Lobster mini season was a success for our crew of regulars. Wednesday, Devon, Amy and Al took to the waters and caught their limits in a little over an hour. Afterwards they did some spear fishing and got 2 nice Red Grouper. The trip ended early and they were back to the house by 2 PM. They wanted to save up their strength for day 2.
Day 2 of mini season and Devon, Amy, Al, Tom, and I met at the dock at 1 PM. A late start was good since we wanted to catch some more crawfish and then do some speed jigging or yellowtail fishing, followed by a try for some Cubera Snapper, again. The marina was slack and we passed several boats coming in as we were making our way out. When we reached the patch reefs they were empty. Only 1 or 2 boats off in the distance in either direction, north or south. We hit several patches first off and only managed a few bugs, but did get 2 nice Hog Snapper. Now, we get bug serious! We headed to a patch that had good visibility and within an hour we had 26 bugs. We put up the dive gear and headed out for some fishing.
Our first stop, we decided to speed jig. WOW! The area was alive with birds and fish working the surface. My sonar was lit up with mid water activity as well. Bing! Bam! Boom! Non-stop action on the jigs. Several bites were cut off so we knew we had the attention of those dreaded Caribbean Spotted Mackerel, a.k.a. Cuda’s. The first fish to make it to the boat was a huge Bonehead. Out of nowhere comes an ominous shadow that takes the tail half, in one bite. “Look at that shar?” That’s not a shark! That is the biggest Barracuda I’ve ever seen. He took about 15# of Bonito in one bite! We played with him for several minutes until it got too risky. It was too close to the boat for comfort as they have no problem charging into the air as you lift a fish aboard. I unhooked the head half of the Bonito and dropped it over. 5′, 10′ and Ol’ Snaggletooth leisurely swims up and takes it in his mouth, swimming slowly into the depths. We were mesmerized by its size! What a show! We continued working the jigs, catching a nice Yellow Jack and many more of those mega sized Bonito, until we decided we had enough.
No one wanted to do any Yellowtail fishing so we headed out for “Nastyville”. This time we have their preferred snacks? BUGS! The sun set and the current was all over the place. Getting a good drift once we located the fish, was going to be a mission. Nothing much was marking on the sonar. We did a few test drifts and I realized I had my work cut out for me, if we were going to get a shot at El Nasty! The darkness fell into place. I motored around the area looking for our target when, suddenly, the sonar looked like a Christmas tree. There they are, boys and girls! After a few drifts we realized that they were moving around and not staging on anything or anywhere! OK! I have a plan. Next drift we lowered one of our prize bugs and we missed the school of fish. A few minutes of locating them again and another adjustment. Drop ’em! Down went a crawdad and a Hardtail, but I missed the mark again! Who said this was easy? OK, I’ll get them this time! I motored The BEAST into position again and the lines went down. Closer, closer, get ready guys, you’re in ’em. Bam! The bug gets hit and the rod bows over. Missed him! We didn’t get a solid hook up and he stole the bait too! Our excitement is growing as there isn’t much down there that will readily feed on a legal sized cricket. We tried a few more techniques and each crawdad drew a bite, but we didn’t get a solid hook up. We cranked up the line after our last bite and the grasshopper was still pinned on the hook. We checked him out and found definitive bite marks on the carapace. There is no mistaking the fang punctures of El Nasty! “YES!”, I yelled as I was doing the Cubera dance in the cockpit. The crew looked at me like I was crazy. Even though we went 0 for 3, I considered this mission a success! We used 3 different techniques and produced 3 good bites in an hour.
We called it quits so we could get in by the 12 midnight, mini season curfew and get home early. Although the season is a couple weeks late this year, the waiting is over. The weather is good and the seas are calm. We are pumped up and ready. For anyone interested in catching a Cubera and to those of you that have already been in contact with me? Are you ready to rumble??? Let’s get it on!!!