Panama City Beach – Grouper Madness – 8-10-14

Back in August my son and I took a drive up to Panama City Beach for a friendly Tournament. Getting out of Florida always seems like it takes for ever specially when you have to drive through unfamiliar back roads and ghost town look a like places. On the way we almost hit a dog and some deer that seem to appear on the road like holograms in the foggy night.  Scarier thing is to stop at a gas station and been asked “you lost? You ain’t from around here ha?” I have to thank to that darn GPS for always taking me in the back roads and neighborhoods with 1 pump gas stations.  Well, once we got off the I-10 highway it was a dark ride all the way to Panama City Beach but we got there in one piece.  As we arrived at the hotel we went to get some subs and a drink then shortly after we went straight to the hotel and prepared for an all day of vertical jigging. My plan was to start with a long jig for AJ and then to use the slow jigging method combined with what I refer to as Yo-Yo technique (not Yo-Yo California Style; drop, reel fast, drop again, repeat). Simply drop the jig to the bottom and slowly pump it up and down. Then after a few up and downs slowly pump and reel, pump and reel in a slow manner.

It was morning time, we got some breakfast and then we had to hunt down for the Marina’s location. Once there we loaded the boat with our long list of gear and a couple bags of ice. The boat left at high speed to the fishing grounds just to find another team fishing the same wreck we were going to fish as our Captain positioned the boat we heard a shout saying that we were already fishing for second place as they had caught a big Amber Jack.  We thought they were joking so we began to fish the other side of the wreck where a small jack was caught but nothing else was interested in our Metal Vertical Jjigs. Boat Ride on the Snapper Napper

We moved to a second spot where the action was hot from the start it was an all out Porgie (White Snappers) madness by the guys. Below is the first Porgie on the boat, this one was by Ray.Ray and his Porgie

Here is Jeff and the second Porgie on the boat. In total there were 7 porgies caught and most were from this stop.Jeff with Porgie

Finally on the third spot red grouper after red grouper started coming up, but for me it was slow as I was the only one with a long jig in pursuit for a big AJ. After seeing that my jig did not produce on the first two spots I changed it to a smaller length H4L Goober 300g and finally started to catch them groupers and in between them there were several Red Snappers and a couple of  Bonitos caught.

Below is Captain Charlie helping Ray with his Red Grouper. He was using a Jigging World JW-A141 170g Vertical Jig.

P1050563

Here is Jeff and the biggest grouper of the tournament. A 19 pounds Gag Grouper.

Jeff Gag

Rey with another Red Grouper.

Ray and his nice Red Grouper

Below is a double with a Red Grouper by Ray and a Scamp by me.

P1050567

A keeper Gag liked my H4L Goober 300g jig.

P1050569

Red Snappers also liked my jig, but most of this one was taken by the tax man in the Grey Suit (a shark).

P1050571

Here is James with some bendo action.

Jay and Bendo Action

After the Grouper and ARS mayhem things slowed down a bit, then my son was able to nail an Lesser Amberjack.

Seth with Almaco Jack

There were lots of American Red Snappers caught on our boat. Below is Ray and in the back you can see  James with another one.

Ray with American Red Snapper

Here I am with another ARS as well.

Herbert and am American Red Snapper

Then my last Scamp Grouper came in. I caught 3 Scamps and a Gag on this trip.Herbert and a Scamp Grouper

After that scamp we had a 5 consecutive hook up. Here are three bent rods on this pic. It ended being a mix of groupers, American Red Snappers, and a Bonito.Triple Hook up on the pic

This spot has an all out mix of fish. Here is my son with a Porgie. He was catching all his fish on an 80g Maxel Dragonfly.

My Son Seth and his Porgie

Then he managed to get an Amber Jack on the same small jig on a different spot.Seth's AJ

That was it for us it was getting late, we had a box full of fish and most of us had our grouper limit for the day so we called it the day and headed home.

On the way back

Back at the dock we tallied our fish and took a quick picture. The total came out to 27 fish caught between 5 of us. 6 Red Groupers, 8 Scamp Groupers,2 Gag Groupers,7 Porgies, and 4 Almaco Jacks. We waited for the other teams to show us their catch but one of the boats had bad luck with the weather in the area where they went and turned back a lot earlier than we all expected. The second boat showed up with a 70 pound Amberjack, an 18 pound grouper, lots of peanut dolphins, and some Vermillion Snappers taking the winnings since they caught the biggest fish and Pelagics plus Snappers.P1050602

It was the end of the trip and we all got together to share some stories before we headed home. Below is a group shot, but the camera flash did not work properly so it didn’t come out correctly. We stayed for a little while before heading home for our 10+ hour drive. It was plenty fun and the fishing in Panama City Beach seemed well worth the stop for a future trip.

P1050606

 Below is a link to a video of this trip.

The gear my son and I used were a Jigging Master Power Spell 200g Rod with a Jigging Master PE3 reel, a Jigging Master Terminator 400g rod with a Jigging Master Ocean Devil PE6 reel, a Spinal 250g Rod with a Shimano Saragossa 10K, and a Phoenix Hybrid rod with a Stella 8000PG. This last rod fought many hard battles against Amberjacks and Groupers but on this day it broke below the reel seat.

Hope you all enjoyed and perhaps it helped someone with some Vertical Jigging information.

