Bachelorette Party?

This winter/spring transition has been a bit out of the ordinary.  We’ve had weird weather and fish patterns.  Fishing for our preferred bait has been our biggest struggle but we always seem to get ‘r done.

Eric and his son Jason met us at the dock for a full day trip and they wanted to get Jason his first Sailfish.  We loaded them up and headed for the bait patches.  We picked up the Hardtails easily and headed for the worm beds.  Relying on our past trips we headed for the best patch and it worked out for us.  They were a bit finicky but we got them.  After storing our bait gear away I headed The BEAST for the blue water.

I pulled back on the throttles and Devon started putting out the spread.  We had fished for very short time when we had a swing and a miss and then a single.  The fish turned out to be a Bonito a.k.a. Bonehead.  Shortly after putting the lines back out...Bada Bing!  The long rigger goes off and a Snooter takes to the air.  Jason worked the fish to the boat in 40 minutes or so, and we had a good catch.  Eric was happy that Jason had just boated his first Sailfish.

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We reset and things peaked quickly when when a nice pair of chubby Mahi hit the spread.  Eric and Jason jumped on the rods.  Jason lost his fish and we boated the smaller fish that Eric had on.  Jason was not happy that he had lost his fish.  We reset quickly and 10 minutes later we were on another nice pair of small gaffer Dolphin.  Eric had the smaller Cow and Jason had a Bull of about 15-20#’s.  Everything was going too good when suddenly, as Devon was attempting his gaff shot, the Bull took a quick turn and ran right under the motor cutting himself loose on the prop.  Visibly upset that we lost this nice Bull, Jason went forward and had to regroup.

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We reloaded our baits and began fishing again.  Things had calmed down and we went without a bite for about an hour or so.  I pulled the plug and headed for a wreck to get Jason on some fish to get his mind off of the 2 lost Dolphin. Jason was back in the game on the very first Amberjack.

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They had a great time working the wreck and catching one fish after another.  The highlight of this escapade happened when Jason hooked up a big shark.  After a long grind on the rod and reel, he managed to bring it up for a photo.  The shark was a good ‘un at an estimated 8’ and well over 200 pounds.

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We ended the wreck fishing on that note and went back to trying to get him another Mahi.  The fishing went stale and the remainder of the afternoon was uneventful except for catching a small Kingfish.  We called it a day and Jason was happy, forgetting all about those 2 lost Mahi.  He spent the ride home talking about the big Jacks and that monster shark.

Dan McGillicuddy came solo on our next trip. We exchanged introductions and unleashed The BEAST.  Dan wanted a Sailfish to scratch off his bucket list.  The bait was somewhat easier this day.  We caught plenty of Hardtails quickly.  We did manage to get enough worms to fish for the day, even though we had to hit a couple of spots and fight against a bad boat lay with tide running against the wind.

We blasted out to the blue water and put out our usual bait spread.  Once again we hadn’t been fishing long when we had a tremendous hit on the right rigger.  It was a nice Bull Dolphin but the fish didn’t hook up.  Seconds later the right flat line gets crashed and we are hooked up.  This was the Cow, the mate to the Bull we just missed.  This was another good fish!  Dan worked the fish hard and after 15-20 minutes on the 20# spin tackle, Devon sunk the metal into Dan’s fish.  Wow, this Cow tipped our scales at 30 pounds.  Good fish!  Imagine how big that Bull must’ve been!

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We reloaded our guns and worked the zone.  The fishing was not fast and furious but it was steady.  The next hook up turned out to be a very nice Blackfin Tuna.  We’ll take that any day.  They are strong fish, in any size on light tackle, and excellent table fare.

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After a while with no bites, we decided to hit the wrecks to get Dan busy again.  We made many drops and literally wore Dan out.  He caught several AJ’s in the mid 30# range and a large Barracuda.

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We left the wrecks and headed north for another attempt to get Dan that Sailfish.  Things were going along very slowly, except the time.  We managed to pick up a very large Bonehead and lost a couple of BIG fish (Sharks?) on the down rod.  Dan made a comment that he had a great day even if he doesn’t get his Sailfish.  I reminded him that the “Fat Lady” hasn’t sung yet.  Time was running out quickly when Devon noticed that the Ballyhoo on the long left rigger was skipping around.  There he is!  Fish on!  Get ’em, Dan!  Dan jumped on the rod and get ’em he did.  The fish worked Dan’s tired arms and it worked me at the helm as well.  We were determined.  About 35 minutes in and we had the fish at the boat and Devon yelled his traditional  “Yeah!” as he grabbed the bill.  We pulled Dan’s fish aboard for a quick picture.

