Iron Man 10 hour fishing on the Reward Won 3-29-14

Via a social site The Reward Fishing Fleet announced their “Iron Man 10 Hour Trip”. It was to take place around Elliot Key which is right before Key Largo Florida.  I accepted the invite and hoped that the big AJ started to arrive for the usual April spawning season, and guess what? The big Amber Jacks’s started to arrive and Captain Wayne was able to get us on them. My intentions on this trip was to catch and release and so it was on many others mind.

The trip began as it usually does we all met at the Bayside Marina around 5 am, when the Captain arrived he needed to get some item from his newer boat “The Legacy” so I got a chance to take a look at the boat and I have to say, they are doing some great work on it. I can’t wait to get fishing on that boat. As we went back we loaded our gear into the boat, and Captain Wayne Conn gave us the fishing plan. We were to go get live bait, we would troll on the way out from there taking turns as people caught fish, we then would go bottom fishing on hard bottom, and then we would hit a wreck or two. I love fishing with a Captain that takes his time before the trip and plans what can be done and “can” is the key word. Many Captains plan a trip thinking what “will” be done. If a Captain plans what “can” be done he/she takes into consideration that not all things can go as planned. On this trip the Captain came prepared to anchor but the forecast was once again wrong and so he didn’t anchor, he drifted his boat over the spots. At the spots that were hard bottom, bait fishermen had their chance at bottom fish. The ones vertical jigging with small jigs also had their chance at bottom fish like snappers and groupers.

Here is the fishing report in pictures:

We got to the lighthouse and fished for some bait. Like all the other boats around were doing.

boats getting bait   boats getting bait 2

Captain Wayne Conn bought live bait which was covered in the $100 total fee for the 12 hour trip. Live bait was white bat and the very expensive goggle eyes.

Getting bait   Goggle eyes

After we left from getting bait we started trolling. I trolled with a home made daisy chain of lures. I had gone to a local tackle shop and purchased 12 small plastic squids that I found on sale for $1.00. I rigged them as follows: 150 lb test swivel, 24 inches of 50 lb mono, red bead, plastic squid, 150 lb swivel, another 24 inches of 50 lb mono, red bead, plastic squid, 150 lb swivel, on the third one I used 36 inches of 100 lb test flouro carbon a bigger plastic squid, a 1/2 ounce weight, a red bead, and a 3 times strong live bait “J” hook. It always pays off with a black fin tuna or a dolphin of any size. This time it was with a 30″ inch mahi mahi. One mahi mahi was kept in the water so it would attract the others, then other fishermen tossed cut baits and got some more mahi mahi.

Here is the color with the catches.

dolphin catch

After the dolphins we got back on the way but this time only small bonitos were the takers. As we got to the bottom fishing grounds a few undersize mutton snappers were caught as well as trigger fish and porgies. The jigs worked and started making their presence. Here is William with a Toro Snapper that was released.

Willie toro snapper on a jig

Along came the Captain’s plan and so we went fishing at one of the wrecks. It was my first drop and my line became tight and at the same time 3 others. I was close to the boat and my line went slack and so did Bernardo’s line. But the person fishing live bait landed his. It was a nice 30 ponder cobia. The Captain did two more passes over the wreck but the wind pushed the boat leaving the transom close to the wreck and all of us at the bow farther from it so I did not get another chance but other jig fishermen like Willian and Bernardo did.

The Captain got in the jigging on the transom hooked a fish and gave the battle to one of the fishermen, he then gave the fish to battle to his friend below.

AmbarJack 2

Below is William on the fight using the right equipment gets the fish in with no problems or lengthy battles. He was using a Jigging Master Terminator II 300 gram rod and a Talica 12


William with Jigging Master Terminator II

Below is William and his Amber Jack

willie and AJ

Here is William releasing his fish.



Below is Bernardo and his priced catch. It was also released.

Bernardo AJ

After the fishing battles people that were bait fishermen wanted to get some other types of fish to be fair the captain moved to a hord bottom spot to give then a chance but that spot did not produce much. The captain also raised the fishing kite at many of the stops but at this stop we staued the longest as a chance at sailfish was probable, but there were no bottom fish and no sail fish takers. Captain Wayne Conn moved the boat once more towards a small barge wrecked, I got a nice size barracuda at this stop, and then to another wreck where I would have another chance at a fight with a sea donkey (Amber Jack).

