Nice catch, good friends, gourmet food!

Once again we challenge the Florida Middle Grounds. Once again the weekend weather prediction is less than perfect; in fact, down right lousy. Forty eight anglers hope for the best. Low pressure or no low pressure, we know what the Grounds has to offer.
Most of us arrive at Hubbard's Marina early. One reason is to watch the 1/2 day boat returning. Sure enough, the Friendly Fisherman returned one P.M. Friday afternoon. Grunts were targeted. Grunts, small but very good eating. Also some very impressive king fish and mackerel were landed.
Now it's our turn. First, enough bait, Spanish sardines, is loaded to hopefully entice the critters of the Grounds. We will be targeting the elusive mangrove snapper and red grouper.
OK! let's get this show on the road. Three P.M. Friday afternoon, The Florida Fisherman ll pulls out of Hubbard's Marina and, immediately, heads North West. Our destination, the Florida Middle Grounds, one hundred miles from Madeira Beach, Florida.
We are excited and hungry. Chef Tammy to the rescue. Do I want cheese steak, onions & peppers, or pulled pork. Let's try the steak. To say it was great does, in no way, do this masterpiece justice.
The long ride out was ideal. Could NOAA possibly be wrong? One A.M. Saturday morning. Captain Hubbard eases back on the two huge diesels. Time to fish. Immediately, the mangoes are on fire; they are really hungry. I see real beauties coming in from one end of the Florida to the other. Tammy serves hot off the grill ham and cheese sandwiches, what a way to start a trip, good fiends, calm seas, plenty of fish, and great food. talk about heaven on earth!
I will be the first to admit, food was on the minds of most of us. Many fresh caught amber jacks are donated for a fish lunch. For those who have never tried really fresh fish, you owe it to yourself to do so.
OH NO! shortly after sun up the wind begins to build, build, and then build some more. Storms, off at a distance, are everywhere. We are living our own little Bearing Sea. Captain Cig and the Northwestern has nothing on us.
Non-the-less, we, as the crab fishermen, do not know the meaning of the word quit. Beautiful red grouper, yes! We can keep them, are hungry. Shawn, one of our deck mates, loves to show off our catch. He is as proud as we are. Boy! did Mike ever catch a big one. Will, one of our regulars, shows us how to catch grouper. Look at the size of that wave behind the Florida. Is this the Bearing Sea or Gulf of Mexico? Here is where a catamaran comes into its own. Even under adverse conditions, we still had a great platform from which to fish.
As the low pressure area approaches, as can be expected, the fishing slows down, but never stops. Mister Andre Baptisto caught, vented, and released a beautiful gag. See you come July. Mister Burbacher was, and rightfully so, very proud of his big yellow tail snapper.
Captain Mark Hubbard is proud of what we are catching, proud of Jessy Baxley's mangos. Who wouldn't be? Tammy, Shawn, and Capt. Mikey are as excited as we are. After all, this is family.
Not to be left out, the fighting machine, known simply as amber jack, are providing some real battles. Some fights are won, but most are lost. Andre & Patrick Foster won. I really do not know who was more give out, anglers or fish. Once again we challenge the Florida Middle Grounds. Once again, what a trip. I, we, want to go back ASAP!
All in all, even under adverse conditions, we had a very nice catch. It would have been a great catch if we could have kept gags and American reds.
Bob Harbison Native Florida fisherman & hunter, member Florida Outdoor Writers Association (FOWA).
Check out the video: (click on link)
Captain Mikey really knows how to filet AJ's. Is it lunch time yet?
Check out those storm conditions.
Andre wins the fight of his life, the mighty AJ.
Shawn shows off a beautiful ARS.
Dinner: For Chef Tammy, only the best beef stroganoff will due.

From the Friendly Fisherman 1/2 day boat:
Mister Mark Barnes:
Bait for a 39 hour Middle Grounds trip aboard the Florida Fisherman:
My cheese steak, pepper & onion feast:
Early morning Tammy grilled ham & cheese:
Capt. Mike fillets AJ's for lunch:
Shawn, Mike, Will (look at those waves):
What a wave: Is this really the gulf?
Mister Andre Baptisto:
Mister Alan Burbacher (Yellow tail, mango snapper)
Mangrove snapper:
Captain Mark Hubbard & Jessy Baxley:
Capt. Mike:
Amber Jack:
Andre wins:
Patrick Foster:
Nice catch:


  • hewes18hewes18 Posts: 757 Officer
    Awesome report and pics, great haul!!

