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March 05, 2010

5 Great Live-Aboard Adventures

Motherships and live-aboards provide the ticket to nonstop fishing action


5. Over Under Adventures
Mothership / Live-Aboard

Ports: Treasure Cay, the Abaco Islands, Bahamas (year-round); Cat Island and the southern Bahamas (April through June)

Vessel name: Over Under

Capacity: Up to six anglers

Length of trips: Two to 21 days

Contact info: 866-OUA-TUNA, www.fishou.com

Getting there: A number of commercial airlines, including American Airlines, Bahamas Air and Continental Connection, access the Bahamas on short flights from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, or Miami. Over Under also has its own private air-charter fleet that can fly you and your fishing buddies aboard a Piper Aztec to whatever jumping-off point you choose.

Vessel description: Fresh off an extensive refurbishment, this 54-foot Bertram is fully air-conditioned and features three staterooms with six berths and room for two in the salon. The Over Under also offers three private heads with showers; a deluxe galley with an oven, stove and subzero refrigerated drawers; dual generators for comfort and redundancy; and a watermaker for extended voyages.

Crew info: Capt. Thomas Neligon has been running offshore fishing boats for more than 15 years and began working for Over Under in 2006. Entering his fourth winter season in the Bahamas, he's well versed in all aspects of offshore fishing, from trolling to live-baiting, deep-dropping, bottomfishing and reef fishing. OU uses south Florida mates throughout the season, as needed.

Location description: Treasure Cay/the Abacos (year-round): The Abacos, at the northern end of the Bahamas, has a reputation as one of the most family-friendly parts of the island chain. Treasure, Green Turtle, Marsh Harbour and Man-O-War cays as well as Hope Town and Little Harbour all lie within 15 miles of each other.

Beginning in April, the Over Under moves to Hawk's Nest Resort on Cat Island, about 130 miles southeast of Nassau, south of Eleuthera and east of Andros. Cat serves as a jumping-off point for long-range adventure into the southern Bahamas, including seldom-fished waters available on two itineraries.

Option one is to explore the fish-rich waters around Rum Cay, San Salvador and Conception Island. Option two offers access to Crooked Island, Diana Bank, Acklins and Hogsty Reef.

Fishing Description: The Abacos offer ample billfish action, with sailfish and white marlin showing up in late March, followed by a full-on blue marlin run from April into June. Anglers can expect as many as a dozen shots a day at fish averaging about 200 pounds. Winter anglers have multiple shots at wahoo, averaging 40 pounds but scaling to as much as 100.

Heading into March and April, dolphin fishing explodes, with an average fish weighing in at 20 to 25 pounds. Yellowfin and blackfin tuna also are plentiful. Bottomfishing remains exceptional year-round, with reef fishermen targeting mutton snapper, flag yellowtail and several species of grouper.

The Over Under may also be used as a mothership for an offshore/inshore experience. Shallow-water enthusiasts will enjoy some of the better bonefishing found in the Bahamas, using two outboard-powered Mirage skiffs. Winter months see larger bonefish moving onto the flats, with the average fish weighing 10 pounds. Warmer temperatures bring more fish, but the average size drops to about 5 pounds.

The southern Bahamas out of Cat Island offers world-class bottomfishing for snapper and grouper. But that's often overshadowed by what many consider the best wahoo, yellowfin tuna and blue marlin fishing in the islands. These waters are rarely - if ever - fished, and that lack of pressure works to the advantage of adventurous anglers making the trek.

Tackle info: The Over Under is completely outfitted with the latest Penn fishing tackle, from 20-pound spin to 80-pound big-game outfits. Anglers wishing to target fish on light tackle and fly should bring their own equipment.

Cost in U.S. dollars: The Over Under is available for either fully crewed charters (captain and one mate) or semi-barefoot charters (captain only). Rates range from $1,500 for a single day to $7,000 and up for a weeklong trip, depending on the itinerary, duration, range and staffing of the charter.

Notes: Over Under Adventures offers several other long-range live-aboard options in the Bahamas: the 55-foot Gwaltney custom Low Profile around San Salvador, Rum Cay and Crooked Island as well as the live-aboard trawlers Semper Fi (37-foot Grand Harbor) and Spoonbill (47-foot Grand Harbor) for bonefishing, diving and exploration. The 46-foot Whiticar Sportfish Pretty Work is available for long-range trips to the light-tackle mecca in the Dry Tortugas National Park, west of Key West. Additional itineraries include backcountry fishing and exploration in Florida Bay or throughout the Florida Keys archipelago, from Biscayne Bay to the Dry Tortugas.