Yankee Capts Dec 26, 2014, I'm a Mutton Hunting Maniac
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  1. #1
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    Yankee Capts Dec 26, 2014, I'm a Mutton Hunting Maniac

    In the world of the Yankee Captains, there is never a dull moment. For the most part, I'm on the outside looking in, but being there so often, I get to see a bit beyond the surface. I could tell Capt Greg was serious when he called for volunteers to help paint the YC last week, so I stepped up and helped for a couple days, with the "easy" part. I got to see the YC high and dry, naked and exposed and I'm sure I heard her sigh with relief, when that rich blue paint was being brushed onto her hull. She made it back into the water just in time for Christmas and the mutton marathon Dec 26. If you only knew what it took for the Captain and crew to accomplish this massive undertaking, you would understand the huge grin on my face when I got to the boat.
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    After a quick inspection of the new paint, I got my gear loaded onboard, enjoyed the rib dinner at the Hogfish Restaurant and for maybe the first time in my YC history, I slept a couple hours, awaking with perfect timing. As I baited my hook and put my handy dandy utility belt on, the anchor rattled it's wakeup call, mutton madness is about to begin.
    Everyone has different expectations about these trips. For first timers, simply getting to the boat is a huge undertaking, an adventure of it's own, but it all really starts when the bait hits the water.
    For me, I've learned and forgotten far too many useful and useless tidbits of information over the past four years of my Yankee Captains adventures. The data is all in my head, somewhere, but my fishing results are far below my expectations. I got one very brief, but impinging tip from Capt Greg, during the painting episode. Something like, "Forget about getting new gear, focus on applying the simple things you know that have worked for you before." Those aren't the words, but that is how I heard it.
    Fishing the pulpit this time round, I was in good company. Art was a welcome sight and Joe was present with his two boys, AJ and Red. (named after fish????) Chuck was in their party as well, a first timer on the YC. Joe had his hands full, helping steer his entourage into proper mutton catching habits and he did a great job! Soon, the mutton virgin, Chuck, was hooked up and sweating it out, a bucking, head shaking monster mutton, doing his best to dislodge a vital part of Chuck's anatomy, or grind a sensitive organ against the rail. Not today! The cry went out, "Up Chuck, no, don't upchuck. Bring the fish UP, CHUCK!" And the smile in the picture, holding a twelve pound mutton says it all.
    Aedel, as usual, was making his presence known. He was mauling the king mackerel, a monster on the mackerel rig! That game requires fast action and quick responses, not to mention having a killer presentation of bait and the right size wire leader.
    My personal favorite memory happened near the start of the trip when Eric, a ten year old, who brought his dad fishing, hooked up a big fish. Now Eric is no newcomer to the YC. He, I found out from an informal interview later in the trip, was on his third YC adventure and has been fishing the boat for ages, since he was 9. He bashfully acknowledged he's probably the best fisherman in his class at school, didn't like the peanut brittle I offered him and fishes with nearly identical gear to his hero, his dad. The advantage he has is that he can see over the rail now that he's gotten older, it now is shoulder high, perfect for resting the rod while fighting the big ones! And under his dad's watchful eye, with very little prompting, Eric fought and landed a kingfish nearly as long as he is tall and almost won the pool for the biggest fish caught on the trip!
    Ralph, fishing the stern, was on the muttons early in the game. He was headed for big numbers if his pace continued. By report, they were big fish too. I was happy, I got a decent mutt and a muffin (baby mutton, barely a keeper) at one of the first drops. Meanwhile, AJ and Red were dropping jigs when the action was slow. These looked more like collectable kids toys than fishing equipment. They looked like aliens; weird, tiny aliens with hula skirts and hooks hanging out where genitals should be. After close exposure to light, they glow in the dark and reportedly were killer on red grouper on the Pulley Ridge trips. These kids, on Pulley Ridge trips, in good communication with their dad, actually listening to his advice AND having a good time???? What is this world coming to? What happened to the days when kids sat for hours in front of the TV playing video games? What happened to disrespecting your parents and not listening? Well, Capt Greg, you and the Yankee Capts have a lot to do with it. Smile!
