Puerto Vallarta Tuna Fishing and Jigging

Some people say this is a trip of a lifetime and they are not wrong. To get to the giant Yellowfin Tunas you need to go on Long range fishing trips. There are several options to fish the waters we fished for giant yellowfin tunas. Some come out of San Diego California but those can cost you upwards US$5,000.00 and the trips take 5 to 15 days to complete. On our search we decided to fish with the Osuna brothers from Marlas Sports Fishing in La Cruz De Huanacaxtle. They got famous with a world breaking record yellowfin tuna, a 400 plus pound fish that in the end did not make the record books of the IGFA simply because of technicalities in the rigging of the leader. Still, it’s probably one of the biggest publicly recorded yellow fin tuna caught with rod and reel. We were confident they would find the fish we were looking for.

 I took my flight off Fort Lauder dale Florida with United Airlines which is supposed to be fishing tackle friendly.  I was concerned with the rod case and oversized luggage fees which one of the persons at the counter questioned a supervisor about. But the supervisor didn’t say anything other than take the tube with the cart instead of placing it on the luggage belt. I was prepared with a copy of their website explanations on allowed measurements. My tube measured 64 inches and their site said 80 was oversized. When I got to the checking machine that was now a 62″ maximum. I still had to pay $65 to check two bags (1 luggage and my rod tube). I had a stop in Houston where I boarded a small plane to Puerto Vallarta. Around 10 am I woke up to the Mexican terrain and their housing.

mexico

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Upon arrival I met with Larry and took a Taxi to our rental unit in La Cruz. The Taxi service from the airport was very decent and priced right for our pockets. It was almost an hour drive for a cost of US$60. Below is the rental unit where I stayed at Villa Magnolia, a very nice place.11-2016-puerto-vallarta03

The entire property was nice. It used to be occupied by the owners who now own a house somewhere else. One of the workers told me that it was a venture between one of the instrument players of Los Lobos band that owned a restaurant at a near by city. Below are pictures of the property for your enjoyment. The BBQ pit used to be a well, where they actually got their water from but now there are public water pipe lines. It’s a good thing!

We had arrived early and with nothing to do we visited the Ocean Side Fish Market. They had fresh Snook, Huachinango Pargos (Red Snappers), and Coconaco Pargos (looked closely to a Mutton Snapper crossed with a Cubera Snapper). It was interesting to see the Snooks and the super sized shrimps. The shrimps made for a delicious cocktail like soup.11-2016-puerto-vallarta0411-2016-puerto-vallarta05

We then walked around the marina where I found out that the pangueros where charging around US$240 to $300 for a 6 to 8 hour fishing trip. This would have given us a chance at small Dolphin, Snappers, Groupers, and a hopeful Roosterfish. They told us to come back early next year for Roosterfish. We were undecided and continued to get familiar with our surroundings. 11-2016-puerto-vallarta0611-2016-puerto-vallarta07Yeap, don’t do yoga under the birds, not a good idea!11-2016-puerto-vallarta08

As we walked around 5 miles around the  marina we also looked to see where we could go fishing from the beach as a second option to the pangas. There were several family oriented beaches near by and we decided we might just come back and fish from them.11-2016-puerto-vallarta0911-2016-puerto-vallarta10

The next day Bill and LB arrived and shortly after we were surf fishing which did not turn so great. Larry managed to get a baby grouper and we went blank. Later on we discovered that there was a Red Tide problem. Oh well, we tried.

We got hungry and went to a small mom and pops restaurant near the marina. This is a fishing town, there are no big hotels and brand name restaurants nearby but the food in the restaurants we tried was good and reasonably priced for us tourists. Below is a plate of Chilaquiles (fried corn tortillas with sauce over it)

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We went back to the rental property and the next morning ate our continental breakfast Mexican style, a nice plate of fresh fruits with yogurt and granola. And a very nice pot of coffee.

On our way to our adventure we passed by the seafood market and on to the boat we went.

On the water we stopped near Punta Mita to pickup the famous Caballitos (goggle eyes).

Bait in the tank and on the way we went to the Tres Marias Islands. In a misty morning we were greeted by Piedra el Morro (I think)  a rock or known as La Mona and I can see why.

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The plan was to reef fish for snappers and skipjacks in the morning so I took the opportunity to fish with my slow jigging rod, a Shark and Cudaman SJ7 High speed and slow speed 7 foot jigging rod rated for 80 gram to 450 gram jigs. I used 40 lb test braid line and 40 lb test fluorocarbon leader. My jigs were Jigging Depot jigs like the SA220 jig below. Bill and Larry used speed jigging rods and other jigs like inchiku type jigs and butterfly jigs.                                                                p1040333p1040338

After a few snappers I got a pair of African Pompanos back to back and on the same SA220 jig plus the SC220 jig.p1040340

I must say African Pompano Ceviche served in a tostada (fried corn tortilla) was great!

