It had to happen, I was able to get on a Yankee Capts Pulley Ridge trip. I went in with the hopes on getting some fish on 300 gram to 400 gram vertical jigs and some by hand cranking my Accurate 600 4:1 reel on a Calstar 850H rod using 2 pounds of weight. I was not expecting to compete against people using electric reels and I sure wasn’t expecting to fill a 150 quart cooler with fish and have enough fish to give away. More to that later. I have a jigging trip in July with http://www.360tuna.com forum members and in the board there are a lot of questions on what weight of jigs were needed to get down to the bottom on these 300 to 600+ depths. What could work if jigging and how many tangles one would get if fishing next to people with electric reels. With this report I hope to answer many of those questions. So please just read along and be prepared for many pictures, so let’s get started.
Below are pictures of the boat and the top deck as Captain Greg maneuvers to get out.
The top deck showing the rod holder and cooler space along a view to the transom and An setting up his trolling rod while he speaks with Leroy whom is one of the regular people that travel long distances to fish on the Yankee Capts.
As the boat headed over to the fishing grounds I took notice of some electric reels and some home made and purchased gadgets.
Below is a PVC pipe filled with concrete. It never saw the water.
As the trip moved along An got a hit on his trolling rod, but unfortunately the fish was lost, but hope was still on the horizon as later on he landed a fish.
On to the deep dropping
I will continue the report a little different this time. I will do it as I try to answer some questions by people wanting to jig on these trips.
Is the vertical jigging all the way doable? Yes, if I did it anyone that has a normal slow active life can do so as well. If you are a person that hits the gym every other day this jigging trip will be a breeze. This is what I did and did it testing my limits:
What line and jig size? I started by using a custom Phoenix Titan rod, a Stella 8000PG with a custom 1600 spool that held roughly about 490 yards of 50lb test Tuffline XP line. It was plenty to get down to about 600 + feet. I used a 350 gram H4L Jiao-Long jig and as soon as I felt the bottom and first two pumps I was on a small yellow edge grouper.
What is the max rod size, jig size, line size I need? I continued by switching to a 400 gram rod because I noticed I was getting lots of bites on the Phoenix rod but the bend on the pumps was too much and would not allow me to set the hook properly so I would loose the fish. I had not had that problem using a 300 gram OTI or a 300 gram Spinal rod setup in less than 300 feet, but I guess that this time the depth made a difference on the Phoenix rod. I have used the Phoenix with 300 gram lures and have not had problems in less than 300 feet of water. I guess the sweet spot on that rod is no more than 300 grams. On the 400 gram rod I used a Jigging Master Ocean Devil PE6 reel that held roughly 500 yards of 65 lb Tuffline XP. I got the reel because it was within my means in cash price and it held a good amount of line. The reel has a little play on the handle but other than that I have been able to put the wood on the fish. As we got deeper I also used a 400 gram jig.
Below is a small yet greedy scamp I got on a 400 gram jig on the way up after several attempts on hooking the biting fish. As you can see the jig is almost as big as the fish it self.
The Amberjack below hit on the bottom in 500 feet deep water. I was not expecting that at all. There were less than five caught.
As the day continued and as we went deeper I switched to a 750 gram lucanos style jig with no results on a bare jig or tipped. By the way a 400 to 500 gram jig of similar kind would have done the job. I switched back and forth but my jigging rhythm was already off and I kept getting cramps as I do not normally drink enough water on a daily basis and did not ensure I had done so the day before. I decided to switch to hand cranking dead baits at around 1 pm. I thought perhaps I could actually rest my arms that way and would drink plenty fluids while I did so. Here is a look at some non jigging dead bait catches.
An with a nice Yellow Edge Grouper.
After Joe got his Blue Line Tile, it occurred to me that maybe the glow lures would work better at sunset so I rapidly started jigging again and used a Salt Water Assassin sea shad which helped me land a nice size Blue Line Tile.
How many tangles could there be if I fished next to people with electric reels? while vertical jigging I had 6 tangles during the entire trip. I was able to maneuver in between all the lines. Now, the electric guys them selves is another story as they bring 2 to 3 fish at once and these are spinning all the way up, so they did have more tangles. Even while hand crancking I only had a few tangles.