    I try very hard not to get caught up in competing with anyone for number of fish caught. But reports from the mates and Art, had Ralph at about six or seven muttons and my male pride was hurting, I had only two and a big porgie that got lured into range by the alien, glowing jig. Art was not on his "A" game and Aedel was hypnotized by Kings, so, knowing there MUST be muttons, I took Capt Greg's words and put them to work. Two stops in a row, I hooked beautiful mutts. One was a shallow water monster, ripping line from my reel and heading in the wrong direction, toward the crowded stern, home of the inexperienced mutton fishers and a few Googans.
    Everyone has to learn, nothing wrong with being new, but a fisherman's first reaction to what he thinks is a bite, is to pull hard in an upward direction. This, however is the worst thing you can do, when mutton fishing especially if it is a fish hooked on another person's line. Often the added tension on the line is pressure in the wrong direction and the fish gets off. So I had no choice, my slob mutton was headed south, toward the crowd and I followed, yelling, "DON'T PULL, DON'T PULL". I think my approach worked and if nothing else, I stunned the ten or more people into inaction as I came running, like a man obsessed, toward them waving my rod in the air, trying to weave my way over and under the lines, around gaffs, unattended rods, coolers, trying to reel my prize to the surface. And the mutton gods were smiling as they rewarded me with a fifteen pound or so mutton, rising exhausted to the surface, tangled in at least four other lines, gaffed expertly and held proudly and happily for a picture, by the happiest fisherman on the boat. And the story could well end right here, but it doesn't.
    About this time, a dove landed on the pulpit and hung around us, Art in particular. They were talking to each other, I thought and I didn't interfere. Things get a little weird in the sleep deprived world of a three day mutton trip and the definition of strange behavior moves up a notch or two. So Art wasn't feeling well and was off his catching game. I reached into my bag of mental tricks and recalled Capt Greg once saying "You can't expect different results if you keep doing the same thing." So, stepping back away from him in case he had an impulse to take a swing at me, I said to Art, with the best intentions, "Art, are you going to stand around here feeling sick or are you going to catch muttons? Go barf or something and get in the game!!!!" Well, it pissed him off or something, cause in less than a minute he was hooked up to a fifteen pounder and later caught what I think was the biggest mutton on the trip at about 17 plus pounds. But he was still talking to the dove, right up till it flew away as we were docking in in Stock Island.
    Sunrise city, last day was a non event, but when first arrived at that spot at about four AM the bite was hot for a while. There was a lobster buoy a few hundred yards to port when we arrived, a land mark to measure where we were, but no mutton bite besides little fish and a sticky bottom, soft growth that is a bit hard to fish. The boat was swinging slowly toward the buoy, little current and no wind. By the way, the weather was nearly perfect for the whole trip, lessening wind and comfortable temperature. As we got closer, I waited as a nibble turned to a bite and hauled a mutton out of the growth on bottom. Joe hooked up and I thought I was too, but kept in free spool as he fought his fish, not wanting to de-hook him. When his fish was in sight, I set the hook and we had twins on deck in no time. One more beauty after that and my mutton catching was complete.
    Heading home I felt very calm and at peace, knowing I had finally broken the evil spell I had put on myself. I had identified a few successful things I had stopped doing, a while back and started doing them again. It worked! The most important thing I changed was that I made an honest effort to help others enjoy their trip. I shared bait and simple tips to help newcomers increase the chance of catching a mutton and was proud to see one of my pupils catch not one, but two mutts late in the game. When I was new, I quickly got over my fear of asking for advice from the more experienced catchers. Most of them are more than willing to share almost all of their secrets with you, almost all of their secrets.... When you actually catch a mutton, using their advice, they will be the second happiest person on the boat: you will be the happiest.
    So at the dock, there were about sixteen totes of fish. Aedel, the kingfish slayer took top prize with a 33 pounder. Eric was runner up with his big king, but pound for pound, Eric was the mightiest fisherman on the boat. After carefully keeping count at the fish toss, Ralph had ten beautiful muttons, a big black grouper and others, I came away with two groupers, a couple porgies, several mangroves, ten muttons and best of all, a calm knowledge that I'm back on my game and I can help others to have the same wins that I enjoy!
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    Last edited by cameron sleep; 12-30-2014 at 01:55 PM. Reason: Add pictures

