Sail'ing into Spring!

Fishing has picked up a good bit since my last report.  We are fast approaching our spring season.

Morrie and his son-in-law joined us for a trip.  We loaded them aboard and off we went to collect bait.  The bait catching ritual was a bit slow but we gathered enough to do the day and then blasted out to the blue water.  The day was gorgeous again and I was hoping it wasn’t too beautiful.  We didn’t want another slow day.

Devon set up our spread, running 1 down and 3 up.  I moved around the area slowly and it wasn’t long before we had a taker on the rigger line.  Bam… and another.  We had a Dolphin bite going and the guys were doing their thing.  We boxed the first one and then Morrie brought up his “heavy lifter” cow.

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Devon reset the spread and we moved around the area for another 30 minutes or so when the down rod sounded off.  This fish was nothing spectacular, probably a ‘Cuda.  But hey, a tug on the line is what we came for and any fish that can fill that bill is welcomed.  As suspected, it was a “Caribbean Spotted Mackerel”.  My anglers actually love catching these fish because they pull hard, and have some very impressive dentures.

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We were set up once again. 20 minutes or so passed and another group of “Dollies” came through.  We collected a couple more of them.  We boxed the fish and decided to take a photo of the freshest one.  Nice picture when suddenly the fish flipped his tail.  I heard a thump and then a splash.  Release?  No… bad grip!  I guess he didn’t want to eat that one.  He got a ribbing the rest of the day for that slip up.

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We had several more cut offs and missed hook ups from the little Macks that have been hanging in the area.  It definitely kept Devon busy.  We were winding down on the clock when Devon yelled… “Sail up on the flat line!”  Hooked up!  This fish wasn’t going to come easy.  We fought him for well over 30 minutes and finally got him to the boat where Devon could get a hold of the bill.  Photo op!

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We called it a day as we were well over time and the guys were very happy with the catch.  The actual catch tally was 5 Dolphin, 1 Barracuda, and released a nice Sailfish.  The laughter continued all the way back and during the filet session, about the Dolphin that slipped his grip and became a release.  Who am I kidding? The comments continued until he got into the car.  I’m sure Morrie (father-in-law) will bring it up for some time to come.  Too funny!

The next trip we had was with Andre and his group.  3 of the 4 guys have fished with us before and knew the drill.  We made our way out to the worm hole.  Devon set out the chum and we waited for the worms to show up.  Tides and winds were a bit opposite so it was a tough go but we managed to get enough bait after a while.  Here we go!

We arrived offshore at our starting point and set up a nice spread.  We have had some unseasonably calm waters on our scheduled trips lately.  I idled the livies around the area looking for “the spot” where the fish were.  As Devon always tells me… they are where you find them!  Ka-Boom!  The downrigger gets hammered and it is a giant bull Dolphin.  We found them!  The fish is so strong he is simply ripping line off the drag.  All we could do is hang on!  The fish finally stopped his run and banged a U-turn.  I yelled “REEL!” as I pushed the throttles down trying to help the angler stay tight.  The rod tip goes slack and the hook starts flopping across the water.  Bull-hockey!  We tried hard to stay tight but that fish had our number.  They don’t get that big by being stupid.

We had several more missed strikes, darn “Snake” Mackerel, and caught a few big ‘Cudas.  We stayed pretty busy and the day was passing quickly.  The short rigger popped off and Devon put Jesse on the rod.  He did the drop back and hook up perfectly.  Sailfish on… Yeah Buddy!  This fish went nuts for about 30 seconds and then dropped into the depths taking Jesses “down & dirty” for the remainder of the fight.  It wasn’t a pretty fight, but it was a pretty long fight.  We were on this fish for over 45 minutes when we finally got a closer look at it.  We realized why it was such a tough guy.  During one of the jumps it must have spit the hook but re-hooked itself in the top of the head.  That hook placement makes the fight similar to pulling a huge diving plug through the water.  We finally raised him up and got the release.

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Look at those smiles!  You can’t explain the feeling you get after catching/releasing one of these critters, even if you were just watching.  They are awesome fish!  The rest of the day was relatively uneventful after that.  We turned The BEAST toward the western horizon and hauled it home.

Want to join in during this spring break?

Capt. Jim

Sometimes the bug!

The past several weeks have been beautiful days for a boat ride but hard for the captain and crew.  We have seen days with slow tides and no current and if we did have a current it was moving to the south at a trickle.  Not optimum conditions but you take what you are given and carry on.