Will I loose many rigs to the bottom? I did not loose a single rig to the bottom but did loose one to the tangles.
Night time came by, I was exhausted. I went upstairs drank as many sports drinks as I could and ate a couple of protein bars right before the dinner served at the galley which hit the right spot in my stomach. While dinner was served Captain Greg moved to boat to a shallow mound that held mutton and groupers. I took the opportunity to take a nice nap and recuperate a bit. As we started fishing we set our 8 to 10 ounce weights Cesar got a nice red grouper and so I started fishing for them as well. An used a nicely cut piece of speedo and landed a nice mutton snapper.I knew I had a light weight snapper rod but the bottom as explained to me had very few rocks and holes for the grouper to hide so my 30 lb test line and 40 lb leader would do just fine. I used a speedo head just like Cesar did and also landed another red grouper.
The bite slowed down and so did I, I took another power nap and hydrated my self again and again until I was feeling better. Then the sound I wanted to hear was heard. Blackfin Tuna! I know many of you don’t care about them but here in Florida is hard for us to get them past 5 to ten pounds so I hurried and started jigging and set my goal at ten but it was a bit slow so I lowered my goal to 5 and then at around 2 am and after not getting any more red groupers and with An landing about 3 or 4 muttons and Cesar doing the same I started to get my rhythm back and so I got to my goal and said I would get one more and as I got one more people started asking for some tuna for bait or for their coolers and the tunas started growing from 5 pounds to decent 20 pounders. In the end I ended tired at 10 or eleven blackfin tunas of which I gave away 6 of them. A few more people got some nicer ones on bait and some decent ones on jigs. All in all I would have landed more but had the smaller 250 gram spinal rod set up with 30 lb braid and 50 lb mono (momoi line) I had forgotten I tested this line with the PR knot and forgot to take it off, the line slipped away. I will never do that again. I then switched to a 50 lb leader that I had never used and perhaps was a few years old. The knot was on there but it would brake on the part that held the solid ring, at first I thought I was getting cut off but the after a few tries I decided to test the knot and POP! every time I pulled on it by hand it broke. I switched the leader to 80 lb mono and had no problems after that.
The night was ending and was almost 4 am so I asked An for a favor, I asked him to wake me up when the sun came up and so he did and I thank him for that. First up was a gentleman and his first red grouper ever, then An and his red grouper. I started jigging again and got another Blue Line Tile.
Things started looking better and more and more groupers were hitting the decks. People woke up and filled the rails once again.
The tote before the 24 lb grouper.
As the day went by more and more fish came in, I had been jigging and hand cranking bait along with 4 others and with weed lines all over the place I kept my eyes opened for more dolphin fish (Mahi Mahi) and all of a sudden something that had not happened during the trio did happen a shark showed up and ate Cesar’s fish that he was battleling for quite a while and then Jake screamed dolphin! (Mahi Mahi the fish). I quickly got my rod and tossed a bonita strip the fish took it and and was landed, but that was the only to see for the rest of the day.
More and more fish came on board via the electric reels and the coolers were almost to the rim so Captain Greg gave the announcement that we would leave around 5 pm to be back home at 6 am. By this time we were 150 miles from Key West and it would take 12 to 13 hours to get back to the dock. And so the boat was on the way and Joe kindly prepared awesome sashimi with home made sause. This was delicious, he needs to let me know where he wrote the recipe so I can try it again.
Then, as I was taking a shower I hear a lot of screaming. CRANK! CRANK! UPSTAIRS! DOWNSTAIRS! WAHOOOOOO! An’s rod got hit and they landed a wahoo. I ran to get the camera and took a snap shop.
After that event it was the next morning and the totes started to line up the deck with the catch. Below is a pic with only part of the catch.
As we got back to the docks it was business as usual. Everyone gathered around the totes and the fish was passed along to the people holding their numbers.
Here are the 360Tuna members that came on this trip.
