Puerto Vallarta Tuna Fishing and Jigging

Some people say this is a trip of a lifetime and they are not wrong. To get to the giant Yellowfin Tunas you need to go on Long range fishing trips. There are several options to fish the waters we fished for giant yellowfin tunas. Some come out of San Diego California but those can cost you upwards US$5,000.00 and the trips take 5 to 15 days to complete. On our search we decided to fish with the Osuna brothers from Marlas Sports Fishing in La Cruz De Huanacaxtle. They got famous with a world breaking record yellowfin tuna, a 400 plus pound fish that in the end did not make the record books of the IGFA simply because of technicalities in the rigging of the leader. Still, it’s probably one of the biggest publicly recorded yellow fin tuna caught with rod and reel. We were confident they would find the fish we were looking for.

 I took my flight off Fort Lauder dale Florida with United Airlines which is supposed to be fishing tackle friendly.  I was concerned with the rod case and oversized luggage fees which one of the persons at the counter questioned a supervisor about. But the supervisor didn’t say anything other than take the tube with the cart instead of placing it on the luggage belt. I was prepared with a copy of their website explanations on allowed measurements. My tube measured 64 inches and their site said 80 was oversized. When I got to the checking machine that was now a 62″ maximum. I still had to pay $65 to check two bags (1 luggage and my rod tube). I had a stop in Houston where I boarded a small plane to Puerto Vallarta. Around 10 am I woke up to the Mexican terrain and their housing.

mexico

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Upon arrival I met with Larry and took a Taxi to our rental unit in La Cruz. The Taxi service from the airport was very decent and priced right for our pockets. It was almost an hour drive for a cost of US$60. Below is the rental unit where I stayed at Villa Magnolia, a very nice place.11-2016-puerto-vallarta03

The entire property was nice. It used to be occupied by the owners who now own a house somewhere else. One of the workers told me that it was a venture between one of the instrument players of Los Lobos band that owned a restaurant at a near by city. Below are pictures of the property for your enjoyment. The BBQ pit used to be a well, where they actually got their water from but now there are public water pipe lines. It’s a good thing!

We had arrived early and with nothing to do we visited the Ocean Side Fish Market. They had fresh Snook, Huachinango Pargos (Red Snappers), and Coconaco Pargos (looked closely to a Mutton Snapper crossed with a Cubera Snapper). It was interesting to see the Snooks and the super sized shrimps. The shrimps made for a delicious cocktail like soup.11-2016-puerto-vallarta0411-2016-puerto-vallarta05

We then walked around the marina where I found out that the pangueros where charging around US$240 to $300 for a 6 to 8 hour fishing trip. This would have given us a chance at small Dolphin, Snappers, Groupers, and a hopeful Roosterfish. They told us to come back early next year for Roosterfish. We were undecided and continued to get familiar with our surroundings. 11-2016-puerto-vallarta0611-2016-puerto-vallarta07Yeap, don’t do yoga under the birds, not a good idea!11-2016-puerto-vallarta08

As we walked around 5 miles around the  marina we also looked to see where we could go fishing from the beach as a second option to the pangas. There were several family oriented beaches near by and we decided we might just come back and fish from them.11-2016-puerto-vallarta0911-2016-puerto-vallarta10

The next day Bill and LB arrived and shortly after we were surf fishing which did not turn so great. Larry managed to get a baby grouper and we went blank. Later on we discovered that there was a Red Tide problem. Oh well, we tried.

We got hungry and went to a small mom and pops restaurant near the marina. This is a fishing town, there are no big hotels and brand name restaurants nearby but the food in the restaurants we tried was good and reasonably priced for us tourists. Below is a plate of Chilaquiles (fried corn tortillas with sauce over it)

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We went back to the rental property and the next morning ate our continental breakfast Mexican style, a nice plate of fresh fruits with yogurt and granola. And a very nice pot of coffee.

On our way to our adventure we passed by the seafood market and on to the boat we went.

On the water we stopped near Punta Mita to pickup the famous Caballitos (goggle eyes).

Bait in the tank and on the way we went to the Tres Marias Islands. In a misty morning we were greeted by Piedra el Morro (I think)  a rock or known as La Mona and I can see why.

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The plan was to reef fish for snappers and skipjacks in the morning so I took the opportunity to fish with my slow jigging rod, a Shark and Cudaman SJ7 High speed and slow speed 7 foot jigging rod rated for 80 gram to 450 gram jigs. I used 40 lb test braid line and 40 lb test fluorocarbon leader. My jigs were Jigging Depot jigs like the SA220 jig below. Bill and Larry used speed jigging rods and other jigs like inchiku type jigs and butterfly jigs.                                                                p1040333p1040338

After a few snappers I got a pair of African Pompanos back to back and on the same SA220 jig plus the SC220 jig.p1040340

I must say African Pompano Ceviche served in a tostada (fried corn tortilla) was great!

