Capt. Yuri Dry Tortugas Slow Jigging and Bait 9/14/18

I was invited to go fishing on a trip to the Dry Tortugas. I was asked to replace a fisherman that was not able to make the trip so I jumped in. Many times you arrange a trip in advance things come up and people can’t make it. I was in their shoes as well looking for a replacement but ended going fishing as I was able to resolve my plans. On this trip my goal was to test my back and jig as much as I could. I’m glad I’m able to enjoy jigging a lot more now. I jigged the first two days and had to rest on the third, but I made it.

We left the docks around 9:30 pm and got to the fishing grounds around 12:30 am. On the first stop the current was fairly strong, Rory was able to get a pig of a mutton snapper but then shortly after it turned into a sharknado. No matter what you would put down it was shark after shark. Morning time came and current was still fairly strong. I was able to use 220 grams slow pitch jigs hooking up to several American Red Snappers and small mutton snappers. Then things got a bit better and was able to land a nice Scamp Grouper then again we were hit by another sharknado and ended up moving away as they were even hitting our jigs making us loose several of them until I added some flexible Tyger wire. This is a pretty good wire that is very hard to kink and is so flexible that almost acts like heavy mono filament and you can tie knots with it making it very easy to handle.

Below is Rory with his nice Dry Tortugas mutton Snapper.Mutton snapper

One of my American Red Snappers.American Red Snapper

The sharks started hitting the jigs.shark on vertical jig

My scamp grouper below was caught with a slow pitch jig .scamp grouper

Rory getting ready to release an American Red Snapper.American Red Snapper

Bill and his American Red Snapper.American Red Snapper

Having moved only a few minutes away it was donkey kong time! Ben was able to land a 70 pound class amber jack with the help of Rodney the rod holder. I was able to somehow get away from them and landed another scamp grouper. Fishing hadn’t been as good as we wanted and so the Captain suggested we do some deep drop fishing and out came the electrics but me and Jongsoo tried jigging with 500 gram jigs anyways and was able to get down successfully only to get tangled with the electric reel lines as the Captain kept trying to stay on the spot by power motoring. We decided to get a rest and Jongsoo got in the electrics while I helped a few times bringing in the fish. I should have helped more, my apologies to the guys for that.

Ben and his Amber Jack that was released. The pic does not do justice on the real size of this fish.Amber Jack

Below is my second Scamp Grouper of the day. I got a total of 3 Scamps on the #slowpitchjig.scamp grouper

A sample of the deep drop fishing snowy groupers caught by Rory and Bill.snowie grouper

Sunset came and no black groupers, no mutton snapper just sharks and sharks and more sharks. We decided to just eat a nice dinner prepared by Captain Yuri then rest and went to sleep waking up at night to try again but the sharks were just too thick. Morning came and things went for the better. A few porgies were caught as well as a couple of red groupers. Rory’s dad Bill got some nice mutton snappers and Greg got his first ever mutton snapper and it was a pig of a fish. Way to get a first with a 12 to 14 pounder. I also got into some mutton snappers on the slow pitch jig. By this time it was already 3pm and the Captain decided to move.

A nice Dry Tortugas Sunset.dry tortugas sunset

Below is Jongsoo on a battle with a big shark.dry tortugas fishing

below is Jongsoo with a porgie caught on a slow pitch jig.porgie

Then again a Red caught on another slow pitch jig.red grouper

At this time of the day it was #slowpitchjigging time and worked nicely. Rory with a mutton snapper caught on the slowpitch jig.mutton snapper on slow pitch jig

And another mutton snapper caught by me on the slowpitch jigs.mutton snapper on slow pitch jig

What I call a white grunt caught by Greg.porgie

Below is Bill with another mutton snapper.mutton snapper

Rory with a nice porgie.porgie

Here is Greg with another nice Dry Tortugas size mutton snapper.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

i also took a turn with a nice size Dry Tortugas mutton snapper.mutton snapper

Next spot was not so great we power drifted to keep vertical but all we hooked up again were sharks and re sharks. Sunset move was also not productive, no black groupers just more sharks and the rest of the night proved much of the same, sharknado! Jongsoo took the cake with a shark over 200 pounds or so.

Morning time came and it was basically the same so the Capatain took us to a shallow water flag yellow tail spot. The boys were able to land many nice flag yellow tails but I was not prepared for that. I was able to land a nice mutton snapper and a nice Barracuda but that was it. It was the end of our trip.

Here is the nice cuda.barracuda

All in all it was a sharknado trip with slow catching and some quality fish in the mix. In the end we took dinner home for a few weeks if not a couple of months so this was an ok trip.

Below is me with two of the fish not in the above pics and the overall catch from the trip.Herbert 7

Until next time, Tight Lines!

Advertisements

Dry Tortugas With Captain Shane Leonard – Nov – 2014

I spent a couple of weekends getting my jigging gear ready and couple others catching bait for our trip to the Dry Tortugas. On one night I had hell netting with a 3 foot cast net but managed to net 136 ballyhoo of which I a gave a bag of over 20 to each on the trip. Before the trip we had one more night scheduled to catch bait and this time I was to bring a 6 foot cast net to make things easier once I got to the dock Adam got the boat ready to go but it was a no go. The bridge between the dock and the liberty of the ocean was blocked by higher than normal low tide, we were not able to get past the bridge to get fresh bait that we would keep brined to take the same day. In the end of bait gathering we all managed to get a few goggle eyes and bought a few as well. With the bait in our freezers and our gear ready to go we thought all was 100% when all of a sudden we were on weather watch as the weather could make a bad turn to cancel our trip as it did in 2013. It was the last day and we got the go ahead to drive to Stock Island in the Florida Keys. I had to leave some gear behind as this boat only allows 5 rods per person. It was tough for me to do so as I like to bring 7 rods with me. I ended bringing one bottom rod, 2 jigging rods, a top water rod that could double as a jigging rod, and a bait rod to catch gogs and Yellow Tail Snappers. I also brought a YO-YO reel just in case. On the way we were notified that Captain Yury was on a hunting trip and Captain Shane Leonard was to be our Captain for this trip. Most of us had fished with him three times before so I had no worries.

