Ed and Captain Jimmy of the Lois Ann (part of the Lady Pamela II fleet), called me and said they wanted to go fishing at Pulley Ridge so I said yes and joined them. My plan was to jig as much as I could and then use bait and jig in between. They were just going to use bait and try some jigging for the blackfins.
We arrived at the dock on Thursday and loaded up our gear in the boat, we then ate our customary Hogfish sandwich at the bar and grill with the same name. It was close to 5pm and we were on our way. At the boat it all started with a short orientation from the Florida Sport Fishing TV crew. Very simple, fish as you always do and if you can don’t get on the way of the camera man. They gave away t-shirts, nice prizes during a raffle, and by recommendation of Captain Greg Mercurio each one of us were given a nice gold hammered jig which proved to be a lethal jig for the fish.
We got to Pulley Ridge around 4:30 am and it started off well. Ed is below with a nice mutton caught on a chunk of king mackerel.
Below is Captain Jimmy with a blackfin tuna caught on a chunk of king mackerel.
Below it’s me and a nice mutton caught on a Jigging Depot SB 220 gram slow pitch jig. I got 2 mutton snappers and a small blackfin tuna on this jig and then it got cut off. The current was almost non existing so we were able to fish with light jigs and weights of about 6 to 8 ounces to get the bait down fast.
A keeper red grouper and this time with a 210 gram Shark jig from JiggingDepot.com . I caught several fish on this jig until it got cut off later in the day.
Wahoos where all over this trip, this 60 pounder was caught on a jig and won the pool.
Captain Jimmy decided he was going old school with a 6 ounce bucktail and nailed this nice mutton and a red grouper.
Trolling got the most of the wahoos, this one was caught on a Yo-Zuri bonita.
Below is Captain Jimmy with his bucktail and an almaco jack.
Ed got into the action and got a nice amberjack that was released.
Luck be the lady on the one below. He caught a mutton on bait and a nice size blackfin got tangled on the weight.
That bucktail was working and this time it caught a nice size queen trigger fish that was released.
After 2:30pm of the 17th things turn to a slow pickings until the next day in the early morning when the trolling had another victim and wahoo wahoos on the Yo-Zuri bonita it was.
That was followed by a couple of mutton snappers and some nice red groupers (no pics of the reds, sorry). Below is Ed with his part.
As the bite had slowed down to slim pickings, Captain Greg decided to make a run to some deeper waters where I was able to catch a decent size Mystic Grouper. This one was on a whole squid and was using a 16 ounce weight.
And in came the queen snappers, some beauty of fish and so very tasty. Here is Captain Jimmy with his.
The bite had slowed down and we made a move to even deeper water. While on the move and around 1pm in came another wahoo.
And as deeper we went more monsters showed up such as the grouper below.
Ed got in the game with more queen snappers. This time the queen snappers were much bigger. I think some were probably over 25 pounds.
And a nice size blackfin tuna caught on kingfish strips.
Here is Captain Jimmy with another nice queen snapper.
We had the co captain reminding us to be on point.
The bite had slowed down again and the smaller fish were hitting our jigs. This yellow eyed snapper hit a 500 gram jig.
It was on the last stop where this nice gag grouper hit a benthos jig. This was the last fish of the trip as Saturday afternoon had come to a close and we headed back to the dock.
Here you can see the size of this nice wahoo.
What a way to spend fathers day. This family showed everyone what it is like when you don’t stop fishing and put your time on the rails.
Here is a group picture of all the participants of this trip holding some nice catches.
All in all it was a great trip, started great, slowed down, there were slim pickings, and then it turned into mayhem catching fish after fish. There were a lot of people fishing with jigs and they were catching fish. Those on the slow pitch jigs did very good and ended with some decent catches such as mutton snappers, red groupers, blackfin snappers, etc… The best baits as always were squid and oily baits like the king mackerels. Bonita strips in combination with squid worked great too. At the beginning we were fishing with light jigs but in the end had to switch to heavier jigs as the current picked up and so did the wind with just enough speed to make the drifts a bit faster. If you jig or bait always bring a small assortment, just in case, you never know what mother nature will throw at you.
Well, my next trip is July 7th so I hope to catch more fish on the jigs and off course we will also be using bait.
I wanted to go fishing this weekend so I called the Reward Fishing Fleet to book a spot on their special all day trip, for $100 it’s a nice bargain to go out all day fishing without having to go back to the docks and the wait for the boat to leave back on the next trip (taking two 4 hour trips on the same day).