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Bill and I also caught Huachinango Pargos on jigs, not in the pictures. The fish did not hit the Caballitos but did hit the jigs without a problem. As the afternoon came we trolled for skipjacks and got a few plus a bonita. There were no hits from the tunas so we went back to the shallower reef and jigged for snappers again. There was another boat near us. That boat lost two Yellowfin Tunas. One was lost on a kite and one while trolling. This was a sign that the fish were there. We kept seeing the sonar marking them at over 400 feet of water, but they would not come up. We even had a bait at 95 feet deep on the down rigger. Later on we saw a few Yellowfin Tuna jump but when we got near them they were gone. Unfortunately there was no luck on Tuna this day.                                                                    p1040341

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The sun went down and as night came we tried jigging. Night was not productive so went to sleep for a  bit. We moved and we jigged for squids. Larry, Bill and LB caught quite a few then I woke up and took their place. I only caught 4 squids while the Captain had already caught at least 10.11-2016-puerto-vallarta76

The next day we woke up near the Maria Cleofas Island. 11-2016-puerto-vallarta78

Below are Larry, Bill, and LB getting ready to do some jigging.11-2016-puerto-vallarta28

Captain Scotty Osuna decided to give my toys a try. He saw it was a productive way to catch snappers. When he tried it he was also able to catch a nice couple of Huachinango Pargos and Bacalao Groupers (these look like Snowie groupers). He used my Jigging Master 200 gram rod paired with a Maxel Transformer F50CH and 65 pound braid/80lb fluorocarbon to pull the groupers out of their hole.                                                                                                              11-2016-puerto-vallarta7711-2016-puerto-vallarta80

LB also got into the action catching a Bacalao Grouper on an inchiku style jig.11-2016-puerto-vallarta79

I got a couple of Huachinango Pargos which we ate along with Coconaco Pargos. Delicious tacos!11-2016-puerto-vallarta82

Below is Roberto, our chef, mate and co captain.11-2016-puerto-vallarta32

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Luck was about to change after lunch. We trolled for skip jacks and got a couple adding to the one I got jigging. Bill got hit really hard on his trolled flying fish but we never got to know what it was.                                                                                   11-2016-puerto-vallarta2911-2016-puerto-vallarta3011-2016-puerto-vallarta31

We started trolling the skipjacks very slowly and as we were doing so Larry and I were popping the surface at the bow. Larry went to the transom and shortly after I heard the screaming Herbert! Herbert! when I got there the mate had given the rod to Larry, he continued on as the fish would come up to 125 feet and then would run back down.

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Larry was having issues with the Braid harness digging on his legs but he continued trying to reel and then the rod was taken to the bow. He was reeling in a big tuna and was exhausted, the bow presented a better chance to reel in the fish because he could use the rail to assist so the mates moved it. We saw color and soon after the fish took another run to deep waters and then deeper.

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With Larry being exhausted I took over. The fish did two dashes to the deep but I was fresh and was able to bring it in a few minutes. Total time to bring the fish in was about 1 hour.herbert-on-the-tuna-puerto-vallarta

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Below is Rex the mate, the man worked hard.11-2016-puerto-vallarta94

A nice size puffer and a squid came out of the tuna’s mouth. Ir’s belly was full of squid. 11-2016-puerto-vallarta34

We then took a few pics with the Yellowfin Tuna.11-2016-puerto-vallarta9511-2016-puerto-vallarta9611-2016-puerto-vallarta97

After this cow of over 200 pounds there were more jumping around the boat but none hit our baits. At one point we had 6 rods with baits but none hit. The kite was out, the balloon was out, free lining Caballitos was done, Caballitos and squid on knockers rigs were also used but nothing hit.

The Captain decide to make a move but before we did he gave the Pangueros a bottle and some Caballitos. We then headed to some humps on the way to port.

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After laying on the deck a bit the Yellowfin Tuna was filleted and surprisingly we were served a nice plate of sashimi which we enjoyed with soy sauce and the chef’s own Serrano peppers and soy sauce mix. We did add some wasabi. I got to tell you if you do this watch out! Your lips will be like a catchers baseball glove and your face will be on fire! But it was delicious.                                                  11-2016-puerto-vallarta99

Then again, and again we tried all areas of the fish.  Delicious!11-2016-puerto-vallarta35

At night we gave it a try for some tuna but to no avail. We moved a couple of times only finding  bottom fish like these Ojodeperros jacks and a few snappers in between. All these fish were caught jigging and were to go to the community in La Cruz.

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Having relaxed and eaten well we headed back home.11-2016-puerto-vallarta33

Bill and Larry packed up three coolers with Yellowfin Tuna for the trip back home, I imagine they enjoyed it very much. The Red bag and the carry on next to it in the picture below are two of them. Also next to it all are our rod tubes. A PVC pipe that carried 6 rods. A Sportstube that was crushed in the airline causing one of Bill’s rod to loose a couple of guides. And I used a Plano Airliner Tube which carried 4 rods.

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I hope you all enjoyed, if you have any questions about the trip please do so in the comments.

A great thanks to Bill for setting this trip up. It was fun to meet with him and LB again and it was fun to meet Larry in person for the first time. I enjoyed fishing and sharing time and stories with all of you. Definitively a trip for the books. And thank God for letting me get home to my family safe and sound. I missed them as I always do when I go on fishing trips no matter how small or long these are.

Until next time! Tight Lines!