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This one is a wrap!  A job well done!  We buttoned up The BEAST and made way toward the west, heading for home.  Dan kept saying that his day was awesome and he was totally satisfied even before we hooked up his Sail.  Catching his Sailfish was the just the cream cheese icing on the carrot cake.  Hey... Catching a Sailfish for Dan was our mission and Devon and I work tirelessly to complete our mission.  All of us were smiling at the end of this day!

The next trip out was a ¾ day, “Bachelorette Party”, for the bride to be Jessica and her bridesmaids, Megan and Loann.  We met the girls at the dock and shoved off for Jessica’s adventure and what an adventure it was.  I asked why they chose a fishing trip with us for her Bachelorette party and Jessica informed me that she wanted to catch a bigger fish than her fiancĂ© had caught on his many trips to S. Florida.  She really wanted a Sailfish.  Ok... Let’s see what happens!

We spent some extra time catching bait and it‘s good we did.  The Hardtails have been pretty easy but the Ballyhoo have been getting increasingly tougher to get.  We had enough to go so we went out to the edge and began deploying our baits.  Before we got our 3rd bait out, the left rigger gets hit and Jessica has her Sailfish on.  Woohoo!  Hold up.  The fish spit the bait on the second jump.  Dang!  Devon reset the baits and in the next 20 minutes we got covered up by nice Dolphin.

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The winds were blowing hard and the seas were 4-5 feet.  This was pure chaos, a virtual Mahi fire drill gone wrong.  We managed to catch several and then a decent 19 pound Cow finished off the barrage.

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This day, although rougher than the ladies would’ve liked, was turning out to be catch-fest.  We continued working in the zone and missed another strike on top and then hooked up again.  We thought we might have had a very nice Blackfin on the line but it turned out to be a large Bonito.

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Another spread is out and we missed a ‘Cuda bite on the down rod.  A few minutes later and Jessica is once again hooked up to another decent Cow Dolphin.   The fish fought valiantly but was no match for Jess.  Devon put the steel to this nice 15# Cow and sent her to the fish box with her other cousins.

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The baits are restrung and we are fishing again.  The next strike was another shot at Jess’ Sailfish.  This fish was not be fooled as it spit the bait quickly.  The girls were on their final leg and the seas were taking its toll on their stomachs.  We still had another hour to fish but Jessica gave me the “word”.  Devon and I packed up and readied the boat for the ride in.  The girls were bubbling about the day as Devon cleaned their catch and bagged them up for their ride home.  Devon and I congratulated Jessica on her upcoming wedding.  Hopefully, everyday of her marriage will be as exciting as her Bachelorette Party.

Capt. Jim

Spring is here!

The weather has been a bit on the iffy side even though spring is upon us.  The fishing has been pretty good and we’ve been pretty busy.  No complaints form us about either.

Shawn met us at the usual departure time and he came solo for his ¾ day.  Hey, you can’t beat that if you don’t feel like sharing time on the rods.  We went through the normal introductions and turned The BEAST loose.  We made way to one of our Hardtail spots, picked up several baits and then beat it for the Ballyhoo.  The Ballyhoo have been tough and the radio has been buzzing on that topic.  After spending way more time than I like to, the worms started showing up and we picked away at them.  I called the bait search off and hedged my bet that we had enough for the day.  We made our way out to the blue water and set up a spread.

I worked in and out and there was only a trickle of current.  This is not good.  Devon sparked up when he saw some flyers (flying fish) flying across the waters surface,   They were being chased by something.  I made a slight adjustment and headed off the culprits.  Line down and a Dolphin hooked up!  Shawn worked the chubby “Lifter” to the boat and we boxed it as another fish took down a flat line bait.  Another fat “Lifter” around the same size joined the first.  We’re on the boards and the skunk is off the boat.

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The fishing was as slow as I had expected with the lack of current so we finally bagged the edge and headed out to a deep wreck to give it a go.  I was hoping we would catch a few before having problems with the “Guard Dogs” (sharks).  The first drop produced a 25 pound Amberjack for Shawn.

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We made another drift and lost a bait.  Then on the 3rd drift we hooked up again.  This time I knew we didn’t have a Jack, instead it was one of those Caribbean Spotted Mackerel.  This ‘Cuda pushed into the mid 20 pound range.

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 I made a few more drifts, missing the bite zone completely on one of them, and getting a hook up on the last.  Shawn was working the fish when it suddenly gained about 200 pounds.  A minute or so later the fish felt like it did a crash course at Jenny Craig weight loss studio.  Oh Lord!  We woke up the Dogs!  Sure enough... His catch turned out to be a large Cuda head.  OK!  No sense in working this spot only to feed the Guard Dogs.