Out Of Control IV Pulley Ridge- 360Tuna Jig and Crank!

As many people already know that after 59 pages of forum talk and over 25,000 views on the Yankee Capts thread for the 360tuna.com charter the trip was a go but as I docked from another fishing trip I learned that unfortunately the Yankee Capts boat’s generator stopped working. Captain Greg made the calls but was not able to get a replacement on time for the switch for our trip. It was unfortunate that the trip was canceled and had many running around looking for different charters as many were driving from Georgia and the New Jersey area. Then the Out Of Control from Fort Myers stepped up and allowed David to make the deposit for an unscheduled Pulley Ridge trip. Thanks to Capt Bill (hawkboat) for the phone calls to set this last minute trip.

Where do we start? It was HOT! As Captain Greg said “it’s Africa Hot”. We all had bought water and Gatorade for the trip but it was not necessary as the boat included all you wanted to drink water in the $65 meal plan. I found out too late as I had already loaded it in the boat. Well, I had forgotten that part as I had already been on that ship. Oh Well! We waited for the mates and Captain to load and ready the boat for our trip. We loaded up, we used their carts to get our 50 pound jig bags and rods. I did not take a cooler as they did not allow coolers bigger than 50 quarts in the boat. Afterwards we went to get a bite to eat at the nearby restaurant but we had to take our food to go as they took over an hour to get it ready. It was now almost 9 pm when we left the dock for our 12 hour journey to Pulley Ridge.

360Tuna Pulley Ridge 04

It was about 10 am according to the time in my pictures that we started fishing in the 200 foot marks and were not lucky to find the fish, the Captain kept moving the boat over and over looking for the ones that wanted to bite in the 0 knot current and 0.1 knot wind if that much! That did not help with finding the hungry fish. The boat just wouldn’t move. Then the Captain decided to move the boat as we went for deeper and deeper waters plus a Westerly route.

360Tuna Pulley Ridge 05   360Tuna Pulley Ridge 06

In between the moves some people like Q were trolling,  they hooked up a few times but the fish came off the hook that many times as well. No fish hit the decks on the troll this day.

360Tuna Pulley Ridge 07    360Tuna Pulley Ridge 08

It was almost noon when the first few fish decided to start chewing in about 300 feet of water. We were jigging pure metal but a couple of people were using electric reels with bait and were the first ones to hook up (David and Q). I hooked my first on the jig and so did Bill, Garriga, and Jay plus many others as the day went through.

360Tuna Pulley Ridge 01   360Tuna Pulley Ridge 02

The day went by and not many fish were landed. We were all worried that we were going to be skunked. It was not the jigging with pure metal that did it as some had tried with cut baits and live pinfish. Then at around 4 pm things started to sporadically pick up and we started catching some fish again.

360Tuna Pulley Ridge 09   360Tuna Pulley Ridge 10

Below is Q and a nice snowy that barely had spots. He caught this one around 6 pm. This is around the time Garriga gave up on the jigging and then I gave up on the jigs after only catching three snowies on pure metal. Soon after me Jay (redneck_billcollector) gave up on the purist jigging and added bait as well. He outlasted us on the pure metal jigging, even with his foot gout problems.

360Tuna Pulley Ridge 11

By 11 pm Garriga hooked up with a horse eye jack on a jig. My self, Jay and him kept going back and forth on the jigging and tipping jigs with bait.  It was past midnight and after one mutton snapper caught we were all waiting for the blackfin tunas to appear. At about two am I took a nap and when I woke up, Jay told me that young Dennis had caught a wahoo on a live flyer. I went to look at the first fish box and found it decently full.

360Tuna Pulley Ridge 12   360Tuna Pulley Ridge 13

At morning time the Captain took us to deeper water but our luck was going in the same direction as the previous day. Gilbert and I spoke to David and suggested that we should just go to the deep wrecks or the Towers in the Ft. Myers area. David gave it a thought and ran it by the Captain. The decision was made to give it a few tries in deeper waters and then we would move to the wrecks. The Captain move the boat to 500 feet and told us that the fish were about 30 feet from the bottom. The Captain was good at letting us know at what dept the fish were so we were able to efficiently target them. By this time the current had picked up just a bit to about .4 knots if I remember correctly plus we had a small breeze that made it feel more comfortable. 9:30 am HALELUYA!!! QUEEN SNAPPERS!!! Yes, the queens started biting and the the yellow edge groupers did as well!

Jay with a supper double. A yellow edge grouper and a queen snapper on the Dennis Cluster Phuck Rig.360Tuna Pulley Ridge 14

Gilbert with a super nice Queen Snapper.360Tuna Pulley Ridge 15

Me with a queen and Garriga with a yellow edge grouper.

360Tuna Pulley Ridge 16   360Tuna Pulley Ridge 17

David with a double.360Tuna Pulley Ridge 18

Bill and his Queen.360Tuna Pulley Ridge 19

Jay and what I think was the heaviest fish of the trip.360Tuna Pulley Ridge 20

      Chichi landed a hell of a Queen Snapper. 360Tuna Pulley Ridge 21

That bite lasted until about 1:30 pm. Then it was move and move until the captain decided to go to the wrecks just outside Pulley Ridge. This is where Dennis landed a nice red grouper on a jig. Picture below.

