A Team Fiasqo Yankee Capt Report: The Legend of Raúl (2.23.14)
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  1. #1
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    A Team Fiasqo Yankee Capt Report: The Legend of Raúl (2.23.14)

    It had been since this past June that I had stepped foot aboard the infamous Yankee Capts. I’ve had the itch for a long time but between work, inclement weather, and myriad other issues, I wasn’t able to make it down since then, although several attempts were made. But like most Team Fiasqo trips, the seeds are planted from the North. This was no exception.

    For weeks, the northern and polar vortexed contingent of Team Fiasqo—Untouchable—had been telling me that he was “eyeing” the weekend of the 23rd to come down and do a trip aboard the Yankee Capts. As always, I paid him no heed until the week of the purported trip. Usually when he plans a trip, he brings the lovely New York weather with him and we end up not going because of the weather. So, for a trip departing Friday night, I didn’t even look at the weather until Wednesday. Unfortunately, since Untouchable has to book a ticket and plan accordingly, he doesn’t have the same “last second” luxury that I do with deciding to go on a trip.

    We both checked the weather on Wednesday and believe it or not, it looked amazing. An anomaly and sure to change, right? Well, Wednesday turned into Wednesday night and the weather still looked perfect. Phone calls were made to Capt. Greg, inquiring as to the number of patrons already booked. “30-something” was the response. “Get your asses down here,” was the follow-up. The follow-up was followed-up with “Bring some of Mama Q’s food for me.” “Of course Greg,” I responded.

    Mama Q always oblige’s Greg’s food requests and I firmly believe she likes him better than her kids.

    “Here are two boxes of food, one for you guys (read, my brothers and me) and the other is for Captain Greg.”

    “The bigger box is ours and the other is for Greg, right?” I ask.

    “No, the big one is for Captain Greg,” she quipped.



    Thanks, mom.

    So, who’s going?

    Untouchable – check
    Liti – check
    The Other One – undecided and fighting a stomach bug
    Johnny f/k/a “Another Grand,” a/k/a “White Devil” — “100%” in and "packed for weeks"

    If you’ve followed the Team Fiasqo annals you’ll see several consistent themes. One of those themes is that Marsad is the one who catches bait for his brothers. Untouchable is in NY and his trifecta of work, WIFE, and kids preclude him coming down earlier to help. The Other One, well, he just doesn’t catch bait. Never has, never will.

    Like the weather, the bait had been pretty cooperative in the last couple weeks and I planned on hitting “the bait spot” for some goggle eyes Thursday morning. After a brief consult with Johnny, he said he would meet me at “the bait spot” at 6 a.m. But I know better than to rely on Johnny being there, so I contacted my buddy Cody and asked him to help me catch some gogs. He kindly obliged.



    Thursday morning, Cody and I met at “the bait spot” and in a couple hours procured almost 200 goggle eyes.










    Of course Johnny was battling his own demons (i.e., girlfriend, dog, Sallie Mae) and didn’t show up. Immediately I scratched him off my “mental checklist” for the trip. But the bait . . . it was too easy; it was all too good to be true. Perfect weather still in the forecast, perfect baits and plenty of them—what’s the catch (no pun intended)? I wouldn’t find out till the very end of the journey; stay tuned.

    Along with the “Marsad-catches-all-the-bait-for-his-brothers” theme, another Team Fiasqo theme is “Marsad-gets-all-the-tackle, makes-all-the-rigs, organizes-everything, and-picks-up-Untouchable-from-the-airport-with-everything-already-done,” theme.

    It’s now Friday morning. I have tons of gogs (188) for my brother(s) and I. Tackle is rigged and ready (shout out to the Lead Bandit).



    Untouchable is set to land in Ft. Lauderdale at 9:30 a.m. I still haven’t heard anything from Johnny and The Other One is still battling the stomach bug. Experience tells me that Johnny’s “100%” in is really a “not a chance in hell.” While The Other One remained a last-minute decision, I could tell that he wasn’t feeling well enough to go. It would be Untouchable and me on this particular journey, and I was fine with that. But wait . . . what’s that? General Turtle wants to go bad and has been waiting on word from Johnny? Well, Turtle intelligently assumes Johnny isn’t going and asks if he can ride with us; he’s immediately added to the itinerary. We always have a blast fishing with Turtle.

