baton Rouge but spends most of his time at Moran’s Marina in Fourchon, and that’s only when he not out on the briny deep.
And, this guy likes deep.
With red snapper, amberjack and gray triggerfish off the target list for offshore charter skippers, the alternatives are to hunt for other species.
For the past handful of months, Maciasz has targeted wahoo, and the good winter and early spring run this species offers off Louisiana’s coast.
Oh, and there’s yellowfin and blackfin tuna, too, but he has made a living this year on the wahoo.
Until the second week of May.
Maciasz likes to explore relatively untouched waters, and, around here, that means heading to an area known as Eugene Island. It’s in waters deep enough to hold lots of fish, has enough oil platforms to hold fish, but is far enough from the usual Grand Isle, Fourchon, Cocodrie and Vermilion Bay launching spots, just getting there an adventure — which is why you don’t see more boats there.
Scuba divers have know about the area for years, and they spend days offshore during major fishing rodeos to pick “rodeo” fish for the leaderboard.
All of which brings us to early May: Maciasz and his brother Alex hired out for the trip to Eugene Island’s rigs in search of grouper.
Big grouper, giant Warsaws and other subspecies, are more plentiful there than in other more heavily fished locales.
Like other offshore skippers, they know the offseason red snapper and amberjacks live there, too, and that’s why they started out like they did.
Maciasz said they started out with sardines threaded onto a Mustad 12/0 circle hook with two pounds of weight at the end of the line.
Yep. They were fishing in 340 feet of water, and the extra weight not only gets the rig down to those depths faster, but the speed also helps get the bait past hungry, out-of-season fish.
Then came the surprise; “The first fish of the day was the smaller one, about 85 pounds; the bigger one closely followed,” he said.
Cubera snapper. It’s the largest snapper species in the Gulf of Mexico, and the 100½-pounder Luke Hodges reeled in after a 30-minute battle came after Jeff Thompson landed an 85-pounder.
While it’s likely other offshore adventurers have landed cuberas, Maciasz’s trip is the first in years to document landing a cubera, much less landing two on the same trip.
“Both fish made one huge run, then slowly came on the way to the boat,” Maciasz said, adding that both fish have been sent, with proper applications, to the Louisiana Outdoor Writers Association’s Fish Record Committee.
It’s the first applications sent for this species since 2007, and Maciasz believes, when certified, the catches will rank fifth and ninth on the state’s Top-10 Fish Records List — and will be a big start for his Down the Bayou Charters adventures for the remainder of the year.