The trip started by gathering bait. The mates and a few other fishermen collaborated with catching white bait, pinfish, and small grunts. Once the bait was non responsive we moved onto another bait spot, the famous Bent Marker outside of Government Cut Miami. There we met with a numerous amount of boats trying to catch bait themselves. Below is a pic of the Marker.
We then moved up to several other spots where people were catching vermilion snappers, Amberjacks, and Almaco Jacks. Jongsoo caught an Amberjack that was tagged, the fish was lip gaffed, taken a picture of, measured and released again. Below is Jeff the mate before measuring the fish. Sorry I didn’t take a pic of you Jongsoo.
On the next move we saw some birds but nothing was biting under them, we kept moving and then as we stopped to fish I saw a Mahi Mahi and let everyone know, I wanted to make sure someone got it before it left. Leaving a caught Mahi Mahi hooke in the water will bring others closer to the boat if they are schooling together. I went to get my plug rod as Will sent his out first cast catching the first Mahi Mahi. I sent my plug flying out and as I retrieved it with a sweeping motion I caught the next Mahi Mahi with an H4L Wingman plug. I caught another right after while using the same plug. One of the mates set up some pitch rods and people started catching more mahi mahis including Jared who was ready with his own pitch rod. A total of 12 were caught ensuring many would take a nice dinner home. Below is mines.
At one of the spots we started to get a few small Blackfin Tunas, mines was one of the smallest ones and one of the fishermen by the name of Ben whom is another experienced slow pitch jigging fisherman that was only using jigs caught the biggest one, a football size one with enough meat to get a couple dinners out of it. Here is my small Blackfin Tuna, it was so greedy that it swiped a jig half it’s size.
As the day went by a few yellow eye snapper, sand tiles, and a rare Long Tail Bass was caught by Jeff another experienced slow pitch fisherman. I should have taken a picture but I was busy fishing, sorry guys, I was trying to maximize my fishing time. On the deeper end of the trip we fished down to 500 feet of water where Will caught a nice keeper Amberjack.
I was still fishing with my prototype slow pitch setup and Shark Fishing Jigs when I hooked up a Snowy Grouper and then sent my 500 gram slow pitch jig down again and hooked a Yellow Edge grouper. What are the odds, the only two keeper groupers caught were back to back on my setup. Below is the Snowy Grouper and the the Yellow Edge.
The highlight of the day came when Jared hooked up with a Sailfish on a jig. He fought it for 30 minutes going around the boat 2 times until he got it close enough to touch the leader and made it an official catch. The jig was extracted using a gaff and the fish was released. High fives went around and the fish swam away to live another day. Below is Jared fighting the fish and also a pic of the Sailfish with the jig on it’s mouth.
Below is a video of part of the fight.
All in all it was a good trip and plenty fun was had. We left with a full boat’s fish cooler. Back at the Bayside Marina Docks the fish were unloaded and the mates cleaned the fish for those that wanted that service. Below is the mate sorting and giving the fish to the fishermen.
Below is a fisherman that was using bait and tried out vertical jigging. He caught dinner and wanted a picture for him to later retrieve from the web. So here you are Sir. You are welcome to download your own picture, enjoy your fresh fish dinners. Just click on the picture to make it bigger, right click on it and save it to your PC or phone.
Happy New Year to you all and Happy Fishing in 2016. thanks again for visiting my site.
Vertical Jigging tips:
In order to reach the bottom use 1 gram weight per foot of water (if fishing in 300 feet of water use a 300 gram jig), if the current is stronger adjust accordingly by using a heavier jig. It works the same way for Slow Pitch Jigging.
If of any interest to you I was using a 60 to 400 gram Slow Pitch Jigging Rod, a Shimano Ocea Jigger 2000 with high speed gear 6.1:1 loaded with 30 lb test braid line, 40lb test fluorocarbon leader, and 3/0 size hooks with 2mm length assist cord. two hooks on top and two hooks on bottom.