Here is the end summary of my fishing report: THE FISHING TRIP: Pulley Ridge day Fishing Trip Aboard the “Yankee Capts” with Captain Greg The Spot : Around 150 miles off Key West, FL Weather Forecast: Sunny 0% chance of rain, Saturday winds 5 to 10 knots then up to 15 knots. Seas 2 to 4 feet. The real weather was: Earlier seas 1 to 3 feet and maybe 2 to 3 by Sunday?, clear skies every day. Water: For the most part it was calm in the morning then a bit choppy and mild current later in the afternoon. Current: .5 knots to 1 knot. Fish catches: Yellow Edge Grouper, Snowy Grouper, Red Grouper, Blue Line Tiles, Blackfin Tunas, Mutton Snappers, Amberjacks, Yellow Eye Snappers, Blackfin Snappers, Mahi Mahi, etc. etc.etc… Biggest size Type : Mahi Mahi 28 Pounds, Snowy Grouper, about 30 pounds, Yellow edge grouper about 24 pounds Techniques : Me :Vertical Jigging. 3 others: Hand cranking using dead bait. The rest: Dead bait and electric reels. Jigs I used: 300 grams all glow colors and 400 grams to 500 grams holographic jigs with assist and squid skirt were working. A question was asked on what gear I took so I am adding it here as well. 400 gram JM Terminator II jigging rod with JM OD PE6 and 65lb braid 300 gram Pheonix Titan jigging rod with Stella 8000PG and 50 lb braid 250 gram Spinal jigging rod with Saragossa 10K and 30 lb braid Calstar 850H 8.5 bottom rod with Accurate 600 4:1 low gear single speed. Fished 2 pound lead on it and 850 gram lucanus style jig. Calstar 800L 8.0 bottom rod… fished at night for red grouper / snapper One 7 foot Jaws jigging rod that I used for dolphin with a Diawa Saltist 4500 and 50lb braid. Ii believe the total on my jigs went: One jig bag 6 300 gram jigs 3 350 gram jigs 6 400 gram jigs 2 500 gram jigs many 100 to 250 gram jigs for night time. 2 400 gram lucanos style jigs 2 750 gram lucanos style jigs 2 two pound leads — If you are only fishing bait then you might need 4 two pound weights and 4 three pound weights and 2 four pound leads (per http://www.yankeecapts.com site). several 6 ounce weights but did need 8 to 10 ounce weights. <– for snapper/grouper fishing at night 6/0 wide gap circle hooks—25of them 8/0 wide gap circle hooks–25 of them l00 lb leader 2 spools— used 1 spool 80 lb leader 2 spools— did not touch it my assit hook Shout Hako 4/0 Shout 5/0, 4/0, 3/0 Fisherman 6/0 All on kevlar or Owner with wire inside. sleeping bag 4 shirts 2 pants 1 short 1 pair of crock 1 pair of comfy shoes 6 buffs 6 pairs of sock to keep dry feet 6 undies lol, gotto be comfy 2 pairs of gloves 150 quart cooler to keep ice 50 quart cooler for bait small snacks and food cooler For those asking me these questions: Where can I get information on the boat future trips: http://www.yankeecapts.com What is the cost? in the 2014 schedule $650 for a 3 day Pulley Ridge trip and $725 for a 4 day trip. Look at their site for updated pricing information. Does the boat have a galley? Yes and coffee for the whole trip is $8 and worth every penny. What does the food cost? Same prices as a fast food place or a diner $3 to about $10 Are there showers? off course there are Is bait included? Yes the boat has bait included but it will be good if you bring a bit extra for your own. They had squid and ballyhoo when I went. More than enough to make the trip count. Can the boat provide rods? Yes they can. Can I fish without an electric reel? Yes you can I did it in this trip and so did other 3 people and we filled our coolers. What kind of reel should I use if hand cranking? As big a reel you can get and a low gear will help you get less tired while fighting the fish and while bringing that heavy weight. What kind of weights? Look at the Yankee Capts website tackle recommendations. I used a 2 pound weight for deep dropping and others used up to 3 pounds.