Below is my Sea Donkey (Amber Jack) I released this fish as well.

Herbert AJ

As we drifted towards Fowey Rocks Light House, the small kingfish mackerel started to show up, here is one of them caught by a fisherman that had tons of patience waiting on a chance at fish.

kingfish mackerel

I give kudos to Captain Wayne Conn and his mate for working hard on getting everyone on the fish. He takes us to the spots and is upto us to get on the fish but he goes out of his way and catches fish to allow others to fight the fish and even allows them to keep the fish if they wish to do so. I love to hear his first question before landing a fish; “if you want to release it’s great, we can release it and if you want to keep it it is entirely up to you”. He always strives toward conservation and does not like it when someone says lets keep it just to leave it at the dock. You can hear him talking about releasing fish through out the entire trip which encourages people to do so and they leave the boat with a clear conscious mind when doing the right thing. Off course there are times when a fish just won’t make it because the angler took too long some time because the fish was foul hooked (hook was not in the mouth) or because the angler’s tackle was just too light for the task. When this happens there nothing else that can be done other than to keep the fish if is is legal size and legal species.

All trips come to an end and so we had to say good by to one of the great light houses of Florida “Fowey Rocks Light House”

Fowey Rocks Light house

On the way back I took a shot at the Rickenbacker bridge and below it you can see the fishing bridge. It was the original driving bridge to Key Biscayne Florida but a new and much higher bridge was built. The great thing was they left the old bridge standing to be used as a fishing bridge. The South side of the fishing bridge was knocked down due to structural damage (so they say).



Summary of the report:

THE FISHING TRIP: Iron Man 10 Hour Fishing Trip which in the end ended being a 12 hour total trip so thanks to the captain for that.
Aboard the “Reward Won” with Captain Wayne Conn of the Reward Fishing Fleet
The Spot : Elliot Key to Fowey Rocks Light House, FL
Weather Forecast: Sunny 20% chance of rain, Saturday South South West winds 9 to 14 knots. Seas 2 to 4 feet with occasional seas to 5 feet. The real weather was: Seas 4 to 6 feet with occasional 8 foot rolling waves, cloudy and no rain all day.
Water: Choppy up to 8 foot seas and slow current in the morning strong currents in the afternoon.
Fish catches: Small Dolphins, Big Amberjacks, Mutton snappers, trigger fish, Groupers that were released, porgies, kingfish
Biggest size Type : Amberjack estimated at around 60 to 70 pounds
Techniques : Vertical Jigging, dead bait, live bait
Jigs : 80 to 300 gram, butterfly jigs,silver, blue, pink, and orange worked the best.

For more information on their fishing trips you can visit their website at


Fishing on Outta Control Florida Sportsman Trip August 2nd 2013

THE FISHING TRIP: Florida Sportsman South Regional get together fishing trip
Aboard the “Outta Control IV” with Ralph Hawkins
The Spot : Fort Lauderdale to Islamorada Humps
Weather : Friday ESE up to 2 knots, Saturday SE up to 7 knots, Sunday SE  up to 7 knot winds, rainy
Water: calm up to 1 foot seas Water color clear and strong currents at the beginning slowing down on Saturday afternoon.
Fish catches: Monster AJ, Monster Banded Rudder fish, Over 100 mangrove snappers
Biggest size Type : AJ upto 80 pounds
Techniques : Live bait and Vertical Jigging
Jigs : 80 to 300 gram,  butterfly jigs, blue and pink jigs worked best.

This trip had been planed months ahead, I made all possible to be able to go on it. The plans started in the Floridasportsman forum by a member named Ryan  (copout@castaways). many members have been in other outings but I had not. When I arrived I did not expect a bout full of joyful and great people. From the minute I got there it was all about comradery, helping one another load gear talk about the plans ahead and expectations on the trip. It all started to get together and then BAM! a bottle of Seagram’s and some Ginger soda hit the bait cutting table. OH BOY!!! Steve said and ain’t gonna touch that stuff, some one else said  beer only for me. But it didn’t take long for everyone to become even friendlier. Yeap! the drinking did get started, the fishing stories were told, and then little by little some started talking on how they fish where we get bait what gear we use. As always the boat is spotless, the showers even have cold water and hot water, but you have to be careful on how hot you put it, it does get extremely hot.