    The Team Fiasqo standard-operating-procedure is to rent a vehicle. “It’s just easier,” is the justification. Well, not always as we found out. After picking Untouchable up from the airport around 9:45 a.m., we went to get the rental vehicle, a nice new F-150. Perfect for this three-man adventure.



    We head back to the Boca Raton homestead so Untouchable can hang out with his mother for a couple hours before we depart. Well, the “family time” was cut short and replaced with “I’m going to the pier to get some ballyhoo” time. Who was I to argue, we needed some ballyhoo . . .

    He returned about an hour later with almost 80 fresh and perfect ballyhoo.



    After a quick lunch we loaded-up Enterprise’s finest and made our way south to pick up Turtle. Upon arriving at Chateau du Turtle, he greeted us with one rod (sans reel) a giant duffle bag, and most importantly—a bag full of “just-steamed” stone crabs from his traps. Game on. Reel? No need for a reel. Untouchable was kind enough to lend him the Trinidad 30 for the trip.

    Conventional wisdom would dictate we hurry-up and try to get down to Stock Island as soon as possible, and then eat the crab at the boat. Team Fiasqo scoffs at conventional wisdom. Perhaps "scoff" is a bit harsh. We have just collectively decided that there are usually better and more creative ways to do things. The crab claws were placed on ice, Turtle grabbed a butter knife to crack them, and we made our way South.

    Upon arriving at Florida City, we pulled into the first gas station we saw to get some fuel. And I took that opportunity to grab the crabs and start cracking/eating them. Right there at the gas station. Pump 8, to be specific. We’re classy like that. The claws were delicious and consumed in a manner of minutes, leaving a trail of shrapnel-like shell fragments all over the place. Untouchable returns with a few Long John Silvers platters. Time to go . . .



    A couple quick stops later and we pull up to the mothership, in all her glory, around 9 p.m. A quick check with Johnny was greeted with a barrage of texts.

    "Ugggh"
    "OMG"
    "On Couch"
    "Packed"
    "Grumpy"
    "Angry"
    “Adversity”


    Safe to say at this point it wasn’t happening for Johnny.

    With a sail time of 10 p.m., we quickly loaded our gear onto the boat, greeted some familiar faces and made acquaintance with some new ones. Up on the bow, with the ever-present mischievous look—Jarbas. I love trips where Jarbas is on board for two reasons: we usually crush the fish, and, more importantly, we have a lot of fun messing with each other. That will come into play later. He’s also one of the top Mutton fishermen on the Yankee Capts right now and I always enjoy trying to keep up with him.

    While catching-up with Jarbas and placing my fishing rods up towards the bow where I would be fishing, we spot a massive roach fly onto the deck, complete with its own cooler full of bait and custom Calstar rods. He headed right for his bunk in the anchor rode box —but not before eyeing-up Jarbas and me, giving us the “what the hell are you staring at?” look and then disappearing into a labyrinth of scales and coils. I’m pretty sure he said his name was “Raúl.” His abuelos came over in the Mariel boatlift. They shared a raft with Tony Montana. Raúl no tiene miedo de estos payasos.

    I proceeded to tell Jarbas how deathly afraid of roaches Untouchable was.

    As the boat pushed-off, I only recognized a few faces, there was a large contingent of patrons that I had never fished with before, and they were congregated towards the back of the boat. Untouchable, Turtle, Jarbas, our new friend “Reese” and I would be fishing the bow of the boat for the majority of the trip, which turned-out to be a wise decision.

    Capt. Greg made an announcement that we would be traveling about an hour longer than normal because he wanted to try a certain area. So that meant about a 6-hour ride out. The majority of the patrons headed down to the bunks to catch some shut-eye. I did too, and actually got about an hour’s sleep, which never happens. Untouchable on the other hand was not so fortunate, as one eye remained open at all times, looking for Raúl.

    As the RPM of the diesels slowed down from their rhythmic “cruise” tone, the anchor was deployed and weary, sleep-deprived patrons stumbled out of their bunks and onto the deck. I know we had gone far because a slight hint of daylight was already breaking onto the horizon.

    It didn’t take long before a couple anglers up-front hooked into some good fish. A couple smaller muttons hit the deck to break the ice. Then Jarbas and I hooked into a double of good muttons, landing both, while Untouchable also hooked into a nice fish.




