Thinking it out!

Adam, Dan, and Alden came down to escape the frozen tundra and soak up some warm S. Florida sun.  They were doing a 3/4 day and possibly extending it to a full day.  We loaded them aboard and I fired up The BEAST.  We pushed slowly into the Bay and made our run out to the Worm Hole, one of our favorite spots for bait.  We grabbed some bait in pretty good time and headed out to the blue water.

Arriving on the edge, things looked OK but not good.  It is what it is my friend. I found some good water and Devon put out a small spread, 3 on top and 1 down.  We bumped around the area and suddenly the down rod got a visitor.  A good thump but our visitor took what he wanted and left the rest.  By the looks of his calling card, it was a ‘Cuda.  Strike one!  We worked the area, north and south of the bite, but nothing was happening.  This lull was dragging on with unbearable monotony.  I hate when the fish stop feeding.  It makes us look bad!  What’s a crew supposed to do but struggle through it?  Not… Enough of this!  I decided to make a major move and Devon reeled them in.

I pulled up just a bit outside of the destination and Devon reset the lines quickly.  We hadn’t gotten very far when, Zzzzzzzzzz, the down rod blasts off.  Dan jumps on the rod and he is on a good fish.  I’m thinking Kingfish until halfway through the fight I start to see the telltale thump of the rod.  Dan works the fish up and as I suspected we have a big “Caribbean Spotted Mackerel” aka Barracuda.

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We released that fish and reset the down rod.  I approached my area and the closer I got the thicker the scattered weeds became.  Devon never gripes, he just works the pit tirelessly.  We couldn’t efficiently work the area so I pulled offshore of the weeds in deeper water than I like to fish.  The down rod gets another bump and we have a small Kingfish hooked and quickly into the boat.  The fishing was slow out there and I knew I had to get inside the weeds.  Figuring that the tide was moving out, I made a move to go into the weeds and see if I could clear them at my spot.  I apologized to Devon as everything got weeded up.  “No problem.” he said.  We got across the weeds to find that, indeed, the winds and tide had cleaned my house.  We weren’t in there long and we had already picked up 3 Cero Macks, small ‘Cuda, and a small Blackfin. We missed about a half dozen down bites and we knew why by the size of these Kings and Cero’s that were all over the area.

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We were already over time about an hour and I asked if they wanted to turn the ¾ into a full day.  I got a unanimous “Hell Yeah!”  We continued to work the place for another 30 minutes or so and I made a silent decision to slowly work the edges of this area.  At 4:15 a Sailfish makes an appearance on the short center line.  We were feeding him when both of the rigger lines popped off.  I got a guy on each rod and Devon and I start yelling “Go, Go, GO! Come tight on ’em!”  We have us a triple Boyeee!  The fish are being somewhat manageable by hanging in the same general area.  The guys are commenting on how strong they are as one or the other has line peeling off the reel.  I looked forward and saw Alden playing with the drag.  NOOOOO!  One more jump and snap goes his line.  I always ask, why do you do that?  The answer is always… It was taking line.  Uh huh!  That’s what it is designed to do.  Let the fish take, instead of break, the line!  And so ends the lesson, Grasshopper!  Down to 2 fish and the guys are doing a good job.  Adam gets his fish to the boat and Devon gets him in the corner for a photo op.  I told Dan to play his fish easy while we get Adam‘s photo.

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Photo, a clean release, and we turn our attention back to Dan who is doing a very good job of just wearing down his fish.  The Sail makes a half hearted run and Dan brings him back to the boat.  Devon grabs the bill and we repeat the previous process for Dan’s photo.

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That’s a done deal!  2 out of 3 on Sailfish is pretty good, not quite as good as 3 for 3 though.  With 15 minutes of time left, Alden was thinking he wouldn’t get another shot at a good fish.  I signaled Devon to dump the few leftover baits in the wells.  I was trying my best to stay in the midst of the few fish swimming about when the rigger line pops off.  Here we go!  Alden comes tight on the fish and everyone is thinking it might be his Sail.  Devon and I realized that this was probably a Tuna.  Minutes tick away and Alden keeps his hands clear of the drag knob this time.  We see color and it is black and gold.  He has a nice Blackie!  Devon puts the steel to his fish and he is proud of his 14# Blackfin.

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The fish was immediately bled and tossed in the ice.  Pretty work, Boys!  Devon hit the wash down while I pulled in the riggers.  I turned the nose of the Beast toward the west and kicked the spurs.  She caught scent of home and galloped  into the sunset.  I proved to myself, once again, that you have to stay alert, be patient, and think things out when conditions are less than optimum.  What a great day!  Smiles were rampant on The BEAST.

Capt. Jim

Playing with Dollies!

Jon came to town for another mental health day and he only has one thing in mind; an easy going day on the boat!  We loaded him aboard and turned The BEAST out.