Pulley Ridge Mini Tournament 2016-Don’t sleep

Let me just start by saying it’s fishing, not catching. We had a weird current and wind on this trip. We kept on drifting towards the wind on some areas and where there was no wind there was a whirlpool that made the lines in the bow go to the stern and the lines in the stern go to the bow. The mates worked hard at the tangles but I think we did a good job at not having as many. Key here was fishing with the right weight. 12 to 16 ounces was best, those using less were getting their lines all over. Jigging was almost king on this one. Slow jigging got many fish and some were nice quality. Well, yes it was a grind, but at least we had a nice breeze to cool us off. And with the pics below you can now see what a bad day of fishing at Pulley Ridge looks like, and I can testify to the old saying, it is a hell of a lot better than the best day at work. And the other saying: If you snooze you miss out on quality fish.

Below, getting ready to load the boat.Pulley Ridge 06-201619

We took a group pic at the beginning since so many just wanna dock and go home.Pulley Ridge 06-201625

Upon arrival to Pulley Ridge the mutton snappers and red groupers were waiting for us with open arms. Here is Nilson with the first red grouper of the trip at around 6:30 am. Photo courtesy of Bill Benz.Nilson Red Grouper

Gilbert started shining with the red groupers as well. Photo courtesy of Bill Benz.

Gilberts red grouper

The red groupers and mutton snappers responded very well to our jigs. Below is Jongsoo with a mutton caught on a Shark jig and a Shark and Cudaman Slow Jigging 7′ rod.Pulley Ridge 06-201628

Below it’s me on the same jig and rod with what we call a “muffin”. It’s a mutton snapper that was on the smaller size but made it to the box.Pulley Ridge 06-201629-2

Miami Chris got this mutton around 9:30 am.Pulley Ridge 06-201630

Then Jongsoo landed this nice mutton snapper on the same setup again.Pulley Ridge 06-201633

Below is Chris, he just ventured on slow jigging and landed 2 muttons back to back on the jigs.Pulley Ridge 06-201634

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Bill got in the action landing this nice red grouper below.Pulley Ridge 06-201638

Jared converted with the same Shark and Cudaman slow jigging rod. Pulley Ridge 06-201639

Gilbert joined the action with this nice mutton snapper.Pulley Ridge 06-201640

Around 10:30 am double header by Art and Bill. Art was second high hook of the trip and landed 8 nice mutton snappers as part of his load.Pulley Ridge 06-201643

Below is Gilbert with a nice red grouper.Pulley Ridge 06-201645

Here I am again, but this time with a jiggingdepot.com jig and my Shark and Cudaman SJ7 rod.Pulley Ridge 06-201647

Jared took home some nice mutton snappers caught on his very expensive jigs. Unfortunately for him he lost many jigs to cut offs, OUCH! My wallet hurts just thinking about it.Pulley Ridge 06-201649

Gilbert again and another red grouper.Pulley Ridge 06-201650

Art got one of the first blackfin tunas, and a very nice one non the less.Pulley Ridge 06-201653

Bill jigged all methods, and here he is again with a nice almaco jack.Pulley Ridge 06-201655

Bill was on fire at one point. Landed another nice red grouper. Pulley Ridge 06-201656

Jared followed him with another nice red grouper on the jigs.Pulley Ridge 06-201657

jongsoo tested just about all his jiggingdepot.com jigs and they produced very well. Here is another nice red grouper.Pulley Ridge 06-201660

This gentleman tried and finally landed his fish. The red groupers were all over on this trip.Pulley Ridge 06-201666

Will got  another nice red grouper on a 220 gram jiggingdepot.com jig and a Shark and Cudaman SJ7 rod.Pulley Ridge 06-201668The afternoon landed and with it came quietness and tangles and the grinding started real hard.Pulley Ridge 06-201670As the night flew by Captain rare and I made our move towards the stern and back and as we floated to the stern Nilson got a very nice blackfin tuna that was enjoyed by 3 black tips that came cookie cutting it to the top. The sharks came and went but were not much of a hassle for us. in the background is chef Camela, she made some awesome burgers and fish tacos.Pulley Ridge 06-201671

Jongsoo also got into the blackfins with his jiggingdepot.com jigs. The blackfin tunas came sporadically through the night, I know a few guys got some on the H4L jigs that were given as samples. I hope they took some pics.Pulley Ridge 06-201673Night turned to daylight and I was on the grind side of things when I heard “DOLPHINS!, DOLPHINS!” I quickly ran to my rod I had ready with an H4L Texas Toothpick and got me a small dolphin “no pic sorry” it was lost due to a missed gaff. Three time it was missed three times I had it belly side up next to the boat, but that’s how life goes. I then went back to fishing and as the day went by lunchtime was here and again I heard “DOLPHINS!, DOLPHINS!” this time i got my other rod that was ready with an H4L Wingman, I sight casted to the bull but the he stood back and let the cow hit it. I quickly set the hook and she ran to the sides, she took one jump and as I got her head out the water she quickly gave up. this time the gaff didn’t miss.