On the way to the boat.

I picked up Nilson for the drive down to the Keys. We played Tetris with our gear and coolers to get everything in the back of my Scion XB box car. We did it and did not leave anything behind. On we went for a few bait stops so we stopped at Key Largo Fisheries for some fresh ballyhoo, but they had none so while we were there we went over our memory list of things needed and of course we forgot a few things. Towels, toothpaste, and soap, need to take at least one shower on this kind of trip you know plus you do need to brush your teeth everyday day. After getting that plus a few unneeded things like chocolate bars we went on the way to catch some bait. This time to the well known not a secret spot No Name Key where the boys loaded a 15 gallon bucket with live pinfish and prayed they made the journey to the boat.

At no name KeyGetting bait

 Well, we got to the boat and had to wait for Stevie the Wonder to finish cleaning it. We let the boat dry out a bit and loaded our gear in it.

The BoatAs we were waiting just about all of us had good hope for a good fishing trip as we stared at the fileted fished in a cart. These were from the trip before us. Looked like a nice load.Previous Night's Catch

Fishing got started.

Things started slowly with me getting a small Cobia on bait. Robert started with the mutton snappers by nailing a decent size one then Rory put a bigger one in the box. A bit later I switched to a jig and then got another small cobia,  and then another. I thought there might just be one out there that was of size but there was no luck for me.

In the morning

I started jigging and was able to connect with a Red Grouper a story that would repeat over and over for about 20 times. On this trip the Red Groupers seemed to like jigs slowly moved near the bottom. Below is a Red Grouper on a Supplex jig.

Herbert's Red Grouper 1Next I got a porgie on the same Supplex jig.Herbert's Porgie on a jigRory was onto the Mutton Snappers with live bait.Rory's MuttonWhen he decided to jig a shark came up and claimed it’s Dry Tortugas taxes.Rory's Mutton got taxedAdam got this nice Scamp Grouper on a vertical jig.Adam's ScampAt noon I took a rest from the jigs and used a live bait to get this nice 12 pound Mutton Snapper.Herbert's Mutton 1Shortly after at 1:15 pm I got another beauty of 12 pounds as well.Herbert's Mutton 2

Nilson joined us and got his Mutton Snapper.Nilson's Mutton 1Adam went back to bait and landed his Mutton Snapper.Adam's mutton 1I decided to go back to jigging and landed a nice Red Grouper.Herbert's Red Grouper 2Adam kept on bait fishing and landed the biggest mutton of the trip, a 14.5 or so Mutton Snapper.Adam's mutton 2Nilson went on and also got a 14 pound Mutton Snapper.Nilson's mutton 2

The First Night

Night time came by and I do not know what happened, I fell as sleep. Yes I did! I guess I am getting to that stage in my age where the non exercise couch potatoness is setting in and by 9 pm I start to get sleepy just to wake up at 5:00 am. Oh well I missed out on some good fishing, I think. Well, I was told that the seas would be rough so we were to move behind the Fort for cover.

The Second Morning

The morning of the 14th things got hotter, we were fishing in shallow water and fishing was hot. I was glad I slept well and so did others. It was no surprice, I spelt a hell of a lot more than I ever done on a fishing trip.

Ricky started into the good fishing by nailing a decent mutton around 8:30 am.Ricky's mutton 1I kept with my jigging and after catching a few more small Red Groupers I lost my Supplex jig to a King Mackerel. I switched to a Blue Blue jig and at 11:30 am landed this nice Red Grouper.Herbert's Red Grouper 3Meanwhile Adam kept with the bait fishing and landed this nice 14 pound Red Grouper.Adam's Red Grouper 1My Blue Blue jig got cut off by another King Mackerel so I switched to a Maxel Dragonfly in 180 grams. The result, another Red Grouper and this time it was a double header as Adam got one a minute later with live bait.Adam and Herbert double headerThe above grouper was a stubborn one and rocked me, I managed to get it out and almost lost it as my reel drag got loose and then the Shout 1/0 hook bent but did not bend enough to loose my fish.

Bent HookIn the Red Grouper madness Rory and Robert also had a double header.Rob and Rory double header 2Ricky was drifting a Hookup Jig (Troll Right) in the chum slick when a very nice Red Grouper hit the tiny morsel. He had a good fight trying to get the fish in the boat.Ricky's Red GrouperI kept on with the Maxel jig and kept getting more Red Grouper after Red Grouper.Herbert's Red Grouper 4Nilson it was still around 1:30 when Nilson also got into the hot Red Grouper bite and landed a few very nice Red Groupers.Nilson's Red Grouper 1

Nilson and Rory double header

Nilson's Red Grouper 3After the bite slowed down we made a move to deeper water but the current was just too much, 2 pounds would not hold so we moved to another shallow spot. The Captain told us to get our heaviest gear and put a big live bait down. Adam decided to use his jigging gear with a Jigging Master hook, he made the right choice and was able to land a nice Goliath Grouper.Adam's Goliath GrouperThen shortly after Rory landed on of the few non Red Groupers.Rory's Gag Grouper

On The Second Night

Night time fell upon us and was to be the last night of the trip. The highlights were Rory thinking he was stuck on the bottom and using a YO-YO to pull his rig but surprise, surprise, the line kept on coming and coming until a big Nurse Shark was revealed. Rory always seems to find one of these cats no matter where he fished, well most of the time.

