Pulley Ridge Lite 2017 – Quality and Good Times Tourney

This is our third annual trip to Pulley Ridge on board the Yankee Capts. As always, it was a blast to be fishing with great fishermen from our fishing forum communities. It is always great to put a face to screen names and it’s always great to hear how they fish in their areas. The exchange of ideas and knowledge is invaluable on these trips. Our trip this year was a grind like we haven’t seen before, but the captain was able to pull a rabbit out of the hat. He put us on top of quality fish and then found some fish that were chewing so we were able to catch and put fish in everyone’s cooler.

What a start! I got to the docks on 3 cylinders making me show up later than I ever would have. When I got there the Captain asked me if we were all at the dock so we could leave earlier and as I was told we were, with the exception of 3 people. I started contacting all the missing fishermen. One was by the Navy base, Victor (alias Martin and 5 other names including mutton slayer of this trip) was late, told me I am 20 minutes away but showed up an hour later, and Andre showed up as we were waiting on Victor. I counted the 19 we were supposed to have and we left the dock. As we were out on the water and on the channel bound to the fishing grounds, the boat stops. The Captain had to turn the boat around because Andre called saying we left him at the dock. CRAP!!! I must have counted the extra person on the boat (a Captain in training). We made our way back to the dock, picked up Andre and then off to the fishing grounds we went. Below a pic of Andre being picked up.

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As we went on our way we got a nice surprise snack from the Chef.

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Thanks to OSAGE, H4L jigs, Jigging Depot, and this tiny blog of mine we were able to give away hats, T-shirts, and some nice jigs, knives, and other tackle.  All took place on the second floor while at the same time I gave a small orientation.

DCIM107GOPROOur plan was to start with ARS (American Red Snappers) at about 1 am and then make a run to Pulley Ridge but a storm was on top of the fishing spot and as we got to another spot we were greeted by the taxman (sharks). Bill and a few others were able to get away from the sharks and landed a few ARS and other fish. We then took off to Pulley Ridge and arrived in the am. The bite was slow but we managed to catch a few here and there.

Below is John with a keeper Red Grouper caught on a goggle eye bait.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Below is Jongsoo with a Red Grouper caught on 220 gram Jigging Depot jig.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Below is Nilson with a keeper Red Grouper caught on a goggle eye bait and Rori telling him to let him grow a tad bit.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Below is Victor, the slayer, with a nice Red Grouper caught on a goggle eye bait.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Victor again with a Mutton Snapper caught on a goggle eye bait as Brian is trying to lick a bit of luck off his smoking head.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Victor again with another Red Grouper caught on a goggle eye bait.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Jongsoo got this Red Grouper with a 220 gram silver SharkjigPulley Ridge 201703

Imram got his Grouper on bait.Pulley Ridge 201704

Daniel landed his Mutton Snapper on the jig. This one got him the first Mutton of the trip prize.Pulley Ridge 201705

I managed to land this nice Blackfin on a silver 120 gram Jigging Depot jig. This one took the biggest Blackfin pool.Pulley Ridge 201706

I believe Alex landed his Mutton Snapper on a jig as well. This one took the biggest Snapper pool.Pulley Ridge 201707

Chris below with a big Black Grouper. This one won the Biggest Grouper pool. He caught this Grouper using an 8 ounce buck tail jig tipped with ballyhoo.Pulley Ridge 201723

He picked it up a few times for those taking pictures.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Below is Brian trying to show a Lionfish inside the Grouper’s mouth. Yes, they have reached Pulley Ridge.Pulley Ridge 201708

Here is some bendo action by Dustin.Pulley Ridge 201709

The bite stopped and the grind started after lunch. Luckily for those who paid the $100 for the all inclusive food package we were in for a culinary treat. Below is the Brizo, a grilled panini with smoked turkey, salami, Brie, Swiss Cheese, Berry Chipotle, and Aoli Balsamic glaze. WOW that was good!

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Around 3 pm we got into a few more bites. Here I am with another Mutton Snapper caught on a silver 220 gram Sharkjig.Pulley Ridge 201711

I apologize to the guys as I was not carrying my pocket camera but instead I had to run to the table to reach for my big DSLR camera. Below are Mutton Snappers caught by William and not sure if it was Andre or Dustin on the jigs. This was a short bite around 7pm or so.