360Tuna Pulley Ridge 22

Then it was AJ and Almaco madness as everyone got hooked up and as many almacos were gaffed some AJ’s were sent back into the water with injuries. Some were attacked by the barracudas as if attached by piranhas. Below is Chichi and crew hooked up.

360Tuna Pulley Ridge 23

Below is Bill hooked up.360Tuna Pulley Ridge 24

Below is Garriga and his AJ that was released.   360Tuna Pulley Ridge 25

That was to be be the last few fish that jumped into the coolers. By now we were satisfied customers as we found some quality fish in the slow picking of the days of fishing. Then again it is called fishing not catching. I checked the live wells and saw just as many pinfish made the journey back with us. All the rods were packed away on the top deck and off to bed we all went.

360Tuna Pulley Ridge 26   360Tuna Pulley Ridge 27

The next morning we woke up to eat breakfast and pack our items to get ready to dock.360Tuna Pulley Ridge 28

Back at the dock.360Tuna Pulley Ridge 29

The group Picture and our catch.360Tuna Pulley Ridge 30

Dennis went high hook.360Tuna Pulley Ridge 31

Davis with his catch.360Tuna Pulley Ridge 32

Chichi and his group with their catch.      360Tuna Pulley Ridge 33

All in all the trip had an extremely slow start but gradually got better and better. The Captain was great as always and the crew worked very hard to get all the fish and tangles as fast as they could in that extreme heat. A special thanks to the Co-Captain Dennis who was also our chef cooking all the meals. He catered to everyone’s needs for the food. This trip was basically an exploration trip for the Out Of Control IV group. They have now found the fish so their next trip should start with a strong bite.

A big thanks to the http://www.JiggingWorld.com crew for sponsoring the trip with their donations.

Update: This boat is no longer on the West Coast of Florida. I was renamed to Super Sealegs and now operates from the East Coast.

Boatless On a Partyboat – Charter On the Reward Won 6-1-14

Many months ago during the boatlessfishing forum BBQ, we spoke about a private fishing charter just for boatlessfishing members. Nothing happened until after I went fishing on an Ironman trip ( ten hours fishing on the Reward Won). The trip was an all day fishing trip, jigging, kite fishing, trolling for dolphin, bottom fishing for snappers and groupers and king fish flat lining; “A mixed trip”.  So I asked Captain Wayne how much a private charter like this would cost. After finding out the cost of the trip I suggested to fish on this boat, the boat can have 15 people while drift fishing  but I suggested to have a maximum of 12 to give us all plenty of elbow room to fish comfortably and with less people there would be more chances for everyone to catch a fish. I started the thread about the trip. Some members wanted to fish vertical jigs, some wanted to fish with live baits, and a couple of them were interested on king mackerels (kingfish).  We set a date but later found out one of the Captains was not available to fish on that day and Captain Wayne had another private charter booked, so we moved it a day over. Lady luck was on our side as the fishing trip got us some trophy fish.

The original intent was to fish live bottom for snappers and groupers, troll in between spots, and then a few wrecks to vertical jig for big  amberjacks. When the captain got there he explained that the commercial fishermen had already wiped out the amberjacks and so that would be hard to do, so I asked him to take us where the fish were. I have fished with Captain Wayne at the helm for many years, sometimes once or twice a year and some years up to ten times so I trust his judgement anytime. When he starts to give advise I listen even if I know about it or had done it before, you never know when he will say something I’ve haven’t heard before or give a twist to something I already know. As we waited for everyone to arrive and finish unloading (by this time it was 6 am) he gathered us to give us the fishing plan for the day: We were to go catch pinfish on the way out, fish some ledges, rock piles, wrecks, live bottom and some deep water on the way to Fowey Rocks light house. If we made good time we would meet Jimmy the bait man and get some white baits, all depending on how everything went.

Below on the left is Captain Wayne Conn giving the plan, on the right boatless members talking about their adventures as we are heading out on the boat, it was about 6:20 am.

Captain Wayne Conn  Leaving in the crack of dawn

Below on the left catching pinfish for bait. On the right it was 7:30 am when passing by the new South Beach pier (almost completed).

Catching Bait  South Beach Pier in progress

On the way out I told everyone to take turns on the trolling rods. One was mine, the other was Richard’s and the another was the boat’s. The ride was not as time consuming as catching bait was, we got to the fishing grounds and were in about 130 to 150 feet of water when the Captain said “I am going to adjust the boat for the drift”. Everyone started to drop the baits as the engine shut off and I jigged for that first drop along with Ron, Victor and a few others. A few minutes after the baits were dropped the first rod bends were observed.

It was 8:06 am when Jessie had his bent rod fighting a super nice Gag grouper and only 3 minutes later Robert “ffishermen” was fighting a very nice Mutton snapper. The bar was set high at the very start of this trip.

  Jessie fighting a grouper   ffifherman fighting a mutton

 Below is Jessie with his first ever a very nice 21 pound Gag Grouper.Jessie's Gag Grouper

Below is Robert “ffishermen” with his nice 12 to 14 pound Mutton Snapper.ffifherman's  mutton

As the boat drifted away and nothing else on the bite the Captain decided to do a second pass on the same spot. At 8:48 am my son Seth was the first to hook up and then Raul at 8:51, both brought in gag groupers.

