THE FISHING TRIP: OCTOBER 18th OCTOBER 21st 2012
Aboard the “Lauren Jeanne” with Captain Yuri Vakselis
The Spot : Dry Tortugas, Florida
Weather : cloudy, winds of 10 to 15 knots? first 3 days up top 20 knots on the last day
Water: Calm at first then cloudy with sand mix noticeable
Fish catches: Mutton Snappers, Yellow Tail, Snappers, Mangrove Snappers, lane snappers, many kinds of Groupers, King Mackerels (kingfish), Cero Mackerel, and football sized Blue Runners
Biggest size Type : Muttons 15lbs … Yellow Tail snapper 4 lbs, Mangrove snapper 6 lbs, Red Grouper around 16 lbs…Kingfish mackerel around 20lbs
Techniques : Vertical Jigging, cut bait, and live bait
Jigs : 100-250 gram, Bullet type bucktail jigs, butterknife jigs, butterfly jigs, speed jigs, Pink, red/white, silver, and blue worked the most.
THE GAME PLAN: It was going to be a mixed jigging trip and bait trip. We had planned what worked for us last year, no bait in the water until we finished jigging. It worked at the beginning but later on we seemed to have gone in our own individual plans to get the fish to bite. We all had mixed jigging and baits at the same time and it worked ok. Jigging didn’t impair fishing with bait and fishing with bait didn’t impair jigging. Dead bait worked better by switching to different baits as often as the bite slowed down.
THE BAIT: It was known that it is imperative that we take all kinds of oily baits to the Dry Tortugas but it was pretty hard to gather bait before the trip,yes, again just like last year. Because of our schedules it was hard to get out on the days that the conditions would dictate good bait catching for us and this year we were also plagued by the canal water to close to the bait catching areas and lets not talk about the gas prices to get to the bait catching areas. We collected a few runners, macks, and jacks. We decided to stop trying and to catch bait on the day of the trip. On the way up some stopped by Atlantic fisheries and got some fresh ballyhoos and frozen gogs. Nilson and I stopped at the bridges for some threadfins (in case we went to a wreck), and mackerels. On one of the bridges we saw Adel and his frien catching some threadfins, he is one of the people that fish the Yankee Capts regularly. Talked to him for a bit, he gave me a new bait contact, and I wished him good luck on the trip. We the n passed by the bridges after 7 mile bridge and found a few barjacks and yellow jacks. Some of our crew went to get some pins and pins they got, great job guys. Wish you would have waited for me so we could have kept a few more alive.
BASICS WERE LOADED: . After the bait we stopped at one of my favorite Pizza Places, the one across from Winn-Dixie in No Name Key, Pizza Works. What great Pizza, or is it that I am always very hungry by the time I get there? Only thing is that every year it just keeps on getting smaller. After pizza it was a Cannon Ball Race for the best bunks. Low Rider Red car team pulled a David Copperfield/David Blain act on us and disappeared so it was to safely race to the docks. Team Stoner a little confused made a turn back to No Name Key, which gave us the advantage to at least get the small bunks even though we missed Schrimp Road we got there before them. We loaded the boat and enjoyed a few beers.
THURSDAY FISHING STARTED: We left the docks around 8:10 pm and started fishing shortly after midnight. We knew that we were going to be plagued with high currents but surprisingly the Captain found areas in 130 to 150 were we could fish with 6 to 8 ounces of weight, but we celebrated too early as every time the tide changed we would need up to 2 pounds to find bottom. On my snapper rod I never went above 10 ounces but I was using light line. On my grouper rod I was using 12 ounces. For snapper I started with 40 lb test leader but after loosing the first fish I stuck with 60lb leader most of the time and when the bite slowed down or the fish got bigger and the sun was out I switched to 50 pound fluorocarbon and at times switching back to 40 pound leader. After the water was chummed up the muttons started chewing within an hour of us being there. The bite started slow from the get go and we prepared for an ok trip. It was slow pickings but we got a good job done, at least I think. On the first night we got some muffin muttons while a few sharks came by and collected their Tortugas tax.
FRIDAY CAME: This is when the jigging really got pretty good. There were some small groupers, muttons, and Red American snappers caught. The days that followed a few more came up by way of jigging. FISHING ALMOST ENDED: Well, we were getting taxed heavily by the sharks. We lost just too many muttons to them and on one of those as I was getting ready to grab the leader on my line a stupid shark dashed to the bottom cut the line off and the 10 ounce weight sprung bat towards my head. I was not able to move away fast enough and up came the punch from Shark Tyson, well, knock down!!!! I hit the floor up I came bleeding like a boxer and went to get some paper towels, the Captain gave me something to clean it up and a band aid, so all in all was kewl with a bit of double vision and blurriness. We kept fishing and after the trips was over I ended up going to urgent care, I was sent to Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, some anesthetics and an eye patch until my laser procedure to remove some blood vessels. Just be car eful with handling those tiny sharks, sometime they cause the most damage. Pic don’t look so bad but it felt rally bad.
SATURDAY: This was a slow pickings day for most, the daytime brought some slob and we got to fish in 250 feet where some yellow eyes and more Red Americans kept on coming as pests. At night most of the time was filled with muffins, but we got a few nice ones as well.
SUNDAY FISHING ENDED: The captain said that the wind would pick up in the morning so we headed to fish by Rebecca’s Shoals. This is were the nice flag yellow tails came from. It got a little rough but not enough to get anyone sick. We did a couple of moves around the area and surprisingly were fishing in 30 feet of water were a couple of nice Red Groupers, more flag yellow tails, and some button muttons came up. This is where some were able to catch up in the fishing; it was not bad at all.
What bait worked best? As always the fresh bait is what did it; fresh gogs, fresh ballyhoo, fresh blue runners, fresh bonito, and fresh pinfish, some of the backup bait was used, but the men in the grey suit loved it too much. At least that was the case in my part.
THE FINAL TALLY WAS:
20 muttons with biggest at 14.5 pounds, a 6 pound mangrove, 2 yellow eyes(only kept my 2 day snapper limit), 1 Red American snapper, 2 triggerfish, one strawberry grouper, one red grouper, a cero mackerel, a kingfish, and too many sharks to count with one that almost leaves me blind.
15 muttons with biggest at 14 pounds, a 6 pounder mangrove, too many sharks to count, and a 20 pounder kingfish
10 muttons with biggest around 14 pounds, 3 flags at around 24″ each, 1 red grouper, 1 king, 1 baby cobia, 1 big jack crevalle, and 323 sharks
12 muttons with biggest mutton at 15 pounds, 3 mangrove snappers, 3 yellow tail snappers, 1 kingfish, 1 nice margate, 1 rockhind grouper, 1 red grouper, and too many sharks to count.
11 muttons, 2 Mangroves, 2 Red American snappers, 4 yellowtails, and 3 red grouper, and too many sharks to count.
15 mutton, one mangrove, 2 Red American snappers, and a red grouper, and too many sharks to count.
Here are the pics:
Picking up Nilson on my old faithfull 300k plus miles truck
On the way
At No Name with the endangered ones
Passing the 7 mile bridge
If you put them in individual bags this does not happen
On the waters
Herbert (me) with “El Cuchillo part 2”
We had a very, very tired visitor
Someone chummed the water for him
Chilling after eating a great dinner cooked by Capt Yuri
This Stowaway came from the beaches of the Atlantic to get me a snapper
The sharks were so thick they were hugging down jigs as well
Back at the Docks to hear some of Stevie’s jokes and have a few beers
Tight Lines to all and until next time