Capt. Easy Charter- Amberjack Mayhem-Vertical Jigging 4-27-14

After bridge fishing I arrived home in time to take a nap and then get ready to set up my Vertical Jigging gear. I knew I was to get punished by the Greater Amberjacks, those that carry the nick name of “Sea Donkeys” so I set up some heavy line on my reels. Four rods for this 3/4 day jigging trip with one of them a light setup in case we encountered a school of Mahi Mahi. As many trips before all reels were checked for loose screws and drags were set at 15 and 9 pounds respectively (this time I set the drag at the boat). I did not minimize my selection of jigs because I was expecting some cut offs by toothy fish. I took twelve 250 grams, twelve 150 grams, and the rest were 100 grams and under.  First up was a 250 gram jigging rod with a Stella 8000PG and color coded PE6 line (80 lb Test), a 200 gram jigging rod with a Saragossa 10000 and 70 lb test white braid , a 400 gram rod and conventional PE6 jigging reel with 300 yards of PE6 (80lb test) braid,  and last but not least a live bait rod to double as a light jigging rod rod with 30lb test green braid that could double as a small jig pitching rod for Mahi Mahi. Enough of the talk about gear here is the report and it’s mostly in pictures:

It was  4 of us on this Florida Keys Charter out of the Postcard Inn Marina in Islamorada. I arrived there early and just waited so I snapped this picture.

Early Morning at Isla Morada

Captain Bruce of the Capt. Easy Sport fishing Charter arrived shortly afterwards and we spoke about previous trips and the Mahi Mahi bite which had been on an off at times.

Capt EasyAfter Adam, Ed, and Jimmy arrived they loaded the boat and off we were to our adventure.

On the way out

Shortly after we were in 300 feet of water and started jigging. I had some mishaps with the Diawa Boat Braid line as it got cut off, by the wreck, and then on the second fish the jig was cut off by a possible barracuda, and on the third I got sharked. As we had a quad hook up and I lost my fish Ed, Adam, and jimmy did well on bringing theirs in.

Ed Amberjack 1

Adam Amberjack 1

Jimmy Amberjack 1 and Adam AJ 1

Jimmy Amberjack 1

The second drift over the wreck came and this time I connected in the quad hook up and we all brought our fish in. But unfortunately for me it was a Barracuda and so I decided to change colors from a blue to orange and seemed to work for me, everyone was using pink at the time and  perhaps it was just a coincidence that I got cut off and then caught a cuda since others changed to a blue color later on and were successful.

  Ed Amberjack 2   Adam Amberjack 2

Jimmy Amberjack 2

Jimmy Amberjack 2 alone

On the third drift I was able to connect well and this time I was using a conventional jigging reel which felt a lot more powerful than my other setups.

Herbert Amberjack

Ed Amberjack 3

Adam Amberjack 3

The fourth drift came along and again we all connected well and brought all our fish in to be released soon after.

Herbert AJ 3 fight   Adam Amberjack check mate

Herbert AJ 3

 Adam Amberjack 4

The fifth drift came in and again it was a repeat but I was beat by this time on my 4th Greater Amberjack, I just had to rest my arms on the rail while Adam and Jimmy continued hand in hand with their 7th and 8th Greater Amberjacks. Ed  after his third fish took a little break on this drift and took some of the pictures.

Herbert Amberjack on Jigging Master Terminator II 400g rod with Jigging Master Ocean Devil PE6 reel.

Jigging Master Terminator II 400g jigging rod with Jigging Master Ocean Devil PE6 reel.

Herbert Amberjack 4

On this one I believe we stayed on the drift as the Captain kept power drifting just over the wreck and Ed got back on for his 4th Greater Amberjack. By this time we were no longer taking pictures of the fish and were just catching and releasing them as soon as we could. I caught my fith Greater Amberjack and I was basically done for the rest of the trip. I literally begged for Mercy on my 5th fish. I di try again on other wrecks but was really wishing for a fish not to hit, LOL.

Ed and Adam on a double Amberjack Hook up

Here is Captain Bruce quickly releasing the Greater Amberjacks caught Vertical Jigging.

Captain Bruce

 And one last Picture of one of Jimmy’s Greater Amberjacks.

  Jimmy Amberjack 3

Afterwards other boats started showing up trying to figure out what we were doing and off their live baits went in the water. Our bite started to slow down so the Captain Bruce moved the boat to another wreck. I got a small almaco jack and Jimmy did the same at a later time. On the other wrecks we were not able to get the fish to bite and so we headed home.