Rory's Nurse SharkAfter the Nurse Shark was released unharmed Adam landed an 18 pound cobia. it went nuts in the boat as they always do, so we had to put it in a cooler until it calmed down. We forgot all about it and did not take a pic. The rest of the morning we spent it catching yellow tails to make up our snapper limit. The Captain was kind enough to cook breakfast and dinner for us through out the trip. Normally he would do a breakfast and a dinner. We thank him very much for going the extra mile with us.

Back at the dock we laid our gear against the fileting station for a wash.

Our Gear   Our Gear 2

Our catch in garbage cans, there was more in the coolers as we were unloading from the boat.The catch in garbage cansOur total catch picture is below.

High Hook for Mutton Snappers went to Robert with about 10 Mutton Snappers.

I was High Hook on Groupers with my limit of six and all by way of the Vertical Jig. Got over 15.

Rory also ended very high on the Groupers with 7 Red Groupers and one Gag Grouper.

Biggest Fish, Biggest Mutton, and Biggest Grouper went to Adam.

The final catch 11-16-14Stevie the Wonder fileting our catch for $35 bucks an hour, $5 more than last year. But it is worth the wait to make things easier when you get home.Stevie Wonder the Filet joker

All in all on vertical fluttering jigs (Slow Pitch jigs) I caught:

5 Cobias – released all of them because they were too small

15 red groupers (and even more, most where short of the legal size requirement)  I kept my limit of six

3 Lane snappers

3 Vermillion Snappers

1 Yellow Tail Snapper

1 Mutton Snapper

1 Porgie – Released

1 Grey Trigger Fish – Released

The gear I used was :

-Accurate BX600 4:1 w/ 80 lb braid, top shot 100 lb mono on a GF850H Calstar (30 to 80 pound class rod).For Groupers and doubled up as a Mutton Snapper rod at night. I had 80 lb braid backing and a short 100 foot top shot that I could change when night or daytime came.
-Shimano Sustain 5000 with 15 lb mono line to catch Yellow Tails. Next time will bump to 20 lb line.
-Shimano Stella 8000SWPG on a factory Calstar 7 foot rod.
-Jigging Master PE3 filled with PE4 BB line with 40lb flourocarbon leader on a 200 gram Jigging Master Power Spell Jigging Rod.
-Jigging Master Ocean Devil PE6 filled with 65lb Tuffline XP and and 60 lb leader on a Jigging Master Terminator 400 gram rod.

 

Bunus shot:

Jig and assist line after getting hit after hit after hit

Kevlar line

 

Captain Yuri’s Boat Fishing With Bait – July 2014

This report is now way over due, what can I say, I have been a busy bee. As always work gets in the way of fun with the family and fishing  but I can still find a way to balance life in a way to include some fishing and going out with my family. The grass in my back yard has waited quiet a while now but “Oh Well!” I don’t go on my back yard that often anyways. When I agreed to go on this trip I knew it was in July and I knew it would be hot, but didn’t know it was going to be scorching  hot! There was no wind and no current. I don’t think that Captain Shane needed to drop the anchor at all, but he did. Many think that because you go on a 6 pack you will catch your limits on every species but that is not the case. Most fish like current so they can ambush their pray and it’s been my experience that while fishing offshore and inshore they do not feed much when there is no current and so it was the case on this trip. This is the reason this report will be sweet and short 🙂

When we got to the dock the boat was not ready, they had to fill the coolers with ice and had to fuel it.

     Captain Yuri July 201402  Captain Yuri July 201408

In the meantime we walked around the Stock Island Marina and found all the changes to be very pleasing to the eyes.

      Captain Yuri July 201420  Captain Yuri July 201415

Captain Yuri July 201417

 I was very pleased to see that the water clarity was so good that coral heads were growing under the docks and some hogfish were spotted.

      Captain Yuri July 201423   Captain Yuri July 201422

Once the boat got back we loaded our gear in.

                      Captain Yuri July 201438   Captain Yuri July 201439

After loading up we left Captain Yuri at the dock since Shane and Yuri’s nephew were to Captain the boat on this day.

Captain Yuri July 201424

Soon after we were in the Dry Tortugas area where things were a bit slow. Scot even had to measure a red grouper which he was happy to know it made the measurement.

 

      Captain Yuri July 201440   Captain Yuri July 201441

It was then that the pain in the ARS (Amerincan Red Snapper) showed up and so we had to move.

     Captain Yuri July 201442   Captain Yuri July 201443

The first Dry Tortugas Sunset came and the fish cooler was sad looking.

Sunset in the Dry Tortugas

 Night time yielded a couple of fish and of course the known King Mackerel of the Dry Tortugas.Captain Yuri July 201449

It was now morning time and as we saw a funnel cloud develope the muttons started to bite. Jimmy was eating his breakfast when his rod started going off and then finish the by landing the famous Dry Tortugas Mutton Snapper.

     Captain Yuri July 201452   Captain Yuri July 201456

Captain Yuri July 201458

I also got my hands on one.Captain Yuri July 201455

Adam landed a nice size mutton.Captain Yuri July 201461

Scott did as well.Captain Yuri July 201462

Ed found himself a mutton size Mangrove Snapper, as a nice school passed by at almost noon.Captain Yuri July 201463

In the after noon we hit a batch of red groupers and scamps mixed with Yellow Eye Snappers.

Captain Yuri July 201466

Captain Yuri July 201473

Sharks, ARS, sharks, and more ARS. The Sharks were a pain in the ARS! Here are two that got hit but only one survived the attack.

Captain Yuri July 201468   Captain Yuri July 201470

And then Ed found himself a nice size Mutton Snapper.Captain Yuri July 201475

Another beautiful Dry Tortugas sunset fell upon us together with the humidity and heat, it was like being in a sauna for the entire trip. Most of us were exhausted as many sharks were caught specially by me and Scott.   Captain Yuri July 201478

This strange looking fish that resembled a Star Gazer fish was caught by Scott.Captain Yuri July 201482

Below is what was to be the last shark of the trip an estimated 8 foot bullshark fought by Ozzy.