Loading up   Who is gonna start

We went to Bent bait and it seemed like it was drunker than many in the boat or was that the buzz? Well we were using plain sabikis but since there were no threadfin  herrings or pilchards we tipped the sabikis with squid and off everyone went helping, some catching some de hooking some cutting bait and others, well drinking, what else? Not all fit in the back so why not let the other catch the bait. In the end everyone helped one way or the other. The bait caught was the good o’l mighty BooRunner (blue runners), a few pinfish, a few dozen spot tail grunts. We were set and off we went fishing.

Bent Marker   Catching bait

A beautiful sunset over the Miami scene as we left the old Bent Marker

Sunset over Miami-Picture by Herbert Hans Muller

The first few stops did not yield much, a mutton snapper caught on pre frozen sardines caught by Ralph and winning the biggest snapper pool the as we moved and moved finaly there was a wreck closer to the keys where the AJ’s where hungry at night. Steve paid with the drinking and almost ran out of gas catching this AJ, the current helped the AJ fight stronger. Then as they stopped feeding the Captain moved to another spot, this time it was a sharkathon, all was shark after shark so he captain made a longer move, again , and again.

Steve's AJ

It was morning time and we arrived at Carysfort to try and get some yellow tails. The crew went on the mission of putting two 15 pound chum blocks (one blood and one tiny silversides), that rallied up some of the fish but the current was still going Bob Marley on us, it just kept JAMMING!  i was able to get one yellow tail while another 2 muttons were landed. Then it was nothing at all. Carys Fort Reef Light is where we meet a very happy waving youngster, dad, and family moving next to the boat and drifting with their anchor all the way around to the propeller of their boat, wonder why it didn’t start and dad had to dive in the water for? Well they had their anchor rope wrapped around the bout and in between the propelers. Fellows be careful when renting a craft you do not know how to use, there are motorized crafts not bicycles. Well the Captain made a few more moves that were still pickings of small fish.

Carys Fort reef Light House

Night time came and what do I see? BANANAS? What? BANANAS? BANANAS IN A FISHING BOAT? YOU AIN’T GONNA CATCH NOTHING MAN!!! “No problem, I did not buy these bananas, the crew did” I think the trick is eat the banana while drinking water at the same time, the water sucks the bad mojo away. Then drink a beer an hour so you forget the banana bad luck thing.

Oh Crap bananas

Well, the very next morning while fishing for big AJ’s at the islamorada Humps he hooked up to a sailfish on a kingfish jig and let the sailfish go unharmed, so Karma got his back.

Ryan on the sail   Sailfish

The first big, well I should say monster AJ came on board. it was Doc’s first ever big fish and he was happy to have caught it and was undisputed for the big fish pool. After this fish he was ready for another when most people would just sit down.

Doc's pool winning fish

It was BBQ king Doug’s turn and this time he had an AJ on a small jig and was very happy for the battle and chose to continue as well. brave people I tell you most would just rest.

Doug's AJ

Then came my turn and Jeff’s turn to get into the AJ’s and were reward with some nice decent size fish.

Herb's AJ

Herb's AJ 2

Coming back from the Humps Captain Ralph decided to anchor by Alligator Reef light and catch bait plus what ever mangrove snappers we could catch. We loaded with mangrove snappers and bait and as we were doing so Jimmy caught another sailfish, DO NOT FREAK OUT!!! This was the second Sailfish of the trip. Jimmy thought it was a flying fish, looked at it closely and realized it was a sailfish after he took it out of the dip net. Took a quick pick and released it.

Jimmy's Sailfish

After the bait gathering and getting the boat’s limit on mangrove snappers it was off to the Isla Morada’s humps again. Where the battles began. We caught many fish on jigs but some were still trying to land a MONSTER AJ. Ernie took his turn with the kingfish jig and had a great battle with a big fish. We all thought it was a wahoo until the line came back up all frayed. Hmmm wahoo got very shark teeth, may be a shark but better think the boat was following a big wahoooooo. below is the Captain guiding the Co-Captain to following the fish.