Cudamans mahi mahi on H4L wingman

 

Afterwards it was back to the grind, a fish here and there  and then Bill with a mega donkey of about 70 to 80 pounds! Bam! That most have been a lot of work. I was catching some z’s while this happened. Photo courtesy of Bill Benz.Bill and his 70 to 80 pounder amberjack

And again Bill, but this time with a blue line tile. We ran into some of them at 350 feet of water.

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. Here is Jared connecting a 2 dinner size scamp. I think he will post on his blog. If you go there you can read the recipe he made “Scamp grouper in a lemon garlic chardonnay reduction with brown rice and molasses kale”, it looks good.Pulley Ridge 06-201676

Captain rare took the snapper part of the pool with this mutton snapper over 8 pounds. Chris came second so rare took the money and Chris took the Rum and cigars. Enjoy!Pulley Ridge 06-201681

Gilbert, on the last few hours pulled a Hail Mary beating my cow dolphin and took the pool money with this nice black grouper, he also took biggest grouper prize and most snappers, groupers, and blackfins combined. He put a big bait on and went home with big black grouper steaks.Pulley Ridge 06-201683

Below photo courtesy of Bill Benz

Gilberts Black Grouper-2

Will made out nicely on some big blackfins winning biggest blackfin tuna.Pulley Ridge 06-201695

We fished until the time allowed,Nilson got one of the last mutton snappers caught.Pulley Ridge 06-201696

Miami Chris got a few kingfish at night and on his last efforts he hooked up a fish that made him go from the stern to the bow.Pulley Ridge 06-201698

This was his reaction when he saw the fish.Pulley Ridge 06-2016101

A bobo, a bonner, or better known as a bonita in our waters. Oh well, it could have been something better.Pulley Ridge 06-2016103

The night ended and we went back home. her at the dock was the marine biologist collecting samples and measurements.Pulley Ridge 06-2016105

Here are the guys waiting on their catch.Pulley Ridge 06-2016106Pulley Ridge 06-2016108

If you didn’t sleep so much below is what an average cooler would look like. Nilson catch, minus a few red grouper and a big margate. Photo courtesy of Nilson.Nilsons catch

Rori’s catch and his future fisherwoman next to it. Photo courtesy of Rori.Roris catch

William was very happy with his H4L jigs.Pulley Ridge 06-2016109

Pulley Ridge Trip 2016 Mini Tourney rules

Heaviest overall and heaviest grouper: Gilbert

Heaviest snapper: Captain rare Nilson

  • 1st Place – Gilbert
  • 2nd place – Art
  • 3rd Place – Miami Chris

Heaviest fish caught on jig – William

Heaviest blackfin tuna – William

Heaviest mutton snapper – Nilson, rum went to Miami Chris

First wahoo – Prize given to Rory, he is the only one that came close to it

First mutton snapper – Jongsoo

First grouper – Captain rare Nilson

Worst luck – Imran

Once again thanks to the sponsors on our trip and for our trip. You make this trip a lot better than it normally is.

Captain Greg Mercurio of http://www.yankeecapts.com

Osage from 360tuna.com

http://www.H4Ljigs.com

http://www.jiggingdepot.com

Captain Phil Caputo from boatlessfishing.com

Captain rare from boatlessfishing.com

And this humble nonprofit blog that is here to help as many as possible.

And again thanks to the forums that let me post these trips:

http://www.boatlessfishing.com

http://www.360tuna.com

Thanks again from the Shark jigging Depot team.

shark team

 

Pulley Ridge Lite on the Yankee Capts-Wahoo and Queens

Ed and Captain Jimmy of the Lois Ann (part of the Lady Pamela II fleet), called me and said they wanted to go fishing at Pulley Ridge so I said yes and joined them. My plan was to jig as much as I could and then use bait and jig in between. They were just going to use bait and try some jigging for the blackfins.

We arrived at the dock on Thursday and loaded up our gear in the boat, we then ate our customary Hogfish sandwich at the bar and grill with the same name. It was close to 5pm and we were on our way. At the boat it all started with a short orientation from the Florida Sport Fishing TV crew. Very simple, fish as you always do and if you can don’t get on the way of the camera man. They gave away t-shirts, nice prizes during a raffle, and by recommendation of Captain Greg Mercurio each one of us were given a nice gold hammered jig which proved to be  a lethal jig for the fish.

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We got to Pulley Ridge around 4:30 am and it started off well. Ed is below with a nice mutton caught on a chunk of king mackerel.

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Below is Captain Jimmy with a blackfin tuna caught on a chunk of king mackerel.Pulley Ridge 06-201611

Below it’s me and a nice mutton caught on a Jigging Depot SB 220 gram slow pitch jig. I got 2 mutton snappers and a small blackfin tuna on this jig and then it got cut off. The current was almost non existing so we were able to fish with light jigs and weights of about 6 to 8 ounces to get the bait down fast.Pulley Ridge 06-201612

A keeper red grouper and this time with a 210 gram Shark jig from  JiggingDepot.com . I caught several fish on this jig until it got cut off later in the day.