Captain Yuri July 201488

It was very slow pickings in the heat but we manage to fill our coolers.Captain Yuri July 201493

Hopeful next time I fish in July there will at least be a small breeze.

Yankee Capts Mutton Marathon 8-16-13 to 8-18-2013

THE FISHING TRIP: Yankee Capts Mutton MarathonYankee Capts Boat
Aboard the “Yankee capts” with Captain Greg
The Spot : Dry tortugas
Weather : Friday ESE up to 10 to 15  knots, Saturday ESE up to 17 knots, Sunday E  up to 20 knot winds, some rain, cool temperature
Water: Up to 5 foot seas is my guess. Water color clear and mild currents
Fish catches: Quality muttons but very low quantities, plenty yellow tail snappers enough for everyone on the boat to get their limits, and the usual bait fish such as bonito and blue runners
Biggest size Type : Mutton up to 15 pounds (is my guess didn’t see it on a scale)
Techniques : Live bait, dead bait and Vertical Jigging
Jigs : 80 to 150 gram,  butterfly jigs, blue, pink, and green jigs worked best. Only caught bonitos on them.

My buddy Ed had been itching for the experience to fish on the Yankee Capts and he knew I was planning on a trip, so we decided to hop on the Mutton Marathon trip. Well,  for starters I knew I was going in to a trip with a big possibility in bad omen of weather. There was a Low Pressure system in the Yukatan Peninsula and a High pressure system in the Carolinas it would have gone both ways. I normally like to fish before or after a storm, this time it was in between. Sometimes we have to do what we can to get an opportunity to fish and so it is my luck that this year I have been against a wall of bad luck. It is called fishing not catching so no excuses of bananas on board. I will blame the cause to this trip to my lack on getting fresh bait for my self on this trip. I only went out once to get fresh bait and it was only micro blue runners and jacks that I found, plenty for yellow tails but no mutton snapper bait. I could have gone and tried harder to get some good goggle eyes but I just did not have the time and did not want to kill my self over the bait and so I made the wrong decision of calling the Captains in the keys and depended 100% on them. Well, there was no bait in the Keys, no one had it and even ballyhoos were not accessible for purchasing since it is commercially closed in August. Out of 4 Captains called and 5 bait shops visited and was only able to acquire frozen old bait and I mean freezer burnt old bait. Our only chance was to get fresh bait on the boat.

As we got to the dock it was the usual unload and get all ready for the trip, after doing so we enjoyed a nice Hogfish Sandwich and a few drinks. The boat left the docks and we arrived at the grounds at around 4am in the morning. First stop 110 feet deep. At this dept you are usually able to acquire fresh bait. I got my net ready as a few flying fish were visible, dang it they left as soon as the engine stopped running, crap! I tried the sabiki for some gogs but had no luck and the sun came up a bit later than usual giving us more time but the bait just wasn’t at this stop. OH well, we tried getting yellow tails and we got plenty of that, a story that would repeat over and over during the day. It was now night time Friday, the boat was anchored at 110 to 120 on all the stops and the flying fish came close to the boat and I was able to secure at least a dozen or so of them but about 8 were only 3 inches long which was not so useful when you are in yellow tail City. The yellow tail would just chump at the small baits and when using the old frozen baits those would just fall right off and when hooking them in the spine you would just bring the cleaned out bones, if you are a fish bone collector this was the time for you to appreciate, not for me. It was time for a super hot shower get a little cleaned up and drink a beer re look at my strategies and see if I could do something on Saturday to turn my luck around.

The clock kept going as it always does, it was now past midnight and the Captain tried moving to deeper water the current was good for 8 ounce fishing but the wind and the current were on opposite ends, it was tangle city USA. New Yorkers against Canadians, against Floridians blaming each other for the tangles when it was nothing but wind to be blamed, LOL. It all got quiet everyone looked at each other and kept on trying to fish with some relocation to other places on the boat. As the day came by us the captain again moved to shallower waters this time to some ledges in 85 to 90 feet of water.  Well it was another bust, hardly any bites and sad to say maybe the reason we weren’t catching much is in the video below. My buddy Ed dropped a Gopro in 90 feet of water with a small contraption we devised, take a look and just pause it when you see fish.

Later in the day we made another move and when I saw that ledge on the screen I was so happy, I hurried down and grabbed my jigging rod, jigged and jigged but nothing happened. We actually had arrived in shark city USA, shark are always all over the Dry Tortugas and up to date I have been able to avoid them by using crabs, octopus, and squid, well nothing else was interested on those offerings other that yellow tails that were chomped by the sharks anyways!  But then the sharks moved out and up came some action with a few muttons and some nicer size yellow tails and juvenile red groupers. As the sun started to go down Ed gets a blue runner, I immediately cut it and tell him how too hook up the chunk. He sent it down and only a few seconds when BABAM!!!! ZZZZZZZZZZZ ZZZZZZZZZ he thinks is a shark and Jarvis and I at the same time say “iIT’S A NICE SIZE MUTTON RUN MAN!!!” Ed did his thing and got the fish up inch by inch. “UFFF!” he said, “got him!” and so he retired for a little while in the afternoon right after that, the man sure was happy of the catch, LOL.

