Yankee Capts Mutton Marathon 8-16-13 to 8-18-2013

THE FISHING TRIP: Yankee Capts Mutton MarathonYankee Capts Boat
Aboard the “Yankee capts” with Captain Greg
The Spot : Dry tortugas
Weather : Friday ESE up to 10 to 15  knots, Saturday ESE up to 17 knots, Sunday E  up to 20 knot winds, some rain, cool temperature
Water: Up to 5 foot seas is my guess. Water color clear and mild currents
Fish catches: Quality muttons but very low quantities, plenty yellow tail snappers enough for everyone on the boat to get their limits, and the usual bait fish such as bonito and blue runners
Biggest size Type : Mutton up to 15 pounds (is my guess didn’t see it on a scale)
Techniques : Live bait, dead bait and Vertical Jigging
Jigs : 80 to 150 gram,  butterfly jigs, blue, pink, and green jigs worked best. Only caught bonitos on them.

My buddy Ed had been itching for the experience to fish on the Yankee Capts and he knew I was planning on a trip, so we decided to hop on the Mutton Marathon trip. Well,  for starters I knew I was going in to a trip with a big possibility in bad omen of weather. There was a Low Pressure system in the Yukatan Peninsula and a High pressure system in the Carolinas it would have gone both ways. I normally like to fish before or after a storm, this time it was in between. Sometimes we have to do what we can to get an opportunity to fish and so it is my luck that this year I have been against a wall of bad luck. It is called fishing not catching so no excuses of bananas on board. I will blame the cause to this trip to my lack on getting fresh bait for my self on this trip. I only went out once to get fresh bait and it was only micro blue runners and jacks that I found, plenty for yellow tails but no mutton snapper bait. I could have gone and tried harder to get some good goggle eyes but I just did not have the time and did not want to kill my self over the bait and so I made the wrong decision of calling the Captains in the keys and depended 100% on them. Well, there was no bait in the Keys, no one had it and even ballyhoos were not accessible for purchasing since it is commercially closed in August. Out of 4 Captains called and 5 bait shops visited and was only able to acquire frozen old bait and I mean freezer burnt old bait. Our only chance was to get fresh bait on the boat.

As we got to the dock it was the usual unload and get all ready for the trip, after doing so we enjoyed a nice Hogfish Sandwich and a few drinks. The boat left the docks and we arrived at the grounds at around 4am in the morning. First stop 110 feet deep. At this dept you are usually able to acquire fresh bait. I got my net ready as a few flying fish were visible, dang it they left as soon as the engine stopped running, crap! I tried the sabiki for some gogs but had no luck and the sun came up a bit later than usual giving us more time but the bait just wasn’t at this stop. OH well, we tried getting yellow tails and we got plenty of that, a story that would repeat over and over during the day. It was now night time Friday, the boat was anchored at 110 to 120 on all the stops and the flying fish came close to the boat and I was able to secure at least a dozen or so of them but about 8 were only 3 inches long which was not so useful when you are in yellow tail City. The yellow tail would just chump at the small baits and when using the old frozen baits those would just fall right off and when hooking them in the spine you would just bring the cleaned out bones, if you are a fish bone collector this was the time for you to appreciate, not for me. It was time for a super hot shower get a little cleaned up and drink a beer re look at my strategies and see if I could do something on Saturday to turn my luck around.

The clock kept going as it always does, it was now past midnight and the Captain tried moving to deeper water the current was good for 8 ounce fishing but the wind and the current were on opposite ends, it was tangle city USA. New Yorkers against Canadians, against Floridians blaming each other for the tangles when it was nothing but wind to be blamed, LOL. It all got quiet everyone looked at each other and kept on trying to fish with some relocation to other places on the boat. As the day came by us the captain again moved to shallower waters this time to some ledges in 85 to 90 feet of water.  Well it was another bust, hardly any bites and sad to say maybe the reason we weren’t catching much is in the video below. My buddy Ed dropped a Gopro in 90 feet of water with a small contraption we devised, take a look and just pause it when you see fish.

Later in the day we made another move and when I saw that ledge on the screen I was so happy, I hurried down and grabbed my jigging rod, jigged and jigged but nothing happened. We actually had arrived in shark city USA, shark are always all over the Dry Tortugas and up to date I have been able to avoid them by using crabs, octopus, and squid, well nothing else was interested on those offerings other that yellow tails that were chomped by the sharks anyways!  But then the sharks moved out and up came some action with a few muttons and some nicer size yellow tails and juvenile red groupers. As the sun started to go down Ed gets a blue runner, I immediately cut it and tell him how too hook up the chunk. He sent it down and only a few seconds when BABAM!!!! ZZZZZZZZZZZ ZZZZZZZZZ he thinks is a shark and Jarvis and I at the same time say “iIT’S A NICE SIZE MUTTON RUN MAN!!!” Ed did his thing and got the fish up inch by inch. “UFFF!” he said, “got him!” and so he retired for a little while in the afternoon right after that, the man sure was happy of the catch, LOL.