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Wahoos where all over this trip, this 60 pounder was caught on a jig and won the pool.Pulley Ridge 06-201616

Captain Jimmy decided he was going old school with a 6 ounce bucktail and nailed this nice mutton and a red grouper.Pulley Ridge 06-201619Pulley Ridge 06-201620

Trolling got the most of the wahoos, this one was caught on a Yo-Zuri bonita.Pulley Ridge 06-201628

Below is Captain Jimmy with his bucktail and an almaco jack.Pulley Ridge 06-201631

Ed got into the action and got a nice amberjack that was released.Pulley Ridge 06-201636

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Luck be the lady on the one below. He caught a mutton on bait and a nice size blackfin got tangled on the weight. Pulley Ridge 06-201630

That bucktail was working and this time it caught a nice size queen trigger fish that was released.Pulley Ridge 06-201634

After 2:30pm of the 17th things turn to a slow pickings until the next day in the early morning when the trolling had another victim and wahoo wahoos on the Yo-Zuri bonita it was.Pulley Ridge 06-201642Pulley Ridge 06-201644Pulley Ridge 06-201643

That was followed by a couple of mutton snappers and some nice red groupers (no pics of the reds, sorry). Below is Ed with his part.

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As the bite had slowed down to slim pickings, Captain Greg decided to make a run to some deeper waters where I was able to catch a decent size Mystic Grouper. This one was on a whole squid and was using a 16 ounce weight.Pulley Ridge 06-201650

And in came the queen snappers, some beauty of fish and so very tasty. Here is Captain Jimmy with his.Pulley Ridge 06-201652

The bite had slowed down and we made a move to even deeper water. While on the move and around 1pm in came another wahoo.

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And as deeper we went more monsters showed up such as the grouper below.Pulley Ridge 06-201660

Ed got in the game with more queen snappers. This time the queen snappers were much bigger. I think some were probably over 25 pounds.Pulley Ridge 06-201662

And a nice size blackfin tuna caught on kingfish strips.Pulley Ridge 06-201663

Here is Captain Jimmy with another nice queen snapper.Pulley Ridge 06-201666

We had the co captain reminding us to be on point.Pulley Ridge 06-201668

The bite had slowed down again and the smaller fish were hitting our jigs. This yellow eyed snapper hit a 500 gram jig.Pulley Ridge 06-201670

It was on the last stop where this nice gag grouper hit a benthos jig. This was the last fish of the trip as Saturday afternoon had come to a close and we headed back to the dock.Pulley Ridge 06-201673

Here you can see the size of this nice wahoo.Pulley Ridge 06-201675

What a way to spend fathers day. This family showed everyone what it is like when you don’t stop fishing and put your time on the rails.Pulley Ridge 06-201680

Here is a group picture of all the participants of this trip holding some nice catches.

Group picture Pulley Ridge 06-2016

All in all it was a great trip, started great, slowed down, there were slim pickings, and then it turned into mayhem catching fish after fish. There were a lot of people fishing with jigs and they were catching fish. Those on the slow pitch jigs did very good and ended with some decent catches such as mutton snappers, red groupers, blackfin snappers, etc… The best baits as always were squid and oily baits like the king mackerels. Bonita strips in combination with squid worked great too. At the beginning we were fishing with light jigs but in the end had to switch to heavier jigs as the current picked up and so did  the wind with just enough speed to make the drifts a bit faster. If you jig or bait always bring a small assortment, just in case, you never know what mother nature will throw at you.

Well, my next trip is July 7th so I hope to catch more fish on the jigs and off course we will also be using bait.

For more information on these trips please visit http://www.yankeecapts.com

For information on what rigs to use please see http://yankeecapts.com/tackle-section/ and look for the “Pulley Ridge Lite Trips” section.

Thanks for stopping by and for reading!

Tight lines and until the next one!

Naples Middlegrounds fishing on Findictive 10-10-15

Alex Garriga a member of 360tuna.com setup a vertical jigging only fishing trip. We were to only fish with jigs and other artificial baits. This trip was meant for trophy Gag Grouper and Red Grouper with the hopes of a Black Grouper fish and not to just put meat in the cooler. With that in mind some of us knew our chances were lower than a regular fishing trip, but we pushed our luck and stayed on target with our agreement of quality.

As we got to the docks we unloaded our gear and spoke with Captain Michael of Findictive Charters, he gave us the bad news, no Gag Groupers had been caught near the area and the Red Grouper season had closed 2 days earlier by a decision of the commission. He did say that a 50 pound Carborita was caught a few days earlier (a Black Grouper) He suggested Yellowtail Snapper fishing, but we stayed on our mission for quality and told him that we were not going to use bait and wanted a chance at trophy groupers. He suggested we start at 150 feet deep and work our way up to 180 feet deep. We agreed and off we were to our adventure.

Below, Alex smiles to the camera as Jarred on the right speaks with Captain Michael. The boat is a Custom Built 31 foot Ocean Master

Naples Middle Grounds04Naples Middle Grounds06After the one hour plus ride we arrived at the first drop where my son caught a nice Scamp Grouper followed by Mike and his about 18 pound Red Grouper (a best for him), I ended with a medium sized Rudder Fish which we released. The day started with a hot bite of quality fish and we were very optimistic as to how the day would end.