    Just curious..Don't want to pry but was wondering what a trip like that costs?
  • harbisonharbison Posts: 2,408 Captain
    I am more than happy to furnish any information I can. Please do not hesitate to ask. The next Florida Fisherman 39 hour trip: I can't wait. Bob
    May 4-6 Fri – Sun Full Moon Over Night long Rang Monster Slam
    $299 39hrs 3pm - 6am (Leave 3 P.M. Friday...Return 6 A.M. Sunday)
    Fish through the AM on the full moon for Mangrove Snap, AJ and Red Grouper!
    Hubbard's also has what is known as their 'Regulars Club'. Regular Club members get substantial discounts:
    30 % on over night trips
    50 % on day trips
  • Reel-LuckyReel-Lucky Oldsmar, FLPosts: 2,867 Moderator
    What a great report and video, thanks again Bob.
    P.S. A little sporty out there this weekend, that's hardcore.
  • DogmanDogman Posts: 450 Officer
    Great pics and report as always. Thanks for sharing.
    2013 Native Watercraft Slayer 14.5 (Sand) - His
    2010 Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100 (Mango) - Hers
    Lost Fishing - You know it's where you'd rather be!
  • Navy_FishingNavy_Fishing Posts: 811 Officer
    It was an *** kicker of a trip weather wise, but the fish were there to be caught. I got my limit of 20 mangos and may have been only one of a very select few on the boat to do so. Also bagged two red grouper and a nice 19" Scamp. Tough fishing with 48 folks on there and some with zero fishing experience. But it is what it is on a party boat and you learn to overcome. Those who fished lighter tackle and were able to drift their baits back got the snapper to bite. Those who dropped 8 oz of lead death on the fish below were not as successful. No pics to add, as I had them all cleaned and bagged before I even thought of getting out the camera. Looks like the next few trips are booked solid, so good luck to those of you going. I am sitting out the next few trips and getting ready for ARS season in June.
  • XafXaf Posts: 930 Officer
    Bob, good report as usual. I don't feel as bad that I had to cancel now. I just can't take the rockn' & rolln' like I used to. :cry Looking forward to the next trip.

  • flatsrunnaflatsrunna Posts: 524 Officer
    that was some serious catching
    Captain Anthony Leverett of Kingdom Business Charter's.
  • harbisonharbison Posts: 2,408 Captain
    Xaf, Bob, it was indeed pretty darn rough. Regardless, we had NO problems. Missed you, partner.
    "Serious catching" indeed!
    As Navy has said, 'looks like the next few trips are booked solid.'
    FYI: Here are the number of spots, as of 4/23/12, open for the 39 hour Florida Fisherman trips. For those who do not want to miss our, suggest booking ASAP. These will not last long:
    May 4 ... 4
    May 18 ... 6
    June 1 ... SOLD OUT
    June 5 ... 4 (Tues.)
    June 8 ... 12
    June 15 ... 14
    June 22 ... 18
    June 29 .... 17
    July 6 .... SOLD OUT
    July 13 ... 1
    Remember, we can catch, and keep gag grouper from July through October. We have been, even without targeting them, catching some really nice gags. Talk about serious catching.
    Bob H.
  • TennesseeDaveTennesseeDave Posts: 300 Deckhand
    4 Red Grouper, 1 AJ and 1 AJ for the lunch, 12 Mangos, 1 Kingfish, 3 Bonito, 1 Big Eye (Cool looking), 4 Bar jacks, 67 Porgies/Vermillions

    I didn't notice if it was wavy out there. Guess I was too busy catching fish!
  • harbisonharbison Posts: 2,408 Captain
    :fishingDave, so glad you did well. It is always a pleasure having you on the Florida Fisherman. Take care my friend! Bob
  • angler18angler18 Posts: 2,035 Officer
    great report and pics. must have been a treat in those conditions, but sounds like you all had a blast
  • Navy_FishingNavy_Fishing Posts: 811 Officer
    4 Red Grouper, 1 AJ and 1 AJ for the lunch, 12 Mangos, 1 Kingfish, 3 Bonito, 1 Big Eye (Cool looking), 4 Bar jacks, 67 Porgies/Vermillions

    I didn't notice if it was wavy out there. Guess I was too busy catching fish!
    That was between the two of you?
  • TennesseeDaveTennesseeDave Posts: 300 Deckhand
    Nope, that was all mine. I didn't even include the 2 short Red Grouper and the 4 break away AJs and only 2 tangles as I managed to stay out all the other nasty tangles. My buddy caught some fish too.

    I got lucky on this trip but not lucky enough for a jackpot fish though!

    Hope to see you when we can catch kick some ARS! :crowd
  • skyway andeskyway ande Posts: 2,719 Captain
    good report... too sporty for me!
    God, save the South!
  • johnDjohnD Posts: 6,366 Admiral
    Excellent report Bob !! The videos are cool :thumbsup
  • harbisonharbison Posts: 2,408 Captain
    So glad you like my reports. I am just getting into video. Learning how to edit did not come easy, but I am learning. Hope to have many more future reports.
    This weekend will be very special. Hubbard's Marina will host a "Memorial", a Memorial honoring those who set out to sea, never to return .
    I would love to attend the Memorial. However, I will be attending another Celebration. My hunting Outfitter, Tiger Island, is sponsoring a free hunt honoring those who have given so much, so much that we, all of us, can be FREE. Our veterans, our heroes, our "Wounded warriors", will be, many from wheel-chairs, hunting hogs, enjoying a real Southern cookout, and live music. A Memorial honoring those who have set to sea, but never returned, and, a celebration honoring those who fought for freedom, and returned, returned as our, "Wounded warriors,"
    Nothing could be more appropriate:
    Thank you Hubbard's Marina; thank you Tiger Island Outfitters!
    Bob H.

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