Mental Health Day!

A very frequent customer who has fished with me more than 50 times, called me last week because he heard the Dolphin were moving through the area. He was going to be in town right before Turkey Day and wanted to see if we had any time available to get him out for a “mental health day“. That is Jon’s term for taking an extra layover day to get out on our boat, catch some fish, and forget about work! I told him that we could hook him up on Tuesday.

Jon arrived on time as usual. The winds were a bit strong and the Bay was choppy. We made the run to hit one of our good Blue Runner spots for bait. There were no premium 6-8” Runners there but we did pick up 6 or 8 “Jumbo”, full grown specimens. Enough of that because we knew our preferred baits were thick on the reefs. We’re off!

The reef was turned up and green but we could see our quarry darting around in the face of the waves. I continued on to one of our spots that usually has clearer water in these conditions. We set out the chum and the bait was a bit slower to show than I had anticipated. When they came into the chum line, they came with a ravenous appetite. We spent about 30-45 minutes getting some good small to medium baits on the hook. A group of ballyhoo eventually worked their way to within “easy net range” of the stern. This enticed me to get out the net. 2 tosses of the net and we had more than enough bait for the day, or so we thought!

I decided to forego any long runs to our more distant areas and simply meandered off the edge. The winds were strong out of the east and the waves were standing about 4 feet. The water was too green to suit me so I continued out until I found some water with more blue to it. The color change was in our preferred depth so I pulled back to idle speed, and Devon started sending out the spread. 5 minutes after we got everything set, the Dolphin, Dorado, Mahi-Mahi or whatever name you prefer, crashed our spread. I think we got 3 out of the 4 that hooked up. We set the spread out again and this scenario went on for the next hour and a half. Singles, doubles, triples, and a few quad hook ups, kept us on our toes. All were good sized lifters. We decided quickly that we weren’t going to bother keeping anything that was even close to needing a measurement. We finally had a 20-30 minute lull so I made an adjustment to deeper water and we were in them again.

This action continued on for the rest of the day. There was no time for pictures. The only thing that slowed down were the weather conditions. The winds lightened as it changed to the SE, and the water laid back to 2 feet with an occasional 3 footer. We had a few more breaks in the action, between the Kamikaze waves of these hungry southbound fish. We even caught one fish that had recently been attacked, probably by a Wahoo. The tail lobes were cut off cleanly and he had cuts in his head area. He went into the fish box. Around 3 PM we were noticeably running low on bait. Yeah, we thought we had more than enough bait. We sure didn’t anticipate this much action.

We dipped out the smallest of the Hardtails hoping we might find a Wahoo. We had to trim his tail down to curb his power so he wouldn’t pull out of the downrigger clip. Devon sent him downstairs. There’s a shark chasing our rigger bait. Jon really didn’t want to waste bait catching him so I kept pulling the bait away from him. It was a Silky about 4’ long. He finally lost interest and we reset the line. The downwrigger popped off and we had a strong fish working. A minute or two later we were all guessing that the shark submerged, doubled back, and ate the big Hardtail below. When we got him to the surface it was a shark but it wasn’t that little Silky. This was a 6-7’ big bodied Sandbar hooked up on 20# test. When the shark saw the boat, it turned and burned for the depths. Seconds later, the leader was no match for those teeth.

Only 3 Ballyhoo left and Jon decided to call it a day, a bit early. We had a busy day and his limit of fish. We probably had 40-50+ fish attack our spreads, hooked up 35 or so, and caught about 28. WOW! We were all tired but it was a good tired! A good day like this parlays into a fair amount of work at the dock, fileting fish and cleaning the boat. Since we hadn’t taken a single picture all day, I snapped off a quick one just to show the average size of the fish.


Devon wanted to cash in on some of that action for himself. He loaded up his boat, called his Uncle Al, and went fishing yesterday. They started fishing at 11 AM and quit fishing at 2PM. In those 3 hours they caught their limit of 20 Dolphin and also added a Blackfin Tuna, a Kingfish, and a Sailfish to the catch count. Good job, Devon and Al.

The economy is taking the long route coming back and it is frustrating for all of us. Trust me, I know it too well. I can’t relax on a boat while at home worrying about my financial situation and I can’t catch fish by reading these fishing reports. We can either try to make the best of the situation by doing something that makes us happy, or we can be depressed sitting around thinking about money all day. Just ask yourself 1 simple question. Couldn’t I use a “mental health day”?

I hope everyone had a deliciously fattening Thanksgiving Day!

Capt. Jim