Crabman fighting a gag grouper  permitchaser fighting a Gag Grouper

My son Seth and his Gag Grouper.Seth's Gag Grouper

Raul and his Gag Grouper.permitchaser's gag grouper

Again no more bites as the boat drifted and many were already with only 1/4 of a spool left as we leave our reels in free spool trying to maintain the bait in the bite zone (where the boat turned the engines off for us to first drop our bait). This is what many of us call long lining. The Captain decided to do a third drift where fishman Joe AKA Gruntking got another Gag Grouper at 9:06 am.Gruntking's Gag Grouper

The captain made the decision to move the boat to deeper water looking for the better fish populated spots. No one was trolling anymore so I decided to put my trolling rod out but there were no takers. We were now in the 200′ to 240′ and many had to up their weights from 6 to 8 ounces to 12 or 16 ounces, some doubling up on sinkers as we did not bring those specific weights. It was all pick a fish here and there and we started to see some scamps come up.

Below is Chris with a nice scamp at 10:55 am. I know he will enjoy it very much.cvstrat's scamp grouper

Below is Jessie with his first ever American Red Snapper at 11:00 am. This was the only one caught on this trip.Jesto305's American Red Snapper

Ron and Victor where jigging and got a few almaco jacks but not many more fish were picked up on several drifts so Captain Wayne decided to go even deeper. No one was trolling anymore as no fish had fallen for the trolling skirt I was using. I had told Richard to use a pink trolling skirt I had brought and then offered it to others but the lure was left on the bench as trolling was not giving results. I understood why no one wanted to do so, as you do have to pay attention to the rod and have to make sure to bring the line in every time the captain slowed down the boat and made a few turns around the wrecks looking for fish on the sonar.

 Ron fighting an almaco jack on a jig at 11:15 am.Ron on an almaco

On the way to one of the spots someone saw a school of peanut  Mahi Mahi’s around a vertically floating piece of bamboo and so everyone tossed bait at them. Raul and I were some of the lucky ones to get one that was of legal measurement but the rest would have to throw back a few and so did I. The boat was drifting and since no more fish were taken, I decided I would rig the pink trolling skirt on my rod. Perhaps I could get lucky and get one more dolphin fish I thought.  I took the black, purple, and blue skirt that I rigged using 10 feet of 250 lb test wire cable off the 500 lb snap swivel (makes it easy to switch trolling rigs). I use that trolling skirt to target toothy fish like wahoo and blackfin tunas, but sometimes Mahi Mahi get hooked on it as well. I snapped the pink skirt rig on, I had used 10 feet of 100 lb test fluorocarbon leader to a 11/0  3x strong live bait Mustad hook.  As the boat turned the engines on and started to move I let out the trolling rig and as I snapped the release clip on, I looked to the right I heard a scream and saw my rod bending, I picked it up and let the fish run a bit. I tightened the drag and started to fight the fish, I saw a big wide flash and screamed BIG DOLPHIN! (Mahi), but there was not a jump during the fight, then the mate says “IT’S A WAHOO! IT’S TURNING! BACK THE DRAG OUT!” So I did, this allowed the fish to run and wear it self out and prevented it from breaking or snapping my line. These fish have power and very sharp teeth. The fish made an additional small run and I was able to get it close to the boat for the gaffing. I was lucky the fish did not cut through the fluorocarbon leader. On my boat and while on fishing party boats on the way to Bimini back in the late 80’s and early 90’s I would always get them no bigger than 15 pounds and this time I was able to get double that weight.

Me fighting the wahoo at 12:30 pm.Cudaman fighting a wahoo

Below are pics of my wahoo. One to show the nice fish.Cudaman's Wahoo

And one to show size comparison.Cudaman's Wahoo pic

The Captain continued stopping where the fish were but the fish were not cooperating and so he went even deeper. This time to 400 feet where a couple of fish were landed.  Jessie again nailed another fish as we has getting ready to bring the bait back on the boat he felt a tug and in the middle of a tangle he was able to land it. And yet again another first ever for him, a Snowy Grouper!Jesto305's Snowy Grouper

Many could not reach bottom as the current started to rip faster and faster as we went deeper, so the Captain told us he would move the boat to shallow water to give us a chance at snappers, more groupers and perhaps a chance at kingfish mackerel as well.

It was now 1:40 pm when we were in 150′ of water and Robert got a very nice 6 pound Ocean Talley while fishing for king mackerel.ffishermen's filefish

Some of the last to hook up to a fish on the trip were Richard and Peter. This happened at 2:10 and 2:15 pm when they hooked to a black tip shark. Richard fought one and as he was bringing it in it broke off, then Peter fought his all the way to the boat. They both did great on the fights.

kingofthesea fighting a blacktip shark   Peter Miami fighting a shark

Peter Miami's shark

It was over, no more bites 3:00 pm was here already and some water spouts began to form. We got rained on and the Captain called it quits, we headed back to port. Again I stressed for someone to let the trolling line out and someone did but there were no takers.

The water spout at 3:35 pm.water spouts

Back at the dock the fish were laid out on the deck.At the dock

And we took the group picture. Boatless people trip

 The only thing we missed was the big amberjacks and bait to go on the kite, it would have been an awesome addition to this trip. But it was not needed as this trip was considered epic by some since many personal best were attained. I hope we can do this again.

