Pulley Ridge LITE – A Jig and Bait Adventure

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.

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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

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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.

Pulley Ridge fishing 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.

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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.

Pulley Ridge fishing

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.

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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.

Pulley Ridge fishing  Pulley Ridge fishing

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.

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Pulley Ridge fishing

Andre, a new face to our group was enjoying some vertical jigging action and caught a nice Almaco Jack.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Rori joined the party with a nice Blue Line tile and Nilson got himself a Snowie Grouper snack.

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Jongsoo hooked up with a nice Snowy Grouper.Pulley Ridge fishing

And then again with an Amber Jack using a Shark Jig.

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Nilson and Imran hooked up on some nice beauties Queen Snappers.

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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.Pulley Ridge fishing

Some more Amber Jacks were showing up in between the Gag Grouper Catches.

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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.

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I got another Gag Grouper that went 29.5 pounds.Pulley Ridge fishing

Then Victor joined me as he was part of our triple Gag Grouper hook up.

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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.

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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.

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Danny got in the action with Black Fin Snappers and Rori got a nice Mutton Snapper.

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Then Rori hit it big with a nice Red Grouper at around 10 at night.

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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.

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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.

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I followed with a Mutton Snapper and a Nice red Grouper.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Pulley Ridge fishingBelow 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.

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Pulley Ridge fishing

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.

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Chris and Art kept on the quality hunts.

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Art dialed in.Pulley Ridge fishing

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.

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The day ended for us at the bow with Bill and a super nice Grouper.

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And Victor with a very nice Almaco Jack easily over 20 pounds.

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All good things must come to an end, and this time with an awesome Pulley Ridge Sunset.

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Rori and Bill did not give up on the trolling until the very end.  Chris and Rori were hoping for a last minute Wahoo.

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The fishing crew last resort was rest and wait for a dinner snack.

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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.

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Once docked we got ready to receive our fish and tally for the prizes.

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Pulley Ridge fishing

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.

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Below are the runners for biggest Snapper. Imran won that category.

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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.

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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.

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Below is Bill, he won First Mutton Snapper caught. He received two one pound spools of mono donated by Art.

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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.

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Below is William, with his prize for biggest tuna caught. He Receive OTI poppers donated by OSAGE and a prize bag donated by JimyjigsUSA.

Pulley Ridge fishing

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.

Pulley Ridge fishingAnd Once again William won with heaviest combined weight of Snapper, Grouper, and Blackfin Tunas.

Shark Tounament Winner

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.

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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.

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Here is another look at Art’s Queen Snappers. These were runner ups to biggest nappers.

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Victor and Danny show us their groupers once again.

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here is Victor showing off his Almaco Jack

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The crew cleaning the fish.

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And to finish it all off here is the group shot and two panoramic shots.

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Pulley Ridge fishing

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.

YankeeCapts

Yankee Capts, Key West’s Originators, Leaders and Pioneers of Dry Tortugas/Pulley Ridge Fishing Trips since 1977

http://www.yankeecapts.com

Shark by Jigging Depot copy

http://www.jiggingdepot.com

JimyjigsUSA

http://jimyjigsusa.com/

Pulley Ridge fishing Pulley Ridge fishing

Pulley Ridge fishing

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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

 

Bait Fishing at Anglins Pier 10-6-13

THE FISHING TRIP: Bait scouting
The Spot : Anglins Pier at the end of Commercial Blv in Lauderdale By The Seas, FL
Weather : South southeast winds 6 to 11 knots. Seas less than 2 feet
Water: Clear then started to brown from canal water being released, but not so bad
Fish catches: Blue runners and butter fish
Techniques : Crappie igs and small silver spoons