  2. #2
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    Awesome write up! I am amazed that you placed pictures on the report, that's a we some! I am envious I have my hands tied up with my daughter wedding planning so I can't go fishing until she goes back to Ohio. Keep more reports going with the pics. It's giving me hope for a better year.
    www.cudamanadventures.com
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    I only keep what I eat or will use for bait.
    I release all sharks.

  3. #3
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    I had a ball on this trip. Great folks. Really wonderful to see the father son teams and there were four husband and wife teams as well. Thanks Cuda!
    Quote Originally Posted by cudaman View Post
    Awesome write up! I am amazed that you placed pictures on the report, that's a we some! I am envious I have my hands tied up with my daughter wedding planning so I can't go fishing until she goes back to Ohio. Keep more reports going with the pics. It's giving me hope for a better year.

  4. #4
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    I was on the trip but didn't do as good as Cameron and a few of the others. The first day I was very frustrated. I was several spots up on the port side from Ralph and watched as he seemed to be hooked up with a mutton every time I looked his way. And I watched the father & son (who chicken rigged next to me the whole trip) pull up a keeper red grouper on a bait rig. At the end of the day all I had to show for my efforts were a couple of nice yellow tails. I didn't even have a run off or anything that felt like a mutton bite. On top of that I missed the morning bite on the second day. When my alarm went off we were moving so I figured I would wait until we stopped to get up. You can guess what happened, I fell back asleep and by the time I woke up the bite was over. After that things looked up a little bit. I ended up with 4 muttons (2 15 lbers), a red grouper, 2 very big porgies, and a nice assortment of flag yellowtails and mangrove snapper. (Believe it or not I used to be able to catch fish. I have the pictures to prove it. Maybe the older I get the less I concentrate. Who knows I need some sort of excuse.)

    I agree with Cameron that it was good to see the father/son and husband/wife teams. The only thing I don't understand, whether it's first timers or people that have been out before, is what is so hard about listening when the mates are handing out the fish at the end of the trip. There always seems to be a few people who can't grasp the idea of responding when the mates call out there tag numbers. Just draws out an already long process. (Sorry for the mini rant.)

  5. #5
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    After day one, I had two yellowtails and two mutts. Gotta be there for the bite! Almost every fish I caught was hungry enough to eat a 7# hook!
    Quote Originally Posted by Xaf View Post
    I was on the trip but didn't do as good as Cameron and a few of the others. The first day I was very frustrated. I was several spots up on the port side from Ralph and watched as he seemed to be hooked up with a mutton every time I looked his way. And I watched the father & son (who chicken rigged next to me the whole trip) pull up a keeper red grouper on a bait rig. At the end of the day all I had to show for my efforts were a couple of nice yellow tails. I didn't even have a run off or anything that felt like a mutton bite. On top of that I missed the morning bite on the second day. When my alarm went off we were moving so I figured I would wait until we stopped to get up. You can guess what happened, I fell back asleep and by the time I woke up the bite was over. After that things looked up a little bit. I ended up with 4 muttons (2 15 lbers), a red grouper, 2 very big porgies, and a nice assortment of flag yellowtails and mangrove snapper. (Believe it or not I used to be able to catch fish. I have the pictures to prove it. Maybe the older I get the less I concentrate. Who knows I need some sort of excuse.)

    I agree with Cameron that it was good to see the father/son and husband/wife teams. The only thing I don't understand, whether it's first timers or people that have been out before, is what is so hard about listening when the mates are handing out the fish at the end of the trip. There always seems to be a few people who can't grasp the idea of responding when the mates call out there tag numbers. Just draws out an already long process. (Sorry for the mini rant.)

  6. #6
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    Cameron, sounds like you had a fun trip. Sure beats snorkeling with flag YT, nurse sharks and rays in Bavaro last week.

  7. #7
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    Nice report Cameron and thanks for the pics

  8. #8
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    Nice job on the fishing and the report. I was out with Yuri during the same weekend. We had a dove come and hitch a ride for while too. He looked a little rough though.
    Bite for us was good but damn we struggled to get fish to the boat. The big sharks wouldn't leave us alone. Some spots we would get a couple fish to the boat but on others the first fish would be gobbled up. Crazy. Never seen it so bad. You guys have any shark problems?

  9. #9
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    There were a lot of small sharks caught on some of the spots but I didn't hear of a problem of fish being gobbled up on the way in. I did see about a 6 foot hammerhead follow a small shark up on one spot but don't think anyone lost any fish to it.

  10. #10
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    Thanks Cameron, my son really got a kick when he saw his picture & name mentioned on a Yankee Capts report! He loves to fish & I encourage him 100%. This was his best trip yet. He also filleted his fish(the yellowtails) for the first time by himself. As always, hats off to the captain & the crew. We hope to fish with you again! BTW my son says he wants me to reserve the front on the next trip!

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