Last weekend was a busy one. We had tough conditions while fishing for an even tougher opponent.
Friday we met up with John and Ben Cotrone for their long anticipated Cubera Snapper hunt. These brothers have wanted to catch one of these critters for a long while now and so far have been unsuccessful.
We met at the usual start time and turned The BEAST out! They wanted to do some jigging too, so they brought 4 of their high tech 5′ Chinese, unlimited rating, jigging rods, with Stella, Saltiga, Accurate, and Torsa reels. They also brought along a bag full of the pretty and expensive jigs. I pointed the bow toward the cricket farm and we were off like a herd of turtles. Arriving on Spot 1, we tossed Devon into the water. As we drifted along he collected 4 bugs in short order and we pulled him aboard because the depths were reaching his effective limits. On the next dive, Devon worked his magic and caught 9 more. Dang he’s good! With enough baits for the evening, I headed out for the warm up wreck to test the fancy gear that John and Ben had brought along.
The wreck was active with some very large AJ’s. Each drift resulted in some massive strikes, with 4 fish coming aboard that weighed in the upper 30’s. We had 2 or 3 other fish that freight trained us into the wreck. These fish were totally unstoppable even with the drags maxed out on these strong little bruiser reels. Unbelievable! Time to go after the Nasties!
Arriving in the area a bit early, we tried some jigging, but no strikes. The drift was humping at almost 4 knots. Not good! Darkness fell and the Nasty’s slowly started to show. Drift #1 was extremely fast but we did have a small fish bite, but no hook up. I had to make some serious adjustments. We had to get down and dirty, only fishing 1 rod per drift. Drift 2… KaBoom! A massive strike on our cricket and Ben is doubled over. After several minutes of tug o’ war a 50# fish thuds on the deck.
Drift #3 had John at the rod. We weren’t marking a bunch of fish but we did get a nice bite and John scored with a 25#’er.
I fired back up to the drift point and Ben was up again. The Red Devils were loading up in areas now and Ben gets the nod. BaBoom! He is hooked fast to another good’un! Once again the scenario plays out and a 40# fish comes aboard.
As quickly as it began, it shut off. We went through a lull for about an hour, when just as quickly as it shut off, they started another feeding binge. Bada Bing! John works a 38# fish to the boat. These brothers are in heaven!
Each successive drift resulted in a crushing bite. Wham! Bam! Whomp! Catch one, miss one, the story goes. A 38, then the fish of the night, a 55#’er, and a smaller 20# fish. We even straightened out a hook on a Snapzilla!
The guys had enough! They threw in the towel and tapped out! We went 6 for 11 and quit in the middle of this heated bite! It was a good night. We kept the 25# fish and a 40# fish that we couldn’t get a good release on. The other 4 fish were vented and released to do their thing. I do believe that John and Ben had a great time.
Saturday was with Paul Storti and his friends, Luis, Brenden, and Craig. A good group of guys who fished with us last year. Of course, we did the usual formalities and took off. We loaded one well with Hardtails and did the lobster thing. Devon was awesome once again and we jerked him out of the water when he had caught enough for the night.
We ran to our favorite jigging wreck and the current was again moving out to the North. A few drifts before sunset resulted in a 41 and a 50 pound Amberjack and a small Almaco Jack. The AJ’s were vented and released.
As the sun set, I headed The BEAST for our intended target. Conditions were less than favorable with a westerly wind and a 3.5 knot current. I tried everything possible to work my drifts, to no avail. With each adjustment, the boat would just get out of shape. Fishing in this was extremely tough, almost impossible. We joked around a lot but as time passed the mood got a bit somber. So far we had managed to lose 3 rigs without a bite. Then one of the live wells went down. Great! With 1 crowded live well, I kept hunting for better conditions and willing fish. Finally! A small bunch of fish that would bite in an area that had slightly better conditions. We missed the first bite and then several drifts later, Craig got hooked up on a nice 29 pound fish.
A few more passes and another missed bite. Another drift or two and Brenden gets the hook up! Good deal! After several minutes of grunting, we boat a decent 34 pounder!