Here is the end summary of my fishing report:

THE FISHING TRIP: Private Charter Boatlessfishing.com 10 Hour Fishing Trip.
Aboard the “Reward Won” with Captain Wayne Conn of the Reward Fishing Fleet
The Spot : Off Key Biscayne Cape Light House, FL
Weather Forecast: Cloudy with afternoon showers and thunder storms, Sunday SouthEast winds 10 to 15 knots. Seas 2 to 4 feet with occasional seas to 5 feet. The real weather was: Earlier seas 2 to 3 feet in the morning and 2 to 4 later in the day with occasional 5 foot rolling waves, cloudy skies and storms after 3pm.
Water: Choppy and slow current in the morning strong currents in the afternoon as we got closer to Fowey Rocks Light House.
Fish catches: Small Dolphins, 1 mutton snapper 12 to 14 pounds, 1 mangrove snapper,1 Red American Snapper, 4 Gag groupers 1 @ 21 pounds, 1 Snowie Grouper, 3 or 4 scamp groupers, 1 wahoo, almaco jacks, a couple of bonitos.
Biggest size Type : Wahoo around 32 pounds on the scale
Techniques : live bait, dead bait, and some Vertical Jigging
Jigs : 80 to 400 grams

Yankee Capts Pulley Ridge Adventure- Deep Drop May 2014- JIG AND CRANK!

It had to happen, I was able to get on a Yankee Capts Pulley Ridge trip. I went in with the hopes on getting some fish on 300 gram to 400 gram vertical jigs and some by hand cranking my Accurate 600 4:1 reel on a Calstar 850H rod using 2 pounds of weight. I was not expecting to compete against people using electric reels and I sure wasn’t expecting to fill a 150 quart cooler with fish and have enough fish to give away. More to that later. I have a jigging trip in July with http://www.360tuna.com forum members and in the board there are a lot of questions on what weight of jigs were needed to get down to the bottom on these 300 to 600+ depths. What could work if jigging and how many tangles one would get if fishing next to people with electric reels. With this report I hope to answer many of those questions. So please just read along and be prepared for many pictures, so let’s get started.

Below are pictures of the boat and the top deck as Captain Greg maneuvers to get out. Yankee Capts boat   Upper Deck Yankee Capts

The top deck showing the rod holder and cooler space along a view to the transom and An setting up his trolling rod while he speaks with Leroy whom is one of the regular people that travel long distances to fish on the Yankee Capts.

Yankee Capts boat 2   Han setting up his trolling rig

 As the boat headed over to the fishing grounds I took notice of some electric reels and some home made and purchased gadgets.

Electric reel 1   Electric reel 2

Below is a PVC pipe filled with concrete. It never saw the water.

PVC pipe with concrete for weight

As the trip moved along An got a hit on his trolling rod, but unfortunately the fish was lost, but hope was still on the horizon as later on he landed a fish.

Han fish on his trolling rig

On to the deep dropping

I will continue the report a little different this time. I will do it as I try to answer some questions by people wanting to jig on these trips.

Is the vertical jigging all the way doable? Yes, if I did it anyone that has a normal slow active life can do so as well. If you are a person that hits the gym every other day this jigging trip will be a breeze. This is what I did and did it testing my limits:

What line and jig size? I started by using a custom Phoenix Titan rod, a Stella 8000PG with a custom 1600 spool that held roughly about 490 yards of  50lb test Tuffline XP line. It was plenty to get down to about 600 +  feet. I used a 350 gram H4L Jiao-Long  jig and as soon as I felt the bottom and first two pumps I was on a small yellow edge grouper.

Yellow edge on jig 2

What is the max rod size,  jig size, line size I need? I continued by switching to a 400 gram rod because I noticed I was getting lots of bites on the Phoenix rod but the bend on the pumps was too much and would not allow me to set the hook properly so I would loose the fish. I had not had that problem using a 300 gram OTI or a 300 gram Spinal rod setup in less than 300 feet, but I guess that this time the depth made a difference on the Phoenix rod. I have used the Phoenix with 300 gram lures and have not had problems in less than 300 feet of water. I guess the sweet spot on that rod is no more than 300 grams. On the 400 gram rod I used a Jigging Master Ocean Devil PE6 reel that held roughly 500 yards of  65 lb Tuffline XP. I got the reel because it was within my means in cash price and it held a good amount of line. The reel has a little play on the handle but other than that I have been able to put the wood on the fish. As we got deeper I also used a 400 gram jig.

Below is a small yet greedy scamp I got on a 400 gram jig on the way up after several attempts on hooking the biting fish. As you can see the jig is almost as big as the fish it self.

Scamp on jig

 The Amberjack below hit on the bottom in 500 feet deep water. I was not expecting that at all. There were less than five caught.

Amberjack on jigAs the day continued and as we went deeper I switched to a 750 gram lucanos style jig with no results on a bare jig or tipped. By the way a 400 to 500 gram jig of similar kind would have done the job. I switched back and forth but my jigging rhythm was already off and I kept getting cramps as I do not normally drink enough water on a daily basis and did not ensure I had done so the day before. I decided to switch to hand cranking dead baits at around 1 pm. I thought perhaps I could actually rest my arms that way and would drink plenty fluids while I did so. Here is a look at some non jigging dead bait catches.