Naples Middle Grounds08Naples Middle Grounds10On the second stop half hour later Mike got another nice Scamp Grouper on a Taifun jig.

Naples Middle Grounds14It wasn’t until 11 in the morning when the bite started to pick up, I was able to nail a nice 18 to 20 pound Red Grouper on a prototype jig using a 7 foot 400 gram prototype fishing rod I am co-developing with “Shark Sport Fishing Tackle”. I did risk it with using 60 lb leader as everyone else was using 80 to 100 pound test leader. But as I have fished in those waters before, I knew that there was mostly big plains of lime stone and small amounts of rocks for the fish to hide. My plan was if I get cut off on the rocks then I would change my leader to 80 pound test, but that did not happen.

Below is the video.

After my Red Grouper Mike was able to hook another Red Grouper and the bite slowed to almost non existent. We moved several times without success. The Captain asked if we wanted to have fun with some Amber Jacks and a possible chance at a  Carborita fish (a Black Grouper). So we said yes and as soon as we got there Alex was cutoff by a Barracuda and my son hooked up to an Amber Jack and released it. Jarred also hooked up and lost one, then almost instantly hooked up another and this time he was able to bring it to the boat. Both fish were released and Mike had changed to an old fashion jig with a grub tail allowing him to catch another Red Grouper that was also released. Well, all Red Groupers were released.

Naples Middle Grounds17Naples Middle Grounds26Naples Middle Grounds19Naples Middle Grounds20Below is a video

After the Amber Jacks, the bite slowed down and we went on for two hours with out getting anything as the Captain even tried anchoring and moving to many spots. Then Alex also changed his strategy from the verticals to an old fashion jig with a grubtail, this allowed him to land a nice Scamp that would be part of dinner some day.

Naples Middle Grounds27The bite slowed down again and when it picked up it was nothing but Vermilion and Lane Snappers biting on our jigs and grubs. So the trip ended and we got ready for our 2 hour ride back to shore. The boat has great speed of about 30 miles per hour and luckily for the ones that wanted to keep dry it had a cover that prevented the spray of water from wetting them.

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A bird came to us as we sailed away and promptly disappeared as no one fed it. Just a friendly reminder, please do not feed wildlife or it becomes a nu sense and you help change their habits.

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Here is a look at the boat as we docked at the end of our trip. We did not catch much on this trip but we did book a Red Grouper season opener for next year hoping to stumble on some Cobias as we fish for the groupers.  Naples Middle Grounds35

As always it was fun to fish with everyone. Mike that drove from Georgia whom I think caught the most fish with the grubs, Rayan that hadn’t slept for 48 hours and drove from West Palm Beach Florida (I think no sleeping affected his fishing), Jarred from Davie Florida, and Alex from Pembroke Pines Florida. Can’t wait to do it again.

Dry Tortugas With Captain Shane Leonard – Nov – 2014

I spent a couple of weekends getting my jigging gear ready and couple others catching bait for our trip to the Dry Tortugas. On one night I had hell netting with a 3 foot cast net but managed to net 136 ballyhoo of which I a gave a bag of over 20 to each on the trip. Before the trip we had one more night scheduled to catch bait and this time I was to bring a 6 foot cast net to make things easier once I got to the dock Adam got the boat ready to go but it was a no go. The bridge between the dock and the liberty of the ocean was blocked by higher than normal low tide, we were not able to get past the bridge to get fresh bait that we would keep brined to take the same day. In the end of bait gathering we all managed to get a few goggle eyes and bought a few as well. With the bait in our freezers and our gear ready to go we thought all was 100% when all of a sudden we were on weather watch as the weather could make a bad turn to cancel our trip as it did in 2013. It was the last day and we got the go ahead to drive to Stock Island in the Florida Keys. I had to leave some gear behind as this boat only allows 5 rods per person. It was tough for me to do so as I like to bring 7 rods with me. I ended bringing one bottom rod, 2 jigging rods, a top water rod that could double as a jigging rod, and a bait rod to catch gogs and Yellow Tail Snappers. I also brought a YO-YO reel just in case. On the way we were notified that Captain Yury was on a hunting trip and Captain Shane Leonard was to be our Captain for this trip. Most of us had fished with him three times before so I had no worries.

On the way to the boat.

I picked up Nilson for the drive down to the Keys. We played Tetris with our gear and coolers to get everything in the back of my Scion XB box car. We did it and did not leave anything behind. On we went for a few bait stops so we stopped at Key Largo Fisheries for some fresh ballyhoo, but they had none so while we were there we went over our memory list of things needed and of course we forgot a few things. Towels, toothpaste, and soap, need to take at least one shower on this kind of trip you know plus you do need to brush your teeth everyday day. After getting that plus a few unneeded things like chocolate bars we went on the way to catch some bait. This time to the well known not a secret spot No Name Key where the boys loaded a 15 gallon bucket with live pinfish and prayed they made the journey to the boat.

At no name KeyGetting bait

 Well, we got to the boat and had to wait for Stevie the Wonder to finish cleaning it. We let the boat dry out a bit and loaded our gear in it.