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Night time came and we got a nice dinner, a Chicken Cordon Bleu, White Wine Beurre Blanc Sauce, Sauteed Spinach, and a Parmesan Risotto with a side salad. This is when I learned the beer was included in the $100 all inclusive meal plan.

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Night time was another grind, I expected the Blackfins to show in large numbers but it never happened. Below is Bill with a Red Grouper around 5 am.Pulley Ridge 201714

The Captain moved and the a.m. gave us another short lived hot bite. Here is Chris with his Red Grouper on the jig.Pulley Ridge 201715

Below is Bill with his Mutton Snapper on bait.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Nilson below with his Mutton Snapper on bait.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Below is Jordan with his nice King Mackerel from a flat line.Pulley Ridge 201716

We were also expecting a good number of Wahoos, but the guys trolling lost a few hits and waited for one to materialize. It just did not happen so they fell asleep.Pulley Ridge 201717

Since the bite was so slow Captain Greg took us to deeper waters in the 350′ to 450′ range where a mixture of AJ, decent size Almaco Jacks, and some Groupers were slowly caught. Below is Chris with his catch caught on a jig.Pulley Ridge 201718

Jongsoo got lucky and won a prize for most unique fish. He landed a nice size Long Tail Bass.Pulley Ridge 201719

Nothing was happening so we made a 25 mile ride to another area where Robert was able to land a very nice Black Grouper. He patiently waited on this fish to get out of the hole, but in the end he had to just put that pressure and pull him out.Pulley Ridge 201720

Alex found a nice Almaco jack here.Pulley Ridge 201721

After that we moved again and this time we were in a hot ARS and Yellow Eye Snapper bite. I think everyone was able to get fish in their coolers on this stop. Below is Rory with a nice Scamp Grouper caught on Squid bait.

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Dinner was a very nice Surf and Turf combination; Filet Mignon, Crab Cake, Hosin Greens, Roasted Red Potato, and Side Salad plus a great raspberry shake. After dinner we went on our way to one more stop. Some fishermen went to sleep, while others stayed awake preparing their rigs, checking their bait and chit chatting a bit.

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At 2 am Sunday we arrived at our last stop, so I went to the bunks screaming LAST CALL TO FISH GUYS, IF YOU WANT FISH WAKE UP! Someone screamed F- DAT gonna keep sleeping!  Well this stop was mayhem fish after fish after fish, many got their ARS limit here and many put fish in the cooler. The Blue Runners were a pain, but I was able to get my limit of ARS and got me a few Muttons as well. Below is Nilson with his 2 am ARS.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We got back to the dock and put away our tackle. Then the ending ritual began, numbers called, people responded and fish went flying into their coolers. Below is Brian walking towards Mario’s cooler with his African Pompano.

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Once the fish were in the fishermen’s coolers, it was off to the scales to see who had the biggest Grouper, Snapper, and Blackfin Tuna. Below is Chris who  won the Grouper category by a landslide.

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I won the Blackfin Tuna category with only a couple of pounds difference.Pulley Ridge 201706

Alex won the Mutton Snapper category with a nice difference in weight.Pulley Ridge 201707

All in all, there were some mishaps at the start, but great food started early, and the giveaways were given. As we started fishing we had some quiet time with slow quality pickings, and then ended up with some mayhem fishing time.

After the long grind many of us were able to fill our coolers. Here is my 120 quart cooler, I was very happy about it. Pulley Ridge 201708

Below is Victor, the Slayer’s catch.

Victor's fish

Below is Miami Chris’ catch

The best part was that I did not have to go hunting for ice since the boat now has ice for sale on the property.Pulley Ridge 201703

Below is the menu we had  to chose from, sorry for the blurriness, it was hard to get a good pic.

Pulley Ridge 201726 menu

A big thanks and kudos to Captain Greg Mercurio for allowing us to fish more on the way back home, finding a way to put us on the fish that were biting, Those last stops put a lot of fish in our coolers. Another big thanks to the crew for working as hard as you always do. I hope the black box was filled with a good share of thanks from the fishermen of this trip. And who could forget the great food and the “wake me up at any time to cook food for you” from Chef Chad. Once again an awesome trip. And one more big thanks to Ricks Reels Service for servicing my reels and returning them on time for my trip.