We headed back in to the edge to see if we could work up some Sailfish, Tuna or Dolphin.  We arrived on the edge and put out our usual spread.  Minutes turned into an hour and the day was slipping away.  No current, no fish, and almost out of time.  Devon slowly began tossing the remainder of the baits.  Sailfish!  A double!  The first fish jumped the hook but the second was pinned on good.  This fish was acting peculiar and Devon kept saying he thought it was foul hooked because he only jumped once and never came back to the surface. Shawn was nervous because he didn’t want to lose this fish, it was his first Sail.  30 minutes... 60 minutes... We’ve been walking this fish all over the ocean and Shawn was putting out minimal pressure.  Finally at the 80 minute mark we had the fish at the surface just off from the boat and indeed, it was hooked through the skin just in front of the dorsal.  Shawn gingerly played the fish for another 10 minutes and Devon finally got the leader.  Right at the boat as Devon was about to grab the bill the hook popped the piece of skin and both he and Shawn made a mad grab at the bill but neither got a hold on it.  We watched as the fish turned and swam off into the deep.  It was a bona fide catch, just no picture!

Definitely disheartened about no photo but a Sailfish off his bucket list for sure.  We turned The BEAST to the west and made way for the house.

Our next trip was another ¾ day and as the sun came up it brought us Carey and his daughter Chisana.  Carey had read my reports on Sailfish and wanted to try and get Chisana her first Sail.  We loaded them aboard and headed out.  I hit my usual bait spots and thankfully they were willing participants this time.  We got our bait in real short order and I blasted out for the edge.

We put our spread out and almost the same as the day before I caught a glimpse of Flyers getting up.  This time we just had to wait on the fish to intercept us and Bada Bing, we’re on!  Chisana took the rod and the fish stayed down.  Devon and I knew we had a Tuna type but was it a Blackie or a Bonehead?  Chisana worked it to the boat like a hero.  You could tell she had fished plenty of times before.  It was a decent 12 pound Blackfin and this was her first Tuna.

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With the spread back out again, the fish were on their feed.  Dolphin, Dolphin, and 6 more Dolphin.  All were nice heavy “Lifters” and Carey and Chisana stayed busy for a while.

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The Dolphin were done passing through and we thought we might have a minute to relax and grab a sandwich when Devon yells “Sailfish on the left rigger!”  Chisana was hooked up for a short time and after the 3rd or 4th jump the Sail took his leave.  Crapola!  Within 15 minutes of putting the spread out again, we had a double hook up.  We thought we had a pair of Blackie’s but when they got closer we realized we had a Bonito duo.  Reset the lines and let’s get after them again because time is running out.  Devon and I remarked that the down rod has been relatively silent on the last several trips.  The words were not long out of our mouths when the clicker screams out!  OMG this is a big one.  I was almost positive that we had a big shark on our 30# braid rod.  This is going to be a tussle for sure but it was a steady pull so we left our surface baits out.  30 minutes passed when I see a Sailfish pounce on the left long bait.  Chisana jumped on the Sailfish and she was, for sure, hooked up solid this time.  Now what are we going to do.  Carey made the decision to either make it or break it on the deep fish so Chisana had a valid shot at her Sail.  The leader parted under the pressure and we were focused now on Chisana’s Sailfish.  She did a fine job and  25 minutes later we had her first Sailfish at the boat and pulled it aboard for a photo op.

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The smile in that picture says it all... Not only was she ecstatic that she had her first Sailfish but that smile is the result that Devon and I strive for on our charters.  We called it an afternoon and boogied for the barn.

One of our most frequent charters, Jon, came to visit with his colleagues, Kevin and Richard.  We had good fun and caught some decent fish.  Since Jon isn’t one for pictures, I’ll just do a quick synopsis of the day.  We got our bait after a long struggle.  We went to the blue water and began doing our thing.  The day was productive in the morning but slowed down in the afternoon.  We ended our day with a grand total of 6 nice “Lifter” Dolphin, 1 Silky Shark, ! Barracuda, and a Bonito.  We didn’t see a Sailfish or hear of any being caught.  We gave it a valiant effort and threw in the towel a little bit early.

Spring time is here and it is one of our favorites times of the year.  Ah, who am I kidding?  Anytime Devon and I can fish is our favorite time of the year.  Anyway... the Dolphin are passing through, the wrecks are alive, and the weather, is looking like S. Florida again.  It’s time to go, Folks!

Capt. Jim

Day to Day Difference!

We met Dax at 7 AM and he brought along his mate, Olli.  They came all the way from the UK to try some of our S. Florida fishing.  We blasted off on our ¾ day trip, heading for the bait patches.  The Hardtails were sort of slow but the Ballyhoo were worse.  We finally got enough bait for the day and headed out.

We fished the surface and 1 down rod for a while and caught 3 big Barracuda and a Silky Shark, all of them coming on the baits down in the water column.  We managed to hook up and jump off a Sailfish.  A little while later we caught yet another snaggle-toothed Cuda.  Things slowed down and we decided to hit the Wrecks.  We kept Dax and Olli very busy catching several AJ’s up to the 50 pound mark.