Ed and his prized catch

Ed's happy with his biggest mutton so far

As the night fell on us I went back to bait fishing, the bait was hitting small sabikis and guess what? I only had huge sabikis that worked in the past, I left my smaller sabkis at home because I tried to downsize on the tackle I brought. ARRRG! I only got one goggle eye and 2 blue runners. The blue runners were taken by sharks and the goggle eye was lost because Rodney the Rod Holder failed me. the rod holder was in a spot that when I pulled it out the lever went on free spool as I got a bite. CRAPOLAS AGAIN!!! OH well again, the afternoon came by and the weather turn for a bit and we lost some of the wind and the clouds, Nice! WEED! WEED! WEED! Not the one you smoke the good stuff lots of Sargasso floating around. I got prepared and setup a rod in case dolphins got close by. Nothing came close by so I went to the stern to try and sling a knocker rig with a whole ballyhoo on 30 pound test braid line for a shot at a mutton and what happens to pass by as sling my bait out into the depth? 3 dolphins, 2 cows and a bull. Art a quick thinking fisherman also had the same Idea as I did and had a rod ready so he sent the chunked bait out and hooked on to a small cow and kept it in the water long enough for other to throw some bait out. I already had the whole ballyhoo on my knocker rig so I brought it  in to the top and got nailed by a bigger cow. At least I got a 10 pound mahi mahi on this try and did it by chance since my prepared mahi mahi rod was at the front. After that it was nothing but yellow tails and yellow tails for me. Art and Jarvis who are regulars on the boat had fresh goggle eyes and speedos, they were hauling one quality mutton here and there at a few stops. Art won the pool with one of those fish and I think Jarvis ended with 8 muttons or so after Jarvis no one had more that 3 or 4 muttons and I only got a short  one I had to let go.

It was past 12am on this night and Sunday had arrived, Ed spent a lot of time sleeping because he developed a big back pain but he kept on fishing in between naps, I woke him up to help me with the bait.  I went on to try and try and we did nothing but try. In the end I only a small strawberry, a 10 pound mahi mahi and had kept only 20 yellow tails since I used the rest for bait. That was all I had to show for this trip. I didn’t even take a pic of me with the fish. It was not a worthy catch. Here are some more pics for your enjoyment.

On left a nice vintage modified for fishing, you get to see so many creative stuff in Key West. On right a look at the boat from the Hog Fish Grill restaurant

My dream car  Yankee Capts Boat sign

The boat now has some nice front racks!

A view of the Yankee Capts front rack

Ed working the bow and Lindon with his watchful eyes always ready to help someone

Lindon and his watchfull eye

Richard the new mate with one of Jarvis muttons

the new mate holding a mutton

The New Yorkers working the transom. They sure looked like they had fun.

The New Yorkers doing their thing

On left Captain Yuri, flying right by us. We were fishing the same waters he was. On right an Andy Griffiths boat also went right by us

Captain Yuri passing by   Andy Grifiths passing by

A nice weed patch we worked on Saturday

One hell of a weed patch

On the way in a look at the yellow tail filled totes

The trip's catch

The tourist boats from the Keys on the left and on the right the Catamaran from Fort Myers to Key West, talk about speed

Key West tourist boats   Talk about speed

I wonder how the winds were in Key West, this sailboat got stuck on a sand bar, expensive mistake.

In trouble

Fishermen gathered around waiting for their catch to be distributed

fish distribution

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Yankee Capts April 13th to 14th 2 day trip, my first trip of the year in 2013

THE FISHING TRIP:
Aboard the “Yankee Capts” with Captain Greg

The Spot : Dry TortugasYankee Capts 2013 Bow configuration

Weather : Weak cool north breeze

Water: Sometimes clear and sometimes with that nice sandy mix

Fish catches: Mutton Snapper, Yellow Tail Snappers, Cobia, King Fish, Amber Jack, Porgie, Bonitos

Biggest size Type : 30.8 pound Kingfish, 25.4 pound cobia, and 25 pound Amber Jack

Techniques : Vertical Jigging, cut bait, and live bait

Jigs : 100-250 gram,  butterfly jigs, speed jigs, silver, green, and blue colors worked the most.

We left to start fishing on the 13th and someone brought bananas on the boat! It was very, very slow, but had great fun as always

I missed two trips this year because of work  keeping me at a standstill on life. so It’s been several months since my last report and was hoping for it to be a good one but as sometimes happens not always do we get a limit or half a limit on a Dry Tortugas trip. We had a bit of a heat wave, a weak cool north breeze with no hot bites in between. The water looked nice, sometimes clear and sometimes with that nice sandy mixed color I like. As usual the Yankee Capts crew did everything they could to get the fishing going. We fished in 110’ to 120’s and when the wind calmed down we fished 190 ‘ then 220 to 245. After the wind came back we went to 90’ and then back up to 180’. At times there was no time wasted, if only sharks bit and nothing worth it came up, they moved the boat in hopes for the fish to bite. It was nice to get the opportunity to fish in those depths and with barely any current I deployed large baits for groupers (whole Spanish macks, speedos, and other freshly caught baits, butterflied or chucked), no groupers, only sharks were the takers. On a couple of stops I was even able to get a 1.5 ounce knocker rig down to 240’ using 17 pound test line and a strip of kingfish and again with a baby flyer caught in the early am before the sun came up. Only a nice yellow tail came from that. The vertical jigging only produced 2 small kingfish, a bonito, and a baby red grouper. I threw so many different jigs and every color and size I had in my bag of tricks but still wasn’t enough to get the bite going. I had macks and goggle eyes caught in the a.m. but those were no help. The combos and crabs did not work the kingfish, bonito, and blue runners I got while jigging got me a porgie and some yellow tails.

