The trip was an Epic one! Full of quality and big numbers. This post is overdue but will be updated soon!
Right as we heard news on the Corona virus erupting all over the world I received a last minute call, I was invited by Bill to go fishing on the Sea Breeze with Captain Ned and mate George. Luckily that at the time of the trip there were no warnings here in the U.S. The fishing trip was to be a jigging and popping trip for Bluefin Tuna. The weather was iffy and the tunas had been caught in previous trips so our trip seemed to have a good outlook. After Bill called on Monday night I had to rush and get my gear ready through the night then started driving Tuesday 3rd of March at 1am. It was a long road towards Georgia for me. I was to meet Bill and then make a decision on whether I kept driving or drive with him and get some shut eye. Well, I slept while Bill drove. Upon arrival we prepared our rods and reels and the next morning off to fishing we were.
We arrived at the dock and loaded our gear. We met with Dan who was to fish with us for the next 2 days.
Soon after Captain Ned introduced us to George the Mate, he gave us a safety talk and a bit about the fishing plan. We were to look for Tuna schooling up under dolphins and whales or simply find them and jig or pop for them.
Off we went and after an hour the Captain spotted some two-tone dolphins so we stopped to give it a try. We tried jigging, different depths and had started with 200 gram jigs; then I ended up using 400 gram jigs. The jigs were not working so we switched to pencil lures. We were unsuccessful since the fish were deep and very sporadic. We moved several times, then Dan suggested we just try trolling our lures and so we did. Bill and I ended with two small Yellowfin tuna. The tuna were regurgitating small squids and puffer fish. Below is a small video of catching one of the tuna on spinning gear using a Maria Loaded while trolling it at 6 knots. That was to be the end of day one.
This is now day 2 of our trip. We got to the docks at 4:30am and departed at 5am. This time the plan was to troll for the fish then jig and pop when we found them. The day started with Dan on the troll catching another small yellowfin tuna. Then we took turns each getting more small keeper yellowfin tuna.
As Bill was reeling in a Yellowfin Tuna the other rod went off, with Dan inside the cabin not wanting to use the heavy boat gear I picked it up. At first it seemed to be another small Yellowfin Tuna but as I was reeling it in it got heavier and heavier. The fight lasted about 20 to 30 minutes on the heavy tackle provided by the boat. I just wish I was able to have fought in with my own gear, I think it would have been a lot easier. Well, maybe next time it will be. Below is a video of the last minute or so showing the release.
Here is another video of the trolling action.
Below is a combination of Yellowfin Tuna caught trolling lure and ballyhoo with skirt.
Below is the boat, a 58′ custom built Carolina Sportfisherman. It is a very comfortable boat. I even forgot many times that we were in 5 to 7 foot seas.
Commercial fishing season ended but this boat was still at the dock. This is a very nice boat.
As we were packing up I took a picture of Dan’s sweet setup of his van. He was going to stay fishing for ten days after the trip. Next time I go I will try to do the same. I now have a better idea on what I wanna do to my tackle box of a car 🙂
Below are a few pics of the ways I ate the tuna.
Once again a big thanks to Bill for the last minute invite that put me on my very first Bluefin Tuna. I sure enjoyed it and enjoyed the yellowfin tuna in so many different ways for the next 3 weeks.
Tight lines everyone and take care of yourselves and those near you.
What can I say this is another one for the books. I must say thanks to all our sponsors http://www.yankeecapts.com , http://www.h4ljigs.com , http://www.tacklenow.com , http://www.strikertackle.com , suarez liquors at 799 West 29 St, Hialeah, FL ,Victor Colon of Island Girl EVSM Prints, and Ralph of “Rods By Ralph”.
On Thursday it all started with hopes of fishing extra time but electric storms vanished that notion as we had to refuge behind the Dry Tortugas Fort Jefferson, on the way there we had a hook injury miss hap. Friday began with slow fishing and quality pickings then Saturday was epic mayhem with big and quality fish all over the boat. On Sunday around 8:15 am we hit the docks and verified who had the biggest snapper then gave away the rest of the prizes.