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Bill and I also caught Huachinango Pargos on jigs, not in the pictures. The fish did not hit the Caballitos but did hit the jigs without a problem. As the afternoon came we trolled for skipjacks and got a few plus a bonita. There were no hits from the tunas so we went back to the shallower reef and jigged for snappers again. There was another boat near us. That boat lost two Yellowfin Tunas. One was lost on a kite and one while trolling. This was a sign that the fish were there. We kept seeing the sonar marking them at over 400 feet of water, but they would not come up. We even had a bait at 95 feet deep on the down rigger. Later on we saw a few Yellowfin Tuna jump but when we got near them they were gone. Unfortunately there was no luck on Tuna this day.                                                                    p1040341

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The sun went down and as night came we tried jigging. Night was not productive so went to sleep for a  bit. We moved and we jigged for squids. Larry, Bill and LB caught quite a few then I woke up and took their place. I only caught 4 squids while the Captain had already caught at least 10.11-2016-puerto-vallarta76

The next day we woke up near the Maria Cleofas Island. 11-2016-puerto-vallarta78

Below are Larry, Bill, and LB getting ready to do some jigging.11-2016-puerto-vallarta28

Captain Scotty Osuna decided to give my toys a try. He saw it was a productive way to catch snappers. When he tried it he was also able to catch a nice couple of Huachinango Pargos and Bacalao Groupers (these look like Snowie groupers). He used my Jigging Master 200 gram rod paired with a Maxel Transformer F50CH and 65 pound braid/80lb fluorocarbon to pull the groupers out of their hole.                                                                                                              11-2016-puerto-vallarta7711-2016-puerto-vallarta80

LB also got into the action catching a Bacalao Grouper on an inchiku style jig.11-2016-puerto-vallarta79

I got a couple of Huachinango Pargos which we ate along with Coconaco Pargos. Delicious tacos!11-2016-puerto-vallarta82

Below is Roberto, our chef, mate and co captain.11-2016-puerto-vallarta32

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Luck was about to change after lunch. We trolled for skip jacks and got a couple adding to the one I got jigging. Bill got hit really hard on his trolled flying fish but we never got to know what it was.                                                                                   11-2016-puerto-vallarta2911-2016-puerto-vallarta3011-2016-puerto-vallarta31

We started trolling the skipjacks very slowly and as we were doing so Larry and I were popping the surface at the bow. Larry went to the transom and shortly after I heard the screaming Herbert! Herbert! when I got there the mate had given the rod to Larry, he continued on as the fish would come up to 125 feet and then would run back down.

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Larry was having issues with the Braid harness digging on his legs but he continued trying to reel and then the rod was taken to the bow. He was reeling in a big tuna and was exhausted, the bow presented a better chance to reel in the fish because he could use the rail to assist so the mates moved it. We saw color and soon after the fish took another run to deep waters and then deeper.

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With Larry being exhausted I took over. The fish did two dashes to the deep but I was fresh and was able to bring it in a few minutes. Total time to bring the fish in was about 1 hour.herbert-on-the-tuna-puerto-vallarta

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Below is Rex the mate, the man worked hard.11-2016-puerto-vallarta94

A nice size puffer and a squid came out of the tuna’s mouth. Ir’s belly was full of squid. 11-2016-puerto-vallarta34

We then took a few pics with the Yellowfin Tuna.11-2016-puerto-vallarta9511-2016-puerto-vallarta9611-2016-puerto-vallarta97

After this cow of over 200 pounds there were more jumping around the boat but none hit our baits. At one point we had 6 rods with baits but none hit. The kite was out, the balloon was out, free lining Caballitos was done, Caballitos and squid on knockers rigs were also used but nothing hit.

The Captain decide to make a move but before we did he gave the Pangueros a bottle and some Caballitos. We then headed to some humps on the way to port.

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After laying on the deck a bit the Yellowfin Tuna was filleted and surprisingly we were served a nice plate of sashimi which we enjoyed with soy sauce and the chef’s own Serrano peppers and soy sauce mix. We did add some wasabi. I got to tell you if you do this watch out! Your lips will be like a catchers baseball glove and your face will be on fire! But it was delicious.                                                  11-2016-puerto-vallarta99

Then again, and again we tried all areas of the fish.  Delicious!11-2016-puerto-vallarta35

At night we gave it a try for some tuna but to no avail. We moved a couple of times only finding  bottom fish like these Ojodeperros jacks and a few snappers in between. All these fish were caught jigging and were to go to the community in La Cruz.

