It was another year for the Amberjacks to aggregate in the Florida Keys. Unlike last year’s trip when our lines got cut off by shark after shark this year the shark issue was not bad at all but the fish just did not want to eat in the morning. This year the plan had a live bait backup. The plan was that if the Amberjacks would not be there in numbers we would then go fishing for snappers and we would also use live bait to fish at the Humps and shallower for snappers. My personal plan was to just jig until my arms fell off which almost happened, as I type right now I am doing so in pain and it was worth it as it always is.
The trips was set to go fishing on Sunday but weather almost stops us from fishing, luckily the Captain had Saturday available and we decided to move the day to the day that just so happened to be my Birthday. One of the original members of the trip was not able to get Saturday off but lucky for us Alex was available and was able to replace him. I got to the docks at 6 am and the Captain was there he filled the boat with diesel and came right back. It was loading time, bag after bag of heavy jigs. One of the bags felt like it had 50 pounds of jigs mine was only 30 pounds and I thought I was overdoing it it. We carry as many jigs as we can as we do not know what the fish will want to bite on that particular day. Sometimes it’s long jigs sometimes it’s small jigs, sometime they like a color and sometimes it really doesn’t matter.
Loading the boat.
A great Florida Keys sunrise.
On the way out many boats were catching pilchards.
Our mate casting the net to get some baits.
After a couple of throws we had more than enough for our trip.
We tried a few spots like the little hump and some wrecks. We could not get the fish to bite so the captain moved the boat to the Hump off Islamorada. We were using 300 gram to 400 gram jigs. While at the hump there were some small Blackfin Tunas, that were caught on live bait, I was able to get one the jig but it was almost the size of the jig I was using. At the Hump the Amberjacks we were looking for were not biting so we moved back to the wrecks on 300 feet. Again the bite was slow but the guys fishing live bait caught a few Rainbow Runner fish at around 10:45 in the morning. Below is Victor and Dorian with their Rainbow Runners.
The fishing finally started to take a turn for the better with those fish and as we moved to another spot we got a surprise by way of a Sunfish. It had been bit by sharks and was barely able to swim upright, but it slowly did. Below is a picture of its dorsal fin showing the bites.
Well the Amberjacks finally felt hungry and it happened at our lunchtime right around noon. They were not hitting the long jigs so I decided that maybe just maybe if I switched to slow pith jigging I could get one to hit a smaller jig. I as I was joking around telling everyone that they fish were not hitting my jig on 80 pound leader that always you switch to a smaller reel and light line it’s when you get the hit and so it happened. I used my Shark Slow pith rod and a Shark slow pitch jig of 200 grams to get the first Amberjack to bite. Once the first one hit others were able to start catching them as well.
Below is Victor with his Amberjack. The fish was released.
Below is Dorian with his Amberjack. The fish was released.
I was able to get a second one and it was also released.
Below is Jared who fought several fish but got cut off a few times. This time he had an unusual catch with a stingray that was released.
After 1:30 pm we made the decision to fish shallower to catch some snappers so we moved to about 230 feet or so and then moved a bit shallower. Here live bait was king, Victor was able to land a nice size Mutton Snapper and a nice Black Grouper that was released.
We saw some Sailfish jump out of the water doing their acrobatic dance and then saw some man-o’-war birds but nothing was under them. The day was done, we were tired and the Captain went a few minutes over the agreed time but we were not able to find more fish, no dolphins this time but maybe next time. The trip was great fun as always these trips are and was a bit slower than usual perhaps due to the quick weather change that was occurring during the weekend. We will definitely come back next year and will possibly do 2 different trips instead of just one. Thanks to Dorian for putting the trip together and thanks to Alex for jumping in at the last minute.