Saturday morning came in with a tail bite that did not last long and a small school of Mahis that I missed as they were all over the stern but not near the bow. I was stubborn and fished only the bow. I should have moved around since the boat was not even half full. I paid the price. In the afternoon all I got was an AJ with a butterflied goggle eye. On Saturday night I was running low on fresh bait so I put a chunk of a flyer and asked Rodney the rod holder for some help while I tried to get some more flying fish with the net. Irish man screamed “YOUR ROD!” I handed him my net to retrieve and started fighting the shark that turned into a cobia. The new mate got it on the head with one shot and as Chad was taking it to the box we decided to weigh it so I took my scale and put it on Chads fish hook, it showed 24 pounds and slipped out sending Chad’s fish hook flying towards his family jewls. Somehow he managed to hurt and laugh at the same time, sorry mate! Later that night while listening to Cameron’s, Chad’s, and the Captain’s jokes I asked Rodney to do me a favor again and told the guys I was going to sit down and watch Rodney getting me a mutton. I was joking around and bam! I did get a mutton, the only one I was to get for the rest of the trip.

As Sunday morning came it got a bit boring as the bite was not really there again. No hits on the big baits barely any on the small baits so I decided to give it a try and get a kingfish and others were trying it as well. I saw a pod of bonitos jump through the air like sardines and so I retrieved my rig and tossed it back out almost in front of it hoping for a nice fish other than bonitos to hit it and very quickly the drag started singing zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz together with the bad bearing in my very well used spinning reel rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr, zzrzzrzzrzrrzrrzrrzrrzrzzrzzrzz, you get the point on the sound LOL. Well from the bow to the stern, two sweat drops down my head and zig sagging over, under, around all the way to the other side and everyone politely moving and helping by getting out the way then it was Chad on one end and Lyndon on the other making sure the fish hit the deck and so it did. Fish in the box pool money in the works. I tossed another horse size fresh ballyhoo out and just waited sweating for that last call from the captain and all lines out. This wouldn’t have been the first time someone won the pool money 5 minutes from the end of the trip.

A father and son (I think they were) had a combined 6 muttons next to the stern. It was the son’s first time fishing and gets about 3 of those muttons and one of them was about 15 pounds. At the end my take home final tally was a 30.8 pound king fish (the pool winner), a 25.4 pound cobia, a 25 pound AJ, one 10 pound mutton (the biologist did the weigh in), a nice porgie, and some yellow tails.

It was great to see some familiar faces as always. Cameron, hope you have a nice voyage back to Canada man, it was nice to fish with you again, see you next year man. Cameron is a friend I met a few years ago on the Yankee Capts fishing Headboat out of Watson Island in the Florida Keys.

I forgot my camera and had my gopro pointing to the skies so here are the only pictures I got. Thanks crew members for taking them.

cobia 4-14-13

kingfish2_ 4-15-13

DRY TORTUGAS OCTOBER 18th TO OCTOBER 21st 2012

Cudaman's Ctach    We went fishing with Captain Yuri once more. Here is part of the report and story as I remember it.

THE FISHING TRIP: OCTOBER 18th OCTOBER 21st 2012
Aboard the “Lauren Jeanne” with Captain Yuri Vakselis

The Spot : Dry Tortugas, Florida

Weather : cloudy, winds of 10 to 15 knots? first 3 days up top 20 knots on the last day

Water: Calm at first then cloudy with sand mix noticeable

Fish catches: Mutton Snappers, Yellow Tail, Snappers, Mangrove Snappers, lane snappers, many kinds of Groupers, King Mackerels (kingfish), Cero Mackerel, and football sized Blue Runners

Biggest size Type : Muttons 15lbs … Yellow Tail snapper 4 lbs, Mangrove snapper 6 lbs, Red Grouper around 16 lbs…Kingfish mackerel around 20lbs

Techniques : Vertical Jigging, cut bait, and live bait

Jigs : 100-250 gram, Bullet type bucktail jigs, butterknife jigs, butterfly jigs, speed jigs, Pink, red/white, silver, and blue worked the most.

THE GAME PLAN: It was going to be a mixed jigging trip and bait trip. We had planned what worked for us last year, no bait in the water until we finished jigging. It worked at the beginning but later on we seemed to have gone in our own individual plans to get the fish to bite. We all had mixed jigging and baits at the same time and it worked ok. Jigging didn’t impair fishing with bait and fishing with bait didn’t impair jigging. Dead bait worked better by switching to different baits as often as the bite slowed down.

