It is always a tedious process to put together a fishing trip a year in advance, yet I always love looking forward to the next. Being a Charter Master isn’t something easy but it’s fun and it’s where my fishing trip starts. Many got on the trip, many dropped off due to new jobs or family issues, others because of health issues and so on. But finally in a crunch of a few weeks we were able to get all replacements done and as always with the exception of once, we found all great people to fish with.
I started collecting bait very late as I had many family outings that preventing me from going in the search for bait on a daily basis. I usually start one week before the trip and load up on as many fresh baits as possible. This year it got tough I looked for goggle eyes and spedos but was only able to get a few goggle eyes and a few baby bonitos. That was not a problem as I was planning on jigging in the daytime and using baits at night time only. Below is my bait setup at one of the local piers and before you ask there isn’t a specific pier where you can get your bait, you must visit all of them and then when you find the bait you go there as often as possible.
Before I loaded up the car I made sure to include 3 pitch rods, 2 bottom rods, and 3 jigging rods and one of the jigging rods to double as a heavy grouper rod. The Capt had contacted me through the office as he was out there fishing and told me to bring heavy weights as the current was very strong. I notified everyone and was glad I did since some times I needed to use 2 pounds to keep my bait on the bottom, but vertical jigs of 200 grams and up were no problem to hit the bottom.
As we were driving up I noticed the old trailer park in Sunshine Keys that was next to the Missouri Ohio bridge was completely gone, but as always in the keys rebuilding after a hurricane was already in progress and many new stores, houses, and projects were already started or completed before the last hurricane, hell, my roof is still being replaced jsut now after many months of humid battles against the rain and the Keys are looking amazing in comparison to my house. “We survived, now we thrive” is always the motto of the keys and they have proven it.
An awesome sight along the highway was to see the rebuild of the old 7 Mile Bridge is back on the way again.
A dream for me had been to see this bridge in Big Pine Key reopened to fishing once again (Spanish Harbor West End). As a teenager this was my favorite bridge to fish from. Even when I had a boat I spent a few weeks fishing under it with my family. I am so exited go see it again, there will be no more taking a long piece of 4×4 to sneak in the middle of the night to fish from this bridge. Oh boy! Oops did I say that?
Well we got to the boat and as always it was on to the Hogfish Grill for a nice Hogfish lunch and a drink.Once lunch was over it was back on to getting the boat loaded. Sorry for the pic below it is not meant to offend anyone but its towards Captain Rare who on the last minute made us all look for a replacement. I know he was glad to see this picture. He was missed as he is always part of the fun.
With the boat mostly loaded it was just time to wait for a few straggler running late.With everyone there all the trucks, cars, and vans were parked it was time to go on this adventure.
While on the boat, we all got together upstairs and talked about the plans and giveaways of goodies donated by Osage. Everyone got a bag with 3 items or more in them, randomly given to everyone of the fishermen. Plus a white hat in case they needed one.
And while on the way another middle finger for Captain Rare. Why not!
We got there early morning and the bite started. Here is William with a nice Red Grouper.
Jordan with a Mutton Snapper.
The fish started flying in the boat, we had a nice hot bite!
I hooked up a decent Scamp Grouper on the slow pitch jigging depot jig right before sunrise.
Can you complain about a nice fish filled sunrise?
Eugene hit it hard with this nice Porgy.
I kept on the slow pitch jigs and hooked up on this Amberjack that was released.
Dan got a nice Red Grouper while jigging.
I saw some top water action so I threw an H4L Wingman to get me this nice Black Fin Tuna.
Alex got this Grouper pool winning Fire Truck Red Grouper.
On Jose’s first trip he hooked up nice on the Red Grouper as well.
This is what the first box looked like by 10:30 am. It was full!
Well, morning have to start with nice fishing and a nice breakfast right? So here my my custome breakfast by Chef Chad. Here is his menu.
The day went on slowly but surely, Robert hooked up another nice Red Grouper.
Well, why not show the rest of the sotry? Even the small fish were aggressive, look at this 2 lizard fish hitting a jig. They must have said I’ll get half abd you get half?
