OMG! What a day!

Well the wedding saga continues! Devon and Amy decided they wanted more fish for their reception dinner. So… dang it, we have to go fishing again and you ought to know by now how much I dislike fishing! Right? Wednesday was a blow out so we planned on going Thursday morning, no matter what. NOAA called for 2-4’ seas with the winds blowing 10-15 out of the north. No problem for a 33‘ WorldCat, she can handle that and much more. I’ll try to keep this report less detailed to curtail its length.

Devon brought his Uncle Al this morning and met me at the dock at 7:15. Al and I have fished together several times before on Cubera and Swordfish trips. I was glad to see him coming along as we would have more angler power on deck. We unleashed The BEAST and were off like a herd of turtles. We started off jigging up about 2 dozen Blue Runners and then headed for the “dink” Ballyhoo patch. Our game plan was to see if we could catch another mess of Dolphin like we did on Tuesday. Arriving at the bait spot we hook and lined a bunch, then cast netted some more, and in short order we had both live wells teaming with baits. Off we go to try and duplicate Tuesday’s trip.

We arrived on the edge to find that NOAA was way off on their sea predictions. The water was 2-3’ at most, with some small white caps from the winds. The sea clarity was a dingy blue/green. As we were setting out our first baits we hooked up a single school Dolphin and into the box it went. The Dolphin have all been a decent size so far this week, unlike the anemic looking fish in the spring. Next bite was a nice fish on the down rod which engulfed all the wire trace and managed to cut the mono leader. We managed to capture a Kingfish on the down rod shortly thereafter. For the next 2 hours we were in a lull. I grabbed my VHF mic and hailed a couple of my Captain friends out there. They were'nt doing anything either but, I wasn’t worried. I told Devon and Al that the conditions were going to come together about 1:15. Al worked a small speed jig here and there and caught a few Bonito. We ate lunch and BS’d while waiting for “the bite“.

Shortly after 1PM, the seas calmed, conditions got right, and the stuff hit the fan. We caught 4 Dolphin and reset the baits. Minutes later we had a triple header on Sailfish, up in the baits. One was a window shopper and one ate! While Devon was working the hooked up fish, the third Sailfish chased the bait he was after, into the rigger line and it got tangled. As Al and I were trying to shake the bait free, this fish was intent on eating it. His entire head and mouth were clearing the water as the bait dangled about 6” off the surface. He finally gave up and swam off. Devon brought his Sail to the boat for a clean tag & release.

For the next 2 hours we added 13 more Dolphin to the fish box, released several more Bonito, a small Amberjack, and raised 2 more singles on Sailfish, hooking and jumping off one of them. Tough luck Al. That stuff happens to everyone, from time to time. The last hour of the day slowed down again but we managed another Bonito and a Blackfin Tuna on the speed jig which Al didn’t think worked very well, until today! The last fish of the day, a beefy Yellow Jack, came once again on a speed jig.


We called it a day and headed for the barn with a nice box full of fish. The total catch for the day was 5 Sails raised but only 1 caught, 17 Dolphin to 15 pounds, 6-8 Bonito, 1 each of Kingfish, Blackfin Tuna, Amberjack, and a nice Yellow Jack. Devon and Amy should be set for fish now at their wedding reception. I just hate when I have 2 trips, a day apart, like we had this week. Right? It sucks to be tired from catching so many fish. NOT !!!!!!!


We will never turn this economy around if we don't start spending some money. Break open your piggy banks and let's go fishing. The experiences of the oceans beauty and bounty are worth more than the money, ten fold!



Capt. Jim

Needed another angler!

My mate Devon and my daughter are getting married on Saturday. Coming from a fishing family, they decided they wanted to serve fresh fish at their Keys wedding. The best way to make sure the fish is fresh is to go out and catch it yourself, so that his intention. Problem #1 was that the weather forecast was for less than comfortable winds and seas all week. Devon has a 19’ CudaCraft and the mission was looking bleak. Being the good father/father-in-law that I am, we decided to give the 33’ WorldCat a workout and give it a go on Monday.

Devon and I met at the dock at 8 AM and quickly loaded the boat. We couldn’t find any of our friends or family that could make this Monday morning trip with us. They had trivial nonsense excuses like work or something of that nature, so we decided to go by ourselves. With absolutely no game plan set in stone, we unleashed The BEAST and headed out. My thoughts were to set sights for my Ballyhoo patch that had a majority of “dinks”. I figured it would be much better, to have more versatile small baits to catch anything that we might encounter. The winds were huffing about 18-20 knots but were out of the NW which gave us some smaller seas than anticipated. Arriving at the patch we deployed a chum bag and within minutes the “dinks” were congregated behind the boat. They were ravenous feeders and oblivious to the boat. We caught a few dozen on hook and then I broke out the Calusa cast net. A couple throws with the net and we had plenty of bait for the day. I fired up the Suzuki outboards and headed offshore on our quest. As we were making our way out we heard some chatter on the radio of a few Sails and some Dolphin. Dolphin? Hmmm. Now there’s a thought!