Many have adventured to the Dry Tortugas fishing grounds; some have adventured to the Pulley Ridge area and fished the deep drop zones in the daytime and shallower areas at night. Not many if none have only fished below the 500 foot mark and the shallows of Pulley Ridge a full 3 days (if someone has congrats you kept it quiet long enough). This trip started when members of the Boatless Fishing forum got together at a BBQ, some dreamed of a long range Florida fishing trip, since a few of us had done this before we suggested a few options and one topped them all so we said lets go on the Yankee Capts, let’s put a date and ask the options. I emailed Captain Greg Mercurio of the Yankee Capts and asked him for rates and dates. He came up with a great idea that involved less sharks than in the Dry Tortugas and less quantities of small size fish, but a novelty on its own, something a little different; A focus on quality fish, let’s go to Pulley Ridge and explore fishing on top of the bank in less than 400 feet and doing so full time. No deep dropping that requires electric reels. That was the main idea behind this trip and what can I say, he was right on the money. We found quality and plenty of it. I can only let the pictures speak for themselves.
We told people not to focus on buying expensive baits like goggle eyes. A lot of people still did, well, it didn’t work so well here The fish wanted oily or bloody baits like speedos bonita. Squid did well enough in my opinion. As for gear just stay with the regular Dry Tortugas gear. Just like Captain Greg recommended; 50 pound test braid was perfect to get the bait down, a 15 foot top shot of 50lb test mono was sufficient, a 10 to 12 ounce bank sinker tied to a swivel placed on the main line and then a bead on the main line. Then another swivel and about 10 to 15 lb test mono with a 7/o in line circle hook was the preferred rig ( http://yankeecapts.com/tackle-section/ ). For the vertical jiggers, 50lb braid to 10 feet of flouro carbon line and 220 gram jigs to 350 gram jigs was all that was needed under the conditions we had.
We were to depart at 8pm, but Captain Greg contacted me the prior day to see if we could leave the docks earlier since we had a long drive to Pulley Ridge. We all got there with in minutes to 3pm and waited for the boat to return from filling the boxes with ice and the boat with fuel. We all gathered by the boat and looked like a Marine Flea Market was about to happen.
Bill, who drove from Georgia wasted no time and started to troll with his rod as soon as we hit the depper waters of Key West as we approached one of those Key West sunsets
We all prepared our final adjustments to our gear as the night approached. After many ours to Pulley Ridge morning time was there and our co Captain was waiting for the morning wahoo bite. But we had to wait for that one.
She knew we were getting close to the fishing grounds and in no time our Pulley Ridge veteran came up with one stud of a 17 pound Scamp Grouper. Winning the prize for first grouper caught.
Coincidentally, Bill who is an avid traveling fisherman was slow pitch vertical jigging and hooked up on the very first Mutton Snapper of the trip. He won a prize for doing so.
The day started on fire, there was hook up after hook up. Bait and vertical jigs went head to head. Here is Jarred a new comer to vertical jigging and now an avid slow pitch jigging man, he hooked up on a slow pitch vertical jig with a Red Grouper.
The bite had slowed down on the first stop and so we moved to another and then a little deeper. Nilson, did not take long before hooking up with a nice Amber Jack which was released.
A lot of screaming reels all over the boat with double hook ups, up to quad hookups, the over under screaming of the mates could be heard from one end of the boat to the other as the mixed bag of fish started flooding the decks. Some bonitas (little tunny) found their way into the mix and a regular scene to happen of the days of fishing.
Andre, a new face to our group was enjoying some vertical jigging action and caught a nice Almaco Jack.
Will, a now vertical jigging veteran showed his jigging machine aptitudes switching from speed jigging to slow jigging when the moment required it, but he also threw a pencil to change routine from time to time. Next to him is Chris, a new comer to the Long Range scene hooked up on not only a good fish but on the urge to go back and do it again.
The bite was still almost non stop, we hit the right place at the right time. On came Quy, he jumped on the trip after another fisherman hurt his knee. I got to to tell you he made the right decision as he was getting some nice fish. Next to him is Art who once again nailed another quality fish and not to be his last either.
Well I was not only documenting the trip I also got to fish and this time I hooked up on a nice Amber Jack from 400 feet of water on a Shark Slow Pitch Jig.
The the jigs kept on bringing fish up to the decks, this time bill and Jarred had double headers on slow pitch jigs. Jarred was also having good luck with Shark Jigs. Jarred has a Yellow Edge Grouper and Bill has a Snowy Grouper.
Rori joined the party with a nice Blue Line tile and Nilson got himself a Snowie Grouper snack.
Jongsoo hooked up with a nice Snowy Grouper.
And then again with an Amber Jack using a Shark Jig.