Double hook ups trippele hook ups were still seeing around noon.
Dan got a Nice Scamp Grouper right before we drifted into sand and the the Slippery Dicks started to show up.
Lunchtime came so I was ready to eat my bun less sirloin and bacon burger.
The Red Grouper kept on coming I think just about everyone got a few of them or even their limit.
As I kept on and off with the slow pitch jigs I hooked up another Blackfin Tuna.
The current was getting out of control so the sea anchor was deployed.
And in again came the double hookups but this time jigs were king.
Another nice Scamp Grouper this time by Robert.
And a nice fatty Red Grouper by Eugene.
While at the bow Victor was getting his Mutton it ended up in a double. This is a Father and son in law combo!
Robert had been doing slow on the first day and then woke up and killed the next day! Here he is with a nice red grouper.
Well we were at sunset city and things started to slow down a bit.
We filled the second box around midnight when the blackfins started to shoe up in bigger numbers!
The next moring came in and Art wok up and it was a rotation between him, Jordan, Little Chris, Miami Chris, and Mario. They got plenty Mutton Snappers while us at the bow were just looking at one another.
Things got so slow after that, we even found someone trying to fish with an orange! The jigs were king again, here is Chris on his slow pitch jigging Red Grouper.
My back started hurting so I stopped jigging and decided to go big and pay the price of not catching fish for the opportunity to get a big grouper. I used spedos and big squids I kick my self for missing 4 bites that almost pulled my in the water but hey! It’s fishing not catching! (kicks my self again!)
Rory with a broken leg made the best of his trip fishing at the rail as much as possible. Here he is with a nice Mutton Snapper.
Robert did great with the slowpitch jigs and his 10 bucks plastic squid, here he is with a nice wahoo.
The Shake and Bait double D’s Dan and Dan also did great vertical jigging all styles.
Lunch time came up and a nice meal was at hand. A Chef’s Philly with out the bun.
As you know all good things must end, it was our last chance at fishing and we we got to the spot it was filled with hundreds of Barracudas and Amber Jacks, but William was able to get through them and catch this last mutton of the trip. after that it was home bound.
On the way home we got our last dinner. With an awesome starter of Avocado and tuna.
The shrimp scampi was amazing!
And one last look and a Florida West Coast Sunset.
And what a way to enjoy it with a nice beer, meal, new and old fishing buddies! Even if there were a few name callings, a few screams for getting lines crossed, a few “HEY who drank my Gatorade? In the end we all ended up smiling and drinking the night away on the way home.
When we got back to the dock it was only a short wait to get our fish. The totes were overloaded with them and we had had a nice sleep before we got to the docks in the morning.
Here is Donald who won biggest Snapper with this about 14 pound Mutton Snapper.
Not only did he win the pool but also a nice goodie bag with the Havana Club Rum donate by Captain Rare and Churchill cigars donated by Osage.
Here is Robert again with biggest fish. He also won the pool for biggest fish and a goodie bag with a Stag knife, braid tantrum, Yo-Zuri Chrystal 3d, and detachable rod butt.
Below is Alex with biggest Grouper. He won a bottle of 12 year Old Flor de Caña Rum donated by Suarez Liquors located at 799 West 29 st Hialeah FL 33012 and Churchill cigars donated by Osage.
Mario got a goodie bag from donations by Osgage and my self. This was for catching the first grouper.
Victor got a goodie bag from donations by Osgage and my self. This was for catching the first Mutton Snapper.
Robert got a goodie bag from donations by Osgage and my self. This was for catching the first and only wahoo.
And now some of the fish pics and cooler pics to make some people jealous for not coming on this trip.
I hope you have enjoyed the report. Keep your lines Tight and until next time!
And my apologies to Captain Greg for getting so loud on the last day while coming back home, but we threw a party to celebrate our success.
A great thanks to:
Captain Greg for making this trip affordable to all of us.
Osage for donating the vast amounts of items for the giveaways
Captain Rare for supplying the rum for our celebration and for biggest mutton
Suarez Liquors for supplying the 12 year old Flor de Caña rum for biggest grouper