THE BAIT: It was known that it is imperative that we take all kinds of oily baits to the Dry Tortugas but it was pretty hard to gather bait before the trip,yes, again just like last year. Because of our schedules it was hard to get out on the days that the conditions would dictate good bait catching for us and this year we were also plagued by the canal water to close to the bait catching areas and lets not talk about the gas prices to get to the bait catching areas. We collected a few runners, macks, and jacks. We decided to stop trying and to catch bait on the day of the trip. On the way up some stopped by Atlantic fisheries and got some fresh ballyhoos and frozen gogs. Nilson and I stopped at the bridges for some threadfins (in case we went to a wreck), and mackerels. On one of the bridges we saw Adel and his frien catching some threadfins, he is one of the people that fish the Yankee Capts regularly. Talked to him for a bit, he gave me a new bait contact, and I wished him good luck on the trip. We the    n passed by the bridges after 7 mile bridge and found a few barjacks and yellow jacks. Some of our crew went to get some pins and pins they got, great job guys. Wish you would have waited for me so we could have kept a few more alive.

BASICS WERE LOADED: . After the bait we stopped at one of my favorite Pizza Places, the one across from Winn-Dixie in No Name Key, Pizza Works. What great Pizza, or is it that I am always very hungry by the time I get there? Only thing is that every year it just keeps on getting smaller. After pizza it was a Cannon Ball Race for the best bunks. Low Rider Red car team pulled a David Copperfield/David Blain act on us and disappeared so it was to safely race to the docks. Team Stoner a little confused made a turn back to No Name Key, which gave us the advantage to at least get the small bunks even though we missed Schrimp Road we got there before them. We loaded the boat and enjoyed a few beers.

THURSDAY FISHING STARTED: We left the docks around 8:10 pm and started fishing shortly after midnight. We knew that we were going to be plagued with high currents but surprisingly the Captain found areas in 130 to 150 were we could fish with 6 to 8 ounces of weight, but we celebrated too early as every time the tide changed we would need up to 2 pounds to find bottom. On my snapper rod I never went above 10 ounces but I was using light line. On my grouper rod I was using 12 ounces. For snapper I started with 40 lb test leader but after loosing the first fish I stuck with 60lb leader most of the time and when the bite slowed down or the fish got bigger and the sun was out I switched to 50 pound fluorocarbon and at times switching back to 40 pound leader. After the water was chummed up the muttons started chewing within an hour of us being there. The bite started slow from the get go and we prepared for an ok trip. It was slow pickings but we got a good job done, at least I think. On the first night we got     some muffin muttons while a few sharks came by and collected their Tortugas tax.

FRIDAY CAME: This is when the jigging really got pretty good. There were some small groupers, muttons, and Red American snappers caught. The days that followed a few more came up by way of jigging. FISHING ALMOST ENDED: Well, we were getting taxed heavily by the sharks. We lost just too many muttons to them and on one of those as I was getting ready to grab the leader on my line a stupid shark dashed to the bottom cut the line off and the 10 ounce weight sprung bat towards my head. I was not able to move away fast enough and up came the punch from Shark Tyson, well, knock down!!!! I hit the floor up I came bleeding like a boxer and went to get some paper towels, the Captain gave me something to clean it up and a band aid, so all in all was kewl with a bit of double vision and blurriness. We kept fishing and after the trips was over I ended up going to urgent care, I was sent to Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, some anesthetics and an eye patch until my laser procedure to remove some blood vessels. Just be car    eful with handling those tiny sharks, sometime they cause the most damage. Pic don’t look so bad but it felt rally bad.

SATURDAY: This was a slow pickings day for most, the daytime brought some slob and we got to fish in 250 feet where some yellow eyes and more Red Americans kept on coming as pests. At night most of the time was filled with muffins, but we got a few nice ones as well.

SUNDAY FISHING ENDED: The captain said that the wind would pick up in the morning so we headed to fish by Rebecca’s Shoals. This is were the nice flag yellow tails came from. It got a little rough but not enough to get anyone sick. We did a couple of moves around the area and surprisingly were fishing in 30 feet of water were a couple of nice Red Groupers, more flag yellow tails, and some button muttons came up. This is where some were able to catch up in the fishing; it was not bad at all.

What bait worked best? As always the fresh bait is what did it; fresh gogs, fresh ballyhoo, fresh blue runners, fresh bonito, and fresh pinfish, some of the backup bait was used, but the men in the grey suit loved it too much. At least that was the case in my part.

THE FINAL TALLY WAS:

Herbert (cudaman):
20 muttons with biggest at 14.5 pounds, a 6 pound mangrove, 2 yellow eyes(only kept my 2 day snapper limit), 1 Red American snapper, 2 triggerfish, one strawberry grouper, one red grouper, a cero mackerel, a kingfish, and too many sharks to count with one that almost leaves me blind.

Nilson (rare):
15 muttons with biggest at 14 pounds, a 6 pounder mangrove, too many sharks to count, and a 20 pounder kingfish

Rory (PhishingPhanatic):
10 muttons with biggest around 14 pounds, 3 flags at around 24″ each, 1 red grouper, 1 king, 1 baby cobia, 1 big jack crevalle, and 323 sharks

Ricky (Rijkaard):
12 muttons with biggest mutton at 15 pounds, 3 mangrove snappers, 3 yellow tail snappers, 1 kingfish, 1 nice margate, 1 rockhind grouper, 1 red grouper, and too many sharks to count.