Nilson and Imran hooked up on some nice beauties Queen Snappers.
The variety kept coming, big Gag Groupers started to show on this trip. Below is Danny with a nice 27.5 Gag Grouper caught at 11:30 am of the first day of fishing. This fish was caught with a whole squid.
Some more Amber Jacks were showing up in between the Gag Grouper Catches.
It was a madhouse again with a mixed bag of fish comng over the rail and them again more Gag Groupers made a showing. Jongsoo got a nice one that went over 20 pounds.
I got another Gag Grouper that went 29.5 pounds.
Then Victor joined me as he was part of our triple Gag Grouper hook up.
The hot bite was quick, it only lasted 30 minutes and by noon things had calm down. The only thing caught for an hour was strangely enough, a startfish. No worries it was released back to the ocean. Then the fishing got a little slow with a few fish on every drop and so the sun started to set many took a nap or stayed away from the hot sun. That was a good choice.
Night time came with a another nice mixed bag of fish. Rori started it with a Red Grouper and William caught a nice King Fish Mackerel on a Pencil.
Danny got in the action with Black Fin Snappers and Rori got a nice Mutton Snapper.
Then Rori hit it big with a nice Red Grouper at around 10 at night.
Once again the bite slowed down and slow pickings were back on, but then at 2am things turned around. Chris got a Mutton Snapper and right after that a very nice Dog Snapper.
By 2:30 am Nilson got a nice Blackfin Tuna. Many of the were to come via vertical jigging with glow jigs and even with non glow jigs close to the boat. Sorry that bite was just too hot for me to put the rod down to take pictures.
I followed with a Mutton Snapper and a Nice red Grouper.
The bite kept on going on and off with waves of fish coming and going, this lasted until about 7:30 am and after it slowed down the Captain decided it was time to move and try something else.
I keep telling people if you brought the gear to troll, do it. Rory did and he was rewarded. Up came a nice 35 pound Wahoo. I know that left a great taste on many people’s mouth. Got to love a quality fish like that.
I fell as sleep during a hot Mutton Snapper bite that lasted a short 30 minutes. It goes to show you that you should always sleep when the boat moves and not when it stops to fish. Well, after that was over a few quality Kitty Mitchel were caught and some were released. Here is Jarred again with another Slow Pitch Vertical jig caught fish.
Below is a video Jarred shared on his Slow Pitch Jigging
The quality Queen Snapper did not stop showing up. Here are Bill and Nilson with two more beauties.
As the Queen Snapper were hitting the decks 3 sail fish were hooked. One by William on a vertical jig, one by Patrick as he was deploying bait, and one by Art. Hopefully the video will come out good. To top it off a Mako shark was hooked up and lost right at the boat.
Chris and Art kept on the quality hunts.
Art dialed in.
It was almost the end of the fishing trip and I nailed the smallest fish so far to hit one of my jigs. It’s amazing what fish will try to swallow when they are hungry.
The day ended for us at the bow with Bill and a super nice Grouper.
And Victor with a very nice Almaco Jack easily over 20 pounds.
All good things must come to an end, and this time with an awesome Pulley Ridge Sunset.
Rori and Bill did not give up on the trolling until the very end. Chris and Rori were hoping for a last minute Wahoo.
The fishing crew last resort was rest and wait for a dinner snack.
The boat crew lined up all the fish on the side of the boat, getting ready to dock. In total we filled the 2 back coolers and one quarter of the third. Not bad for so many who were here for the very first time. That goes to show that when people follow instructions they get results.
Once docked we got ready to receive our fish and tally for the prizes.
These were the 2 contenders for biggest fish. I happened to win that category, but did take my self out of the non cash prizes since I organized this event. The cash prizes were a pool and had no sponsors in it.
Below are the runners for biggest Snapper. Imran won that category.
Below is William, he won biggest tuna and 2nd place most Mutton Snappers, Groupers and Blackfin Tunas, he received a fishing trip with Captain Phil Caputo.
Below is Art, he won First Grouper caught. He got a nice set of jigs donated by OSAGE my self and a prize bag donated by JimyjigsUSA. The jigs had a very nice finish to them and the glow paint is high quality. I and others were impressed with the finish.
Below is Bill, he won First Mutton Snapper caught. He received two one pound spools of mono donated by Art.
