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

Fishing on Outta Control Florida Sportsman Trip August 2nd 2013

THE FISHING TRIP: Florida Sportsman South Regional get together fishing trip
Aboard the “Outta Control IV” with Ralph Hawkins
The Spot : Fort Lauderdale to Islamorada Humps
Weather : Friday ESE up to 2 knots, Saturday SE up to 7 knots, Sunday SE  up to 7 knot winds, rainy
Water: calm up to 1 foot seas Water color clear and strong currents at the beginning slowing down on Saturday afternoon.
Fish catches: Monster AJ, Monster Banded Rudder fish, Over 100 mangrove snappers
Biggest size Type : AJ upto 80 pounds
Techniques : Live bait and Vertical Jigging
Jigs : 80 to 300 gram,  butterfly jigs, blue and pink jigs worked best.

This trip had been planed months ahead, I made all possible to be able to go on it. The plans started in the Floridasportsman forum by a member named Ryan  (copout@castaways). many members have been in other outings but I had not. When I arrived I did not expect a bout full of joyful and great people. From the minute I got there it was all about comradery, helping one another load gear talk about the plans ahead and expectations on the trip. It all started to get together and then BAM! a bottle of Seagram’s and some Ginger soda hit the bait cutting table. OH BOY!!! Steve said and ain’t gonna touch that stuff, some one else said  beer only for me. But it didn’t take long for everyone to become even friendlier. Yeap! the drinking did get started, the fishing stories were told, and then little by little some started talking on how they fish where we get bait what gear we use. As always the boat is spotless, the showers even have cold water and hot water, but you have to be careful on how hot you put it, it does get extremely hot.

Loading up   Who is gonna start

We went to Bent bait and it seemed like it was drunker than many in the boat or was that the buzz? Well we were using plain sabikis but since there were no threadfin  herrings or pilchards we tipped the sabikis with squid and off everyone went helping, some catching some de hooking some cutting bait and others, well drinking, what else? Not all fit in the back so why not let the other catch the bait. In the end everyone helped one way or the other. The bait caught was the good o’l mighty BooRunner (blue runners), a few pinfish, a few dozen spot tail grunts. We were set and off we went fishing.

Bent Marker   Catching bait

A beautiful sunset over the Miami scene as we left the old Bent Marker

Sunset over Miami-Picture by Herbert Hans Muller

The first few stops did not yield much, a mutton snapper caught on pre frozen sardines caught by Ralph and winning the biggest snapper pool the as we moved and moved finaly there was a wreck closer to the keys where the AJ’s where hungry at night. Steve paid with the drinking and almost ran out of gas catching this AJ, the current helped the AJ fight stronger. Then as they stopped feeding the Captain moved to another spot, this time it was a sharkathon, all was shark after shark so he captain made a longer move, again , and again.

Steve's AJ

It was morning time and we arrived at Carysfort to try and get some yellow tails. The crew went on the mission of putting two 15 pound chum blocks (one blood and one tiny silversides), that rallied up some of the fish but the current was still going Bob Marley on us, it just kept JAMMING!  i was able to get one yellow tail while another 2 muttons were landed. Then it was nothing at all. Carys Fort Reef Light is where we meet a very happy waving youngster, dad, and family moving next to the boat and drifting with their anchor all the way around to the propeller of their boat, wonder why it didn’t start and dad had to dive in the water for? Well they had their anchor rope wrapped around the bout and in between the propelers. Fellows be careful when renting a craft you do not know how to use, there are motorized crafts not bicycles. Well the Captain made a few more moves that were still pickings of small fish.

Carys Fort reef Light House

Night time came and what do I see? BANANAS? What? BANANAS? BANANAS IN A FISHING BOAT? YOU AIN’T GONNA CATCH NOTHING MAN!!! “No problem, I did not buy these bananas, the crew did” I think the trick is eat the banana while drinking water at the same time, the water sucks the bad mojo away. Then drink a beer an hour so you forget the banana bad luck thing.

Oh Crap bananas

Well, the very next morning while fishing for big AJ’s at the islamorada Humps he hooked up to a sailfish on a kingfish jig and let the sailfish go unharmed, so Karma got his back.

Ryan on the sail   Sailfish

The first big, well I should say monster AJ came on board. it was Doc’s first ever big fish and he was happy to have caught it and was undisputed for the big fish pool. After this fish he was ready for another when most people would just sit down.

Doc's pool winning fish

It was BBQ king Doug’s turn and this time he had an AJ on a small jig and was very happy for the battle and chose to continue as well. brave people I tell you most would just rest.

Doug's AJ

Then came my turn and Jeff’s turn to get into the AJ’s and were reward with some nice decent size fish.

Herb's AJ

Herb's AJ 2

Coming back from the Humps Captain Ralph decided to anchor by Alligator Reef light and catch bait plus what ever mangrove snappers we could catch. We loaded with mangrove snappers and bait and as we were doing so Jimmy caught another sailfish, DO NOT FREAK OUT!!! This was the second Sailfish of the trip. Jimmy thought it was a flying fish, looked at it closely and realized it was a sailfish after he took it out of the dip net. Took a quick pick and released it.

Jimmy's Sailfish

After the bait gathering and getting the boat’s limit on mangrove snappers it was off to the Isla Morada’s humps again. Where the battles began. We caught many fish on jigs but some were still trying to land a MONSTER AJ. Ernie took his turn with the kingfish jig and had a great battle with a big fish. We all thought it was a wahoo until the line came back up all frayed. Hmmm wahoo got very shark teeth, may be a shark but better think the boat was following a big wahoooooo. below is the Captain guiding the Co-Captain to following the fish.

Ernie on his shark

My skipjack on a jig

Herb's skipjack on a jig

Lots of rare size (for Florida waters) Banded rudder fish were caught. below is the one I caught on a vertical Jig.

One of my banded rudder fish

Eddie is below showing off his AJ and in the background the rest of the fish caught by all 14 anglers.

Ralph sneaking in the pic

Taking pics at the dock

For more pictures you can go to the main report written by Ryan, he is the one that set up this trip. We were all very thankful for him taking this long awaited task on his shoulders.

http://forums.floridasportsman.com/showthread.php?123765-Outta-Control-IV-48hr-FSFF-trip-8-2-4-Absolutely-wide-open-fun!-PIC-HEAVY