We all got there around 10 am to load the boat and fill our coolers with ice. It was hot as heck.
With everything loaded we headed out to sea, I got the whole group together and handed out 3 jigs per pack and two mini bottles of rum and vodka to everyone (some packs included assist hooks provided by tacklenow.com. The jigs were provided by H4LJigs.com , Strikertackle.com and this humble blog. The rum and vodka were sponsored by Suarez Liquors. We raffled the “Next” reel and two packs of assist hook sponsored by http://www.tacklenow.com , Victor the fish slayer won the reel. We then raffled the items sponsored by Rods By Ralph; A 9 foot rod which was won by Mario the unlucky and a custom made gaff won by Jordan the self proclaimed Floyd Mayweather of this Dry Tortugas and winner of this year’s big Fish and big grouper spots.
Yes the following did happen to Mario the unlucky, the waters were on the bit ruff side and as he was walking upstairs he grabbed the rail and an exposed hook that was on a rod. I had to run to cut the hook of the line and get Mario some help. Jordan tried using a pair of pliers to cu the hook off but it was too small luckily for Marion Ralph had bigger pliers and Jordan cut the hook’s barb then pulled the hook. Tony the mate washed Mario’s finger with hydrogen Peroxide and I applied triple antibiotics and a band aid. Mario was a trooper and continued as if nothing ever happened.
We were a few miles off the Fort and Captain Greg Mercurio told me we had to stop behind the Fort because there were too many electric storms. We waited the entire night and began our voyage to Pulley Ridge at 5:00am.
When morning came Chef Chad had a spread of all sorts of baked goods and potato chips as well as other snacks and fruits.
Breakfast was served with eggs and bacon on a fully loaded bagel. Coffee and soft drinks were available during the entire trip. The $125 meal plan was so well worth it and was never hungry.
It was 11 am and we started fishing. Francis got his first Red Grouper on a Mungus jig sponsored H4L jigs.
Lunchtime came and Chef Chad did not disappoint. There were burgers that you could only find at a 5 start restaurant. this pic does not do it justice.
I was able to get a scamp and a long skinny red grouper while slow jigging a slowpitch jig.
Crab cake appetizer at lunchtime.
Friday night the fishing picked up fast. Here is NY Fire Captain and his first mutton on a Jig.
An hour later he connected with a nice 10 to 11 pound mutton snapper while longfall jigging and slowpitch jigging combination. He had trouble getting fish to bite but we all worked with him and fine tuned his technique until he started catching the fish.
This day was Jordan’s day connecting with a big king and his personal best grouper on the slowpitch jigging, later to beat it by catching another black grouper on bait.
On Saturday Jose was very happy when things turned around for him as he and others on the transom were getting pounded by sharks the day before. He got a really nice African Pompano.
Not to say Victor was happy as he was bringing his line up he got hit by a massive African Pompano as well.
Mario didn’t waist anytime as he saw a mahi mahi and tossed a bait at it.
I switched to speed jigging and connected on a couple of snappers while using H4L Jigs. This 150 gram jig made it to the bottom at 270 feet with strong current.
Victor the fish slayer also connected with an H4L sponsored jig.
William got a nice red grouper on the slowpitch jigging.
I gave a try to the 13 Fishing octopus jig and connected with 2 red groupers, jigs was 6 ounces so I had to wait for the current to slow down. The 9 and 12 ounce jigs seemed to hit the bottom without problems.
Francis kept going back to the Mungus jigs and kept catching red groupers and mutton snappers.
On the last drift Jordan was fishing for mutton snappers on a strip of fresh caught bonito and hooked up to this monster 60 pound black grouper. Hell of a fish!!!!
On the way out a nice scallop and lobster dinner was waiting for us. Chef Cad outdid himself on this one.
The appetizer which I ate as a dessert was a Blackfin Tuna with a mango sauce.