We hit the edge and found 4’ seas, the winds were solid, and the weeds were scattered along the edge to the 130’ depths. I shut down to an idle and we immediately put out 4 surface baits and 1 down rod. The seas, current, and wind, made me keep a fistful of steering wheel to keep the boat in position. About a dozen Frigate’s were circling around the area. Within a few minutes our first visitors came into our spread. A couple of fat school Dolphin which we quickly dispatched into the fish box. By noon, the winds were laying back a bit and the seas were slacking off. Devon and I had pulled the hooks on 2 mystery fish on the down rod and boated 8 Dolphin. Then a Sail came tailing towards the right rigger and ate the bait. Devon worked the rod quickly and in 10 minutes we had a good tag & release. Less than 5 minutes after setting the lines out again and we had another Sailfish up and eating the short flat line. I jumped on this one and approximately 15 minutes later the fish came boatside. We noticed it had a tag in it, and another line had become severely tangled around the bill and pec fins of the fish. I reached over the side and freed the fish of all the line and we clipped off the tag. I retagged it with one of mine and Devon held the fish boatside as I idled along to insure it was in good condition before we released it. Dang! I never thought I would NOT want to catch Sailfish but this was a grocery type meat day for us.

After the 2 Sailfish catches, we caught 2 Sharks (ugh) and the Dolphin continued to be relentless. We had doubles, triples, quads, and even had 2 of them eat baits 50-75’ down on the down rod. Several times we had fish pinned in the rod holders while we were working another rod. The cockpit was a mess and lines were everywhere, more times than I care to count. I believe we lost as many fish as we had caught. We had to stop several times to clear the cockpit, cleanup a bit, and recount our catch. Now it’s 2 PM and we have a boat limit (20) of nice fat Dolphin. It sure would’ve been nice to have had at least one more angler! We could’ve easily limited out with 4 anglers!

Rather than continuing to work the top, just to release fish, Devon stored away the spinning rods as I set my sights for a favored bottom wreck. Arriving there I checked the drift, rapidly to the north, and reset for our first drift. Whoop there it is! Up comes a nice Mutton snapper! We’re thinking we could spend the next hour or so, working this spot for a few more Muttons. Not to be! The next drift I hooked up and the line got very heavy, then it went slack. My Mutton just got eaten and the leader was bit off clean. WOW! It didn’t take long for the sharks to home in and take advantage of the free meal. We made 4 more drifts and each time we would get the tug, only to have the fish pulled loose of the hooks. Devon managed to catch a very large Spotted Caribbean Mackerel (aka. Barracuda) that ate his bait as he was bringing it up. We gave up and called it a day.


As we were making our way across the Bay, we remarked of the fact that we would be in before dark, for a change! We remarked that we might try to get out one more time, weather permitting, while the Dolphin are still here. I told Devon that he already had a good mess of fish, to clean and pack, for the wedding reception. He looked at me smiling and said, “ Yep! Thank God my father-in-law is a charter captain!”

Smokin' Smokers

Fun fishing days are fewer and farther between these days. Due to the welcomed drop in fuel prices lately, Tom and I made plans to go have a nice afternoon on the water. My friend Tom, a.k.a. “Trolling Tom”, occasionally likes to take a break from his trolling regiment and do some live bait fishing. We both decided we would target some Kingfish for the smoker.

Since this was a “fun day” we met at the dock and were on our way out the channel at the crack of noon. We throttled up the 600 restless ponies on the back of The BEAST and made our way offshore while discussing our game plan, election results, and generally anything else that came to mind. These type of days are quite enjoyable for the both of us and any time on the water is appreciated now, especially with all the worries of today’s economy.

We busted out from the islands into the open water of the patch reefs and immediately had a good laugh at the supposed NOAA prediction of 3-4’ seas for the day. The conditions were beautiful with seas of 1-2’. The skies were starting to show signs of Hurricane Paloma as a line of high overcast clouds were building in. No worries. I put us on a heading to my preferred bait patch and upon arrival realized that not a single anchor ball was there. What happens to these mooring balls, anyway? Oh well, let’s head to spot #2 a couple of miles away. We arrived there in a few minutes and moved in one of the shallower areas. The chum bag is in place but nothing was happening. The tide was lessening toward slack high tide so after about 15 minutes Tom and I pulled the plug on that spot and moved to another. Ah, that’s better. The bait started coming up and the Ballyhoo, although they were “dinks” were plentiful enough. We caught a little over a dozen on hooks. When they started bunching up behind the boat, I broke out the 10’ Calusa net and topped off the well. We had enough bait for the afternoon since it was already after 2 o‘clock.