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The guys had enough after several of those back breaking fish and we decided to get back after the Sails.  The top bite was slow and as the time was winding down it was looking grim.  We started chumming out what was left of our baits and, Here we go.  Sailfish on the left rigger, Sailfish on the right rigger,  Baboom, Sailfish on the right flat.  I took the last fish and kept him pinned on while trying to maneuver the boat.  One down and gone.  I handed my rod off to those empty hands.  Fish #2 turns loose a few minutes later.  Down to 1 fish now and this fish makes an aerial assault and charges toward the boat.  Reel! Reel! Gone!  That slack line will kill a catch every time.

No time and no bait left, so we called it a day.  They were a couple of good chaps and we tried to show them a good time on a short day.  Devon and I hope to see them again next year for a rematch on those Snooters.

Our next trip was a ¾ day again, with Amber, David, Suzanne, and Frank.  This was a beautiful pre-front day.  A great day for a boat ride and not too much for fishing.  The winds were out of the SW and light.  Devon and I try to make the best of it but the barometer was unsteady.

We got our bait and it was a bit easier than the last trip but we did have to hit 2 different spots.  We made the run out and set up.  Wow, I’ve had slow days but the time was ticking away and nothing was working.  Ok... Let’s get some action on the wreck since the fish have already moved in for spring.  We got started and each drop resulted in a bite.  The only thing wrong is that the bites resulted in cut off.  Over and over again we were getting killed by either a Cuda or Shark bite or a shark eating the AJ.  We even tried to put some wire on and catch the sharks but they were almost immovable and wrecked us up every time. We did manage to catch several smaller AJ’s that we horsed to the boat before they got tagged.  Our biggest fish was about 35 pounds.

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 We finally gave up when we toasted the 2 reels.  The gears locked up on them trying to get those big sharks!  I’ll have to up the ante next time and break out the big guns.

We made another valiant attempt to get some good action going on the topside.  We did raise 2 Sails.  The first figured out how to eat the bait but spit it out on the first jump.  The second came later but once again we didn’t complete the task.  At least that one stayed on the hook a lot longer. The winds had changed to the NW, the clouds moved in, and the seas were starting to get choppy.  It was later in the afternoon when we hooked up something on the down rod.  This was a mystery fish with some shoulders.  Devon had put down a large bait and my guess is we had a Hammerhead hooked up.  When they tilt that wide head down, you are not going to pull him up with 30 # tackle.  A good while later the leader finally gave out.  Devon reset the lines for one last hoorah.   Devon began tossing out the leftover baits in hopes of raising some fish.  Instead of fish we had an unexpected guest that dove into the freebies and grabbed the wrong fish.

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A little bit of work but we got the Gannet to the boat and Devon grabbed him behind the head to keep the business end of the bird under control.  He was hooked lightly and the guys removed the hook, releasing him unharmed.  That was the omen that told us to call it a day.

What a difference a day can make, right?  The front had moved through, the sky was bright, and the winds were light from the N/NE.  The barometric pressure was high and steady.  Looking good!  Andre, Thierry, Conner, Zach, and Wade joined us for a full day on this run.  

We collected our baits but once again we had to hit a couple of spots and leave with less than we like.  Off we go to the blue water.  Devon couldn’t finish setting the spread when...BAM!  A cow Dolphin!  Bam Bam, There’s the Bull.  Nice fish!  The big cow came loose and Devon sees another fish shadowing the Bull and pitches a bait... Bam!  We’re on!  The guys worked the fish to the boat and Devon boxed the 12# Cow and 33# Bull.  Good start!

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Devon reset the spread and less than 10 minutes passed when we hooked up a Sailfish.  The fish broke off after the 6th jump. The action slowed down quite a bit right after that so we hit the wrecks and managed to let the guys have some fun tugging on the deep water brutes.  We realized the last time that there were too many toothy critters on the wrecks now, so we used a piece of wire and caught 3 jumbo Cuda.

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After blowing up 2 smaller reels on the last trip we re-powered our wreck rods with a couple of fish winches.  The boys caught those Wreck Donkeys up to 45 # until their arms almost fell off.

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We worked the rest of the afternoon on the surface.  We were hoping for some more Dolphin or another Sailfish.  We got our wish as Andre managed to hook up and leader his Sailfish making it a good catch.  However, the leader broke as Devon was trying to muscle it over for a picture.  We had another shot at a Sail but jumped him off.  The guys had a good time but called the trip a bit early since we had so many fish to clean.

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When fighting these Snooters, slack line is your worst enemy and it's often impossible to keep the line tight.   Sailfish can swim at 70 mph then change direction on a dime and give you 9 cents change.  They are the masters at creating slack and experts at tossing the loose hook.

Capt. Jim