Robert (WhoDey):
11 muttons, 2 Mangroves, 2 Red American snappers, 4 yellowtails, and 3 red grouper, and too many sharks to count.

Adam (EnglishAdam):
15 mutton, one mangrove, 2 Red American snappers, and a red grouper, and too many sharks to count.

Here are the pics:

Picking up Nilson on my old faithfull 300k plus miles truck

On the way

At No Name with the endangered ones

Passing the 7 mile bridge

Loading up

Loading up

If you put them in individual bags this does not happen

On the waters

Herbert (me) with “El Cuchillo part 2”

Nilson

Rory

We had a very, very tired visitor

Ricky
Someone chummed the water for him

It worked!

The result!

Chilling after eating a great dinner cooked by Capt Yuri

Rob

Adam

This Stowaway came from the beaches of the Atlantic to get me a snapper

The sharks were so thick they were hugging down jigs as well

Back at the Docks to hear some of Stevie’s jokes and have a few beers

Tight Lines to all and until next time

Yankee Capts 6/30 to 7/1 2012 Quality Pickings and Great Fun

Yankee Capts 6/30 to 7/1 quality pickings and great fun

THE FISHING TRIP:
Aboard the “Yankee Capts” with Captain Greg
The Spot : Dry Tortugas
Weather : Clear skies, hot day and night
Water: Clear
Fish catches: Mutton Snapper, Yellow Tail Snappers, King Fish, Amber Jack, Almaco Jacks, Bonitos
Biggest size Type : 18 lb Mutton Snapper
Techniques : Vertical Jigging, cut bait, and live bait
Jigs : 100-250 gram, butterfly jigs, speed jigs, silver, green, and blue colors worked the most.

At the last minute I decided to jump on the 2 day Yankee Capts trip. I did not have much time to go out and catch bait on my own but I did look for Gogs but couldn’t find them so I loaded with white bait, small runners, and dork jacks. Nilson (rare) one of my fishing buddies gave me some more bait including some pinfish and so I went on my way to the Keys.

The boat left at 10pm on a hot night and to hot days to follow. We started fishing about an hour or more before sunrise. First day was slow pickings but some quality fish in 120 feet or so of water showed up which was a great start for some. The current in shallow water was great but as the captain moved to 200 and up it was insane. We were close to the edge of the Gulf Stream I tried up to 18 ounces and would not hold. The Captain did a few attempts on water close to this depth but the current was too much. We had to fish shallow and even in the shallow water the current picked up.

You all know what happens when you are that shallow in the summer, YELLOW TAIL ATTACK! Many switched to catching Flag Yellow Tails, but to those that kept pursuing the muttons and groupers it paid off. Some nice Red Goupers, Black Goupers, and one Scamp were caught. I did ok, I got 11 Muttons 4 of which were 5 to 8 pounds the rest were in the double digits one was 18 pounds and another was 16 pounds which made me glad. I know Jarvis, Dom, and Daniel (regulars on that boat) got some 20 pounders as well as 2 or 3 other people. Vertical jigging I got 2 kings a keeper AJ and an Almaco that was used for bait. I finished my snapper limit with yellow Tails from 18 to 22 inches.

I tried to get some more pics but you all know what happens when you catch a fish, you just want to continue catching. Went to the back with Daniel to take a pic with his nice mutton but it was already iced up. On future trips it would be nice if some people stop for a few second and snap a few shots too. Pictures look great when a fish has just been caught. Here are some of the pics for your enjoyment:

My 18 pounder

My 16 pounder

I lost two big fish because of hook failure; word to the wise if a deal on the flea market looks too good to be true it might as well be too good to be true. I paid 2 dollars for 200 hooks. These two cause me 2 quality fish lost.

This boat came so close trolling one rod and it was only a couple of feet above the anchor line; I guess he wanted the GPS location.

When the sunset came the Black Fins started to show and were all caught on bait, none came in with artificial. Also a Wahoo had shown up we threw everything at it but it was not interested.

Here is the NOAA field biologist doing his research.

Preparing to recieve the catch

YANKEE CAPTS 6-14- TO 6-16-2012 Great fun and nice fishing

YANKEE CAPTS 6-14- TO 6-16-2012 Great fun and nice fishing

Since the Yankee Capts had to make the decision to stay year round in the Keys there was an opportunity to get on a limited load private charter, unfortunately some people couldn’t get the days off to go fishing and it was canceled but they have another private charter scheduled to leave on the 25th of June. Good luck Capt. Bill and others going on that Yankee Capts private charter that week. The fish are chewing and the current on these moon phases are usually favorable.

Well the private charter was canceled so I decided to jump on this weekend’s 2 day Tortugas marathon. The trip was great for many as some nice fish showed up and we had a nice spectacle with Wahoo, nice Blackfins, and Sailfish showing up.