We made the short run to the edge and pulled into the area with, surprising to us, another 8-10 boats. A nice turnout for a Friday. As soon as we settled in we set out 4 baits on top, 2 of my spinners on the port side and the starboard side had 2 of Tom’s rods. We do that because Tom uses spinning reels with the handle on the wrong side of the reel. We laugh about that all the time because we both feel retarded when we try to use the others gear. I’m not sure why that is, because a conventional reel has the handle on the right side and I feel totally fine with them. After all these years, I have yet to feel comfortable with a spinning reel with the handle on the right. Weird, huh?

I pulled out the downrigger and set a bait down to the magic depth for our targeted Kingfish. We didn’t have to wait long as I hugged right up against the edge. The down rod went off and I got after it. Minutes later we had a small, barely legal, 25” King in the boat. The skunk is off the boat. I moved in even closer but we started to have a problem with an Ocean Tally shadowing our baits and taking just enough nips to kill them. As I turned to make my way back over the drop-off, the left flat line (Tom’s side) went off and a nice Cero Mackerel came aboard to keep the little King company in the fish box.

We bumped around for a time moving out deeper in hopes for a Dolphin or Blackfin bite. The sky was dotted with Frigate birds, almost everywhere we looked, from the edge and deeper. Several times we thought we were going to get into something as the birds would drop down on the deck, but nothing materialized. As I moved back in towards the edge, the down rod once again, gets the nod. The TLD 30 drag is telling us that this is a good one! You just have to love the sound of that clicker screaming! Tom takes his turn on the rod and putting good pressure on the fish, he turns his head back toward the boat. Tom yells, “He’s coming to the boat, FAST!” I put the other motor in gear and powered up to help get pressure back on the line for Tom. OK, we are back in control of the fish again. The fish is tiring and we get it up on the Port side to see that it is a nice King Mack. Mr. Mack decides he doesn’t like the port side of my boat and immediately heads for the stern. Tom does a great job of keeping the fish out of the motors and away from the props. The fish resurfaces on the starboard side now. I grabbed the leader and readied the gaff for a head shot but the fish says, “I don’t think so.” and makes us do some fancy dancing. Tom keeps the fish under control and brings it back to gaff range and I swiftly strike it with the gaff. It wasn’t a head shot but at this point, I wanted the fish in the boat. I was done playing with him and given more time, with those razor sharp teeth, would’ve only ended in a lost fish. Dragging the fish over the gunwale and onto the deck with a thud, we realize we have a nice “smoker” for the smoker.


Some more time passes, and we managed to catch another Kingfish on the down rod. After eyeballing it, we figured it was another marginal fish about the size of the small King earlier, I released it to grow up. A few minutes later we had another taker on the downrigger. The TLD is steadily screaming as the fish takes a long initial run, trying his best to dump the spool. The fish takes a few seconds break and is off on another run. Tom and I agree that we have the BIG brother to that nice Kingfish chilling in the fish box, or quite possibly Mr. Wahoo. Tom keeps the rod bent on the fish as I leave one motor in gear to keep maximum pressure on the fish, and it stops him once again. The mystery fish takes a couple more bursts and it is obvious that we are gaining as the fish tires. Tom gets the fish turned toward the boat and seconds later I hear those sickening words, “Oh no… he’s gone.” muttering from Tom’s lips. “No way!”, I answer back. Yes way, folks, the fish was gone. Tom reeled in the line to discover it was cleanly bitten through the leader, most likely when he turned towards the boat. Wow, that had to be a big fish, because I had about 6” of wire on the stinger hook and 8-9” of wire between the leader and the main hook. That would have been a Kodak fish for sure, but instead it was the one that got away!

The remaining hour of the day was uneventful with only a few bites and lost baits. As the sun set on the horizon we called it a day and pointed the bow toward the barn. Tom and I recapped the day with the mystery fish being the hot topic. The possible weight of the nice Kingfish was in the discussion too, of course. When we leashed The BEAST to the dock I broke out the digital scale and weighed our big fish. It settled in at exactly 30 pounds. Not too shabby! Both, Tom and I, will be firing up our smokers this weekend. I can already taste my smoked fish dip as I type. My belly is growling!

Capt. JimThe