The wind turned out of the North and the bite, if you want to call it that, turned off again. We worked overtime trying to get Paul and Luis a fish. It just wasn’t going to happen so we finally packed it in for the night. 2 for 4, we tucked our tails and headed for home. You can’t win them all and that’s why Paul had scheduled another trip.
Sunday, Devon and I met with Seth Ebel and his group, Randy, Chris, and General. Yes, that’s really his name, General! And yes, jokes were just too easy! All were attempting to get their first Cubera except General who had caught one years ago. The same scenario played out at the bait shops. We caught our Runners and Crickets in a little over an hour. Devon is good!
The guys wanted to do some Yellowtail fishing before dark. We went to a wreck and did a few drifts for some speed jigging first. It was a bit slow, but they managed to catch a small Almaco, a Bonito, and a large Barracuda. Enough of this, let’s go ‘Tailing. The current on the edge was “ripping”! I put out the chum bag, and chummed out a half a bag of old Silversides. These guys were Head Boat Yellowtail Pros! 3 at the stern drifting bait back and one on the gunnel bottom fishing. The best bottom bite was a small Coney Grouper and Blue Parrotfish. Man, it is beautiful but what a standout freak of nature. What was the Lord thinking when he made that one?
DUCK! WATCH OUT! General and Seth had some exaggerated hook sets for Yellowtail, even running halfway up the deck while doing so. They said it was necessary in that current. I had no argument there as they pulled in 20 nice ‘Tails. Yeah, Randy caught a few too with more normalcy in his fishing. We almost had to pry their hands of the light rods when darkness arrived. I pulled anchor and headed out for the evening “Nasty” hunt.
Arriving, in the area, we found conditions a slight bit better than the last 2 trips. The current was still moving along at 3 mph but the winds were lazy and following the current. This should be more workable. The bite was a bit slow in coming but when it did, Kaboom, it was game on. We missed 2 bites on the crickets and then Randy gets the first hook up. He manages to bring his to the boat and we are on the boards with a respectable 35 pound fish.
A couple more drifts and we locate another biter and Seth gets the nod. This fish comes aboard a little bit easier, not that easy, and Seth gets a 25 pound notch on his belt. We were going to release this fish until we saw one of its gills was broken loose from the throat latch. We weren’t sure whether this was a previous injury that had healed (not bleeding) but we didn’t want to turn this fish out to die and go to waste!
We worked a bit more and hooked up again, to a Barracuda! That’s a bit unusual. Things slowed down a little when finally Chris gets the nod! Fish on? and it’s a good one! Chris has a bad elbow and a bad finger (severed and reattached) and the Blue Runners had already whooped his butt! This fish was doing a number on him. He finally gets it boatside and Devon pulls it over the side. Chris admits he almost handed the rod off several times after successive runs by this fish. NICE! A 56 pound fish lays on the deck as we hurry to get the pics, authenticate the weight, and vent it for a good release. Hold up! Not so fast! The fish refuses to sound so we back down on it and bring it aboard again and reinsert the venting tool. Eliminating all the air completely, Devon puts the fish on the lipper and we tow it around for several minutes until it gives us the tail stroke signal that it’s ready to go home. Devon opens the lipper and he/she beats a hasty retreat to the depths. A few hoots and hollers filled the air as well as some high 5’s for a job well done!
The night slowed to a crawl with General missing 1 or 2 bites. We are way past time now, it’s getting late, real late, and their 36 beverages are gone! General didn’t get his fish but he was good with that. I pointed the bow for the barn and hauled butt. I was flushing engines and cleaning gear while Devon was cleaning fish. The guys broke out another 1 ½ cases of beer left behind in the cooler. You see, they had a method to their madness. Devon and I had a couple of beers with the guys as they showed us the true meaning of “Pounding Brewski’s”! We finally had to almost run them out of there at 6 AM so we could finish our work and go home to bed. WOW! What a crew this was! We all had a really good time catching pounds of eating fish and having tons of fun! Yes, they are welcomed back on The BEAST, anytime!