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Having relaxed and eaten well we headed back home.11-2016-puerto-vallarta33

Bill and Larry packed up three coolers with Yellowfin Tuna for the trip back home, I imagine they enjoyed it very much. The Red bag and the carry on next to it in the picture below are two of them. Also next to it all are our rod tubes. A PVC pipe that carried 6 rods. A Sportstube that was crushed in the airline causing one of Bill’s rod to loose a couple of guides. And I used a Plano Airliner Tube which carried 4 rods.

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I hope you all enjoyed, if you have any questions about the trip please do so in the comments.

A great thanks to Bill for setting this trip up. It was fun to meet with him and LB again and it was fun to meet Larry in person for the first time. I enjoyed fishing and sharing time and stories with all of you. Definitively a trip for the books. And thank God for letting me get home to my family safe and sound. I missed them as I always do when I go on fishing trips no matter how small or long these are.

Until next time! Tight Lines!

Lazy Permit Fishing in the Florida Keys Bridges

It was that time of the year, we set out to go permit fishing, play with some tarpons and perhaps grab a few snappers for dinner at home. We wanted to go at night to play with the tarpons as these are easy to catch when not many boats are around. Tarpon usually hang around under the bridges in the shadow lines produced by the street light and the bridge itself. There was one problem, we forgot it was lobster season opener in Florida. This means that there were thousands of tourists who drove from who knows where to come and catch 6 lobsters per person. So you can imagine grandma, the grand kids, and the uncles all got a fishing license and camped up in a boat so that one of them would go down hunting for their lobsters. And so it was hell trying to fish with boats running all over and divers risking their life getting tangled with our lines. Many don’t understand that lobsters are anywhere and everywhere in the Keys. The key is to find a rocky area and bam! get your limit quick. But hey go buy a boat travel to the keys and fish under a bridge that you could have swam from land as well. I know there is lots of fun in doing this but better yet, just buy the lobsters at the local store it’s a lot cheaper as the matter of fact you can buy live lobsters at $12 bucks a piece from some markets in the keys. You don’t have to waste boat gas money, equipment money, or your life.

Below is a boater getting a few lobsters while bull netting, a quick and much easier way to getting lobsters and not have to dive down. You shine lights in the shallows and the lobsters stare at you like a deer, you place a net on top of them and they get tangled in the net. Easy as pie!

Lobstering

Here is what it looked like:

Boats going for lobster

I enjoy boating my self but always let others enjoy their fishing where ever it is they are doing it. Well enough with the rant here is the outcome of our trip:

Since we had wasted our time trying to look for a bridge where there might not be so many boats we decided to end it and go try out and fish for the permit fish. We got to the bridge and on we went on to set up. Shortly after setting up I got a nice hit and lost my crab. then Jongsoo got a hit and ended being a bonnet head shark, we released it and found out what had  hit my line earlier. The night passed and early morning came I got another hit and run but lost it again, weird thing is my crab was in whole shape. Perhaps a tarpon sucked it and then let it go. Time passed slowly and windy when around 6am I got another hit but I had fallen asleep so took me a bit to get my rod, LOL. Well, I got to my rod a bit late so I was already wrapped around a pylon. I ended loosing this fish.

Retribution! Nilson was next. I looked at his rod and it was shaking I screamed Nilson you are getting hit! Sure enough it was a click click and no run, Nilson picked it up, reeled a few times and the fish ran and it gave him hell. It went under the pylons in the middle of the bridge footings. He pulled the permit fish out very slowly and then brought it to the arches to land it. We had problems with the current and getting the net under the fish. I passed the net to Jongsoo but he ended up getting tangled with the hook on the fish, unfortunately the net was ontop of the fish. It was caught on the hooks that were on the fish mouth. yes, it had two previous hooks in it’s mouth. Jongsoo tried to get the fish tail with a jig, he would then try to flip it into the net but that plan failed as well as he ended getting tangled in the net as well.  In the end I proposed to take a risk and hand line the net slowly but surely until the fish was within our reach. It worked! We flipped the fish and it was all high fives around. it had my hook, it was the same fish I had lost.