The BoatAs we were waiting just about all of us had good hope for a good fishing trip as we stared at the fileted fished in a cart. These were from the trip before us. Looked like a nice load.Previous Night's Catch

Fishing got started.

Things started slowly with me getting a small Cobia on bait. Robert started with the mutton snappers by nailing a decent size one then Rory put a bigger one in the box. A bit later I switched to a jig and then got another small cobia,  and then another. I thought there might just be one out there that was of size but there was no luck for me.

In the morning

I started jigging and was able to connect with a Red Grouper a story that would repeat over and over for about 20 times. On this trip the Red Groupers seemed to like jigs slowly moved near the bottom. Below is a Red Grouper on a Supplex jig.

Herbert's Red Grouper 1Next I got a porgie on the same Supplex jig.Herbert's Porgie on a jigRory was onto the Mutton Snappers with live bait.Rory's MuttonWhen he decided to jig a shark came up and claimed it’s Dry Tortugas taxes.Rory's Mutton got taxedAdam got this nice Scamp Grouper on a vertical jig.Adam's ScampAt noon I took a rest from the jigs and used a live bait to get this nice 12 pound Mutton Snapper.Herbert's Mutton 1Shortly after at 1:15 pm I got another beauty of 12 pounds as well.Herbert's Mutton 2

Nilson joined us and got his Mutton Snapper.Nilson's Mutton 1Adam went back to bait and landed his Mutton Snapper.Adam's mutton 1I decided to go back to jigging and landed a nice Red Grouper.Herbert's Red Grouper 2Adam kept on bait fishing and landed the biggest mutton of the trip, a 14.5 or so Mutton Snapper.Adam's mutton 2Nilson went on and also got a 14 pound Mutton Snapper.Nilson's mutton 2

The First Night

Night time came by and I do not know what happened, I fell as sleep. Yes I did! I guess I am getting to that stage in my age where the non exercise couch potatoness is setting in and by 9 pm I start to get sleepy just to wake up at 5:00 am. Oh well I missed out on some good fishing, I think. Well, I was told that the seas would be rough so we were to move behind the Fort for cover.

The Second Morning

The morning of the 14th things got hotter, we were fishing in shallow water and fishing was hot. I was glad I slept well and so did others. It was no surprice, I spelt a hell of a lot more than I ever done on a fishing trip.

Ricky started into the good fishing by nailing a decent mutton around 8:30 am.Ricky's mutton 1I kept with my jigging and after catching a few more small Red Groupers I lost my Supplex jig to a King Mackerel. I switched to a Blue Blue jig and at 11:30 am landed this nice Red Grouper.Herbert's Red Grouper 3Meanwhile Adam kept with the bait fishing and landed this nice 14 pound Red Grouper.Adam's Red Grouper 1My Blue Blue jig got cut off by another King Mackerel so I switched to a Maxel Dragonfly in 180 grams. The result, another Red Grouper and this time it was a double header as Adam got one a minute later with live bait.Adam and Herbert double headerThe above grouper was a stubborn one and rocked me, I managed to get it out and almost lost it as my reel drag got loose and then the Shout 1/0 hook bent but did not bend enough to loose my fish.

Bent HookIn the Red Grouper madness Rory and Robert also had a double header.Rob and Rory double header 2Ricky was drifting a Hookup Jig (Troll Right) in the chum slick when a very nice Red Grouper hit the tiny morsel. He had a good fight trying to get the fish in the boat.Ricky's Red GrouperI kept on with the Maxel jig and kept getting more Red Grouper after Red Grouper.Herbert's Red Grouper 4Nilson it was still around 1:30 when Nilson also got into the hot Red Grouper bite and landed a few very nice Red Groupers.Nilson's Red Grouper 1

Nilson and Rory double header

Nilson's Red Grouper 3After the bite slowed down we made a move to deeper water but the current was just too much, 2 pounds would not hold so we moved to another shallow spot. The Captain told us to get our heaviest gear and put a big live bait down. Adam decided to use his jigging gear with a Jigging Master hook, he made the right choice and was able to land a nice Goliath Grouper.Adam's Goliath GrouperThen shortly after Rory landed on of the few non Red Groupers.Rory's Gag Grouper

On The Second Night

Night time fell upon us and was to be the last night of the trip. The highlights were Rory thinking he was stuck on the bottom and using a YO-YO to pull his rig but surprise, surprise, the line kept on coming and coming until a big Nurse Shark was revealed. Rory always seems to find one of these cats no matter where he fished, well most of the time.

Rory's Nurse SharkAfter the Nurse Shark was released unharmed Adam landed an 18 pound cobia. it went nuts in the boat as they always do, so we had to put it in a cooler until it calmed down. We forgot all about it and did not take a pic. The rest of the morning we spent it catching yellow tails to make up our snapper limit. The Captain was kind enough to cook breakfast and dinner for us through out the trip. Normally he would do a breakfast and a dinner. We thank him very much for going the extra mile with us.

Back at the dock we laid our gear against the fileting station for a wash.

Our Gear   Our Gear 2

Our catch in garbage cans, there was more in the coolers as we were unloading from the boat.The catch in garbage cansOur total catch picture is below.

High Hook for Mutton Snappers went to Robert with about 10 Mutton Snappers.

