We finally got a break in the weather as the winds laid back this past weekend. Saturday we met “Walleye Mike”, of Nassau Vision Lenses, who is a Florida transplant from Minnesota. He brought along his friends, Mary and Manny. “Walleye Mike” and crew were all newbie’s to offshore fishing and we wanted to make their day!
We unleashed The BEAST at 7AM and made our way towards the Bay. I throttled up the twin 300 Suzukis and made a quick cruise to the bait patches. Conditions looked good even though we had almost a week of 25-30 knot winds out of the east. The water was clear and clean and the seas were light to moderate. We set out the chum and the bait was slow in coming. When the ballyhoo finally arrived, they were finicky, beyond belief, swimming up to the baited hooks and turning their nose up to it. Now isn’t this a peach? The crew managed to catch about 15 or so and I was about to pull the plug on the deal when a few ‘hoo’s got stupid, passing within the limits of a long toss of the net. I loaded up the 10’ Calusa and heaved it at the passing baits. The timing was right, the net opened perfectly, and I caught a few more as they made a dash to elude the net. Now we had enough bait, considering this is the time of year where we do several types of fishing in a day.
We made the short run to the blue water and set out our spread of live bait. Conditions offshore were beautiful with clean, blue water, all the way into the edge. “Walleye Mike” had been telling us about his BIG Salmon and how hard it fought. I told him that his Salmon doesn’t hold a candle to our offshore fish. Now, with that being said, I have to make him a believer! Minute after minute rolls by and we have absolutely no action. Not today, guys! Precious time is ticking away. I gave Devon the nod to pull the lines so we could get Mike, Mary, and Manny, the Triple M crew, on some fish.
I took a heading for some Permit. We arrived in the area and immediately marked fish on the sounder but they didn’t want our offerings. Devon and I worked hard but it wasn’t to be. What in the world is going on? I backed out of that area and made a short run to another prime spot for some Amberjack. I have to get these guys on some fish. We dropped a live ‘hoo and Devon and I worked 2 speed jigs. Bam, Boom, Bam, we have a triple going! This scenario played out several more times. Mary and Manny were spent! “Walleye Mike” learned quickly, how to use the speed jig and he finessed his fish to the boat as if he was catching those, bad to the bone (ha-ha), walleye. I suggested we try for some Dolphin and Wahoo as it appeared they had enough of these bruisers. We boated 3 fish, and vented/released that many or more. I think “Walleye Mike” has a newfound respect for the fight of our AJ’s and that BIG Salmon of yesteryear, now takes a back seat!
I pointed the boat offshore and we began a trolling search. Devon had 5 lines up and 2 down as we made our way out to 500+ feet. The water color and clarity was perfect, but there was little in the way of weeds, debris, birds, flying fish, etc. The further out we went the less we saw. It was a liquid desert! I made the turn and headed for the “edge” and our Mutton spot. It’s getting to that time of year for them and they should be hot and heavy. We arrived, pulled our gear, and immediately made a drop. Nothing! We set up several more drifts and all we could muster was a couple of cut offs. Those dreaded “Caribbean Spotted Mackerel” had taken the area. This has been one tough day and the time was gone.
The fat lady was singing and I didn’t want to end the day like this. On this note, I made the run back, for one last ditch attempt to catch a Permit. We arrived and once again, I marked fish. Devon was perched on the bow and could see them deep below, but not in great numbers. After several attempts, I told “Walleye” to keep feeding line because the drift was fast. He would know if he got a bite. Our offshore fish don’t nibble! About 30 seconds later, “Walleye” says he feels the bite and I instructed him to close the bail and come tight on the fish! Game on, boys and girls! “Walleye Mike” hooked this fish well away from any obstruction and once again, worked the rod gingerly. Good thing! After about 10 minutes we got this “garbage can lid” to the boat. To quote Devon, “That’s a nugget!” WOW! Nice fish! “Walleye Mike” just boated a 32 pound Permit and the hook was almost straightened out, looking like a comma. Now THAT is the way to end the day.
Way over time, I pointed The BEAST for the barn. The Triple M crew, Mike, Mary, and Manny seemed very satisfied with the day and definitely happy with our determination to make it so! Sometimes you have to go that extra mile. Right?
NOTE: Please abide all manatee idle zones! For those who complain about, or don’t obey the law of MANATEE IDLE ZONES in your area! This is why these laws exist! Honestly, isn’t this what it’s really all about folks?!?