Here is Nilson and his fish.Nilsons Permit Fish

The day went on and all bites were the same, the fish were just sitting there with the crabs in their mouth. Jonsoo lost a couple and then the bite died. We ran out of bait so we went to get pin fish, but to our bad luck the flats were full of Bermuda chubs and small snappers. So we decided to go on a bait run. We went from shop to shop looking for small crabs until finally we found them. Crabs in hand and some sandwiches we waiting our next turn. Ouch, Jongsoo lost another. Then it was again my turn the rod went click, click and no run but I picked it up and reeled in like a maniac just in case and there it was, the run!, fish went left themn middle then under the pilons of the bridge footings, I said nice and slow! This one is coming in! and sure did. I brought it in close and again we had a bit of trouble with the current so I did not want to go in between the arches. We stayed were we were and Nilson let the current take the net to the fish and was able to scoop it out.

Here is my fish.

Cudamans Permit Fish

With that burden out of my chest I was able to relax and wait for Jongsoo to take on the next bite. Anxiously waiting the weed lines kept playing tricks on us until finally one of the rods started to click louder than the others had been.  Jongsoo ran to it and was able to pick it up on time, the fish gave him a hard time and Jongsoo was able to control it. I ran with the net and again the current gave us a bit of trouble and had to let the current carry the net under the fish. The fish was landed and our goal was accomplished. Each of us landed a permit.

Here is Jongsoo and his fish.Jongsoo and his permit fish

All in all it was a windy day at the beginning and then it turned into extreme heat. The snappers came in and left as fast as they came, we got a couple of baby mutton snappers and a baby black grouper all were released. Besides the walking up and down and the heat, it was fun to be back on the bridges of the Florida Keys where class fishing awaits and as always, it’s about the fishing not the catching. It was all about the team work each of us paid attention to all the rods and screamed to whomever rod was moving. The permit were lazy at the bite, we were able to identify it but they were not lazy runners. As always they gave us hell trying to land them.Here we are with all three permit fish. As I have said it before I do not like to harvest more tan one or two permit fish a year.  I will not do this again until next year. So I can say that the permit are safe from my frying pan.Group pic- Jongsoo-Nilson-Herbert

Thanks for visiting and tight lines 8)

Pulley Ridge Mini Tournament 2016-Don’t sleep

Let me just start by saying it’s fishing, not catching. We had a weird current and wind on this trip. We kept on drifting towards the wind on some areas and where there was no wind there was a whirlpool that made the lines in the bow go to the stern and the lines in the stern go to the bow. The mates worked hard at the tangles but I think we did a good job at not having as many. Key here was fishing with the right weight. 12 to 16 ounces was best, those using less were getting their lines all over. Jigging was almost king on this one. Slow jigging got many fish and some were nice quality. Well, yes it was a grind, but at least we had a nice breeze to cool us off. And with the pics below you can now see what a bad day of fishing at Pulley Ridge looks like, and I can testify to the old saying, it is a hell of a lot better than the best day at work. And the other saying: If you snooze you miss out on quality fish.

Below, getting ready to load the boat.Pulley Ridge 06-201619

We took a group pic at the beginning since so many just wanna dock and go home.Pulley Ridge 06-201625

Upon arrival to Pulley Ridge the mutton snappers and red groupers were waiting for us with open arms. Here is Nilson with the first red grouper of the trip at around 6:30 am. Photo courtesy of Bill Benz.Nilson Red Grouper

Gilbert started shining with the red groupers as well. Photo courtesy of Bill Benz.

Gilberts red grouper

The red groupers and mutton snappers responded very well to our jigs. Below is Jongsoo with a mutton caught on a Shark jig and a Shark and Cudaman Slow Jigging 7′ rod.Pulley Ridge 06-201628

Below it’s me on the same jig and rod with what we call a “muffin”. It’s a mutton snapper that was on the smaller size but made it to the box.Pulley Ridge 06-201629-2

Miami Chris got this mutton around 9:30 am.Pulley Ridge 06-201630

Then Jongsoo landed this nice mutton snapper on the same setup again.Pulley Ridge 06-201633

Below is Chris, he just ventured on slow jigging and landed 2 muttons back to back on the jigs.Pulley Ridge 06-201634

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Bill got in the action landing this nice red grouper below.Pulley Ridge 06-201638

Jared converted with the same Shark and Cudaman slow jigging rod. Pulley Ridge 06-201639

Gilbert joined the action with this nice mutton snapper.Pulley Ridge 06-201640

Around 10:30 am double header by Art and Bill. Art was second high hook of the trip and landed 8 nice mutton snappers as part of his load.Pulley Ridge 06-201643

Below is Gilbert with a nice red grouper.Pulley Ridge 06-201645

Here I am again, but this time with a jiggingdepot.com jig and my Shark and Cudaman SJ7 rod.Pulley Ridge 06-201647