Below is Quy, he won most Mutton Snappers, Groupers, and Blackfin Tunas Combined. He received a free 3 day Dry Tortugas fishing trip on the Yankee Capts.
Below is William, with his prize for biggest tuna caught. He Receive OTI poppers donated by OSAGE and a prize bag donated by JimyjigsUSA.
Below and again is William, he also won Heaviest fish caught on jig. He received a Vertical jig pack donated by OSAGE and my self. He also received a prize bag donated by Jimyjigs USA.
And Once again William won with heaviest combined weight of Snapper, Grouper, and Blackfin Tunas.
Below is Andre, he won 3rd Place with most Mutton Snappers, Groupers, and Blackfin Tunas caught. He received 2 Packs of Mentos and a $50 gift certificate.
Below is Chris, he won 4th place most Mutton Snappers, Grouper, and Black fin Tunas caught. He received a Harness donated by Patrick and a JimyjigsUSA Koozie.
Here is another look at Art’s Queen Snappers. These were runner ups to biggest nappers.
Victor and Danny show us their groupers once again.
here is Victor showing off his Almaco Jack
The crew cleaning the fish.
And to finish it all off here is the group shot and two panoramic shots.
Please visit our trip sponsors. They were generous and very professional with their Prizes.
Our trip not only became a special novelty trip, it became a mini tournament on its own thanks to officer Chris’ idea, a California Long Range trip and Dry Tortugas trips veteran on board of different vessels. I started to look for sponsors right away and was very happy that Capt. Greg Mercurio sponsored us from the start, not only did he waved the fuel surcharge for our Long Range Fishing Trip, he also donated a free 3 day fishing trip to the Dry Tortugas. Also to add to our prizes Nilson Soto a member of several fishing forums and avid Land Based Fisherman and with several Dry Tortugas fishing trips on his belt donated an unusual prize. Osage a vertical fishing veteran also donated jigs to our mini tournament. Art who is another Florida Long Range veteran and an original Pulley Ridge pioneer donated 2 full spools of mono. I posted on several places looking for sponsors and JimyjigsUSA came on board on their own, we really appreciate they did that and were impressed on the quality finish of their jigs. Shortly after, Captain Phil Caputo donated a full day fishing trip as well. Jongsoo, a representative of Shark Jigs came on board with a full load of samples and great prizes. The jigs functioned perfectly and were of high quality. We were very grateful to all those that donated to our mini tournament.
Yankee Capts, Key West’s Originators, Leaders and Pioneers of Dry Tortugas/Pulley Ridge Fishing Trips since 1977
Back in August my son and I took a drive up to Panama City Beach for a friendly Tournament. Getting out of Florida always seems like it takes for ever specially when you have to drive through unfamiliar back roads and ghost town look a like places. On the way we almost hit a dog and some deer that seem to appear on the road like holograms in the foggy night. Scarier thing is to stop at a gas station and been asked “you lost? You ain’t from around here ha?” I have to thank to that darn GPS for always taking me in the back roads and neighborhoods with 1 pump gas stations. Well, once we got off the I-10 highway it was a dark ride all the way to Panama City Beach but we got there in one piece. As we arrived at the hotel we went to get some subs and a drink then shortly after we went straight to the hotel and prepared for an all day of vertical jigging. My plan was to start with a long jig for AJ and then to use the slow jigging method combined with what I refer to as Yo-Yo technique (not Yo-Yo California Style; drop, reel fast, drop again, repeat). Simply drop the jig to the bottom and slowly pump it up and down. Then after a few up and downs slowly pump and reel, pump and reel in a slow manner.
It was morning time, we got some breakfast and then we had to hunt down for the Marina’s location. Once there we loaded the boat with our long list of gear and a couple bags of ice. The boat left at high speed to the fishing grounds just to find another team fishing the same wreck we were going to fish as our Captain positioned the boat we heard a shout saying that we were already fishing for second place as they had caught a big Amber Jack. We thought they were joking so we began to fish the other side of the wreck where a small jack was caught but nothing else was interested in our Metal Vertical Jjigs.
We moved to a second spot where the action was hot from the start it was an all out Porgie (White Snappers) madness by the guys. Below is the first Porgie on the boat, this one was by Ray.
Here is Jeff and the second Porgie on the boat. In total there were 7 porgies caught and most were from this stop.