For me it all started as it always does, getting bait at the nameless bridge in the keys passing by Pizza Works afterwards for my 2 slices of delicious cheese pizza and some Key lime pie slices for the trip.


We went into the sunset to get to the fishing ground by around 1:00am. In the meantime we got to watch the Basketball Game. Sorry guys but I have to say it “GO HEAT!”

The morning started slowly for me, one pink muffing and since I saw Bobby hooked on an AJ I took out my toys to do some jigging and had some fun with a 50 pounder AJ that was released. What a pain they are to fight but I love it.

The second stop was very slow and the third stop was on fire so I was able to pick up 6 more muffins on that one. A few stops came through with slowly pickings so many took advantage and did the right move “got fresh bait” kingfish were plentiful and bonitas had a good showing. I was stubborn and lost a few vertical jigs and when I used a butter knife jig and then the right and normal kingfish jig the bite died off. Later in the morning we had some more AJ and Almaco fun on jigs as well as playing with some peanut dolphins and a popper. It was nice to see them going for a popper that was half their size. If these dolphins were in the 10 to 15 pound range I have no doubt they would have hit the popper veraciously. Some ended catching a few on cut baits and so did I.    We saw a small craft out there fishing the same grounds we were. That was odd for me to see. The boat was smaller than 25 feet I would say.

A few stops after produced some mutton in the 20 pound range. I lost my opportunity as my drag was locked and had to figure out how to work around it and it was a major pain the rest of the trip. Here is a pic of quiet Brandon (I think that his name?)with his nice mutton from that stop.  As the day went on it was slowly pickings for me until I figured that my lever was faulting on my reel, it went to full while on strike. I took some time and fixed the issue. The cap on my tension settings had fallen off so water must have had gotten in it so I applied a bit of oil and I was able to set it correctly right on time to get this Black Grouper out of his hole.

The day went on and we hit 300 feet of water with no current problems 6 and 8 ounces was all that we needed to get the bait down. A few nice ARS came up, mines was only a keeper but I got to get one of the ones caught. Here is Eduardo with his nice fish and me with my keeper ARS.    The deep water was holding some of the 20 pounders caught.  Some were caught but not by me this time.

Here is a look at one of the first two boxes to fill before they put the ice on the top layer.

As the day finished Mike on fire (we nicked named him that during the trip) got a nice 30 pounder blackfin, a party that came celebrating a graduation got one as well just to be knocked down from the pool by a nice surprise on tiny bait. Don’t know how much it weighed but it was a very nice size wahoo. This stop was pretty much exiting since Little Monster (another regular on the boat) hooked up a nice night time sail fish that took him around the boat 4 times until he decided to just let go and popped off.    On the way back we saw a nice water spout forming and touching down.

Overall I have to say it was another great trip, and a great job by the Captains Greg and Linden and mates. By the way the food was great! High hooks were the norms, Jarvis and Bobby with Mike on fire tailing close. I can humbly say I only ended with 10 muttons, an ARS, some yellow tails, a yellow eye, 4 peanut dolphins for the tacos, a delicious scamp, a black grouper, and more experience on these trips. As always it was great fun fishing with great people. There were a total of 18 totes filled if I am not mistaken.

DRY TORTUGAS OCTOBER 21ST TO OCTOBER 23RD 2011

Here is part of the report and story as I remember it.

Since it was constant fishing, short resting periods, lots of rigging, plenty bait cutting, etc… the order of the events may have changed in my mind. I also tried to see what everyone in this trip was experiencing but focused a lot more on my fishing.

THE FISHING TRIP: OCTOBER 21ST TO OCTOBER 23RD 2011

Aboard the “Lauren Jeanne” with Captain Yuri Vakselis

The Spot : Dry Tortugas, Florida

Weather : cloudy, winds of 10 to 15 knots

Water: Cloudy sand mix noticeable

Fish catches : Amberjack, Jack Crevalles, Mutton Snappers, Yellow Tail, Snappers, Many kinds of Groupers, King Mackerels, Cero Mackerels, 1 small Blackfin Tuna. Horse Eye Jack, Bonita, and football sized Blue Runners

Biggest size Type : Amberjacks weight : around 50 to 60lbs… Muttons 16.2 lbs … Yellow Tail Snapper 5 lbs, Red Grouper around 16lbs…Kingfish mackerel around 28lbs

Techniques : Jigging, dead and live bait

Jigs : Knife Jigs 100-250 gram, Diamond jigs 100 gram, Red hawks jgs…Pink, red/white, silver, and blue worked the most.

THE PLANNING: After many emails and PM’s a year ago we decided to take one of those famous Tortugas fishing trips with Captain Yuri. It took many emails throughout the year to get in accord as to what gear we were all going to bring and some got together to order lead and vertical jigs so we could get discounts. Rods were made, reels were bought, and many lists came and went. We picked a moon that would not create so much pull and would result in weaker currents. We hit the jackpot as the current was minimal.