Jared took home some nice mutton snappers caught on his very expensive jigs. Unfortunately for him he lost many jigs to cut offs, OUCH! My wallet hurts just thinking about it.Pulley Ridge 06-201649

Gilbert again and another red grouper.Pulley Ridge 06-201650

Art got one of the first blackfin tunas, and a very nice one non the less.Pulley Ridge 06-201653

Bill jigged all methods, and here he is again with a nice almaco jack.Pulley Ridge 06-201655

Bill was on fire at one point. Landed another nice red grouper. Pulley Ridge 06-201656

Jared followed him with another nice red grouper on the jigs.Pulley Ridge 06-201657

jongsoo tested just about all his jiggingdepot.com jigs and they produced very well. Here is another nice red grouper.Pulley Ridge 06-201660

This gentleman tried and finally landed his fish. The red groupers were all over on this trip.Pulley Ridge 06-201666

Will got  another nice red grouper on a 220 gram jiggingdepot.com jig and a Shark and Cudaman SJ7 rod.Pulley Ridge 06-201668The afternoon landed and with it came quietness and tangles and the grinding started real hard.Pulley Ridge 06-201670As the night flew by Captain rare and I made our move towards the stern and back and as we floated to the stern Nilson got a very nice blackfin tuna that was enjoyed by 3 black tips that came cookie cutting it to the top. The sharks came and went but were not much of a hassle for us. in the background is chef Camela, she made some awesome burgers and fish tacos.Pulley Ridge 06-201671

Jongsoo also got into the blackfins with his jiggingdepot.com jigs. The blackfin tunas came sporadically through the night, I know a few guys got some on the H4L jigs that were given as samples. I hope they took some pics.Pulley Ridge 06-201673Night turned to daylight and I was on the grind side of things when I heard “DOLPHINS!, DOLPHINS!” I quickly ran to my rod I had ready with an H4L Texas Toothpick and got me a small dolphin “no pic sorry” it was lost due to a missed gaff. Three time it was missed three times I had it belly side up next to the boat, but that’s how life goes. I then went back to fishing and as the day went by lunchtime was here and again I heard “DOLPHINS!, DOLPHINS!” this time i got my other rod that was ready with an H4L Wingman, I sight casted to the bull but the he stood back and let the cow hit it. I quickly set the hook and she ran to the sides, she took one jump and as I got her head out the water she quickly gave up. this time the gaff didn’t miss.

Cudamans mahi mahi on H4L wingman

 

Afterwards it was back to the grind, a fish here and there  and then Bill with a mega donkey of about 70 to 80 pounds! Bam! That most have been a lot of work. I was catching some z’s while this happened. Photo courtesy of Bill Benz.Bill and his 70 to 80 pounder amberjack

And again Bill, but this time with a blue line tile. We ran into some of them at 350 feet of water.

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. Here is Jared connecting a 2 dinner size scamp. I think he will post on his blog. If you go there you can read the recipe he made “Scamp grouper in a lemon garlic chardonnay reduction with brown rice and molasses kale”, it looks good.Pulley Ridge 06-201676

Captain rare took the snapper part of the pool with this mutton snapper over 8 pounds. Chris came second so rare took the money and Chris took the Rum and cigars. Enjoy!Pulley Ridge 06-201681

Gilbert, on the last few hours pulled a Hail Mary beating my cow dolphin and took the pool money with this nice black grouper, he also took biggest grouper prize and most snappers, groupers, and blackfins combined. He put a big bait on and went home with big black grouper steaks.Pulley Ridge 06-201683

Below photo courtesy of Bill Benz

Gilberts Black Grouper-2

Will made out nicely on some big blackfins winning biggest blackfin tuna.Pulley Ridge 06-201695

We fished until the time allowed,Nilson got one of the last mutton snappers caught.Pulley Ridge 06-201696

Miami Chris got a few kingfish at night and on his last efforts he hooked up a fish that made him go from the stern to the bow.Pulley Ridge 06-201698

This was his reaction when he saw the fish.Pulley Ridge 06-2016101

A bobo, a bonner, or better known as a bonita in our waters. Oh well, it could have been something better.Pulley Ridge 06-2016103

The night ended and we went back home. her at the dock was the marine biologist collecting samples and measurements.Pulley Ridge 06-2016105

Here are the guys waiting on their catch.Pulley Ridge 06-2016106Pulley Ridge 06-2016108