I was High Hook on Groupers with my limit of six and all by way of the Vertical Jig. Got over 15.

Rory also ended very high on the Groupers with 7 Red Groupers and one Gag Grouper.

Biggest Fish, Biggest Mutton, and Biggest Grouper went to Adam.

The final catch 11-16-14Stevie the Wonder fileting our catch for $35 bucks an hour, $5 more than last year. But it is worth the wait to make things easier when you get home.Stevie Wonder the Filet joker

All in all on vertical fluttering jigs (Slow Pitch jigs) I caught:

5 Cobias – released all of them because they were too small

15 red groupers (and even more, most where short of the legal size requirement)  I kept my limit of six

3 Lane snappers

3 Vermillion Snappers

1 Yellow Tail Snapper

1 Mutton Snapper

1 Porgie – Released

1 Grey Trigger Fish – Released

The gear I used was :

-Accurate BX600 4:1 w/ 80 lb braid, top shot 100 lb mono on a GF850H Calstar (30 to 80 pound class rod).For Groupers and doubled up as a Mutton Snapper rod at night. I had 80 lb braid backing and a short 100 foot top shot that I could change when night or daytime came.
-Shimano Sustain 5000 with 15 lb mono line to catch Yellow Tails. Next time will bump to 20 lb line.
-Shimano Stella 8000SWPG on a factory Calstar 7 foot rod.
-Jigging Master PE3 filled with PE4 BB line with 40lb flourocarbon leader on a 200 gram Jigging Master Power Spell Jigging Rod.
-Jigging Master Ocean Devil PE6 filled with 65lb Tuffline XP and and 60 lb leader on a Jigging Master Terminator 400 gram rod.

 

Bunus shot:

Jig and assist line after getting hit after hit after hit

Kevlar line

 

Captain Yuri’s Boat Fishing With Bait – July 2014

This report is now way over due, what can I say, I have been a busy bee. As always work gets in the way of fun with the family and fishing  but I can still find a way to balance life in a way to include some fishing and going out with my family. The grass in my back yard has waited quiet a while now but “Oh Well!” I don’t go on my back yard that often anyways. When I agreed to go on this trip I knew it was in July and I knew it would be hot, but didn’t know it was going to be scorching  hot! There was no wind and no current. I don’t think that Captain Shane needed to drop the anchor at all, but he did. Many think that because you go on a 6 pack you will catch your limits on every species but that is not the case. Most fish like current so they can ambush their pray and it’s been my experience that while fishing offshore and inshore they do not feed much when there is no current and so it was the case on this trip. This is the reason this report will be sweet and short 🙂

When we got to the dock the boat was not ready, they had to fill the coolers with ice and had to fuel it.

     Captain Yuri July 201402  Captain Yuri July 201408

In the meantime we walked around the Stock Island Marina and found all the changes to be very pleasing to the eyes.

      Captain Yuri July 201420  Captain Yuri July 201415

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 I was very pleased to see that the water clarity was so good that coral heads were growing under the docks and some hogfish were spotted.

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Once the boat got back we loaded our gear in.

                      Captain Yuri July 201438   Captain Yuri July 201439

After loading up we left Captain Yuri at the dock since Shane and Yuri’s nephew were to Captain the boat on this day.

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Soon after we were in the Dry Tortugas area where things were a bit slow. Scot even had to measure a red grouper which he was happy to know it made the measurement.

 

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It was then that the pain in the ARS (Amerincan Red Snapper) showed up and so we had to move.

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The first Dry Tortugas Sunset came and the fish cooler was sad looking.

Sunset in the Dry Tortugas

 Night time yielded a couple of fish and of course the known King Mackerel of the Dry Tortugas.Captain Yuri July 201449

It was now morning time and as we saw a funnel cloud develope the muttons started to bite. Jimmy was eating his breakfast when his rod started going off and then finish the by landing the famous Dry Tortugas Mutton Snapper.

     Captain Yuri July 201452   Captain Yuri July 201456

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I also got my hands on one.Captain Yuri July 201455

Adam landed a nice size mutton.Captain Yuri July 201461

Scott did as well.Captain Yuri July 201462

Ed found himself a mutton size Mangrove Snapper, as a nice school passed by at almost noon.Captain Yuri July 201463

In the after noon we hit a batch of red groupers and scamps mixed with Yellow Eye Snappers.

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Sharks, ARS, sharks, and more ARS. The Sharks were a pain in the ARS! Here are two that got hit but only one survived the attack.

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And then Ed found himself a nice size Mutton Snapper.Captain Yuri July 201475

Another beautiful Dry Tortugas sunset fell upon us together with the humidity and heat, it was like being in a sauna for the entire trip. Most of us were exhausted as many sharks were caught specially by me and Scott.   Captain Yuri July 201478

This strange looking fish that resembled a Star Gazer fish was caught by Scott.Captain Yuri July 201482

Below is what was to be the last shark of the trip an estimated 8 foot bullshark fought by Ozzy.

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It was very slow pickings in the heat but we manage to fill our coolers.Captain Yuri July 201493

Hopeful next time I fish in July there will at least be a small breeze.