April 18, 2017 at 1:40 pm #416919
Went on back to back trips this week so I’ll combine two trips into one report. The trips combined for a unique Easter story. The Tuesday trip was an egg layer but the weekend was a story of redemption. For me the midweek trip was bad. So bad in fact I wasn’t even going to do a report but a friend suggested that an honest report would be appreciated by other hardcore fishermen.
The trip started out with high hopes as I caught a nice batch of bait and the weather was steadily improving. By the end of the trip the weather was perfect and I still had a great batch of bait. Trolling on the way out was slow for both trips and it was slow between stops as well. This should improve as the water warms up and the winds die down a bit.
We started a bit later than usual around 1:00 AM. Captain Garret said he was going to an area he hadn’t fished in a while but had done great there in the past. First drop and Bang! Fish on! I looked around and everyone was hooked up. This was going to be a hot spot. I reeled up a 10 LB. American Red Snapper. Looking around so did everyone else. June 1 this will be great but the middle of April it is a pain. On every stop that night it was the same thing. Drop a bait reel in an ARS. They were so aggressive (ARS) that the few Mangos that were caught were at the end of the stops. I went 4 hours without landing a keeper fish let alone a Mango.
On the last stop before dawn I managed to get hot. Trying to avoid the ARS I went exclusively to live bait. Using the technique of free spooling and letting them run on the bottom I caught 8 nice Goozers including one over 9 LBS. Got an 8 ponder just as the Sun came up. Going to the next stop I was fired up but it was short lived as the rest of the trip I caught one keeper fish a nice Pink Porgy. In fairness I did land seven Gags the biggest around 25 LBS and the smallest around 12.
For me this was the worst trip I’ve had. Keeping things in perspective if I’d been able to keep what I caught it would have been stellar and there were a few who were in the sweet spot for the current (which was an issue) who did well on Mangos. Overall it was a slow trip for the boat, the Captain believe me was the most disappointed as he said there just wasn’t the fish shows in the area like the past. I’m no scientist but I am increasingly concerned the Red Snapper may be pushing out my beloved Mangrove Snapper.
On the last stop I was fishing beside a new friend I’d made who was an avid fisherman from Maine making his first fishing trip to Florida. He was asking me if this was a typical catch and I assured him it was not. He responded “At least I was able to break out my warm weather gear” I’ve never heard of warm weather gear. Shorts, flip flops and an optional tee shirt are standard gear for most of the year here. Thanks for getting me off the pity pot.
Having led into Easter weekend by laying an egg I was badly in need of redemption. We started fishing around 11:30 AM amid a Porgy frenzy. They were hitting before you could even tighten your line. Good news was they weren’t ARS and there were some Mangos coming in. I started with a 1 oz. glow in the dark jig head with a nice size Pinfish. Letting it drift down slowly when Bang! Big fish on! My favorite sound on earth has to be a drag zinging and boy was mine zinging. At first I thought (or hoped) it was a big Tuna. The fish started out running straight off the bow so I was feeling good about my chances for landing it. Making steady progress I called to Jon the mate who was ready with gaffe in hand. Just as I thought I had him licked, the beast had other plans and turned 180 degrees which meant he ran right down the center of the boat. My heart sank a bit as I knew what this meant. Sure enough when he came back out there were multiple lines on him. I still had a chance if I could get a little cooperation. Slack off and don’t pull was yelled a few times to no avail as just when I saw color and identified it as a monster King well over 30 LBS. one last jerk from a fellow fishermen and he was gone. Oh well that is Party Boat fishing.
Since the Porgy’s were on fire and the Mangos were on the small size I decided to focus on live bait. This paid off throughout the whole trip as not only were the Goozers hungry for them but the size I was landing made me smile. The rest of the night we steady picked Mangos and slammed Porgies. While most of the Mangos were averaging 3 LBS. or less mine were in the 5-6 LB range and just before Sun up I landed one over 9 LBS.
Sun rise Captain Bryon said we were making a major move so we could target some big Red Grouper. After an hour long move I dropped down a large Pin and got slammed. I was thinking it was either an ARS or small Gag. To my pleasant surprise it turned out to be a Goozer at least 6 LBS. The day bite usually slows as the day progresses but this day it stayed fairly steady as Mangos and a few Red Grouper bit all day. Late in the afternoon we started picking Boss Vermilion Snapper in the 2-3 LB range. On one spot where a couple of nice Red Grouper were caught I got slammed and rocked up. Time to break out the Banjo. Tip: One effective way to get a rocked grouper to come out is the Banjo method. Reel your line as tight as you can without breaking it. With your line tight start plucking it like a Banjo string. After three or four strokes (this is important) slack your line by backing off the drag. Once line is sufficiently loose put in free spool. (Start with loosening the drag before free spool as if you don’t you will have a birds nest) once your line is slack tighten your drag back up and wait for the fish to move. If he doesn’t repeat the process. Once he comes out crank down until you get him coming your way. Be patient and careful reeling in as your line is likely badly frayed. Using this technique I got the fish out and up came a Gag at least 20 LBS. He was successfully released. Perhaps we will meet again.
I managed to land a decent Red Grouper, a couple more Gags as well as some nice size ARS. Down to my last five live baits I was hoping to get a Monster Mango or two but got nailed back to back small AJ’s. Having no choice I switched to Threadfin and quickly caught two Goozers one of which was another Jumbo over 9 LBS. Three live baits left. Cast out and through one off. Two left got a bit too anxious I reeled too quick missed a nice one. Last bait big Pigfish Bang! Big Strike! Reeled up Pigfish cut in half. Lesson? You can never have too much live bait. Weekends coming getting fired up. I think I’ll need at least 100 Pinfish.
See you out there!
April 19, 2017 at 9:57 am #416921
Banjo huh? Interesting. Any idea how that works? Does the vibration of the plucks followed by the slack confuse the fish into thinking he’s off the hook?
April 19, 2017 at 2:06 pm #416928
My theory is its similar to “Grunting” worms in that the vibration is irritating I just know it works,
April 19, 2017 at 2:18 pm #416930
Big ol’ snappa
You must be logged in to reply to this topic.