    Untouchable tight on the pulpit



    Turtle waiting patiently for the bite to come, with Jarbas in the background sending bad vibes.



    The sunrise and morning bite were excellent. Almost everyone in the front had managed to break the ice with a couple muttons. Can’t really ask for a better start than that. The patrons in the back of the boat were struggling with the muttons, but a fair number of yellowtails and porgies were making their way into the stern. [Mutton fishing isn’t easy and there’s a particular methodology to it. Greg has detailed “tips” on his site and both he and the mates are happy to help in person. The banality of the advice shouldn’t diminish its importance]. Suffice it to say, double-hooked pinfish filet was not cutting it.

  2. #2
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    The day bite was overall a steady pick with some very nice muttons coming up every now-and-then, again, mostly from the regulars in the bow. The weather had been flat calm all morning and all day. With very little current in the 120’-180’ range, Greg decided to steam out a little deeper to around 240’. The current here was a little stronger, as one would expect, but for those anglers properly-equipped with 10-12 oz lead, holding bottom wasn’t hard. Of course, with deeper water you have the chance at some better quality fish and that rang true as very nice muttons made their way onto the deck along with some big yelloweyes and genuine reds, which were released.

    One angler, Reese, had kingfish as bait. No one else had kingfish, and he was consistently pulling-up big muttons all day, more than anyone else. Even when the bite was slow in the middle of the day, he was picking away at the big ones. It goes to show you that sometimes the muttons get keyed-in on a particular bait and if you have it, you have a distinct advantage. We all looked on with envy every time Reese threaded a piece of kingfish onto his hook . . . He’s also a great angler and made the most of the situation.

    I believe going into the evening, Jarbas and Reese were already into the double-digit muttons. I think I had 8 or 9 and Untouchable around the same. Turtle also had a decent number of muttons. The folks in the back as a whole were struggling with the muttons but some of the anglers on the sides of the boat were catching them. Untouchable and I noticed one angler in particular. He was picking-away at the muttons. But that’s not why we noticed him. He bore a striking resemblance to “Johnny a/k/a ‘Another Grand’”. His mannerisms and look—especially from a certain angle, was dead-on Johnny Birkman. Dead-freaking-on. So Untouchable and I started making jokes and calling him “The Good Johnny,” because he was extremely polite, considerate, and patient.

    As the afternoon approached, one of the mates called him “Johnny.” At this point Untouchable gave me a look and it was confirmed instantly. His name is even Johnny. It was too much. The coup de grace happened when Turtle—unaware of the jokes Untouchable and I were making about our newfound inspiration, turned to me and said “Marsad, that dude looks just like [our] Johnny.” I explained to him that Untouchable and I had been joking about it for the last couple hours. And just to solidify the Bizarro Johnny comparison, The Good Johnny had a mutton eaten by a shark, which is a Johnny Birkman trademark. It was perfect. Now he just needs to meet Ellen a/k/a "The Oracle."

    Before dark, Raúl made an appearance, albeit short-lived. He awoke from his daytime Twilight-like slumber and made his way to the rail; Reese seized that opportunity and smashed him with a heavy, determined foot.

    “Dude, I just killed that giant roach.”

    Raúl let out an audible shriek, and his viscera was strewn about the deck. But 300 million years of evolution don't need bowels to survive. He wasn’t dead, merely incapacitated. Untouchable introduced Raúl to his little friend, "bait knife" and paraded a still-wriggling Raúl around like a trophy. But Jarbas wasn’t paying attention.



    An executive decision was made amongst those who shall remain nameless to place Raúl in Jarbas’ tackle box. What could go wrong, right? Anyways, I’ll get back to that later.

    As the sun descended into the horizon, we set-up for the night bite. While the daytime bite was relatively consistent, it was a grind. Some like a grind; some don’t. But as soon as it got dark, the bite picked-up almost immediately. Good muttons started coming over the rail, mostly from the bow again, but I noticed some pink in the stern and along the sides. The Good Johnny was doing well on the starboard side, alongside his friend “Donald,” whose voice cut through the air like braid through a tight line. On the port side there was a kid, 10-years old, Juozas fishing with his father, Gintas. I noticed that Juozas was fishing hard, every spot. I admired his passion. He reminded me of a young Liti. This is someone that couldn’t even reach the rail, soaking in the experience and fishing his butt off. Between stops he would consult his backpack, replete with the books of a budding ichthyologist.