It was another great trip and the sun was setting and we started to wind down and get ready to get get home.
Once at the docks the fish distribution started.
Proof is in the pudding they say, just look at those coolers. Below are Jose still waiting on his fish to be distributed, then Dan and Dan from team Shake and Bake and Francis with full coolers.
Below are George, Chris, Jordan, Captain Greg, Jongsoo and William still waiting on fish to be distributed.
Full coolers and quality fish, this is our heaven.
Here is Jordan and his big grouper and biggest fish of the trip.
The snapper pool was a tough one since there were so many mutton snappers in the 10 to 12 pound range.
I gotta say Robert’s team knew what they were doing and connected with a lot of fish.
Below is Jordan with his winnings for biggest fish and biggest grouper.
Dan won a painting during the last raffle.
Francis also won a painting print during the last raffle.
George won this painting print for catching the biggest mutton.
Victor won the “Next” fishing reel sponsored by http://www.tacklenow.com
Ralph won a pack of jigs for catching the fish grouper and Keith won a pack of jigs for catching the first snapper.
Once again, thanks to all our sponsors and thanks to everyone that fished with us. I must say that the mates were as always working top notch and Chef Chad had our snacks and soft drinks flowing along with great quality meals.
35% off when using the discount
The owner is trying to raise money because his family was scammed out of money for shipping their belongings to the United States. They need to raise funds to keep from loosing a boat and personal effects at auction.
If you wish to donate please got to their gofundme link. Otherwise buying from their online store will also help.
- As in previous years we also have http://www.H4Ljigs.com that has sponsored with many slow pitch jigs
- Like last year we have Suarez Liquors located at 799 West 29 st Hialeah FL 33012 donating a bottle
- And a print shop Island Girl EVSM Prints has offered printed art work on canvas.
- Rods By Ralph will be giving out a custom made Gaff
- http://www.13fishing.com will be sponsoring special jigs great for groupers
- This blogs is giving free slow pitch jigs as part of a free raffle
If anyone else would like to sponsor this trip please contact me by leaving a message on this blog. This is a good way to give exposure to your tackle shop, rod building business, Charter business or any other fishing related business.
Well, fisherman always say “you should have seen how it battled, it must have been the biggest I would have caught, but I lost it!”. Yes, unfortunately it happened to three of us. But that’s how it goes since it’s called fishing not catching.
Bill invited me once again to go on his yearly trip to La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, Mexico which is next door to Puerto Vallarta but closer to the fishing grounds. On this trip we were to fish with the Osuna brothers of the Marlas Sport Fishing charters. Fishing with me were Bill, his wife LB and Neil. They got to the Bed & Breakfast a day earlier so when I got there it was enough time for me to get comfortable, walk the streets of La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, eat good local food and share some stories.
The following morning we had time to eat breakfast and relax a bit.
After, it was time to setup our gear.
I added my 50 lb flouro leader to the 50 lb test main line on my Valiant 400 and secured it with a PR Knot.
Next was adding the 100 lb flourocarbon leader to the 80 lb test main line on my Gorilla 12 reel.
Below is my gear ready to go fishing. Stella 8,000 on a 7 foot popping rod for small tunas and other fish if present. The Alutecnos on a 400 gram jigging rod to be used as a jigging/bait rod for the tunas. The last two are 7 foot slow jigging rods for the snappers and groupers that may be lurking the waters in the 200 to 25 foot depths we were fishing.
After setting up our gear we went for a nice lunch at a local restaurant called La Glorieta de Don Enrique. Very well recommended to all. From the clam sushi to the shrimp on avocado bed to the local beer and the different hot sauces, everything was tasty and excellent on that day.
Once filled to my limits we went back to the Bed & Breakfast and gather our equipment to load in the boat.
As the mates finished preparing we just watched the pangas come in and out of the marina.
On the way we were.
We did stop to get some bait called Caballitos, these are what we call goggle eyes.
The bait commercial fisherman showed us his hand made sabiki rig, which was a long line of hooks with fish skin and what looked like feathers added to them. It was very interesting to see.