Shark Valley Bicycling Adventure

Well, I have not been fishing much but I have been having a great time with my family. I guess I will try to go to a few piers or jetties in the short future. InWood Stork the meantime I have been bicycling in Shark Valley State Park just off US 41 (Tamiami Trail/SW 8th ST), yes many names on that road. The trail is a 15 mile (24 kilometers) paved trail and also has some off the road unpaved trails and a decked trail. Winter in South Florida as we all know does not regularly go below 50 degrees and is usually in the 70’s and 80’s. When it gets below 80 degrees you will see more than the regular 5 to ten alligators basking in the sun. My wife and daughters count how many gators we see as we pedal through the trail, on the last outing the count was about 30 of them and the temperature was just below 80f. This is tourist high season so as the brochure suggested if renting a bike make reservations before you get there or be prepared to wait over an hour as it takes about three hours to complete the paved trail. If you go you should never miss going the tower as it is an awesome nature lovers view. In the winter we get big congregations of migratory birds. As I write there hasn’t been much rain so many of the trails that were closed soon will open. The low water levels have brought many Wood Storks and Herons so you will be able to see them in action as they comb through the Everglades mud. The first time we went I had an old Schwinn Mesa Runner bike and didn’t realize that it was not shifting until my poor wife kept getting behind and I had to circle back to her and one of my daughters. We ended switching bikes back and forth until her and my daughter ended the trail walking. Well I got another bike and all was great after that especially since we got some of tools we needed to make the trail (so I thought). The first few times we were only doing 4 miles an hour, LOL I know we are way out of shape but we are getting there, we are now averaging 12 to 14 miles an hour with winds pushing us back a little. Good thing to remember is to always wear a helmet, I know is uncomfortable but I always push people to wear them. So far my daughter and I had to use them and were glad we did. On the last outing my middle came from Ohio so we had to take the old Schwinn again and even though we spent 3 hours fixing it the cables came loose again and we all ended trading bikes back and forth, I don’t think we ended going any higher then 5 miles an hour and we did drink all our water. Usually we take about two 24 ounce bottles for each of us, but this time we needed 3 per person. It was hell getting back after the cables got loose on the old bike, so I will have to add a small good set of pliers in case that ever happens again. The old bike is going to need some major changes as it is about 20 years old.

SV P

Shark Valley Alligator Shark Valley Alligator

As you see the gators you would think that the horror stories of these animals being human killers are true, well, don’t get to comfy getting that picture of them or with them as they sure are very fast to act and are great short sprint runners. Below is are a few shots of how and where they might be basking in the sun.

Shark Valley Alligator by the tower entrance Shark Valley Alligator by the entrance

Shark Valley watching an alligator   Shark Valley Alligator behind a bench

Shark Valley next to an alligatorShark Valley next to an alligator

Shark Valley Alligator on a trail   From Shark Valley Tower

On the East Side of Shark Valley

Herbert Hans and Lilly

Besides watching out for Alligators you should watch out for the birds specially the Crows that have learned to open book bags and any Bycicle bag with zippers on them. The have become pros at doing so and help polluting the Everglades without knowing so.

Shark Valley Crow Shark Valley Cows stealing food

Below are some Heron pics for you to enjoy. Nothing beats going to see them in action. Also the Wood Storks are coming in bigger numbers now. They don’t usually let you sneak up on them for a pick so take a nice zoom lens. These pics were taken with a point and shoot camera.

Shark Valley Heron   Everglades National Park Shark Valley Heron

Looking for  a meal   Wood Stork

Heron In Flight   In Flight

The older bicycle rental shack was torn down and a new building was set in place. Looks nice and they still place some shade for you to wait your turn at a bike.

Shark Valley   Shark Valley

Another thing to mention is that the park tries to run as efficient and as eco friendly as possible. Shown below is the rain water collector. The rest rooms run water free so do not expect an odor free restroom. Prepare to hold your breath and finish as fast as possible. I feel pity for anyone needing to do #2 in there, LOL.

Shark Valley   Shark Valley

The Trams are there for those not willing to pedal the 15 miles.

Shark Valley  Main Building   Shark Valley

Getting Here with my wife and daughter.

Shark Valley   Shark Valley

After we finished at Shark Valley, my son-in-law and my daughter wanted to try some gator nuggets so we stopped at one of many airboat ride/restaurants along the way.

On US 41  Eating Gator Nuggets

On US 41