The last couple of trips we did were ½ days. Half day trips are cool, but you really don’t have the time to do everything or shift gears to compensate if the fishing is slow. Unfortunately some people don’t know how their stomachs will react to a full day at sea and others just have time constraints and a half day is all that they can squeeze in. Either way, we try and make the most of the allotted time.
Joel Mego, a local from Homestead, and his friend Brian, from Utah, joined us for a late afternoon halfer. As I had said earlier, Joel was not too sure if “Utah” could handle the ocean and that is why they opted for the half day. We set it up to meet at 2 PM and fish during the cooler, late afternoon period. As we idled out of the Marina we discussed the afternoon plans. Simply put, bait first, then we would do the wrecks and sweat them up a bit, then try some live baits later before the sunset.
Our first stop for bait was not very productive and only about a half dozen Hardtails were in the well. I headed for bait spot #2 and they were only a bit more agreeable. We finally managed another 12 or so Runners. That’s enough for the limited amount of fishing time we had. As I ran The BEAST offshore it was plain to see that “Utah” was going to have no problems with the glass-like conditions.
We arrived at the Grunt & Sweat wreck and, as usual, it took a few drifts to get my line and awaken the participants around the structure. We dropped one live bait and worked the speed jigs as well. Bada Bing, Bada Boom! Over and over again Joel and “Utah” got hammered. Joel was doing great with the speed jig and hooking up the Almaco’s while poor Utah was having rods shoved at him, by Joel and Devon on every drift. Joel wanted to see that his bud had a good time.
After the first Amberjack, “Utah” vowed that he was going to join a gym when he got home. Too funny! We finally pulled the plug on the wreck fishing when the tally reached 4 Almaco’s, 4 AJ’s in the 28-35 pound range, and a nice little football sized Blackfin.
We moved in to try the rest of the live bait on the “edge”. Nothing much was happening in that arena as we killed the last 30 minutes. About that time, to pull up and head home, when the down rod goes off. Nice fish? but what is it? It makes a good run like a Kingfish or even a Wahoo. Here come the head shakes telegraphing through the rod tip. A Caribbean Spotted Mackerel was our guess. No doubt!
Joel and Brian were happy and they released most of their catch. We ended the day on that note and headed west into the dark skies. They even made light of the fact that the rain appeared to be waiting for us at the Marina. Almost? we managed to squiggle in under a light drizzle.
The last trip out was a morning trip with Ed Robbins and his son Solon. They keep their 34′ sportfish down at the end of our pier. Ed said his son often saw the fish we catch and has always wanted to go out on The BEAST. So we met up at 7 AM and set out. The seas were mill pond calm, once again.
I bypassed bait spot #1 because of the poor showing the past several times, in its stead, heading straight to #2. Large schools of Hardtails were working the surface and in no time we had enough bait and were making our run offshore.
This morning we decided to work the live baits, first thing, before the sun got high. Once again the surface feeders were not going to come play with us. We missed a shot or two on the down rod and then connected up. Yep, once again it was a Barracuda. Dang! These critters seem to find me whether live baiting or trolling. Solon didn’t seem to mind, not one bit!
We worked the waters a bit longer and once again the down rod gets bent over and Solon is doing his thing. This time it is a 10# Kingfish. Devon and I tried our best to get him to smile but he is a very quiet, shy type guy
We headed off for the wreck to give Ed, and young Solon, a workout! Live bait down, speed jigs flying, and non stop action. The first taker was a nice Almaco Jack on Ed’s speed jig!
The speed jigs kept working their magic! Ed pulled up a 20# Kingfish that was trying its best to stay away from a hungry Barracuda that wanted it for brunch. A couple of large Boneheads (Bonito) joined the party. Devon would pass the speed rods off to Solon but he was having a bit of trouble with the spinning reels, preferring the conventional rods. I’m dialed in on the drift now. The next several passes, we lost several Amberjacks to the wreck. Then Ed hooked up on a live bait. The tussle was on! About 15 minutes later, with Ed sweating profusely, Devon flopped the 45 pounder on the deck. A job well done! Broken lines and a 45 pounder? these fish were bigger than usual. Next drift and the hardtail gets nervous, very nervous! Kaboom! The rod doubles over as if it were hung in the wreck. Solon gets the nod!. This young man was putting all of his 12 year old, 100# body into this fish. Solon came to life and he said more during that fight than he had all morning. This battle lasted for almost 30 minutes when I saw color. That’s a nugget! Devon and I prepared as the AJ blows her air and flounders to the surface. DONKEY KONG! Devon hoisted this fish aboard and we weighed and readied her for a photo. A few quick shutter snaps, a quick venting, and a good release! Donkey Kong tipped the scale at 60#’s, well over half the weight of young Solon! Great job, my man!
All 4 of us are buzzing about Solon’s catch when I remembered we had a large 3 pound Blue Runner in the well that we caught on a small speed jig, earlier. With a smile, I told Devon to, “Let her rip!” He pinned this large bait to the 10/0 circle hook and fired it down. We drifted back? 100′ to the wreck? 50′? we’re on it? going past? 25′? BAM! The rod gets bunched up and the tip almost touches water! We all looked at each other as Solon grabs the rod again. 10 seconds later and the fish is gone. When the bait comes aboard it is still alive but roughed up from the gills back. A bigger AJ or a Goliath? Who knows! Another drift and nothing doing. The winds had clocked around from the west as thunder boomers built up over land. Several more drifts and this amusement park is closed. We had gone way over time, in our excitement, so we packed it up and headed for the barn. We tied up The BEAST in time for the skies to open up! This drenching lasted throughout the fish cleaning. Ed said that it was really nice to fish with us and not have to clean and unload the boat. He said he might sell his boat and fish with us from now on! Sounds good to me!