This weekend was an idle weekend for me, it was about resting up a bit and scouting for bait. I decided to go to Anglins pier since it offers comfort for my wife and daughter whom kept me some company on this trip. Got there 3 hour before sunrise and waited for the sun to come up. When I arrived there were small pods of finger mullets getting smashed by some snook and people had been catching bluefish. The kind of bait I was after doesn’t come to the pier when there are too many blue fish since these are voracious predators and will continuously harass the bait day or night. Even though bluefish is a bait I can use by the time I got there all the action died down so my only choice was to wait for sunrise and hope for some blue runners  and Spanish mackerel to arrive or hope for the bluefish to return. The sunrise came up and only the blue runners and white baits were present. Since I’m going on a 3.5 day fishing trip on Captain Yuri’s boat headed to the Dry Tortugas in 3 weeks, I am in need of oily baits so I was only after blue runners, small jacks crevalles, spanish mackerel, blue fish, and the such. At night it was just a few pickings of blue runners and lots of the ever annoying lookdown fish. the water started to get a nice color and the blue runner started coming in but died down almost as soon as they got there. The water started to get a brownish hue to it and lots of cow fish started to show up so I decided to try again another day. I did not want to take more blue runners than I was actually going to use. I like to keep a balanced amount of bait. A couple dozen blue runners, dork jacks, only about 2 or 3 blue fish, a good half dozen Spanish mackerels, at least a dozen of google eyes, and a dozen of speedos all caught within three weeks before a trip. The the fresh bait that will include bait caught three days before the trip; pinfish, about 6″  to as big as I can get blue runners, spanish mackerels, goggle eyes, blue fish, barracudas, ballyhoos, and on the day of scaled sardines and thread-fin herrings since these loose their quality too soon. These are only some of the baits I use, for other baits that have come in handy you should read my fishing reports as I always leave an Easter egg tip laying around in between all the writing I do. My way of helping people fish but not giving all away in a simple list. Here are some pics from today:

Reading at Anglins Pier Anglins Pier Sunrise

Anglins Pier Sunrise

Jigs I normally use to catch most of my baits

Crappie Jigs and Ice Jig

Below are some baits vacuumed packed and ready for my old bait freezer at -10 degrees

Vacummed Packed Blue runners Freezer Temperature

Went Back on 10-12-13

Well my nephew’s best friend wanted to go fishing so I told him Anglins pier was good to catch some blue runners for fun and I wanted to get a few other baits as well. So we met up at my nephew’s house and arrived at Anglings at 4 am. Went to the lights and started catching some runners other baits were not present but was told that the macks were running the day before so I was hoping for a better day this time around. As we were close to shore trying for baits we were catching too many baby pompanos so we decided to move over tot the “T” (the end of the pier). When we got to the T there were plenty blue runners but all were on the small side. I was hoping for bigger size one so I could chunk and or use their innards for mutton bait in the Dry Tortugas while fishing on Captain Yuri’s boat. I have always had great luck while using blue runners that were no more than a few weeks old. My nephew his son and friends had a ball catching the runners. I also met up with Nilson a friend that will be fishing with us on Captain Yuri’s Boat. This day we ended with more than enough runners for all six fishing in that trip. Here are some pics from that day.

Small Pompano

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A nice sunrise as always

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My nephew’s son with his priced blue runners on crappy jigs

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Florida Wildlife Commision officers (FWC) telling a diver to stay 300 feet from the pier. It is extremely dangerous for them to be there not only will they get tangle with the fishing lines but also may get hit by a fishing rig since the fishermen don’t really know where the divers might be, sometimes their flag rope is too long and the bubbles get carried by the currents.

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Here are the runners before the saltwater was added for a slush to brine them.

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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

Yankee Capts April 13th to 14th 2 day trip, my first trip of the year in 2013

THE FISHING TRIP:
Aboard the “Yankee Capts” with Captain Greg

The Spot : Dry TortugasYankee Capts 2013 Bow configuration

Weather : Weak cool north breeze

Water: Sometimes clear and sometimes with that nice sandy mix

Fish catches: Mutton Snapper, Yellow Tail Snappers, Cobia, King Fish, Amber Jack, Porgie, Bonitos

Biggest size Type : 30.8 pound Kingfish, 25.4 pound cobia, and 25 pound Amber Jack

Techniques : Vertical Jigging, cut bait, and live bait

Jigs : 100-250 gram,  butterfly jigs, speed jigs, silver, green, and blue colors worked the most.