Finally on the third spot red grouper after red grouper started coming up, but for me it was slow as I was the only one with a long jig in pursuit for a big AJ. After seeing that my jig did not produce on the first two spots I changed it to a smaller length H4L Goober 300g and finally started to catch them groupers and in between them there were several Red Snappers and a couple of Bonitos caught.
Below is Captain Charlie helping Ray with his Red Grouper. He was using a Jigging World JW-A141 170g Vertical Jig.
Here is Jeff and the biggest grouper of the tournament. A 19 pounds Gag Grouper.
Rey with another Red Grouper.
Below is a double with a Red Grouper by Ray and a Scamp by me.
A keeper Gag liked my H4L Goober 300g jig.
Red Snappers also liked my jig, but most of this one was taken by the tax man in the Grey Suit (a shark).
Here is James with some bendo action.
After the Grouper and ARS mayhem things slowed down a bit, then my son was able to nail an Lesser Amberjack.
There were lots of American Red Snappers caught on our boat. Below is Ray and in the back you can see James with another one.
Here I am with another ARS as well.
Then my last Scamp Grouper came in. I caught 3 Scamps and a Gag on this trip.
After that scamp we had a 5 consecutive hook up. Here are three bent rods on this pic. It ended being a mix of groupers, American Red Snappers, and a Bonito.
This spot has an all out mix of fish. Here is my son with a Porgie. He was catching all his fish on an 80g Maxel Dragonfly.
Then he managed to get an Amber Jack on the same small jig on a different spot.
That was it for us it was getting late, we had a box full of fish and most of us had our grouper limit for the day so we called it the day and headed home.
Back at the dock we tallied our fish and took a quick picture. The total came out to 27 fish caught between 5 of us. 6 Red Groupers, 8 Scamp Groupers,2 Gag Groupers,7 Porgies, and 4 Almaco Jacks. We waited for the other teams to show us their catch but one of the boats had bad luck with the weather in the area where they went and turned back a lot earlier than we all expected. The second boat showed up with a 70 pound Amberjack, an 18 pound grouper, lots of peanut dolphins, and some Vermillion Snappers taking the winnings since they caught the biggest fish and Pelagics plus Snappers.
It was the end of the trip and we all got together to share some stories before we headed home. Below is a group shot, but the camera flash did not work properly so it didn’t come out correctly. We stayed for a little while before heading home for our 10+ hour drive. It was plenty fun and the fishing in Panama City Beach seemed well worth the stop for a future trip.
Below is a link to a video of this trip.
The gear my son and I used were a Jigging Master Power Spell 200g Rod with a Jigging Master PE3 reel, a Jigging Master Terminator 400g rod with a Jigging Master Ocean Devil PE6 reel, a Spinal 250g Rod with a Shimano Saragossa 10K, and a Phoenix Hybrid rod with a Stella 8000PG. This last rod fought many hard battles against Amberjacks and Groupers but on this day it broke below the reel seat.
Hope you all enjoyed and perhaps it helped someone with some Vertical Jigging information.
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.
Below a happy fisherman with a Blue Line Tile.
An with a nice Yellow Edge Grouper.
Me with a Snowy Grouper caught with squid while hand cranking.
As the day went on Joe used a Gold Hammered jig and the assist hook with a squid skirt. He got a Blue Line Tile on it. So yes, the diamond jigs do work.
As the sun was falling down another happy fisherman by the name of Lonnie Blue Thang Man, a little pun intended on the blue line tiles he got 🙂 landed a nice size snowy 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.
Cesar and his red fire truck.
An and one of his mutton snappers.
Me with my red fire truck.
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.
Jake snicking a selfie while taking my pic.
Things started looking better and more and more groupers were hitting the decks. People woke up and filled the rails once again.
Here is a nice 24 lb Yellow Edge Grouper and the happy fisherman that caught it.
The tote before the 24 lb grouper.
The tote after the 24 lb grouper.
Here is a look at all people fishing towards the stern.
Here is a look at all the people fishing towards the bow.
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.
Joe preparing the Sashimi.Adding the awesome sauce.
Many others joined and got a session on using chop sticks.
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.
An and the helpers.
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.
Below is Joe and his pool winning fish.
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.