CLOSE CALL TO A NO GO: As many know that week almost got thrashed by a developing low pressure system that canceled many other trips on different boats, but fortunately for us a mild cold slowed down the low down and in the words of Captain Greg “it stabilized itself”. I think we almost became mini meteorologists, and oceanographers, LOL…. The good thing is that the bad weather created a nice environment for a feeding frenzy (so we think). The ocean was a bit dirty from the previous low pressure system and passing weak cold front. What a great time to fish!

Getting ready and loaded to the max.

THE BAIT: It was known that it is imperative that we take all kinds of oily baits to the Dry Tortugas but it was pretty hard to gather bait before the trip, at times we all tried to go out at some point and got drenched in water doing so. We collected a few runners, macks, and jacks. We decided to stop trying and to catch bait on the day of the trip. On the way up we did the norm, stopped at Jacks and got some fresh ballyhoos and some threadfins (in case we went to a wreck), we then passed by the Yellow Bait house in hopes for some frozen gogs but they had none, we passes by Atlantic fisheries and loaded on fish dip and slab of frozen gogs (BINGO! They had them!). We tried for cudas and other baits at channel 2 but these were on the other side of the driving bridge so we moved on, we passed by 7 mile bridge and found nothing there. We then went to get some pins that “SOMEONE” though was useless but I insisted and they caved in. After Rory netted the pins and Ricky, Nelson, and myself got a few of the bigger ones (Rob was the vigilante taking care of our gear), Rory got some sardines that were in the mix and Rory said “why not throw another cast?”. And so he did and got some more. We took the white bait just in case. We were more confident and went to the boat and met Jorge, kewl guy. Nice to meet you and fish with you man.

Bait gathering

THE FIRST DAY, FRIDAY:

THE RIDE OUT: Since on Thursday the weather was a little strong the plans were to go to the Fort and start fishing in the morning but we got to the boat early and Yuri decided we had a good window to go out right away so we left about an hour early and started fishing just before midnight. The ride was a little rough when we hit Rebecca’s Shoal and the waves according to the captain were about 5 to 7 feet. To me it felt like much more as I saw some higher waves that surpassed my head level (maybe it was the motion sickness that started to kick in due to my age, LOL)…

FISHING STARTED: All we needed was 3 ounces to get to the bottom but I chose 5 ounces for my mutton rod and 8 ounces for my grouper rods to be used with large baits ( I did target them on every stop). Others chose 6 ounces and even 8 ounces to get to the bottom quicker. Since the water was murky I stuck with 50lb leader most of the time and when the bite slowed down or the fish got bigger and the sun was out I switched to 50 pound fluorocarbon at times switching to 40 pound leader. After the water was chummed up the muttons started chewing within an hour of us being there. The bite was great from the get go. Two of the crew went to bed while the rest continued fishing. The first night was all about the muttons while a few sharks came by and collected their Tortugas tax. We started with a variety of baits pinfish, cut blue runners, and George had fresh gogs that he used and kindly shared some with us. We caught some muffins and some decent pinks but the bite slowed down. I then took out my little spinner with a 60 gram vertical jig and got a blue runner so George and I cut it and got more decent size pinkies with the strips we cut. So we kept every blue runner we caught after that. Other baits were used and just about everything that hit the water got chewed on. Also I think Rob tried the Lucanos and Jorge tried the Aki jig for a bit. The yellow tails were very aggressive and so we got many of them most were over 20 inches. I got one that was 26 inches (5 pounds), so I kept it.

THE VERTICAL JIGGING GOT STARTED: Early morning. I started jigging and got a football sized blackfin tuna, then came a couple of jack crevalles, and I had a nice fight on the Saltist 4500 I tighten the drag all the way and the hook pulled. Jorge started jigging as well and ended with another nice jack crevalle that was released. (We only kept one for bait). I then tried again with the looser drag (about 18 pounds), and then the trouble maker got hooked, SEA DONKEY! Rory and I were on. I spent quiet a while to pull mines in and Rory pulled his sea donkey in a bit easier since he had that huge 18K. We did not want to waste space in the cooler because we saw that the bite was kind of hot on the muttons. And each of those donkeys filled a 150 quart cooler with no problem. After the donkeys the bite slowed down and we moved to another spot. Rob got hooked on the Lucanos a few time the aki jig did not. The rest of the day was red groupers on live and butterflied “PINFISH” and we also got some nice flag yellow tails. I believe that Rob and Rory were using the white bait for those. We looked for the box of squid but could not find it, then realized we left it in one of the trucks. Jorge, Rob, Rory, and Ricky jigged the most. They pick a few nice and some short muttons and groupers. I only jigged when the bite slowed down.

THE SECOND DAY, SATURDAY:

It went by as we continued to try the jigging and baiting until we figured that we need to drop the jigs first before any bait and that was the ticket to some nice groupers and muttons. I got one of the biggest muttons of the trip on a vertical jig while Jorge got another two and Rory got a nice one as well. We were taking the pics when Nelson got hit on bait and pulled the other biggest mutton, both were 16.2 pounds on a digital scale. Rob kept on trying the Lucanos with Rick and both got nice red groupers and short ones as well. Rob got a real nice hit but his tiny Lucanos jig hook broke. Rory and Jorge continued with other muttons on the jig while I was using bait. We spent the entire day moving from stop to stop and we picked at the fish with the jigs on every first few drops. We would run to be the first ones to drop the jigs or bait, we had a small competition to see who got the most muttons and the biggest mutton, LOL….Ricky got creative and found a new secret bait, ended with a nice size pinky and I tried it as well with a much smaller cut bait and it worked. Then Nelson got creative and used a second hand bait that a red grouper had spit and BANG! He got hit on it but it was a short red grouper. The day went by and Ricky got a nice hit when all of a sudden his line felt like he was pulling dead weight, his nice size black got cut in half by a shark ?