Below a happy fisherman with a Blue Line Tile.Blue Line Tile

An with a nice Yellow Edge Grouper. Han

Me with a Snowy Grouper caught with squid while hand cranking. Snowy Grouper

As the day went on Joe used a Gold  Hammered jig and the assist hook with a squid skirt. He got a Blue Line Tile on it. So yes, the diamond jigs do work.Joe Blue Line Tile on Diamond Jig

As the sun was falling down another happy fisherman by the name of Lonnie Blue Thang Man, a little pun intended on the blue line tiles he got 🙂   landed a nice size snowy grouper.Lonnie

After Joe got his Blue Line Tile, it occurred to me that maybe the glow lures would work better at sunset so I rapidly started jigging again and used a Salt Water Assassin sea shad which helped me land a nice size Blue Line Tile.Blue Line Tile 2

 How many tangles could there be if I fished next to people with electric reels? while vertical jigging I had 6 tangles during the entire trip. I was able to maneuver in between all the lines. Now, the electric guys them selves is another story as they bring 2 to 3 fish at once and these are spinning all the way up, so they did have more tangles. Even while hand crancking I only had a few tangles.

Will I loose many rigs to the bottom? I did not loose a single rig to the bottom but did loose one to the tangles.

Night time came by, I was exhausted. I went upstairs drank as many sports drinks as I could and ate a couple of protein bars right before the dinner served at the galley which hit the right spot in my stomach. While dinner was served Captain Greg moved to boat to a shallow mound that held mutton and groupers. I took the opportunity to take a nice nap and recuperate a bit. As we started fishing we set our 8 to 10 ounce weights Cesar got a nice red grouper and so I started fishing for them as well. An used a nicely  cut piece of speedo and landed a nice mutton snapper.I knew I had a light weight snapper rod but the bottom as explained to me had very few rocks and holes for the grouper to hide so my 30 lb test line and 40 lb leader would do just fine. I used a speedo head just like Cesar did and also landed another red grouper.

Cesar and his red fire truck.Cesar Red Grouper

 An and one of his mutton snappers. An Mutton

Me with my red fire truck.Herb Red Grouper

The bite slowed down and so did I, I took another power nap and hydrated my self again and again until I was feeling better. Then the sound I wanted to hear was heard. Blackfin Tuna! I know many of you don’t care about them but here in Florida is hard for us to get them past 5 to ten pounds so I hurried and started jigging and set my goal at ten but it was a bit slow so I lowered my goal to 5 and then at around 2 am and after not getting any more red groupers and with An landing about 3 or 4 muttons and Cesar doing the same I started to get my rhythm back and so I got to my goal and said I would get one more and as I got one more people started asking for some tuna for bait or for their coolers and the tunas started growing from 5 pounds to decent 20 pounders. In the end I ended tired at 10 or eleven blackfin tunas of which I gave away 6 of them. A few more people got some nicer ones on bait and some decent ones on jigs. All in all I would have landed more but had the smaller 250 gram spinal rod set up with 30 lb braid and 50 lb mono (momoi line) I had forgotten I tested this line with the PR knot and forgot to take it off, the line slipped away. I will never do that again. I then switched to a 50 lb leader that I had never used and perhaps was a few years old. The knot was on there but it would brake on the part that held the solid ring, at first I thought I was getting cut off but the after a few tries I decided to test the knot and POP! every time I pulled on it by hand it broke. I switched the leader to 80 lb mono and had no problems after that.

 Herb Black Fin tuna Herb Black Fin tuna 2

The night was ending and was almost 4 am so I asked An for a favor, I asked him to wake me up when the sun came up and so he did and I thank him for that. First up was a gentleman and his first red grouper ever, then An and his red grouper. I started jigging again and got another Blue Line Tile.

Another red grouper

An red grouper

Blue Line Tile on Vertical Jig

Jake snicking a selfie while taking my pic.Jake sneaking a selfie

Things started looking better and more and more groupers were hitting the decks. People woke up and filled the rails once again.

Here is a nice 24 lb Yellow Edge Grouper and the happy fisherman that caught it.Yellow Edge Grouper

The tote before the 24 lb grouper.Crate with fish

The tote after the 24 lb grouper.  Crate with fish and 24 lb on top

Here is a look at all people fishing towards the stern.Looking towards the stern

Here is a look at all the people fishing towards the bow.Looking towards the bow

As the day went by more and more fish came in, I had been jigging and hand cranking bait along with 4 others and with weed lines all over the place I kept my eyes opened for more dolphin fish (Mahi Mahi) and all of a sudden something that had not happened during the trio did happen a shark showed up and ate Cesar’s fish that he was battleling for quite a while and then Jake screamed dolphin! (Mahi Mahi the fish). I quickly got my rod and tossed a bonita strip the fish took it and and was landed, but that was the only to see for the rest of the day.

Herb Mahi Mahi

 More and more fish came on board via the electric reels and the coolers were almost to the rim so Captain Greg gave the announcement that we would leave around 5 pm to be back home at 6 am. By this time we were 150 miles from Key West and it would take 12 to 13 hours to get back to the dock. And so the boat was on the way and Joe kindly prepared awesome sashimi with home made sause. This was delicious, he needs to let me know where he wrote the recipe so I can try it again.

