Tuesday we took out a trip with Georg and Christian Funke from Germany. They arrived at the dock and we exchanged introductions. We stored their gear and iced their lunch and drink. That morning the weather was anything but lovely and my 33′ WorldCat would have to do the job that I knew she could. The day began with winds out of the North at 20+ knots and the skies were completely overcast with thick rainless clouds. We unleashed The BEAST and made our way into a moderate/rough chop on the Bay. Our first stop was to see if we could get Hardtails for bait before heading outside.
We arrived at the mark and made our attempt to catch some baits. A few passes back and forth through the area and we managed to boat 3 small Runners to throw in the live well. OK, not quite the start I was hoping for, so we went to another spot. Doing the same routine as we normally do, we managed to get 1 or 2 more Hardtails that were a little larger than at the first spot. The next pass and we get a much stronger hookup, then another and another. These fish were taking some drag on our small 12# bait rods. The next thing I heard was Devon saying, “Can you believe this?” I turned to look as he pulls in a Bonito, then another, and the third was the same. We laughed so hard as neither of us has ever caught a Bonito on the West side of Biscayne Bay. It’s going to be one of those days, Mate! Let’s get out of here and go find some Ballyhoo.
I pushed the throttles down, making way for our favorite patch reef. As we headed offshore the seas inside of Hawks Channel were not much worse than the Bay, but as we got farther out onto the patches they began to grow. My concerns were that my customers were going to get seasick since they normally fish on placid lakes or streams in Germany. We arrived at the patch and set out a chum bag and got the slick going. The ‘Hoo were a bit slow in coming. They began to come in and we started to peck away at them with hook and line. After 45 minutes we had about 30 in the live well and the swarm moved in with reckless abandon. They were almost sucking chum out of the bag now, so I broke out the 10’ Calusa cast net. One pancake toss was all it took and Devon and I both pulled the net aboard. A fair estimate would be 60-70 baits are now in the other live well. Let’s get out of here, guys!
We made our way offshore and the condition weren’t too bad. Seas were a 3-4′ washing machine, the sun can’t burn through the clouds, the winds are blustery, and the eel grass is everywhere. We pulled up a short distance past the edge and put out a 5 line spread. Soon we see a nice blue/green edge offshore of us so I work our way out to it. On the way out Devon was kept very busy keeping the grass off our baits. We arrived in the area to find that the color line was not as defined as we thought and the waves were considerably larger. I worked the area to the south, riding with the winds. The wind is only thing that is bothersome at this point. There wasn’t much happening. I decided to make my way back in to find some Kingfish to try and get some action going. As I got to the edge we began to get hits on the down rigger. Bam? miss? Bam? miss! Can you believe this? After 3 missed fish we managed to get Georg hooked up to a “Snake” Kingfish.
Through the course of the next several hours, the grass has blown out and the winds have turned out of the NNE and were beginning to howl. These German guys are tough as nails. No seasickness for them! We missed 10 Mack bites on the down rigger. Add in a couple of baits cut in half on the top lines. Devon says again “Can you believe this?” We did, however get Christian and Georg another “Snake” King and a Cero Mack in the process.
That blue water edge was looking better so I sidled my way out there once again. Wow! Looking good with a mess of grass forming a solid line. I ventured into the blue water side. The waves were a few feet larger, the wind was blowing about 30 knots now, and not one ray of sunshine. We could see Flyers getting up and some activity around but nothing was taking our baits. I started to get frustrated so I made a move back into the green side where the waters only had 4′ waves with wind blown tops. As I made my way towards the north in 180′ of water Devon hollers out “Sailfish on the flat line!” This fish is small, taking 3 attempts with some fancy bait work before the circle hook found its mark. Georg got him hooked up. On the first jump we realized how small he was but Georg didn’t care. About 8 minutes passed and Georg has the fish boat side when it catches a second wind and Devon releases the leader. A minute later and Devon has the leader and a grip on the bill. We pulled the fish aboard for a quick photo op and then made a good release, watching it swim away as if nothing happened. We told Georg it was only about 15 pounds but Georg didn’t care as he remarked that he has never caught a Mackerel or a Billfish of any kind. OK Georg, now you have!
I worked my way in to a favorite wreck to see if we could get them on some fast action before time ran out. The current was running to the south and the winds were gusting to 32 knots. Still no sun! I had to keep the bow pointed north and both Suzuki’s at 900 RPM just to maintain a position. Can you believe this? We only got one bite on a small speed jig (lg. Blue Runner) and couldn’t even get a snaggle-toothed Barracuda to eat a live Ballyhoo or a small Hardtail. Now I’m shaking my head with complete disbelief as Devon screams out for Christian to come tight on the right flat. Christian does, and the circle hook finds home. Baboom! Sailfish on! A couple of great aerial displays, a few runs, in the first 4-5 minutes. The fish is going down and dirty on him, taking the fight deep. Suddenly the tension on the rod tip releases and the fish is gone. OMG! Can you believe this? It’s about quitting time but we set out another spread anyway. I worked the area hard as Devon chummed the waters with the remainder of our live baits. Another 30 minutes passes by with no action, so we call it a wrap.
Devon and I are still bewildered with the days events. I don’t think we have ever said “Can you believe this?” that many times in a month let alone in one day. We turned the bow toward shore and made the lumpy run back to the calmer 2-3′ waters of the Bay. After saying our good byes, Devon and I just looked at each other and shrugged. That was tough conditions and tougher fishing, at its best. Devon confessed that the one thing he could believe is? He wouldn’t have wanted to be out there on any other boat besides The BEAST. Me too, Bud? Me too!