If you didn’t sleep so much below is what an average cooler would look like. Nilson catch, minus a few red grouper and a big margate. Photo courtesy of Nilson.Nilsons catch

Rori’s catch and his future fisherwoman next to it. Photo courtesy of Rori.Roris catch

William was very happy with his H4L jigs.Pulley Ridge 06-2016109

Pulley Ridge Trip 2016 Mini Tourney rules

Heaviest overall and heaviest grouper: Gilbert

Heaviest snapper: Captain rare Nilson

  • 1st Place – Gilbert
  • 2nd place – Art
  • 3rd Place – Miami Chris

Heaviest fish caught on jig – William

Heaviest blackfin tuna – William

Heaviest mutton snapper – Nilson, rum went to Miami Chris

First wahoo – Prize given to Rory, he is the only one that came close to it

First mutton snapper – Jongsoo

First grouper – Captain rare Nilson

Worst luck – Imran

Once again thanks to the sponsors on our trip and for our trip. You make this trip a lot better than it normally is.

Captain Greg Mercurio of http://www.yankeecapts.com

Osage from 360tuna.com

http://www.H4Ljigs.com

http://www.jiggingdepot.com

Captain Phil Caputo from boatlessfishing.com

Captain rare from boatlessfishing.com

And this humble nonprofit blog that is here to help as many as possible.

And again thanks to the forums that let me post these trips:

http://www.boatlessfishing.com

http://www.360tuna.com

Thanks again from the Shark jigging Depot team.

shark team

 

Pulley Ridge Lite on the Yankee Capts-Wahoo and Queens

Ed and Captain Jimmy of the Lois Ann (part of the Lady Pamela II fleet), called me and said they wanted to go fishing at Pulley Ridge so I said yes and joined them. My plan was to jig as much as I could and then use bait and jig in between. They were just going to use bait and try some jigging for the blackfins.

We arrived at the dock on Thursday and loaded up our gear in the boat, we then ate our customary Hogfish sandwich at the bar and grill with the same name. It was close to 5pm and we were on our way. At the boat it all started with a short orientation from the Florida Sport Fishing TV crew. Very simple, fish as you always do and if you can don’t get on the way of the camera man. They gave away t-shirts, nice prizes during a raffle, and by recommendation of Captain Greg Mercurio each one of us were given a nice gold hammered jig which proved to be  a lethal jig for the fish.

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We got to Pulley Ridge around 4:30 am and it started off well. Ed is below with a nice mutton caught on a chunk of king mackerel.

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Below is Captain Jimmy with a blackfin tuna caught on a chunk of king mackerel.Pulley Ridge 06-201611

Below it’s me and a nice mutton caught on a Jigging Depot SB 220 gram slow pitch jig. I got 2 mutton snappers and a small blackfin tuna on this jig and then it got cut off. The current was almost non existing so we were able to fish with light jigs and weights of about 6 to 8 ounces to get the bait down fast.Pulley Ridge 06-201612

A keeper red grouper and this time with a 210 gram Shark jig from  JiggingDepot.com . I caught several fish on this jig until it got cut off later in the day.

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Wahoos where all over this trip, this 60 pounder was caught on a jig and won the pool.Pulley Ridge 06-201616

Captain Jimmy decided he was going old school with a 6 ounce bucktail and nailed this nice mutton and a red grouper.Pulley Ridge 06-201619Pulley Ridge 06-201620

Trolling got the most of the wahoos, this one was caught on a Yo-Zuri bonita.Pulley Ridge 06-201628

Below is Captain Jimmy with his bucktail and an almaco jack.Pulley Ridge 06-201631

Ed got into the action and got a nice amberjack that was released.Pulley Ridge 06-201636

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Luck be the lady on the one below. He caught a mutton on bait and a nice size blackfin got tangled on the weight. Pulley Ridge 06-201630

That bucktail was working and this time it caught a nice size queen trigger fish that was released.Pulley Ridge 06-201634

After 2:30pm of the 17th things turn to a slow pickings until the next day in the early morning when the trolling had another victim and wahoo wahoos on the Yo-Zuri bonita it was.Pulley Ridge 06-201642Pulley Ridge 06-201644Pulley Ridge 06-201643

That was followed by a couple of mutton snappers and some nice red groupers (no pics of the reds, sorry). Below is Ed with his part.

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As the bite had slowed down to slim pickings, Captain Greg decided to make a run to some deeper waters where I was able to catch a decent size Mystic Grouper. This one was on a whole squid and was using a 16 ounce weight.Pulley Ridge 06-201650

And in came the queen snappers, some beauty of fish and so very tasty. Here is Captain Jimmy with his.Pulley Ridge 06-201652

The bite had slowed down and we made a move to even deeper water. While on the move and around 1pm in came another wahoo.