    I briefly spoke with Juozas and Gintas between moves and offered some words of encouragement to the kid. I made a mental note to myself that I would, at some point, help Juozas catch a mutton if he didn’t get one in a few hours. Whether in the form of a freshly-caught flying fish, or bringing him up to the bow with “the regulars,” I wanted that kid to catch a mutton for as hard as he was fishing. Turns out he wouldn’t need mine, or anyone else’s help.

    The night bite remained pretty good and I don’t think we moved more than twice the entire night. While the average size wasn’t huge, the numbers were there. Almost everyone on the bow was picking away at the muttons and several of us were in the double digits. I had made a strong push and had about 14 by now. Untouchable also held his own with 14 muttons at this point. He’s usually rusty from his NY sabbaticals, but he was showing glimmers of his former self on this trip.

    Most of the folks in the stern had retired for the night, some remained. All the “regulars” fishing the bow had taken an interest in the kid. He was still fishing, while most had gone to sleep. Between moves he would mow-down a soda errrrr “low-fat milk” (sorry if mom is reading this, I wasn’t supposed to say anything) to stay awake and continue fishing. Every time he set the hook we all looked back at him with hopes he would land the elusive mutton. One of the mates would come to the bow every time Juozas hooked-up to a fish and say “the kid’s on again.” But this time the fight was “right,” and I could tell it was a mutton. I was in the middle of fishing my bait and said “f**k it,” laying my rod down on the rail (do not try this at home, or on the Yankee Capts!) and I ran to get my big SLR camera. If this kid was hooked-up to a mutton, I wanted some good pics of the special moment. He continued to fight the fish like a pro and from the depth the all-too-familiar shape of a mutton ascended. And a good one at that.



    The mate gaffed the fish and a beautiful mutton hit the deck. I don’t know if Juozas had ever caught one before, but I believe it was his first on the Yankee. At 10-years old, on his first trip out here. That’s impressive. You can’t wipe the smile of his face.

    Juozas with his father proudly looking on in the background





    After shooting the pics and congratulating him, I went back to my rod. I picked it up and had an immediate run-off; it was a big mutton. Karma for grabbing the camera and taking pics, I guess. A few minutes later, Untouchable caught a giant mutton—biggest of the trip— and I again grabbed my camera.





    Guess what happened when I went back to my rod? Another fish was eating the bait.

    As the night faded, the mutton bite continued to be very consistent, almost wide-open at points. I nailed three more good muttons right as the sun came up. Every now-and-then I would hear one of the mates tell us that “the kid” was hooked-up again. That first mutton really got him going and I believe he finished the trip off with four good muttons. Again, that’s extremely impressive, especially for a 10-year old. Dad would later tell me that Juovas was watching the regulars catch all the fish up front and started grilling him on why they didn’t bring certain equipment and bait. I can already tell that Juovas is “hooked” for life and we will be seeing more of him. I’ve already extended him and his father an invitation to this summer’s “invitation only” Armageddon trip.

    I finished-up the trip with 18-muttons. Not a bad number for a two-day trip. Good enough for co high-hook honors with . . . Jarbas. Hey, I’ll gladly take a tie with him. Untouchable had a very respectable 17, Turtle was in the double-digits too. Reese had a bunch but I don’t know the exact number, somewhere in the mid-teens I would guess; a lot of big ones too. I pay attention to everyone’s catch. The folks that listened to Greg’s advice did well. But everyone caught fish. The weather was spectacular and the fishing was pretty darn good. The Good Johnny had 10-muttons I believe, praise the Lord. There were plenty of yellowtails to go around and the occasional yelloweye. Not too many kingfish, but a 30-pounder won the pool. It seems like the muttons are keyed-in on kingfish right now, so if you catch one, use it for bait!





    Back at the dock we staged some shots with The Good Johnny for our friends back home, using the patented "ciggie-redbull one-handed grip. (these pics are staged and in no way shape or form should it be interpreted that The Good Johnny partakes in any of the vices depicted in this picture)





    After the fish were distributed and farewells were exchanged, the Team Fiasqo/Enterprise vehicle loaded-up and made the trek back north. Untouchable originally had a 10 p.m. flight to catch. Well that got pushed back to 11:30 p.m., which is good because he wouldn’t have made the original flight.