Boat close to us

The day was great and all we wanted to accomplish was done on the first hour of fishing. We could not have asked for more. Off we went to eat lunch at a nice little restaurant by the shore and off to home we went to face the Sunday traffic.

Mangrove Lines by Restaurant 2

Mangrove Lines by Restaurant

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Florida Keys Traffic

 Short recap:

Of all the jigs I took I lost 3 Nagamasas and used only 6 different jigs after that with one orange jig working the best. The heaviest set up was the one used the most as the Amberjacks were in the bigger side of the scale. I most say that Captain Bruce is really knowledgeable about power drifting and keeping the boat in check for all the lines to stay vertically. We were able to work our jigs the way they were intended to be used “Vertically”. Kudos to the Captain for a class service, we will absolutely be back and I strongly recommend his Charter Services for any kind of fishing, but specially for Vertical jigging.

THE FISHING TRIP: Greater Amberjack Vertical Jigging
Aboard the “Capt. Easy” with Captain Bruce Andersen
The Spot : islamorada, Florida Keys
Weather Forecast: Sunny 0% chance of rain, Saturday didn’t even check the winds as all week had been less than 2 foot seas and so this days was the same.
Water: Light chop almost no current.
Fish catches: Greater 26 Amberjacks and 2 Almaco Jacks. Adam with 9, Jimmy with 8, Me with 5, and Ed with 4.
Biggest size Type : Fish were mostly 30 pounds to 50 pounds with a couple about 25 pounds.
Techniques : Vertical Jigging
Jigs : 150 to 300 gram, all jigs would have worked in this situation as the Greater Amber Jacks were in Spawn season.


Youtube Video Part 1

Youtube video part 2

Youtube video part 3

Youtube video part 4

Youtube video part 5

Youtube video part 6 and final part of this fishing report.


Alligator Reef Light House Area Fishing 9-28-13 to 9-29-13

THE FISHING TRIP: Fishing in the  Alligator Reef Light House Area Alligator Reef Light
Aboard a friend’s boat. Yellow Tailing
The Spot : Alligator Reef Light House Area close to Tavernier and Islamorada Florida
Weather : Saturday night ESE up to 10 to 15  knots, Sunday morning ESE up to 17 knots, some rain
Water: Up to 4 foot seas in the cloud covered area is my guess. Up to 2 feet in the outside of the rain clouds. Water color clear and barely any current
Fish catches: Yellow tail snappers, mangrove snappers, mutton snappers, groupers, and the usual bait fish
Biggest size Type : 24.25″ Gag Grouper
Techniques : Live bait, dead bait and unfortunately no Vertical Jigging

Yello Tail Snapper Chum

Menhaden oil, cracked corn, oats, and glass minnows

Well, it’s been a while since I last went fishing I think that was August 6th. so I was itching for a fishing trip, The Reward Fleet in Miami called me and told me there was an Ironman trip scheduled for the 28th but unfortunately it did not happen. A couple of friends called me and told me they wanted to go yellow tail fishing and so here another fishing trip was well on the way. Jeff one of them owns a double wide trailer home on the water in Tavernier Key and as he is updates his vacation home and converts it into a weekend rental home  he goes fishing on the weekends when he has no plans to work on the trailer) so I went on my way in the afternoon, I stopped at Jacks Bait and Tackle where I saw some not so fresh threadfin herrings you know if they are fresh when the scales are visible and their eyes still have white around them, when these are too long in a brine solution (more than a couple of days) and people constantly move them they loose their scales and become very greyish. Well it was a big NOOOO on the threadfin herring I then looked to right and saw another cooler with so called fresh scaled sardines and I liked the color of the eyes and the fish still had scales on the, so I sifted through as many scaled sardines that I could find. I ended taking about 24 or so. I also got two blocks of tournament chum (the brand) and a dozen or fresh ballyhoo. The fresh ballyhoo at Jacks are always a surprise because you don’t see them until they give them to you. So I will tell you, be courteous to the attendants and put something on the tip jar and ask them to give you some fresh ones and they will pick them for you, very quickly but you will get a few fresher than the rest. I got a dozen of them. I kept driving on my way to Tavernier Key and stopped in Key Largo at this new bait shop called Captain Bad, they had a sign that read fresh speedos that caught my attention and so I went there and asked for 5 speedos ($3.50 each as if these were gogs!), guy walks in to the freezer where they had a cooler filled with ice and says “never been frozen just brined and kept in ice”  I told him “don’t worry these are just backup baits anyways.I walked around the shop and looks like they have all the basic need for real fishing situations. I did like the place and the people were very friendly. I will go back again. My friends called me and asked me what they should add to the chum they were making, they already had cracked corn and glass minnows so I told them to get menhaden oil and oats. As I got there Jeff had started the mix in a 5 gallon bucket and the proceeded to use a power drill to finish it off. I told him not to use all the glass minnows and add a block of them at the end. The mix looked good and smelled like fish and not a rotten mix to attract all sorts of sharks and thrash fish. Some people love nasty smelly chum, I rather use menhaden oily chums, a few dollars more to make or buy but it is worth it in my opinion. We had some time left to finish setting up the rods and catch some bait at the dock. There were a few dork jacks (tiny jack crevales) and a couple of pinfish that were not so plentiful this year. I remember a couple of years back there was an outbreak of pinfish to the point that they were caught just about anywhere they would normally not be and all of a sudden they went back to the same old numbers and almost vanished in some areas.