Pulley Ridge 06-201656

And as deeper we went more monsters showed up such as the grouper below.Pulley Ridge 06-201660

Ed got in the game with more queen snappers. This time the queen snappers were much bigger. I think some were probably over 25 pounds.Pulley Ridge 06-201662

And a nice size blackfin tuna caught on kingfish strips.Pulley Ridge 06-201663

Here is Captain Jimmy with another nice queen snapper.Pulley Ridge 06-201666

We had the co captain reminding us to be on point.Pulley Ridge 06-201668

The bite had slowed down again and the smaller fish were hitting our jigs. This yellow eyed snapper hit a 500 gram jig.Pulley Ridge 06-201670

It was on the last stop where this nice gag grouper hit a benthos jig. This was the last fish of the trip as Saturday afternoon had come to a close and we headed back to the dock.Pulley Ridge 06-201673

Here you can see the size of this nice wahoo.Pulley Ridge 06-201675

What a way to spend fathers day. This family showed everyone what it is like when you don’t stop fishing and put your time on the rails.Pulley Ridge 06-201680

Here is a group picture of all the participants of this trip holding some nice catches.

Group picture Pulley Ridge 06-2016

All in all it was a great trip, started great, slowed down, there were slim pickings, and then it turned into mayhem catching fish after fish. There were a lot of people fishing with jigs and they were catching fish. Those on the slow pitch jigs did very good and ended with some decent catches such as mutton snappers, red groupers, blackfin snappers, etc… The best baits as always were squid and oily baits like the king mackerels. Bonita strips in combination with squid worked great too. At the beginning we were fishing with light jigs but in the end had to switch to heavier jigs as the current picked up and so did  the wind with just enough speed to make the drifts a bit faster. If you jig or bait always bring a small assortment, just in case, you never know what mother nature will throw at you.

Well, my next trip is July 7th so I hope to catch more fish on the jigs and off course we will also be using bait.

For more information on these trips please visit http://www.yankeecapts.com

For information on what rigs to use please see http://yankeecapts.com/tackle-section/ and look for the “Pulley Ridge Lite Trips” section.

Thanks for stopping by and for reading!

Tight lines and until the next one!

Capt. Easy Charter- Happy B-Day with Amberjacks-Vertical Jigging 4-9-16

It was another year for the Amberjacks to aggregate in the Florida Keys. Unlike last year’s trip when our lines got cut off by shark after shark this year the shark issue was not bad at all but the fish just did not want to eat in the morning. This year the plan had a live bait backup. The plan was that if the Amberjacks would not be there in numbers we would then go fishing for snappers and we would also use live bait to fish at the Humps and shallower for snappers. My personal plan was to just jig until my arms fell off which almost happened, as I type right now I am doing so in pain and it was worth it as it always is.

The trips was set to go fishing on Sunday but weather almost stops us from fishing, luckily the Captain had Saturday available and we decided to move the day to the day that just so happened to be my Birthday. One of the original members of the trip was not able to get Saturday off but lucky for us Alex was available and was able to replace him. I got to the docks at 6 am and the Captain was there he filled the boat with diesel and came right back. It was loading time, bag after bag of heavy jigs. One of the bags felt like it had 50 pounds of jigs mine was only 30 pounds and I thought I was overdoing it it. We carry as many jigs as we can as we do not know what the fish will want to bite on that particular day. Sometimes it’s long jigs sometimes it’s small jigs, sometime they like a color and sometimes it really doesn’t matter.

 Loading the boat.P1030749

A great Florida Keys sunrise.P1030760

On the way out many boats were catching pilchards.Fishing Capt Easy-1

Our mate casting the net to get some baits.Fishing Capt Easy-3

After a couple of throws we had more than enough for our trip.Capt Easy-4

We tried a few spots like the little hump and some wrecks. We could not get the fish to bite so the captain moved the boat to the Hump off Islamorada. We were using 300 gram to 400 gram jigs. While at the hump there were some small Blackfin Tunas, that were caught on live bait, I was able to get one the jig but it was almost the size of the jig I was using. At the Hump the Amberjacks we were looking for were not biting so we moved back to the wrecks on 300 feet. Again the bite was slow but the guys fishing live bait caught a few Rainbow Runner fish at around 10:45 in the morning. Below is Victor and Dorian with their Rainbow Runners.