We decided to forego the Hardtails because Jon likes catch Sails, Dolphin, or Blackfin this time of year and the worms have been easy.  We didn’t have too much trouble catching our bait and we were after the blue water fish in short order.

As we reached the edge, I felt that something wasn’t right.  Crap!  There was only a trickle of current to the north and the seas were too calm to suit me.  As it turned out, the conditions were not right for the fish either.  Oh boy!  We’ll give it a valiant effort, regardless of the circumstance.  About 30-45 minutes passed and we finally had a fish come in.  The fish ate the right rigger and Jon was into a decent little “eater” Dolphin.  Nothing out of the ordinary happened during this struggle, just as we had expected, because Jon is an accomplished angler.

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We did manage to catch one more Mahi that could have been a bookend to the previous.  Then the struggle really began.  Unknowingly, struggle would be the key word of the day!  We went quite a long time before we even had a looker come to any of the top baits.  We did happen to have a few cut offs and misses on the down rod but we couldn’t manage a hook up.  My guess was that these fish were probably the small Cero’s that have been around.  We finally had a couple of Kingfish sky rocket out of the water on 2 of our top lines.  Of course, they missed the hooks while cutting off the baits with surgical precision.  The time goes slowly and nothing is working even though I am definitely in a good area.  We are fighting to keep from falling into a coma.  On this day slow is proving to be a profane 4 letter word.  Finally, Devon catches a glimpse of a green/yellow flash by the left rigger.  We hear the snap as the rigger clip releases and Jon is into another decent Dolly.  He gets to work on this small bull as a little cow takes another line.  Jon quickly brings the bull into range and Devon pulls the critter aboard.  We snapped a quick picture of Jon with his fish while he is playing out the other one.  Jon is batting 1000 in the dolphin department.

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It seems as if the fishing has picked up a tad in the later afternoon hours.  I continued to hang in that area and worked it inside out.  We were about to nod off again when the down rod sounds off.  The clicker is hollering at us and it’s a fairly nice cow dolphin.  Jon is on the rod and BAM!  The right rigger line gets hammered.  Big Bull, Big Bull!   The fish makes a few jumps and spit’s the hook.  Where’s Jon?  He’s still on the cow.  I’m bringing the bait back in as the bull comes screaming into the spread and nails the flat line.  Did he?  The line isn’t moving.  Wait!  He picked up the bait I was reeling in.  No he’s on the flat line.  Devon and I both come tight on the fish and he is on the flat line and has tangled in my line.  Before we could make any adjustments Devon’s line snapped.  Damn!  Devon isn’t happy and turns his focus on getting the other fish into the boat.  KaPow!  The left rigger goes down.  Devon puts the steel to the cow and Jon drops that rod and grabs that other one!  Hooked up!  Yeah, yeah, yeah!  Devon is still upset that we lost Big Bull and I tell him that I believe that this one IS Big Bull.  The line is going out and Jon has his hands full.  In, out, down, in the air, you name it and Big Bull was doing whatever he could to try and shake that hook in his face.  Agonizing minutes seemed like hours as Jon is putting the heat on this fish.   The fish makes a pass or two by the gaff but Devon resists making an errant swipe at him.  The third pass and Devon takes the shot.  Got ’em!  Devon says “Look! There is the hook and leader from the break off!”   As the fish comes over the gunwale we all take a deep breath.  Big Bull, meet The BEAST!

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It took us several minutes to complete the photo shoot and clean up the mess that fire drill had made.  Everything had to be re-rigged and Devon retied all lines and leaders.  With the sun falling in the west we went ahead and deployed another spread, minus the down rod.  We’re all thinking… Wouldn’t it be nice to finish the day off with a Sailfish.  Time is winding down and Jon gives us the word to dump the wells for the final hoorah.  The Frigates and Terns had a feast but we didn’t see anything pushing the “freebies”.  Devon screams out “Sail on the flat line!”  He free lines the rod as he hands it to Jon.  GO!  Jon comes tight and the aerial show is ON!  This is a stout fish with plenty of muscle but he is no match for the seasoned angler on the other end.  Jon kept steady pressure on the fish and whooped it in 15 minutes.  Rather than pulling it aboard, we did an in-water release while it was still fresh.  Pretty work guys!

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The ending to this day couldn’t have been scripted any better if I had written the screenplay myself.   We realized that there is absolutely nothing wrong with grown men playing with Dollies.  A great afternoon and tremendous finish made our mental health day a complete success.  With sanity restored, I turned The BEAST westward and eased her up on top.  We all sat back, thoroughly enjoying the ride in as the sun got lost in the horizon.

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We are having a great time here in Miami this winter!   The weather is beautiful and the fishing is top notch!  Let’s go chase some fish!

Capt. Jim