It’s been a while since my last report. We had an unusual collapse to the Cubera Snapper season. For some reason they got lockjaw in September and we finally gave up fishing for them around the middle of the month. I had one remaining trip on October 3rd with our return customer, Seth. He called a week before the trip to check in. I explained what was happening out there and suggested we do a trip on the “Darkside” for Swordfish instead. Seth had been following my reports and was appreciative that I was straight up about it. He was “all in” for a Sword trip instead.
Devon and I met Seth and his friends, Dave, Jim, and General at the dock around 5:30 PM. We loaded their gear and blasted off at idle speed through the manatee zone. A typical summer eve with the normal scattered storms over the city.
We stopped and picked up some Hardtails for live bait on our way out. An easy run offshore and we were at my starting drift point about 7″ish”. Devon had rigged all the baits on the run out and once I checked our drift, we got started. 2 float rods and 2 tip rods with a pitch bait at the ready.
We made a long drift in the deep water and nothing happening. Not a tick or click. No slashed baits. Nothing! Contrary to normal full moon techniques, I decided to try my shallow drift. We headed in to 1000′ and set the baits out again. Nothing! Nada! Zilch! Both drifts were good, although not ideal, at about 1.5 knots with a light easterly breeze. The deep drift had us pushing in and the inside drift had us pushing out. We had time for one more drift and I gave them the option to pick up and try the deep drift again or retry the inside drift. After we discussed the possible adjustments, Seth chose the inside drift. I made the run for a reset on the shallow line. I adjusted by coming way inside of my usual starting point. Seth though I was a bit too shallow but as the drift continued he saw that we actually passed over the good structure. Still not a bite, not even a look! WTH! This is some boring fishing on nights like that. Time was running out, but the moon was overhead, so I extended the trip. The clock ticked away. As we were all looking at each other with that, “It’s not going to happen!”, no one could pull the plug to call the trip. As Devon was beginning to clean things up and put gear away, he walked by the mid depth tip rod. It started to click off, slowly! Devon startled everyone when he screamed, “FISH ON!” I yelled back to feed the fish until Dan got on the rod. OK, push the drag up. Dan feels the fish for a minute then the line goes slack. Gone? NO? The fish broke water at the back of the boat, on the other side. The light is right there! REEL! The line starts to come tight as the fish circles passed us at the edge of our boat lights. Nice fish, no doubt about being legal length. Now the line is dragged around the motor skeg as Dan and Devon work the rod around the bow to the other side. I shut down the port motor and tilted it out of the water to free the line. It worked. REEL! Get all that slack line reeled up, Dan! The fish once again comes to the boat, having no idea that it has eaten a bait with a hook, yet. He passes so close as he goes under the side of the boat towards the bow. A good 100# fish. Jim says “Gaff ’em!” No way, Bud, that fish is so green we would be fighting him in the boat! The line is finally tight and the drag is running now. SNAFU! Less than a minute and the fish turns and pulls the hook. Dang! If it weren’t for bad luck we wouldn’t have had any luck at all. That’s fishing!
We packed it in and made the run home as everyone was getting very tired! I guess you can’t win them all.
Friday, my best friends and I decided to head out for a fishing trip. Trollin’ Tom, Uncle Al, and Harry, met me at the dock at the crack of 9. We headed out for a fun day of simply trolling for whatever would bite. I unleashed The BEAST and we made our way out of the channel and blasted off to get some live bait, just in case. With a dozen good sized baits in the well, I powered up the 600 ponies and made the run outside. The winds were up compared to the last week or so. Seas were about 3′ or so as we made our way across the sloppy water on the edge. We ran offshore and the water was clean until we hit about 400′ where there was some scattered weeds. I shut down to trolling speed and we put out the baits. We put down 2 planers rods for Wahoo or whatever, along with 4 surface rods. We trolled and talked, ate sandwiches and talked, and then we talked and trolled, reversing the cycle. The day was slow, so far.
I made it out to 600′ when I decided to bring it back in towards the edge. If nothing else we could end the day live baiting for some Kingfish. Our first fish was one of those dreaded Caribbean Spotted Mackerels, Ol’ Snagglepuss, that nailed a planer bait. Releasing the Cuda, we continued on. Next up was a football sized Blackfin! No release here, that one is going home. I love eating them. As we were bleeding him out I got too close to a lobster marker. Crap. We hung up both deep rods and as we were trying to clear them we had a cluster beginning with the surface rods. All 6 lines in a mess. Systematically, we cleared and recovered them all. OK? let’s not do that again! We exchanged 2 of the baits for some of Trollin’ Toms, handmade daisy rigs. Good choice here! We caught a couple of micro Bonito that Harry boxed to use for Sword bait. It seemed like this was going to be a day of smaller sized fish. BAM! Suddenly the rigger line gets crushed. Harry jumps on the rod and a nice Dolphin takes to the air! Wow? that’s better! On the second jump we get a better look at this fish and it’s a Bull that had grown considerably since the first jump. Al, Tom and I clear lines as Harry works the rod on this drag pulling fish. When we finished clearing the deck, I grabbed the 30# spinner and pinned a Hardtail on it and pitched it out the back as far as I could. Bump! Here Uncle Al, I think we have another. Al takes the rod as I make my way back to the helm. Nope, nothing there! NOW there is! As line peels off the free spool. Al, slams the bail shut and we have a DOUBLE! A decent Cow comes out of the water. Game on Boys! Harry worked his fish to the boat and I got the bigger gaff out. I lined up for a head shot and as I was pulling the gaff, this Bull makes a turn under the boat, to dodge it. Not today! I swiftly sunk the gaff in whatever it hit. The gaff found home about midway in the Bull and I hoisted it over the side, head down. The fish whacked me, upside the head, as I lowered it over the gunnel. I takes more than that to knock out this 250# Salt, and I laughed as I dumped it into the fish box. Let’s get Uncle Al’s fish now. She comes boat side and Harry wants to show me how to gaff a fish. Go for it. He gets a head shot on this fish that just laid in position waiting to get stuck. Nice job, Harry! We let the Cow join her mate in the fish box. Pretty work, guys! We just scored a pair of nice Dolphin, the Bull weighed 30#’s and the Cow was a respectable 19#’er. Now we’re all smiles. We opened the box to dump ice on the fish when we saw the beautiful blue color of the Bull. Quick, get a picture of that!
We added another football Blackfin and 2 more micro Bonito to our list of caught fish. At 5 PM we packed it up and pointed the bow toward the west for the ride home. A good day was had by all, with some really good eating thrown in for good measure!