Ed and his prized catch

Ed's happy with his biggest mutton so far

As the night fell on us I went back to bait fishing, the bait was hitting small sabikis and guess what? I only had huge sabikis that worked in the past, I left my smaller sabkis at home because I tried to downsize on the tackle I brought. ARRRG! I only got one goggle eye and 2 blue runners. The blue runners were taken by sharks and the goggle eye was lost because Rodney the Rod Holder failed me. the rod holder was in a spot that when I pulled it out the lever went on free spool as I got a bite. CRAPOLAS AGAIN!!! OH well again, the afternoon came by and the weather turn for a bit and we lost some of the wind and the clouds, Nice! WEED! WEED! WEED! Not the one you smoke the good stuff lots of Sargasso floating around. I got prepared and setup a rod in case dolphins got close by. Nothing came close by so I went to the stern to try and sling a knocker rig with a whole ballyhoo on 30 pound test braid line for a shot at a mutton and what happens to pass by as sling my bait out into the depth? 3 dolphins, 2 cows and a bull. Art a quick thinking fisherman also had the same Idea as I did and had a rod ready so he sent the chunked bait out and hooked on to a small cow and kept it in the water long enough for other to throw some bait out. I already had the whole ballyhoo on my knocker rig so I brought it  in to the top and got nailed by a bigger cow. At least I got a 10 pound mahi mahi on this try and did it by chance since my prepared mahi mahi rod was at the front. After that it was nothing but yellow tails and yellow tails for me. Art and Jarvis who are regulars on the boat had fresh goggle eyes and speedos, they were hauling one quality mutton here and there at a few stops. Art won the pool with one of those fish and I think Jarvis ended with 8 muttons or so after Jarvis no one had more that 3 or 4 muttons and I only got a short  one I had to let go.

It was past 12am on this night and Sunday had arrived, Ed spent a lot of time sleeping because he developed a big back pain but he kept on fishing in between naps, I woke him up to help me with the bait.  I went on to try and try and we did nothing but try. In the end I only a small strawberry, a 10 pound mahi mahi and had kept only 20 yellow tails since I used the rest for bait. That was all I had to show for this trip. I didn’t even take a pic of me with the fish. It was not a worthy catch. Here are some more pics for your enjoyment.

On left a nice vintage modified for fishing, you get to see so many creative stuff in Key West. On right a look at the boat from the Hog Fish Grill restaurant

My dream car  Yankee Capts Boat sign

The boat now has some nice front racks!

A view of the Yankee Capts front rack

Ed working the bow and Lindon with his watchful eyes always ready to help someone

Lindon and his watchfull eye

Richard the new mate with one of Jarvis muttons

the new mate holding a mutton

The New Yorkers working the transom. They sure looked like they had fun.

The New Yorkers doing their thing

On left Captain Yuri, flying right by us. We were fishing the same waters he was. On right an Andy Griffiths boat also went right by us

Captain Yuri passing by   Andy Grifiths passing by

A nice weed patch we worked on Saturday

One hell of a weed patch

On the way in a look at the yellow tail filled totes

The trip's catch

The tourist boats from the Keys on the left and on the right the Catamaran from Fort Myers to Key West, talk about speed

Key West tourist boats   Talk about speed

I wonder how the winds were in Key West, this sailboat got stuck on a sand bar, expensive mistake.

In trouble

Fishermen gathered around waiting for their catch to be distributed

fish distribution

DRY TORTUGAS OCTOBER 18th TO OCTOBER 21st 2012

Cudaman's Ctach    We went fishing with Captain Yuri once more. Here is part of the report and story as I remember it.

THE FISHING TRIP: OCTOBER 18th OCTOBER 21st 2012
Aboard the “Lauren Jeanne” with Captain Yuri Vakselis

The Spot : Dry Tortugas, Florida

Weather : cloudy, winds of 10 to 15 knots? first 3 days up top 20 knots on the last day

Water: Calm at first then cloudy with sand mix noticeable

Fish catches: Mutton Snappers, Yellow Tail, Snappers, Mangrove Snappers, lane snappers, many kinds of Groupers, King Mackerels (kingfish), Cero Mackerel, and football sized Blue Runners

Biggest size Type : Muttons 15lbs … Yellow Tail snapper 4 lbs, Mangrove snapper 6 lbs, Red Grouper around 16 lbs…Kingfish mackerel around 20lbs

Techniques : Vertical Jigging, cut bait, and live bait

Jigs : 100-250 gram, Bullet type bucktail jigs, butterknife jigs, butterfly jigs, speed jigs, Pink, red/white, silver, and blue worked the most.

THE GAME PLAN: It was going to be a mixed jigging trip and bait trip. We had planned what worked for us last year, no bait in the water until we finished jigging. It worked at the beginning but later on we seemed to have gone in our own individual plans to get the fish to bite. We all had mixed jigging and baits at the same time and it worked ok. Jigging didn’t impair fishing with bait and fishing with bait didn’t impair jigging. Dead bait worked better by switching to different baits as often as the bite slowed down.

THE BAIT: It was known that it is imperative that we take all kinds of oily baits to the Dry Tortugas but it was pretty hard to gather bait before the trip,yes, again just like last year. Because of our schedules it was hard to get out on the days that the conditions would dictate good bait catching for us and this year we were also plagued by the canal water to close to the bait catching areas and lets not talk about the gas prices to get to the bait catching areas. We collected a few runners, macks, and jacks. We decided to stop trying and to catch bait on the day of the trip. On the way up some stopped by Atlantic fisheries and got some fresh ballyhoos and frozen gogs. Nilson and I stopped at the bridges for some threadfins (in case we went to a wreck), and mackerels. On one of the bridges we saw Adel and his frien catching some threadfins, he is one of the people that fish the Yankee Capts regularly. Talked to him for a bit, he gave me a new bait contact, and I wished him good luck on the trip. We the    n passed by the bridges after 7 mile bridge and found a few barjacks and yellow jacks. Some of our crew went to get some pins and pins they got, great job guys. Wish you would have waited for me so we could have kept a few more alive.