 Joe preparing the Sashimi.Joe preparing his sashimiAdding the awesome sauce.Joe preparing his sashimi 2

  Many others joined and got a session on using chop sticks. Sashimi session

Then, as I was taking a shower I hear a lot of screaming. CRANK! CRANK! UPSTAIRS! DOWNSTAIRS! WAHOOOOOO! An’s rod got hit and they landed a wahoo. I ran to get the camera and took a snap shop.

An and the helpers.An's wahoooo

After that event it was the next morning and the totes started to line up the deck with the catch. Below is a pic with only part of the catch.Part of the catch ready for the dock

 As we got back to the docks it was business as usual. Everyone gathered around the totes and the fish was passed along to the people holding their numbers.

 People receiving their fish   People receiving their fish 2

Below is Joe and his pool winning fish.Joe's Mahi Mahi pool winning fish

Here are the 360Tuna members that came on this trip.

360Tuna members on board

 Here is the end summary of my fishing report: THE FISHING TRIP: Pulley Ridge day Fishing Trip Aboard the “Yankee Capts” with Captain Greg The Spot : Around 150 miles off Key West, FL Weather Forecast: Sunny 0% chance of rain, Saturday winds 5 to 10 knots then up to 15 knots. Seas 2 to 4 feet. The real weather was: Earlier seas 1 to 3 feet and maybe 2 to 3 by Sunday?, clear skies every day. Water: For the most part it was calm in the morning then a bit choppy and mild current later in the afternoon. Current: .5 knots to 1 knot. Fish catches: Yellow Edge Grouper, Snowy Grouper, Red Grouper, Blue Line Tiles, Blackfin Tunas, Mutton Snappers, Amberjacks, Yellow Eye Snappers, Blackfin Snappers, Mahi Mahi, etc. etc.etc… Biggest size Type : Mahi Mahi 28 Pounds, Snowy Grouper, about 30 pounds, Yellow edge grouper about 24 pounds Techniques : Me :Vertical Jigging. 3 others: Hand cranking using dead bait. The rest: Dead bait and electric reels. Jigs I used: 300 grams all glow colors and 400 grams to 500 grams holographic jigs with assist and squid skirt were working. A question was asked on what gear I took so I am adding it here as well. 400 gram JM Terminator II jigging rod with JM OD PE6 and 65lb braid 300 gram Pheonix Titan jigging rod with Stella 8000PG and 50 lb braid 250 gram Spinal jigging rod with Saragossa 10K and 30 lb braid Calstar 850H 8.5 bottom rod with Accurate 600 4:1 low gear single speed. Fished 2 pound lead on it and 850 gram lucanus style jig. Calstar 800L 8.0 bottom rod… fished at night for red grouper / snapper One 7 foot Jaws jigging rod that I used for dolphin with a Diawa Saltist 4500 and 50lb braid. Ii believe the total on my jigs went: One jig bag 6 300 gram jigs 3 350 gram jigs 6 400 gram jigs 2 500 gram jigs many 100 to 250 gram jigs for night time. 2 400 gram lucanos style jigs 2 750 gram lucanos style jigs 2 two pound leads  —  If you are only fishing bait then you might need 4 two pound weights and 4 three pound weights and 2 four pound leads (per http://www.yankeecapts.com site). several 6 ounce weights but did need 8 to 10 ounce weights. <– for snapper/grouper fishing at night 6/0 wide gap circle hooks—25of them 8/0 wide gap circle hooks–25 of them l00 lb leader 2 spools— used 1 spool 80 lb leader 2 spools— did not touch it my assit hook Shout Hako 4/0 Shout 5/0, 4/0, 3/0 Fisherman 6/0 All on kevlar or Owner with wire inside. sleeping bag 4 shirts 2 pants 1 short 1 pair of crock 1 pair of comfy shoes 6 buffs 6 pairs of sock to keep dry feet 6 undies lol, gotto be comfy 2 pairs of gloves 150 quart cooler to keep ice 50 quart cooler for bait small snacks and food cooler For those asking me these questions: Where can I get information on the boat future trips: http://www.yankeecapts.com What is the cost? in the 2014 schedule $650 for a 3 day Pulley Ridge trip and $725 for a 4 day trip. Look at their site for updated pricing information. Does the boat have a galley? Yes and coffee for the whole trip is $8 and worth every penny. What does the food cost? Same prices as a fast food place or a diner $3 to about $10 Are there showers? off course there are Is bait included? Yes the boat has bait included but it will be good if you bring a bit extra for your own. They had squid and ballyhoo when I went. More than enough to make the trip count. Can the boat provide rods? Yes they can. Can I fish without an electric reel? Yes you can I did  it in this trip and so did other 3 people and we filled our coolers. What kind of reel should I use if hand cranking? As big a reel you can get and a low gear will help you get less tired while fighting the fish and while bringing that heavy weight. What kind of weights? Look at the Yankee Capts website tackle recommendations. I used a 2 pound weight for deep dropping and others used up to 3 pounds.

Jigging on the Reward won 5-4-2014

Weather had been fair all week but as we were to embark on our 10 hour fishing trip all was to change,a warm morning became windy with a cold breeze, we were hopping the fish would still bite, we had many good expectations on this trip for the grouper opener. We began by catching pinfish for bait, a great bait for groupers, snappers, and many other species. 6 people alternating on sabikis yielded about 100 baits plus the boat had another 20 to 30 baits. This was more than enough since many would only do vertical jigging.