Ernie on his shark

My skipjack on a jig

Herb's skipjack on a jig

Lots of rare size (for Florida waters) Banded rudder fish were caught. below is the one I caught on a vertical Jig.

One of my banded rudder fish

Eddie is below showing off his AJ and in the background the rest of the fish caught by all 14 anglers.

Ralph sneaking in the pic

Taking pics at the dock

For more pictures you can go to the main report written by Ryan, he is the one that set up this trip. We were all very thankful for him taking this long awaited task on his shoulders.!-PIC-HEAVY

Fishing with a friend around Molasses Reef 6-29-13

THE FISHING TRIP: Trolling for Dolphin and jigging
Aboard the “Seaquest ” a friend’s boat
The Spot : Islamorada to Tavernier
Weather : 15 knot winds, Fair weather, some rain clouds
Water: 2 to 4 foot seas
Fish catches: Amberjack
Biggest size Type : Small AJ, no big fish found
Techniques : Vertical Jigging produced and cut bait did not
Jigs : 250 gram,  butterfly jigs

I was supposed to go fishing the Florida Keys bridges yesterday since the mangrove snapper and permit action has been good, but a friend called me letting me know he would be working on his trailer in Tavernier Key, which is just before Cudaman's Amberjack two 6-29-13Islamorada. He said he wanted to go fishing and try and catch some Dorados (mahi mahi), so I accepted the invitation. My first stop on the way was at Jacks Bait and Tackle in Florida city to buy some ballyhoo and ice. The ballyhoo where on the big side but look like had been brined for too long. I got to Tavernier around 2:30 am and started to rig some ballyhoo and get the stuff ready for the fishing trip. After a few trips to the gas station to fill the boat up we left with about 1/4 of a tank which is about 20 gallons of gas. We noticed it was very windy, according to the weather channel and some websites the wind was supposed to be less than 10 knots and 1 to 2 foot seas but the wind was about 15 knots, at first we thought it was because of some rain clouds passing by but as we headed out we figured it was not the wind was just blowing a bit harder than it should have been and the waves were about 2 to 4 fot seas with some higher rolloers in between, but were not choppy so it was all good for fishing. Hmmm, we noticed that not many boats were heading out, there was no sewaeed stacked, there were no birds, but we kept on trolling towards the Islamorada humps (basically an under water mountain on the sea floor). As we got to 380 feet deep the seas were getting higher and higher so we were forced to head shallower where the waters are much calmer and headed towards the Molasses Reef area, we kept trolling and finally were able to see some birds but had no luck the birds were moving too fast circling and moving, circling and moving fast (sometimes a sign they are following bonito or blackfins). I put on a small squid on one trolling rod and a ballyhoo on the other, but still no luck. I usually get the small blackfins on the small plastic squids and even get small dolphins on them as well. Since the birds just disappeared into the sun we decided to head to the wrecks close to Molasses Reef. On the first wrecks I set down a jig and BAM!!! almost get pulled into the water and was hooked up to a nice fight, so I figured the big amber jacks are still hanging around but then, slaaaack! Oh well let the jig back down and started jigging again then Bam! I get hooked up again, but this time it was a small amber jack, I unhooked it and released it after a few pics. There were lots of bait in the water and all of a sudded they all disappeared and with the the hits. My friend Jeff tried fishing with cut ballyhoo and with squid but it did not work out. We moved to another wreck and as a diving boat approached we decided to go to another one but the action just died and so we decided to head back to the docks. It’s fishing not catching. The luck has not improved but I will keep on trying.

Cudaman's Amberjack  6-29-13    Cudaman Releasing an AJ 6-29-13


The trailer Home   The Waterway in Tavernier  

Vertical Jigging with Right Hook Charters 6-21-2013

THE FISHING TRIP:Right Hook Charter Boat
Aboard the “Right Hook ” with Captain Mike

The Spot : Riviera beach Wrecks

Weather : Partly Cloudy with Chances of Rain but the rain was not close to us.The Docks at Riviera Beach

Water: 3 foot seas

Fish catches: Amber jacks, African Pompano, Almaco Jacks, Horse eye Jacks, and a  black fin tuna

Biggest size Type : 25 pound Black Fin tuna

Techniques : Vertical Jigging

Jigs : 130-350 grams, butterfly jigs, speed jigs, Pink, red/Glow, silver, and blue worked the most.