BASICS WERE LOADED: . After the bait we stopped at one of my favorite Pizza Places, the one across from Winn-Dixie in No Name Key, Pizza Works. What great Pizza, or is it that I am always very hungry by the time I get there? Only thing is that every year it just keeps on getting smaller. After pizza it was a Cannon Ball Race for the best bunks. Low Rider Red car team pulled a David Copperfield/David Blain act on us and disappeared so it was to safely race to the docks. Team Stoner a little confused made a turn back to No Name Key, which gave us the advantage to at least get the small bunks even though we missed Schrimp Road we got there before them. We loaded the boat and enjoyed a few beers.

THURSDAY FISHING STARTED: We left the docks around 8:10 pm and started fishing shortly after midnight. We knew that we were going to be plagued with high currents but surprisingly the Captain found areas in 130 to 150 were we could fish with 6 to 8 ounces of weight, but we celebrated too early as every time the tide changed we would need up to 2 pounds to find bottom. On my snapper rod I never went above 10 ounces but I was using light line. On my grouper rod I was using 12 ounces. For snapper I started with 40 lb test leader but after loosing the first fish I stuck with 60lb leader most of the time and when the bite slowed down or the fish got bigger and the sun was out I switched to 50 pound fluorocarbon and at times switching back to 40 pound leader. After the water was chummed up the muttons started chewing within an hour of us being there. The bite started slow from the get go and we prepared for an ok trip. It was slow pickings but we got a good job done, at least I think. On the first night we got     some muffin muttons while a few sharks came by and collected their Tortugas tax.

FRIDAY CAME: This is when the jigging really got pretty good. There were some small groupers, muttons, and Red American snappers caught. The days that followed a few more came up by way of jigging. FISHING ALMOST ENDED: Well, we were getting taxed heavily by the sharks. We lost just too many muttons to them and on one of those as I was getting ready to grab the leader on my line a stupid shark dashed to the bottom cut the line off and the 10 ounce weight sprung bat towards my head. I was not able to move away fast enough and up came the punch from Shark Tyson, well, knock down!!!! I hit the floor up I came bleeding like a boxer and went to get some paper towels, the Captain gave me something to clean it up and a band aid, so all in all was kewl with a bit of double vision and blurriness. We kept fishing and after the trips was over I ended up going to urgent care, I was sent to Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, some anesthetics and an eye patch until my laser procedure to remove some blood vessels. Just be car    eful with handling those tiny sharks, sometime they cause the most damage. Pic don’t look so bad but it felt rally bad.

SATURDAY: This was a slow pickings day for most, the daytime brought some slob and we got to fish in 250 feet where some yellow eyes and more Red Americans kept on coming as pests. At night most of the time was filled with muffins, but we got a few nice ones as well.

SUNDAY FISHING ENDED: The captain said that the wind would pick up in the morning so we headed to fish by Rebecca’s Shoals. This is were the nice flag yellow tails came from. It got a little rough but not enough to get anyone sick. We did a couple of moves around the area and surprisingly were fishing in 30 feet of water were a couple of nice Red Groupers, more flag yellow tails, and some button muttons came up. This is where some were able to catch up in the fishing; it was not bad at all.

What bait worked best? As always the fresh bait is what did it; fresh gogs, fresh ballyhoo, fresh blue runners, fresh bonito, and fresh pinfish, some of the backup bait was used, but the men in the grey suit loved it too much. At least that was the case in my part.

THE FINAL TALLY WAS:

Herbert (cudaman):
20 muttons with biggest at 14.5 pounds, a 6 pound mangrove, 2 yellow eyes(only kept my 2 day snapper limit), 1 Red American snapper, 2 triggerfish, one strawberry grouper, one red grouper, a cero mackerel, a kingfish, and too many sharks to count with one that almost leaves me blind.

Nilson (rare):
15 muttons with biggest at 14 pounds, a 6 pounder mangrove, too many sharks to count, and a 20 pounder kingfish

Rory (PhishingPhanatic):
10 muttons with biggest around 14 pounds, 3 flags at around 24″ each, 1 red grouper, 1 king, 1 baby cobia, 1 big jack crevalle, and 323 sharks

Ricky (Rijkaard):
12 muttons with biggest mutton at 15 pounds, 3 mangrove snappers, 3 yellow tail snappers, 1 kingfish, 1 nice margate, 1 rockhind grouper, 1 red grouper, and too many sharks to count.

Robert (WhoDey):
11 muttons, 2 Mangroves, 2 Red American snappers, 4 yellowtails, and 3 red grouper, and too many sharks to count.

Adam (EnglishAdam):
15 mutton, one mangrove, 2 Red American snappers, and a red grouper, and too many sharks to count.

Here are the pics:

Picking up Nilson on my old faithfull 300k plus miles truck

On the way

At No Name with the endangered ones

Passing the 7 mile bridge

Loading up

Loading up

If you put them in individual bags this does not happen

On the waters

Herbert (me) with “El Cuchillo part 2”

Nilson

Rory

We had a very, very tired visitor

Ricky
Someone chummed the water for him

It worked!

The result!

Chilling after eating a great dinner cooked by Capt Yuri

Rob

Adam

This Stowaway came from the beaches of the Atlantic to get me a snapper

The sharks were so thick they were hugging down jigs as well

Back at the Docks to hear some of Stevie’s jokes and have a few beers

Tight Lines to all and until next time

DRY TORTUGAS OCTOBER 21ST TO OCTOBER 23RD 2011

Here is part of the report and story as I remember it.

Since it was constant fishing, short resting periods, lots of rigging, plenty bait cutting, etc… the order of the events may have changed in my mind. I also tried to see what everyone in this trip was experiencing but focused a lot more on my fishing.