On our first drop there were no bites, Captain Chris readjusted the boat and all of a sudden someone fishing with a live pinfish at the bow has a tight line and a bent rod, he was using an old Penn 6/0 with 80 lb line and fishing next to an individual with a high End Shimano Tiagra 3o 0r 50 (I did not confirm). The end result was a 10 to 12 lb Gag Grouper. To cut it short this was the last fish to be caught for hours as the weather took a turn with winds switching to North and the current on the opposite end and then switching to Northeast. Here is the weather synopsis

“Surface high pressure will build into the area from the Gulf of Mexico behind a departed cold front leading to tranquil weather conditions. The high will gradually shift into the western Atlantic through the week. This will result in a northeast wind flow becoming easterly by mid week.”

The sudden weather change affected fishing and how the Captain would position the boat and as we were over a wreck our vertical jigs went horizontal due to 20 knot winds pushing the boat very fast past the wrecks. The Captain the decided call for a vote he asked us if we wanted to continue trying over the wrecks or go anchor in shallower water. Final decision was to fish shallower and anchor in 120 feet deep waters, but the same was to be had strong currents. Again the captain moved the boat to about 60 feet deep and this time the current was better. A chum line was started to attract snappers, groupers, and any other species that might hit a jig or a bait. A first hook up was had on 12 pound test and a jighead tipped with bonito, we never got to see the fish after a few minutes battle. As we were cvatching a few ballyhoos all hell broke loose with baitfish boiling the waters so the Captain Un anchored and we set after the boils casting everything we had at hand. The first hookup was Garriga on a verical jig, the my son, end result was about 4 to 5 bonitos landed some released some kept for bait on a later day. We continued following the school hoping to hook on watever was feeding on the little tunny (bonito). My son had a strong hook up the made him fight the fish from the transom to the bow, as otheres were still on the bonitos he was still fighting what ended being a nice size jack crevalle. Unfortunately I did not take many pictures, but here are the ones I took.

 

Gag Grouper

Seth Fighting Jack Crevalle

Seth With Jack Cravale Vertical Jigging

Here is the end summary of my fishing report:

 THE FISHING TRIP: Super Grouper 10 Hour Fishing Trip
Aboard the “Reward Won” with Captain Chris of the Reward Fishing Fleet
The Spot : Around 5 to 8 miles off Key Biscayne, FL
Weather Forecast: Sunny 20% chance of rain, Saturday Easterly winds 9 to 14 knots then up to 20 knots. Seas 2 to 4 feet with occasional seas to 5 feet. The real weather was: Earlier seas 2 to 3 feet in the morning and 3 to 5 later in the day with occasional 6 foot rolling waves, cloudy skies in the morning then clear skies in the afternoon and no rain all day.
Water: Calm at in the morning then choppy and strong current later in the morning and stronger in the afternoon.
Fish catches: Several bonitos, one Gag Grouper, one porgie, one small almaco jack, and one Jack Crevalle.
Biggest size Type : Jack Crevalle estimated at around 15 pounds
Techniques : Vertical Jigging, dead bait, live bait
Jigs : 80 to 300 grams all colors were working on the bonitos.

 

Bridge Fishing in Channel 2 Florida Keys 4-26-14

Gruntking did it again, he put together another http://www.boatlessfishing.com outing and this time it was a fishing one. The agreement came at the BBQ a few months ago. Many of us offered to go and show a few things to people that wanted to learn. If you didn’t go you missed out. Some members of the forum like Grunking Joe, PhishingPhanatic Rory, rare Nilson, Striz Ron, Greentide John, Myles, and many others fished hard core from Thursday till Sunday and some until Monday. My son and I were there only from late Friday night and till noon on Saturday since I had a fishing trip the next day but it was enough time to get my limit on Mangrove snappers and lost a Permit to the water pipes. I did release all snappers under 12″ and kept only 2 over 13″. The highlight of the day was a nice 12.5 pound Mutton Snapper by a member by the name of Myles. Wish I could have taken more pictures of the fishing and all the fish caught but there were over 70 fishing rods and too many people working all the areas of the bridge to do so. So here are the few pictures I took.

The lamp went down around 1 am to get sardines and thread fin herring wich arrived in small numbers at around 2 am.

Bait Fishing

Here is Nilson getting the bait on sabikis at night

Nilson getting bait

The amazing sun came up over the Florida Keys

Sunrise in the Florida Keys

Sunrise in Channel 2 Florida Keys

We all woke up and started to get ready to fish. I know some took some good knowledge from this outing.

Bridge Fishing

Here is the Gruntking with a barracuda he snatched (used a trebel hook with heavy sinker under it, threw it over the barracuda and snatched it. It is a common practice amongst people wanting to get shark bait and not have to use artificial or live bait. It is not as easy as it sounds you still have to know what to do and how to do it.

 Gruntking and his snatched Barracuda

Here is one of the mangrove snappers on a jig head with shrimp.

Herb Mangrove Snapper

Here is John with a gift from a Fishing Guide that was fishing under the bridge.

John with free bait

Here is my son with his grouper caught on a live pinfish with a circle hook. Fish was released.

    Seth and his Black Grouper

 In the end many fish were caught including more mutton snappers, yellow jacks and other species. It was a great day to be out there, and was fun talking to many and helping a couple of people understanding how to fish in the bridges.