This night we had the famous Yuri fish dinner and let me tell you it was all that people talk abound and then some. It was some great fish. I understand now how Robert started eating fish.

Jorge and Rob kept picking at the pinkies while we all slept I between naps. They got some live gogs and played with the kings for a bit. We ended with 3. Jorge had a massive hit that he could not stop. I went to be after that.

THE THIRD DAY SUNDAY:

It was the shark and kingfish saga! Every mutton or yellow tail would turn into a toothy critter (well it happened all trip long but it was more often as on this day). Nelson was the only one awake all night and he caught up with catching muttons I had a nice black grouper that cost me three tries to get it out of the whole when I felt my line vibrate, a king cut my sinker off when I had the fish a good 20 feet from the surface. Lesson learned: Spray paint my shiny leads in the future… We kept on fishing for yellow tails to see if we got some flags we ended catching some in the 24 inch range. Nelson, Jorge, and Rob kept on picking at the muttons while most of us were trying for more groupers and then they joined us as well. The morning slowed down and was time to go so we had to rearrange all coolers and drink all drinks since we had run out of fish space. The smorgasbord followed with Ricky eating his first Hot pocket ever, LMAO!!! He kept hearing hot pocket this hot pocket that until finally he had one.

BACK ON LAND! We unloaded and carpeted the floor with our catch, started to get ready to load all our stuff when we went to check the truck I opened it and Rory and I got hit by a MASSIVE! Nasty smell of the squid that was left on my cast net in the truck bed (the net still dipped in fabric freshener! LOL Well my truck stinks a mile away, I have to park in the far corner of the lot, LOL…Some got their fish cleane for 30 bucks an hour. I regret not doing so! I just finished cleaning mines a few hours ago and what a mess I have in my back yard. My neighbors are going to love the smell tomorrow afternoon, LMAO!!!!

Well that’s the end of some of the stories/report here are some more pics for those that skipped all the mumbo jumbo I wrote, LOL!

On our way to  No Name Key for more bait gathering we spotted an endangered Key Deer. They are very small deer  due to the small size of the islands and are losing their habitat.

At the temporary dock

Me

Rory

Ricky

Robert

Nilson

Jorge

The rest of the story in pictures

The final tally as given by the 6 fishermen was:

Nilson :

  • 11 muttons… (biggest at 16.2 lbs)
  • 3 reds
  • 1 scamp
  • 2 tails in the 18in range
  • 1 cero mackerel

Jorge:

  • Limit on muttons…(biggest at over 15 lbs)
  • 6 red grouper, plus one released
  • 2 big kings
  • 1 big jack crevalle
  • And countless yellow tails released

Rory :

  • 16 muttons…(biggest at over 15 lbs)
  • 2 red grouper
  • 1 gag grouper
  • 2 king fish
  • 1 big Amber jack
  • 1 cero mackarel
  • And countless Tails released, kept two 24 inchers

Robert :

  • Limit on muttons….(biggest at over 12 lbs)
  • 1 Big Mangrove snapper
  • 4 big porgies
  • 2 kings
  • 3 red Groupers
  • Over 10 yellow tail flags and countless more released

Ricky:

  • 16 muttons (biggest at 15 lbs 15 oz)
  • 6 groupers + 1 devoured by sharks,1 gag grouper,1/2 black grouper (had to pay the mafia in grey suit….)  ,1 strawberry,1 rock hind, red groupers
  • 1 porgy
  • 2 kings
  • 4 tails over 20″ (biggest at 24″)
  • 1 5′ lemon
  • 1 spotted moray eel
  • countless smaller tails and smaller sharks

Herbert (Cudaman):

  • Limit on muttons, over 4 released (biggest at 16.2 lbs)
  • Over 15 yellow tails released one at 26″ kept, one at 24″ kept
  • 2 black groupers
  • 4 red groupers, plus about 4 red groupers released
  • 1 football size blackfin tuna
  • 1 big amberjack….several small ones
  • 2 kings
  • 3 cero mackerel
  • 2 jack crevales over 12 pounds, kept one for bait because of gaft on head
  • 1 small Almaco jack released
  • 1 horse eye jack released

A variety of other groupers were caught and released by just about all the anglers on board. A total of about 160 fish kept and many, many released.

The biggest muttons caught were at 16.2 pounds by Herbert (cudaman) and one of same weight by Nilson (rare).

The most muttons caught by Herbert (Cudaman) and by Robert (WhoDey)

Jigging worked best at first drop

Dead bait worked better by switching to different baits as often as the bite slowed down.