The was another 10 hour fishing trip on the Reward Won and this time we would go straight to the action with the amberjacks and anything else that lurked around the artificial wrecks around Fowey Rocks Light. The trip started by going to get live bait which again is included in the $100 of the trip’s cost. As we got to bug light and waited on Jimmy’s boat (the bait man) some started out tossing sabikis and started catching bait, some of us started tossing crappy jigs and got a couple of blue runners, the captain bought the rest to complete a live well full of big pilchards and thread fin herrings plus a couple dozen of goggle eyes (Gogs courtesy of Jimmy the bait man).
Here is the live well after Jimmy the bait man passed by.
As we headed out 4 rods were set up for trolling, not so far out the day started with a football size blackfin tuna reeled in by my son was welcomed aboard to the fish cooler.
A Sailfish Tournament was going on so there were many boats flying kites. Below is one near Fowey Rocks.
The drive to get to the fishing grounds went on and a small Mahi Mahi was caught on the troll. The Captain said to give the fight to one of the lady anglers that came on this trip.
As soon as we got to the wreck we started jigging and there were double hook up and quad hook ups. I landed my first fish of the trip a decent size Amberjack and as was landing it some were fighting their fish side by side.
Others were landing their fish, here is a couple that came on the fishing trip.
Another happy fisherman got his priced caught fish which he released.
Here is my fishing friend Ron playing around with his exaggerated fishing pose and afterwards happily posing with his catch which he released.
And another angler continued the battle and then landed his biggest fish to date which was also released.
We passed over the wreck and as we started to fish a new wave of anglers were catching more Amberjacks. This time William did it again by catching a 65 pound amberjack that unfortunately was not going to make it and was kept along with three others. This was one of the longest drifts and as many continued catching fish Captain Wayne Conn let out the kite and placed two goggle eyes out in the water so I was fortunate to fight a sailfish and got it to the boat and the leader was touched making it a catch, unfortunately I do not have pictures because I pressed the wrong buttons on the Gopro and the fish had gone under the boat cutting the line off.
Below is my son with one of the last amberjacks caught, after this one the fish turned off and the captain moved the boat to another location.
As we arrived at the other location a deeper one this time I used one of the boat rods set up with a chicken Rig and caught two Vermillion snappers with it. Not many were bottom fishing so I decided to get a rest and do so. Captain Wayne had the kite out with two live baits and William took the rod as a nice Mahi Mahi hit one of the baits.
The day went by and weak cold front started approaching so the seas got a little rougher. A fishing friend of mines Nilson came out of hibernation and caught a peanut Mahi Mahi, it was not of legal size so it was released. A few more Mahi Mahi came in the boat and a few made the size limit while a few more were released. On the troll another peanut tuna was caught and a couple of skip jack tunas came on board as well. As the day came to a close I took a chance at tossing a live thread fin Herring bait to a good size Mahi Mahi of about 20 lb or so and it took it I thought it had the circle hook well set but as it made it’s first jump it tossed it out. I ran to the back of the boat and took a goggle eye and tossed again and again it did the same. I ran back again got another bait and the same happened again, then another person also had it and he also lost it. This fish was a smart one and it might is still out there eating.
On the way back I was able to take some pictures of the Key Biscayne Light House. It is always nice to see.
We also Passed close by the Bill Bags State Park Fishing Piers. Below is the first one in the corner of the park.
Below are the rest of the piers lined up one after another.
And again another picture of the Rickenbacker Causeway Fishing pier.
A closer look at it.
Here is the end summary of my fishing report:
THE FISHING TRIP: Iron Man 10 Hour Fishing Trip which in the end ended being a 12 hour total trip again so thanks to the captain for that.
Aboard the “Reward Won” with Captain Wayne Conn of the Reward Fishing Fleet
The Spot : Around Fowey Rocks Light House, FL
Weather Forecast: Sunny 20% chance of rain, Saturday Easterlyt winds 9 to 14 knots. Seas 2 to 4 feet with occasional seas to 5 feet. The real weather was: Earlier seas 2 to 3 feet in the morning and 3 to 5 later in the day with occasional 6 foot rolling waves, clear skies and no rain all day.
Water: Choppy and slow current in the morning strong currents in the afternoon around Fowey Rocks Light House.
Fish catches: Small Dolphins and one gaffer, Big Amberjacks, 1 mutton snappers, 2vermillion snappers, 1 Snowie Grouper, small kingfish, football size blackfin tunas, skip jack tunas, and several bonitos.
Biggest size Type : Amberjack estimated at around 65 pounds
Techniques : Vertical Jigging, dead bait, live bait
Jigs : 80 to 300 grams all colors were working.