    Back at home, after Untouchable flew back (still covered in scales), I was left to clean up the aftermath that only a multi-day Dry Tortugas trip can cause. Filleting the fish, cleaning the rods, cleaning the coolers, putting everything away, etc. I never wondered what happened to the roach that was covertly placed in Jarbas’ tackle box. That was until I reached my hand into the fish-and-ice filled cooler to grab the next fish to fillet and saw it. Raúl. Dead, mangled, pierced, and cold. He lived a legend's life and died a warrior's death. I can only surmise that Jarbas discovered Raúl in his tackle box, and then—inexplicably—assumed that my brother and/or I had placed it there, and as revenge, put it in our FISH COOLER. Well done Jarbas, well done. Game recognizes game. Checkmate.

    Monday morning I had to return the rental vehicle to Enterprise. Usually an uneventful task for the non-Fiasqo people of the world. As I handed them the keys, the representative exchanged the customary “I’m just gonna do a quick walk-around for damage.” “No problem,” I said with a smug undertone. About a minute later he comes nervously back inside, stammering “I’m I’m I’m gonna have to write this up!” I look at him as if he’s got three heads and say, “what the hell are you talking about, there’s no damage to the car.” “Follow me,” he replied.



    Well, at some point between when we left the boat and reached home, during one of our pit stops I guess, someone nailed the front right quarter panel of the vehicle. Hard. And they left. So that sucked, and was the only mar on an otherwise “perfect” adventure. We, errrrrr . . . Untouchable had to pay a $500 deductible and file a claim with his insurance



    I spent almost all day Monday dispersing snapper fillets to friends. My Jamaican friend Pearline loves the snapper/porgy heads so I gave her a whole cooler full.




    It’s great to know that literally all of the fish is being consumed. I only kept some porgy for myself which I made into delicious ceviche.



    In closing, the trip was a blast and I want to thank Capt. Greg and the crew of the Yankee Capts for another memorable notch in my belt. I need to come down there more often because I always have an amazing time. There’s not a better operation out there. I know the trip after ours was good, too. So if anyone reading this is on the fence about doing one of these trips, stop making excuses and book the trip. A 10-year old kid did the trip and kicked butt, harder core than some of our associates. What’s your excuse? To those that have never done a trip like this, go, and ask questions. I like to help anyone I can, and the other regulars do too. “You” fishing properly isn’t just going to increase your catch rate, but mine as well. The less bouncing leads and guppy rigs the better for everyone on board.

    The hot daytime bait was kingfish. At night, goggle eyes and fresh flying fish were the preferred bait. Good Johnny caught a nice mutton on a fresh squid that he’d netted. Blue runner, bonito and ballyhoo also caught their fair share of muttons. Bait aside, presentation is key. If the bait doesn't look like it belongs there, then it's not getting eaten by a quality fish.

    Till next time, Peace Out from Team Fiasqo . . .


  3. #3
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    Great report Marsad.hope to fish with you soon again

  4. #4
    Senior Member Drewvale21's Avatar
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    How
    Much does the Yankee Capts charge? What's are the rates?

  5. #5
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    Outstanding writes, enjoyed every minute of it.
    As far as Jarbas... not to worry Mars... I'll have Raul's cousin Carlitos swimming in the iced chilled waters of his cooler soon to be.
    So... the next generation of Mutton gluttons is on the making - Juozas and great mutton pulling technique in that snap shot to say the least.

  6. #6
    Senior Member jakedge's Avatar
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    Terrific reporting...as usual! Thanks for posting.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Drewvale21 View Post
    How
    Much does the Yankee Capts charge? What's are the rates?
    go to www.yankeecapts.com

  8. #8
    Senior Member Tipbone's Avatar
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    Awesome Report! I have been considering taking my 13 year old son on one of these trips, looks like he would be ok, He is a fishing Machine too!

  9. #9
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    Great report and detail thanks...What pier did you get the goggle eyes and ballyhoo from. Hope to be going in a couple of weeks if possible

  10. #10
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    Excellent as usual. Thanks for writing.

    Next time lets put a little more haste into getting up sooner.



    Greg

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