So off we went and arrived at the spot being careful to stay as far away as possible from that dotted line in the GPS that marked the imaginary sanctuary line. We sure did not want trouble with the authorities. Looking at the depth finder we chose an area with some fish markings near the hard bottom and we were lucky that the current was taking some of the chum all over the place. We could see the chum slick zigzagging all over the area.  We started using the scaled sardines and then the ballyhoo, when things slowed down I decided to break out the speedos. I took the first one out and crap! It was a freaking popsicle, LOL  I still remembered the guy saying “never been frozen just brined and kept in ice” LMAO!!! WHAT HAPPNS NEXT? NO FREAKING KNIFE IN THE BOAT!!!! Oh no, had to cut the frozen speedos with my bait scissors!!! Jeff was like but you always bring one in your bag, I was like, not this time! Not good, not good, but got over it. Fishing was steady the yellow tails were cooperating one after another kept coming in, I let my line out every time we threw a scoop of the glass minnow mix and in came a yellow tail, Jeff did the same and then worked the bottom catching some mangrove snappers, Victor was freelining and got some tails but many were small. We put out a regular chum bag that was kept in the water at all times. Unfortunately some remoras came to visit but left, then it was ladyfish and we got some of them and used them for bait and they worked quite nice. I put a head out and got the grouper and then some tails and mangrove snappers like the lady fish as well. Every time the bite died down we switched our baits, sardines, ballyho, speedo, ladyfish, dork jacks and picked more fish but it all became a sifting process. So many 12 inch yellow tails, we only kept 12.5 inches and above to ensure that when these shrunk in the ice they would still be a bit bigger than 12 inches and so the same we did with the mangroves even though those only had to be 10 inches. Yeah, I know fish weren’t flags but to Jeff and Victor it would be a nice weekend meal. In the end we went back to shore got more supplies and a knife. Daylight was here and the day looked very promising but the bite was not there so we moved to 150 feet with no luck and decided to try the ledge in 96 to 100 feet. We anchored in a sandy spot away from the hard bottom and let our line on top of the drop. We set out the chum and almost immediately a swarm of speedos came by. I ran to get sabikis but left the bigger ones at home since I wanted to downsize and not take everything with me. I always keep thinking “don’t do it, every time you do it you leave something you will really need”  and I did, I left the right size sabikis at home. Well tons of ballyhoos joined the party so I cast the net and landed a few but the speedos were like, well, speeding out of the way of course. I tried the small sabikies but the ballyhoo were nailing the sabikis hard and would not let the speedos even look at it. The dam ballyhoos ended wrapping themselves so quick in my sabikis that I lost three of them. We prepared small hooks with bait and let it drift in the water and the dam ballyhoos would eat it all, LOL sometimes I wish I had fresh ballyhoos. This time I had too many. Well I tried a few live ones and a few plugs, then a few chunks but no bites it was mostly small fish under us. Jeff was the only one that hooked a mangrove that was a keeper and we also hooked and released several baby mutton snappers and some 15 and 3/4″ muttons, not a single one was a keeper all of them were tiny muffins getting ready to grow in the oven. Midday came and we decided to call it the quits. In the end we got 15 yellow tails, 5 mangrove snappers, and a decent size gag grouper. We had not time to go jigging I wish I had tried but we were too shallow for doing so. Here are a few pics of some of the fish caught and some of the surrounding areas we navigated by.

Victor and a sifter yellow tail

Yellow tail Snapper

My gag

Gag Grouper

A marker and Alligator Reef light.

Reef Marker   Alligator Reef Light

Getting the bait close to the boat

Geting bait close to the boat

Jeff and a throw back muffing mutton snapper

Mutton Snapper

Jeff and his mangrove snapper

mangrove snapper

Well until next time, I hope to go fishing again very soon. If you have any questions feel free to ask in the comments