We continued our adventure into the sunset and to the fishing grounds.
We got there at night and caught some squid to be used as part of the live bait in the morning. As morning came we decided to do some slow vertical jigging and slowpitch jigging while there were baits on the flat lines and the kites. Below I hooked up with a Pacific Almaco Jack.
Later it was a nice size Hachinago Pargo, wich is a kind of red snapper.
Next up I decided to try a new jig on the market, it looks like lobster and to my surprise it was a favorite to skip jacks and pacific bonitos. Both of which were needed as bait for the big tunas. Unfortunately I lost the $25 jig to a rock at the bottom of the sea.
Bill closed the morning slowpitch vertical jigging with a Cabrilla also known as broomtail grouper.
The flat lines and kites were not producing so the captain decided to start trolling live skipjacks. It was my turn as one of the lines got hit. I really wasn’t ready as I did not have my fighting belt on so I had to rail the rod a bit until Bill let me borrow his belt. I fought the fish and tough I was gaining line when the line went slack and then I started reeling real fast fearing the the fish was actually swimming southeastward the boat, then again I felt the pressure and started to reel but to our dismay it was no longer a fish I was pulling but the buoy of a commercial long liner, AAARRRRRGGGG!!!!, I lost the first big fish of the day.
We started trolling again. We had about 5 baits to start with so we were good for a bit.
As we kept trolling we saw some commercial fishermen pulling their long lines filled with yellowfin tuna.
Then the lines started singing and it was LB’s turn, she fought the fish for about half hour or perhaps even 45 minutes but got fatigued and had to hand the rod to her husband Bill whom fought the fish for about another hour and fifteen minutes. The fish was up a good three time as we saw it’s fins skimming the waters. The leader came in the rod;s guides and as soon as it would do so it would find energy and make another run for it’s life. Unfortunately for Bill and fortunate for the fish the hook came off about 15 feet from the boat. We now lost a second fish. This one was a big fish over 250 pounds without a doubt.
They always say three times a charm and it sure was. On Neil’s turn bill set him up with his fighting belt. Neil started the fight on the transom and when the fight started to be a tug of war between Neil and the fish, the Captain recommended the fighting position be moved to the bow where a few minutes later the fish was gaffed and sent to the transom to be hauled in the boat.
Below is Neil and his catch of a lifetime. By the measurement the fish was around 237 pounds.
Once that fish was caught the sunset came upon us and with high winds and rough seas decision was made to take refuge in the bay of the island and spend the night there.
It was dinner time now so the captain decided to surprise us wit a delicacy prepared by his own hands, Yellowfin Tuna Belly cooked on the grilled with spices and seasoned with a mayo, ketchup and mustard base sauce. I must say it was delicious.
Adding to that was chicken and beef fajitas.
Below is the captain grilling the tuna bellies and corn tortillas.
The ending plate of deliciousness.
As morning came we started jigging again. A few Huachinangos snappers and chicken groupers were caught.
Once the bite slowed down it was time for first breakfast; fresh fruits and yogurt.
We trolled and trolled without success so second breakfast came in handy :)
Then it was lunch time when we ate delicious tuna rolls, sushi and sashimi.
We had plenty bait and this day we lost at least three hook ups. Then a nice hookup ended being a porpoise that was released. Night time came and bottom fish and flat lines were the order. We got no hits on the flat lines but bottom fishing ended with plenty of Perro Jacks (horse eye jacks) and a couple of yellowfin snappers.
At dinner time we had a nice plate of seared tuna, spaghetti and salad.
The trip was a bust for me as I was not able to land a yellowfin tuna this time, buy hey it’s fishing not catching. All in all next time I will request the use of the kite and flat lines more often to give us a chance to do some slow vertical jigging and slowpitch jigging. At the airport I had nice meal ad one drink, then I was on my way back home.
Good by La Cruz de Huanacaxtle and Puerto Vallarta!
Until next time, tight lines!