Getting ready to vertical JigThis trip had been a month in the making, Jeff (Angryangler from had been trying to get a group of jiggers to charter a boat he fished in previously, but wanted to get people that only jigged. This jigging trip was aimed at catching and releasing Sea Donkeys (over 40 pound Amberjacks). No bait was to be used on this trip. It was first to set sail on June 9th but the boat’s GPS unit fried and since the captain did not want to just take our money he advised us to wait until he got familiar with his new unit. After a couple of weeks Jeff had the idea to do a mini swap-shop on vertical jigging items. Here in South Florida we lack stores that have dedicated Vertical Jigging Products and usually only sell knock offs or products that might work but are not proven. I thought the swap-shop flea market was a great idea  so I took some of the jigs I did not use so much, you never know what does not work for me might be a gold mine for someone else. Jeff put out a showcase of the the items he brought and was kind enough to offer free t-shirts and jigs. Hope the idea keeps going in the future. Two friends of our regular fishing crew were going to go on the first scheduled trip that was canceled, then it was only Ricky but the guys forgot all about him and since I didn’t check the thread on that forum Ricky was left out. Sorry my friend this was my fault. Well Ricky went on another Jigging trip with the Sealegs III out of Hollywood.

African Pompano on Right Hook Charter

African Pompano and Yellow Tail Snappers on Right Hook Charter. Trip before us

The Captain arrived and we loaded our gear in the boat. The boat was a very nice looking boat, tons of space for 6 people fishing. Enough space to cast out lures and jig comfortably. There weren’t many tangles and all were savvy as to what to do when hooking up a fish. A few fish were lost to knot problems and a couple of jigs were lost. I lost one jig because I did not replace my old split ring which was a bit partially open and as I jigged it may have just opened and allowed the jig fall off. I have seen this a few times already. Next time I will just get rid of the old ring and will replace it with a new one. Some other fish were lost because of knot failure. I helped one of the boys by tying a PR knot which was and adventure on it’s own trying to do it with the boat moving, no glasses on, and hurrying up to get ready to drop my jigs, LOL. The know was done but no big fish to test if would hold up since I only had time to do 3 over under half hitches and one six turn reverse hitch. I usually do about 6 over under half hitches then a three turn hitch, and finish with a six turn hitch and burn the end with a cigarette lighter wich was not done this time.

The Vertical Jigging got going and a couple that drove from Georgia were hooking up pretty well with inchiku type jigs in combination with small plastic squid skirts about a foot about the jigs. They got a small african pompano, a horse eye jack, and a small AJ on those jigs.

BNZ with a small Amber Jack on Vertical Jig  AFRICAN POMPANO

The day went on and we were a bit worried that it would be a skunked out trip but after the first few fish we went into deeper water and had double and quad hookups at a time, all were small amber jacks and then an almaco jack came on board. One of the last fish of the night was a nice surprise as the captain said we might get some blackfins in this area and so Garriga’s fish ended up being a nice 25 pound Blackfin Tuna. Congratulations to all since we did not skunk out.

Garriga with a nice Black Fin Tuna on Vertical Jig

To finish this Vertical Jigging report here are some more pictures. Just hoover over the pics with your mouse pointer to get a description.

Getting ready on Right Hook Charter   Getting ready on Right Hook Charter

Staven with a small Amber Jack on Vertical Jig  Herbert Hans Muller Small AJ

Jeff with a small Amber Jack on Vertical Jig  Garriga with a small Amber Jack on Vertical Jig

Staven AJ   Bill BNZ with a Horse Eye Jack on Vertical Jig


Jigging Trip June 15th on the Reward Won

THE FISHING TRIP:  Saturday June 15th 2013
Aboard the  “ Reward Won ” with Captain Wayne

Leaving Bayside Marina

Leaving Bayside Marina

The Spot : Fished from Miami to Fowey Rocks light

Weather : Sunny, calm winds

Water: Calm

Fish catches: Black fin tunas, Bonitos, Almaco Jacks, red Groupers

Biggest size Type : All small fish, bonitos up to 15 pounds

Techniques : 99% Vertical Jigging, 1% cut bait

Jigs : 100-230 gram,  butterfly jigs, speed jigs,  silver, and blue worked the most for me.