THE FISHING TRIP: OCTOBER 21ST TO OCTOBER 23RD 2011

Aboard the “Lauren Jeanne” with Captain Yuri Vakselis

The Spot : Dry Tortugas, Florida

Weather : cloudy, winds of 10 to 15 knots

Water: Cloudy sand mix noticeable

Fish catches : Amberjack, Jack Crevalles, Mutton Snappers, Yellow Tail, Snappers, Many kinds of Groupers, King Mackerels, Cero Mackerels, 1 small Blackfin Tuna. Horse Eye Jack, Bonita, and football sized Blue Runners

Biggest size Type : Amberjacks weight : around 50 to 60lbs… Muttons 16.2 lbs … Yellow Tail Snapper 5 lbs, Red Grouper around 16lbs…Kingfish mackerel around 28lbs

Techniques : Jigging, dead and live bait

Jigs : Knife Jigs 100-250 gram, Diamond jigs 100 gram, Red hawks jgs…Pink, red/white, silver, and blue worked the most.

THE PLANNING: After many emails and PM’s a year ago we decided to take one of those famous Tortugas fishing trips with Captain Yuri. It took many emails throughout the year to get in accord as to what gear we were all going to bring and some got together to order lead and vertical jigs so we could get discounts. Rods were made, reels were bought, and many lists came and went. We picked a moon that would not create so much pull and would result in weaker currents. We hit the jackpot as the current was minimal.

CLOSE CALL TO A NO GO: As many know that week almost got thrashed by a developing low pressure system that canceled many other trips on different boats, but fortunately for us a mild cold slowed down the low down and in the words of Captain Greg “it stabilized itself”. I think we almost became mini meteorologists, and oceanographers, LOL…. The good thing is that the bad weather created a nice environment for a feeding frenzy (so we think). The ocean was a bit dirty from the previous low pressure system and passing weak cold front. What a great time to fish!

Getting ready and loaded to the max.

THE BAIT: It was known that it is imperative that we take all kinds of oily baits to the Dry Tortugas but it was pretty hard to gather bait before the trip, at times we all tried to go out at some point and got drenched in water doing so. We collected a few runners, macks, and jacks. We decided to stop trying and to catch bait on the day of the trip. On the way up we did the norm, stopped at Jacks and got some fresh ballyhoos and some threadfins (in case we went to a wreck), we then passed by the Yellow Bait house in hopes for some frozen gogs but they had none, we passes by Atlantic fisheries and loaded on fish dip and slab of frozen gogs (BINGO! They had them!). We tried for cudas and other baits at channel 2 but these were on the other side of the driving bridge so we moved on, we passed by 7 mile bridge and found nothing there. We then went to get some pins that “SOMEONE” though was useless but I insisted and they caved in. After Rory netted the pins and Ricky, Nelson, and myself got a few of the bigger ones (Rob was the vigilante taking care of our gear), Rory got some sardines that were in the mix and Rory said “why not throw another cast?”. And so he did and got some more. We took the white bait just in case. We were more confident and went to the boat and met Jorge, kewl guy. Nice to meet you and fish with you man.

Bait gathering

THE FIRST DAY, FRIDAY:

THE RIDE OUT: Since on Thursday the weather was a little strong the plans were to go to the Fort and start fishing in the morning but we got to the boat early and Yuri decided we had a good window to go out right away so we left about an hour early and started fishing just before midnight. The ride was a little rough when we hit Rebecca’s Shoal and the waves according to the captain were about 5 to 7 feet. To me it felt like much more as I saw some higher waves that surpassed my head level (maybe it was the motion sickness that started to kick in due to my age, LOL)…

FISHING STARTED: All we needed was 3 ounces to get to the bottom but I chose 5 ounces for my mutton rod and 8 ounces for my grouper rods to be used with large baits ( I did target them on every stop). Others chose 6 ounces and even 8 ounces to get to the bottom quicker. Since the water was murky I stuck with 50lb leader most of the time and when the bite slowed down or the fish got bigger and the sun was out I switched to 50 pound fluorocarbon at times switching to 40 pound leader. After the water was chummed up the muttons started chewing within an hour of us being there. The bite was great from the get go. Two of the crew went to bed while the rest continued fishing. The first night was all about the muttons while a few sharks came by and collected their Tortugas tax. We started with a variety of baits pinfish, cut blue runners, and George had fresh gogs that he used and kindly shared some with us. We caught some muffins and some decent pinks but the bite slowed down. I then took out my little spinner with a 60 gram vertical jig and got a blue runner so George and I cut it and got more decent size pinkies with the strips we cut. So we kept every blue runner we caught after that. Other baits were used and just about everything that hit the water got chewed on. Also I think Rob tried the Lucanos and Jorge tried the Aki jig for a bit. The yellow tails were very aggressive and so we got many of them most were over 20 inches. I got one that was 26 inches (5 pounds), so I kept it.

THE VERTICAL JIGGING GOT STARTED: Early morning. I started jigging and got a football sized blackfin tuna, then came a couple of jack crevalles, and I had a nice fight on the Saltist 4500 I tighten the drag all the way and the hook pulled. Jorge started jigging as well and ended with another nice jack crevalle that was released. (We only kept one for bait). I then tried again with the looser drag (about 18 pounds), and then the trouble maker got hooked, SEA DONKEY! Rory and I were on. I spent quiet a while to pull mines in and Rory pulled his sea donkey in a bit easier since he had that huge 18K. We did not want to waste space in the cooler because we saw that the bite was kind of hot on the muttons. And each of those donkeys filled a 150 quart cooler with no problem. After the donkeys the bite slowed down and we moved to another spot. Rob got hooked on the Lucanos a few time the aki jig did not. The rest of the day was red groupers on live and butterflied “PINFISH” and we also got some nice flag yellow tails. I believe that Rob and Rory were using the white bait for those. We looked for the box of squid but could not find it, then realized we left it in one of the trucks. Jorge, Rob, Rory, and Ricky jigged the most. They pick a few nice and some short muttons and groupers. I only jigged when the bite slowed down.

