Wednesday, April 1, 2009 turned out to be an April Fool’s day, for sure. No one played a joke on us but circumstances of the day turned out to be anything but normal.
I began the day by getting up late. I hustled to load my bait, gear, and ice, into the truck so I could get my hind parts to the marina on time. Devon and I arrived at the same time and we were finished readying the boat as the crew arrived. Jon, Chuck, and Eddy stowed their gear and we pulled lines. Jon is a regular on The BEAST who loves catching those Sailfish, but it turns out he was on a meat hunt this time. The “weathermen” called for 15-20 knot winds out of the SE with seas of 3-5 feet.
We made the run offshore to our latest bait spot and never had to back off of cruise speed. No big seas yet! We set out a block of good double grind chum and the bait, although slow in coming, finally came up thick! Trouble was they were finicky eaters, so I broke out another flavor of bait and they began eating readily. The 3 guys began pulling in the primo hooker baits and the well was filling nicely. The bait never got into cast net range and this was no surprise. That’s the way this day seems to be headed. Of course, by the end of the season, even the dumbest fish swimming can figure out that the “big white thing” in the water is not their friend. We got enough bait for the day and made the very short run to the edge.
Arriving on the edge we found the blue water was more of a dingy green for a good distance out but the seas were only 2-3′ with occasional 3 set ground swells of 4 feet. We set out our 4 top lines and sent another one down. We decided to fish north of our usual area to try for the food fish. Our morning was following suit. The fishing was sort of slow and the bites that we did get were robbing the baits but not getting hooked up. I figured the bite to turn on around noon. 11:30 AM and we had a Tuna boil 3 times on a bait and the 4th time he pulled it from the rigger and left an empty hook. 30 minutes later the down rod makes a run and we are finally hooked up. As the fish is being worked by Jon we see the colors of a Dolphin. Sure enough! The fish gets closer and we can see it is a nice cow of about 15 pounds. Devon collects her up and puts her into the fish box.
Time is passing and we decide to work the wreck to give Chuck and Eddy a shot on the rods. We arrive at the wreck and fire down 2 speed jigs. In short order one of the jigs is inhaled and the battle is on. Chuck is fighting a nice sized “Wreck Donkey” Don’t get me wrong, I use that term affectionately on these Amberjack because they are stubborn as an ass when trying to get them to the boat and Devon and I enjoy eating them, either fresh in the fryer or smoked. Devon grabs the 35 pound AJ and flips him into the boat.
Second drop and one of the jigs gets eaten again, but Eddy gets schooled as the fish takes everything. Third drop and this time we sent down a 14″ Yellowtail for one of those real Donkeys with shoulders. In seconds, the Yellowtail attracts the attention of the previous fishes bigger brother. Eddy is knuckles down on the gunwale with a big fish. After and few more back breaking minutes we put a shoulder harness on Eddy and he has a bit easier time controlling the rod. Finally the fish comes aboard and it is a fine specimen of 50 pounds. We boxed that fish too.
General consensus was that they had enough on AJ’s in just 2 fish, so we went looking for some Africans or Permit. We had brought some prime baits just in case. Arriving at the next spot, I marked the fish on the sonar and we sent down the bait. Devon was standing on the bow and yelled back that he spotted them below. Nothing doing! On each successive attempt, the fish were marking lower and lower in the water column. Jon made the call to leave it and suggested trying to troll up some Dollies, Blackfin, or Wahoo. We switched up and left the area in search of Dolphin.
A nice spread of baits, as fresh as you can get, and we’re heading out into bluer waters. We sent one down for Wahoo as well. I went out deeper, zigged and zagged, sped up and slowed down, fished open water, weeds, and debris. Nothing was happening. Jon now tells me that he had to get in a bit early to meet up with a friend in Davie. That changed things quickly. I made the decision to go back in and work the edge for the remaining half hour. Once again I zigged and zagged from 120′-200′ and with 10 minutes of time left the 50W down rod starts screaming. Everyone gets excited with the thought of a nice Wahoo, big Blackfin, or smoker Kingfish! The line begins rising and suddenly a “snooter” pokes his head out of the water. This is the first time I ever heard Devon say “Crap! It’s a Sailfish!” Chuck is on the rod and the fish is playing tough, staying deep, then once again makes an attempt to get air and shake the hook. This time we see the size of this fish and our excitement rises to a feverish pitch. Chuck worked the fish to the boat, Devon grabs the leader positioning the fish for me to tag, all without incident . Oh my God! That fish is a PIG. Devon asks if they want a picture and the unanimous vote was? Heck yeah! Devon strains to pull the fish aboard carefully as possible as Chuck slides into frame for the photo op. A few quick seconds pass as the shutters click and Devon lowers the fish back into the water. The huge fish was ready to go, pulling free of Devon’s hands to swim away. I conservatively guestimated that fish at every bit of 80+ pounds. A real SLOB!
We didn’t get much for Jon’s meat list but the day finished of with a bang! The big bite of the day, surprisingly, turned out to be a Sailfish playing an April Fool’s Day joke on us. Or did he?