What can I say, I was glad to get back in the water. During my last fishing trip  one of my jigging rods broke because I was bored and wanted to catch a big fish. I was left with a bitter taste in my luck. Luck has not changed much lately. On this trip all looked perfect. The weather looked great, the rains had stopped, the seas were calm, and the current was good. The fish bite was not there. The bottom machine was marking nice fish on just about every stop. The fish were not cooperating on the first few drops. During the morning only a small blackfin tuna was caught, we encountered some weed lines and a big balloon floating but no fish under. Later in the afternoon it started to get better with a few bonitos and some almaco jacks coming overboard. All but two bonitos were released. Only 3 people gave up on the jigging and started using bait. A few small red groupers were landed and released. All in all it felt good to be out there again. Hopefully next time it will get better.

The other boat on the Reward Fleet did pretty good at night catching a few dozen yellow tails.

Bait Trip on Out of Control IV June 1st 2013

THE FISHING TRIP: Saturday June 1st 2013The Fishing crew
Aboard the “Out of Control IV” with Captain Ralph

The Spot : Fished from Port Everglades to Hollywood Beach area

Weather : Rainy, Very Cloudy

Water: 2 to 4 foot seas with a few bigger swells in between

Fish catches: yellow tail snappers, small throw back mutton snappers, blue runners, a lion fish

Biggest size Type : Dusky Shark over 100 pounds

Techniques : Vertical Jigging, cut bait, and live bait

Jigs : 250 gram glow jig

Other terminal tackle used: 1/8 oz Jig heads for bait strips, 1/2 ounce weights knocker rig style for bottom fishing

This trip was another one for the books. After getting my jigging trip to West Palm Beach canceled because the Charter Boat’s bottom machine burnt out we all scattered looking for a make up trip. So we got a nice deal on the Out Of Control party fishing boat. It was yet another slow trip. We began with the cutting of the bait and since this was going to be a yellow tail and small snapper catching trip I brought some king fish bellies to at least bring one fish home for dinner. I was not expecting much from this trip since all other party boats were reporting slow fishing as well during that weekend. It was a rainy day and there was no current at all. Conditions were again a plague for good fishing. On the first few stops some yellow tails were caught, a nice lionfish came overboard by Ricky and all hell broke loose as soon as the bite got better then the sharks showed up.  Small muttons, a couple we keepers and some nice mangroves were caught, the biggest mangrove caught by Adam was bit in half by a shark. I was catching some blue runners and was using them for bait. I caught a nice yellow tail that later on was dinner for two at home. SO! I got bored and decided to put on a show I later came to regret. I took my jigging rod and decided to go after the sharks, well I hooked one up and the battle was on. The shark fought nice, at the beggining for a minute I tough it maybe a grouper, nice runs no head shakes. I reeled in then it would run again and again. I was sweating up a storm when on one of the runs PAW! an explosion MY ROD BROKE! Not what I expected a $300 fishing rod would do. I had caught fish over 50 pounds on it before but I guess it just couldn’t take a mad over 100 pound shark. Well I tdecided to finish the battle get the shark closer and recover the piece of rod I lost. Got the shark boat side took some pics but the line busted making me loose the rod piece. HOT DANG IT!!! I will not do that again! Next time  I will not drop unless I have a shark rod.

For a description of the pictures just place your mouse pointer over them.


Ron the photographer on this trip. Thanks for the pics bro

Preparing Bait The Galley on Out of Control IV The Bunks on Out of Control IV Bait stations and coolers on Out of Control IV Fishing space on Out of Control IV Fighting a fish on Out of Control IV Got some bait  Ricky with a nice Lion Fish- an invasive species The boys playing around Got eaten by a shark Fighting the shark Getting a little tired putting pressure on the sharkThe shark The shark The shark chewing on my rod tip The shark  Loney the mate-cook