We left to start fishing on the 13th and someone brought bananas on the boat! It was very, very slow, but had great fun as always

I missed two trips this year because of work  keeping me at a standstill on life. so It’s been several months since my last report and was hoping for it to be a good one but as sometimes happens not always do we get a limit or half a limit on a Dry Tortugas trip. We had a bit of a heat wave, a weak cool north breeze with no hot bites in between. The water looked nice, sometimes clear and sometimes with that nice sandy mixed color I like. As usual the Yankee Capts crew did everything they could to get the fishing going. We fished in 110’ to 120’s and when the wind calmed down we fished 190 ‘ then 220 to 245. After the wind came back we went to 90’ and then back up to 180’. At times there was no time wasted, if only sharks bit and nothing worth it came up, they moved the boat in hopes for the fish to bite. It was nice to get the opportunity to fish in those depths and with barely any current I deployed large baits for groupers (whole Spanish macks, speedos, and other freshly caught baits, butterflied or chucked), no groupers, only sharks were the takers. On a couple of stops I was even able to get a 1.5 ounce knocker rig down to 240’ using 17 pound test line and a strip of kingfish and again with a baby flyer caught in the early am before the sun came up. Only a nice yellow tail came from that. The vertical jigging only produced 2 small kingfish, a bonito, and a baby red grouper. I threw so many different jigs and every color and size I had in my bag of tricks but still wasn’t enough to get the bite going. I had macks and goggle eyes caught in the a.m. but those were no help. The combos and crabs did not work the kingfish, bonito, and blue runners I got while jigging got me a porgie and some yellow tails.

Saturday morning came in with a tail bite that did not last long and a small school of Mahis that I missed as they were all over the stern but not near the bow. I was stubborn and fished only the bow. I should have moved around since the boat was not even half full. I paid the price. In the afternoon all I got was an AJ with a butterflied goggle eye. On Saturday night I was running low on fresh bait so I put a chunk of a flyer and asked Rodney the rod holder for some help while I tried to get some more flying fish with the net. Irish man screamed “YOUR ROD!” I handed him my net to retrieve and started fighting the shark that turned into a cobia. The new mate got it on the head with one shot and as Chad was taking it to the box we decided to weigh it so I took my scale and put it on Chads fish hook, it showed 24 pounds and slipped out sending Chad’s fish hook flying towards his family jewls. Somehow he managed to hurt and laugh at the same time, sorry mate! Later that night while listening to Cameron’s, Chad’s, and the Captain’s jokes I asked Rodney to do me a favor again and told the guys I was going to sit down and watch Rodney getting me a mutton. I was joking around and bam! I did get a mutton, the only one I was to get for the rest of the trip.

As Sunday morning came it got a bit boring as the bite was not really there again. No hits on the big baits barely any on the small baits so I decided to give it a try and get a kingfish and others were trying it as well. I saw a pod of bonitos jump through the air like sardines and so I retrieved my rig and tossed it back out almost in front of it hoping for a nice fish other than bonitos to hit it and very quickly the drag started singing zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz together with the bad bearing in my very well used spinning reel rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr, zzrzzrzzrzrrzrrzrrzrrzrzzrzzrzz, you get the point on the sound LOL. Well from the bow to the stern, two sweat drops down my head and zig sagging over, under, around all the way to the other side and everyone politely moving and helping by getting out the way then it was Chad on one end and Lyndon on the other making sure the fish hit the deck and so it did. Fish in the box pool money in the works. I tossed another horse size fresh ballyhoo out and just waited sweating for that last call from the captain and all lines out. This wouldn’t have been the first time someone won the pool money 5 minutes from the end of the trip.

A father and son (I think they were) had a combined 6 muttons next to the stern. It was the son’s first time fishing and gets about 3 of those muttons and one of them was about 15 pounds. At the end my take home final tally was a 30.8 pound king fish (the pool winner), a 25.4 pound cobia, a 25 pound AJ, one 10 pound mutton (the biologist did the weigh in), a nice porgie, and some yellow tails.

It was great to see some familiar faces as always. Cameron, hope you have a nice voyage back to Canada man, it was nice to fish with you again, see you next year man. Cameron is a friend I met a few years ago on the Yankee Capts fishing Headboat out of Watson Island in the Florida Keys.

I forgot my camera and had my gopro pointing to the skies so here are the only pictures I got. Thanks crew members for taking them.

cobia 4-14-13

kingfish2_ 4-15-13

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