THE SECOND DAY, SATURDAY:

It went by as we continued to try the jigging and baiting until we figured that we need to drop the jigs first before any bait and that was the ticket to some nice groupers and muttons. I got one of the biggest muttons of the trip on a vertical jig while Jorge got another two and Rory got a nice one as well. We were taking the pics when Nelson got hit on bait and pulled the other biggest mutton, both were 16.2 pounds on a digital scale. Rob kept on trying the Lucanos with Rick and both got nice red groupers and short ones as well. Rob got a real nice hit but his tiny Lucanos jig hook broke. Rory and Jorge continued with other muttons on the jig while I was using bait. We spent the entire day moving from stop to stop and we picked at the fish with the jigs on every first few drops. We would run to be the first ones to drop the jigs or bait, we had a small competition to see who got the most muttons and the biggest mutton, LOL….Ricky got creative and found a new secret bait, ended with a nice size pinky and I tried it as well with a much smaller cut bait and it worked. Then Nelson got creative and used a second hand bait that a red grouper had spit and BANG! He got hit on it but it was a short red grouper. The day went by and Ricky got a nice hit when all of a sudden his line felt like he was pulling dead weight, his nice size black got cut in half by a shark ?

This night we had the famous Yuri fish dinner and let me tell you it was all that people talk abound and then some. It was some great fish. I understand now how Robert started eating fish.

Jorge and Rob kept picking at the pinkies while we all slept I between naps. They got some live gogs and played with the kings for a bit. We ended with 3. Jorge had a massive hit that he could not stop. I went to be after that.

THE THIRD DAY SUNDAY:

It was the shark and kingfish saga! Every mutton or yellow tail would turn into a toothy critter (well it happened all trip long but it was more often as on this day). Nelson was the only one awake all night and he caught up with catching muttons I had a nice black grouper that cost me three tries to get it out of the whole when I felt my line vibrate, a king cut my sinker off when I had the fish a good 20 feet from the surface. Lesson learned: Spray paint my shiny leads in the future… We kept on fishing for yellow tails to see if we got some flags we ended catching some in the 24 inch range. Nelson, Jorge, and Rob kept on picking at the muttons while most of us were trying for more groupers and then they joined us as well. The morning slowed down and was time to go so we had to rearrange all coolers and drink all drinks since we had run out of fish space. The smorgasbord followed with Ricky eating his first Hot pocket ever, LMAO!!! He kept hearing hot pocket this hot pocket that until finally he had one.

BACK ON LAND! We unloaded and carpeted the floor with our catch, started to get ready to load all our stuff when we went to check the truck I opened it and Rory and I got hit by a MASSIVE! Nasty smell of the squid that was left on my cast net in the truck bed (the net still dipped in fabric freshener! LOL Well my truck stinks a mile away, I have to park in the far corner of the lot, LOL…Some got their fish cleane for 30 bucks an hour. I regret not doing so! I just finished cleaning mines a few hours ago and what a mess I have in my back yard. My neighbors are going to love the smell tomorrow afternoon, LMAO!!!!

Well that’s the end of some of the stories/report here are some more pics for those that skipped all the mumbo jumbo I wrote, LOL!

On our way to  No Name Key for more bait gathering we spotted an endangered Key Deer. They are very small deer  due to the small size of the islands and are losing their habitat.

At the temporary dock

Me

Rory

Ricky

Robert

Nilson

Jorge

The rest of the story in pictures

The final tally as given by the 6 fishermen was:

Nilson :

  • 11 muttons… (biggest at 16.2 lbs)
  • 3 reds
  • 1 scamp
  • 2 tails in the 18in range
  • 1 cero mackerel

Jorge:

  • Limit on muttons…(biggest at over 15 lbs)
  • 6 red grouper, plus one released
  • 2 big kings
  • 1 big jack crevalle
  • And countless yellow tails released

Rory :

  • 16 muttons…(biggest at over 15 lbs)
  • 2 red grouper
  • 1 gag grouper
  • 2 king fish
  • 1 big Amber jack
  • 1 cero mackarel
  • And countless Tails released, kept two 24 inchers

Robert :

  • Limit on muttons….(biggest at over 12 lbs)
  • 1 Big Mangrove snapper
  • 4 big porgies
  • 2 kings
  • 3 red Groupers
  • Over 10 yellow tail flags and countless more released

Ricky:

  • 16 muttons (biggest at 15 lbs 15 oz)
  • 6 groupers + 1 devoured by sharks,1 gag grouper,1/2 black grouper (had to pay the mafia in grey suit….)  ,1 strawberry,1 rock hind, red groupers
  • 1 porgy
  • 2 kings
  • 4 tails over 20″ (biggest at 24″)
  • 1 5′ lemon
  • 1 spotted moray eel
  • countless smaller tails and smaller sharks

Herbert (Cudaman):

  • Limit on muttons, over 4 released (biggest at 16.2 lbs)
  • Over 15 yellow tails released one at 26″ kept, one at 24″ kept
  • 2 black groupers
  • 4 red groupers, plus about 4 red groupers released
  • 1 football size blackfin tuna
  • 1 big amberjack….several small ones
  • 2 kings
  • 3 cero mackerel
  • 2 jack crevales over 12 pounds, kept one for bait because of gaft on head
  • 1 small Almaco jack released
  • 1 horse eye jack released

A variety of other groupers were caught and released by just about all the anglers on board. A total of about 160 fish kept and many, many released.

The biggest muttons caught were at 16.2 pounds by Herbert (cudaman) and one of same weight by Nilson (rare).

The most muttons caught by Herbert (Cudaman) and by Robert (WhoDey)

Jigging worked best at first drop

Dead bait worked better by switching to different baits as often as the bite slowed down.