Capt Easy-5

Capt Easy-6

The fishing finally started to take a turn for the better with those fish and as we moved to another spot we got a surprise by way of a Sunfish. It had been bit by sharks and was barely able to swim upright, but it slowly did. Below is a picture of its dorsal fin showing the bites.

Fishing Capt Easy-3-1

Well the Amberjacks finally felt hungry and it happened at our lunchtime right around noon. They were not hitting the long jigs so I decided that maybe just maybe if I switched to slow pith jigging I could get one to hit a smaller jig. I as I was joking around telling everyone that they fish were not hitting my jig on 80 pound leader that always you switch to a smaller reel and light line it’s when you get the hit and so it happened. I used my Shark Slow pith rod and a Shark slow pitch jig of 200 grams to get the first Amberjack to bite. Once the first one hit others were able to start catching them as well.

Fishing Capt Easy-1-1

Below is Victor with his Amberjack. The fish was released.

Capt Easy-9

Below is Dorian with his Amberjack. The fish was released.

Capt Easy-10

I was able to get a second one and it was also released.

Fishing Capt Easy-2-1

Below is Jared who fought several fish but got cut off a few times. This time he had an unusual catch with a stingray that was released.

Fishing Capt Easy-6

Fishing Capt Easy-4-1

After 1:30 pm we made the decision to fish shallower to catch some snappers so we moved to about 230 feet or so and then moved a bit shallower. Here live bait was king, Victor was able to land a nice size Mutton Snapper and a nice Black Grouper that was released.

Capt Easy-12

Capt Easy-15

We saw some Sailfish jump out of the water doing their acrobatic dance and then saw some man-o’-war birds but nothing was under them. The day was done, we were tired and the Captain went a few minutes over the agreed time but we were not able to find more fish, no dolphins this time but maybe next time. The trip was great fun as always these trips are and was a bit slower than usual perhaps due to the quick weather change that was occurring during the weekend. We will definitely come back next year and will possibly do 2 different trips instead of just one. Thanks to Dorian for putting the trip together and thanks to Alex for jumping in at the last minute.

Fishing Capt Easy-5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

     Pulley Ridge fishing Pulley Ridge fishing

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

      Pulley Ridge fishing   Pulley Ridge fishing

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.

Pulley Ridge fishing

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.

        Pulley Ridge fishing   Pulley Ridge fishing

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.

     Pulley Ridge fishing Pulley Ridge fishing

Pulley Ridge fishing

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

    Pulley Ridge fishing   Pulley Ridge fishing

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.

   Pulley Ridge fishing   Pulley Ridge fishing
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.

     Pulley Ridge fishing Pulley Ridge fishing

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.

Pulley Ridge fishing

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.

     Pulley Ridge fishing Pulley Ridge fishing

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

     Pulley Ridge fishing Pulley Ridge fishing

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

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

    Pulley Ridge fishing   Pulley Ridge fishing

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

Pulley Ridge fishing

      Pulley Ridge fishing

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.

Pulley Ridge fishing

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.

Pulley Ridge fishing

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.

Pulley Ridge fishing

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.

Pulley Ridge fishing Pulley Ridge fishing

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.

Pulley Ridge fishing Pulley Ridge fishing

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

Pulley Ridge fishing   Pulley Ridge fishing

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

Pulley Ridge fishing

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.

Pulley Ridge fishing

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.

Pulley Ridge fishing

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

     Pulley Ridge fishing   Pulley Ridge fishing

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.

P1020673

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.

Pulley Ridge fishing Pulley Ridge fishing

 Pulley Ridge fishing

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.

 Pulley Ridge fishing

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.

Sailfish Pulley Ridge

Chris and Art kept on the quality hunts.

Pulley Ridge fishing

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.

Pulley Ridge fishing

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

Pulley Ridge fishing

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

Pulley Ridge fishing

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

Pulley Ridge fishing

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

Pulley Ridge fishing

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

Pulley Ridge fishing

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.

Pulley Ridge fishing

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

    Pulley Ridge fishing Pulley Ridge fishing

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.

Pulley Ridge fishing

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

Pulley Ridge fishing

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.

Pulley Ridge fishing

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.

Pulley Ridge fishing

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

Pulley Ridge fishing

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.

Pulley Ridge fishing

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.

Pulley Ridge fishing

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.

Pulley Ridge fishing

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

Pulley Ridge fishing

Victor and Danny show us their groupers once again.

Pulley Ridge fishing

here is Victor showing off his Almaco Jack

Pulley Ridge fishing

The crew cleaning the fish.

   Pulley Ridge fishing   Pulley Ridge fishing

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

Pulley Ridge fishing     Pulley Ridge fishing

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