Ron and Dick came with us for a ¾ day trip with their grandsons in tow.  We made our way out to the Hardtail areas but they were nowhere to be found, so we made the run to the ballyhoo patches.  The tide was dead and that is all I heard on the radio.  Everyone was having trouble as nothing was flowing across the inside reefs.  We hung at the patch for 30 minutes and finally pulled the chum bag.  We were going to go “all in” and made our way out to the edge in hopes that there would be some current moving along the deeper reefs.  The winds were nonexistent and  the chum was barely moving,  Yeah… sinking right under the boat.  Thankfully the winds picked up to about 8 knots and swung the boat and the slight wave action helped wash some of the chum away from the stern.  The worms started to show up but it was a slow process.  We finally had enough baits to head out for the rest of this short day.

Having kids and grandkids of my own, the one thing I know is that you have to keep their attention.  That means you must try to keep them as busy as possible catching fish.  My first stop was to get them hooked up on anything and I knew just what would do that and where to go to do it.  Devon put 3 lines on top and dropped one down.  The blue water current was barely trickling to the north.  I made a few rounds in the area when the down rod kicked off.  This was not a big fish but it would satisfy one of the boys for now.  He did a real good job with little assistance and the fish made it up to the boat,  A small Barracuda!

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Ok.  Let’s see if we can do this 2 more times.  We set up again and the procedure worked out with each of the other 2 boys getting a ‘Cuda.  They weren’t monsters but they did get bigger, on cue, as each of the older boys took their turn.

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Each boy had a fish fight under their belts, so I spread out the search pattern in that area.  The current had all but stopped now and the bite followed suit.  15 minutes of this and we couldn’t even buy a Cuda bite.  I had Devon pull the lines and I made a 10 mile run in search of some moving water.  I found an area that had about a half knot current so we set up there.  Oh boy, what a difference moving water makes.  We managed to catch 2 Kingfish quickly and missed several other small fish strikes on the down rod.

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The action was much better in this area.  We had a good Kingfish on the line and suddenly he got much heavier and then he lost weight a few seconds later.  We reeled up a very nice Kingfish head.  Devon reset and 5  minutes after the line goes back down we get hooked up again.  This time we caught the Kingfish bandit.  A nice 4 ½’ Silky shark with a fat belly.  My guess is he had about 10 pounds of our Kingfish in him.  We released the fish to digest his meal.  We were running out of time and the men were ready to get these happy kids back to their Moms.  I told Devon to dump what bait was left in the wells.  I slowly motored around the freebies and we got a taker on the rigger line.  Sail?  Nope… it’s staying down and circling.  It was a large Bonito, aka Bonehead!  Devon released the fish unharmed and we buttoned up The BEAST.  It was not a premier day fish wise, but we kept 3 kids busy for most of the time.

The next trip was another ¾ day with Dan, Dave, Jake & Terry.  Conditions hadn’t changed very much except we did manage to get about 4 Hardtails before we went to the worm hole.  Again… the tides were not hardly moving but we did have an easy breeze and a light chop on the waters.  It took about 30 minutes for the ballyhoo to show up but when they did we got a couple dozen “hookers” and I tossed the net to load the other well with a couple dozen “netters”.  Off we go into the wild blue yonder!  Yep… I did 4 years in the Air Force!

Of course, the conditions are not a whole lot better this day compared to the previous trip.  Devon put out our normal spread and a half hour passes.  Oh Boy!  I’m thinking… Here we go again!  I absolutely hate these sort of days.  I really want to put my guys on fish too!  Bam!  The down rod gets the nod.  This is a decent fish and it doesn’t take long until we see the telltale signs of a Caribbean Spotted Mackerel.  C’mon, you know by now that we call them by that nickname on The BEAST.

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That was the only bite we had for some time to come.  I changed up areas and Devon kept fresh baits out.  Suddenly the action started picking up however it was a multitude of small Kingfish and Cero Mackerel.  We did manage to pick up yet another Barracuda that was worthy of a picture.

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The guys got another shark on this day, a 3‘ Sharpnose.  Our shining moment was when we dumped our wells at the end of this short day and had a Sailfish come up and eat.  We did everything right from letting him take it and cranking down to hook up.  He was taking line and on his first jump he suddenly came unpinned.  CRAP!  I guess it was not meant to be.  Sometimes you’re the windshield and sometimes you’re the bug.  I guess it was time for us to pay our dues and eat a big piece of that nasty “Humble Pie”.

It so amazes me, how hard it is to write reports about these less than glamorous trips, but I refuse to only write about the good ones.  It’s even more amazing how Devon and I consider these days slow even though we catch fish.  Sometimes the conditions just make the fishing hard, definitely not a lack of effort!  I promise we’ll do better!

Capt. Jim