We left the dock at 10pm sharp Thursday night and I was asleep in my bunk by 10:30 and to my surprise I slept soundly until I heard Capt. Matt ease off the throttles. To my even bigger surprise it was 4:45! We started fishing shallow 90 ft. Ther were a few muttons caught but fishing was pretty slow early on. The sun came up while we were on our second stop and we were all amazed that we could clearly see the bottom. Next stop was in 110 and again the water was so clear the bottom was visible. Not only was the water gin clear but there was very little current as well. This was not making for a good mutton bite and the thought of bad luck on Friday the 13th was creeping in. As the morning went on Capt. Greg moved us out to deeper water. Even at 220 fet there was so little current we were holding bottom with ease using 6 oz weights. The pick was still a little slow but the quality of the fish was great. Tony from Jacksonville had a slob mutton that weighed 22lbs on the boga grips. Seemed like every stop there was a nice black caught as well. I think 12 in all up to 40+ pounds. I sure wish I had some pics of those fish to post but I'm the worlds worst at pulling out the camera.
Going into Friday night I had scamp a king and three muttons in the box.
All through Friday night we had porpoises chasing fliers all around the boat. I kept focused knowing that in the past this has always seemed to get the muttons eating below (or maybe it was just the fliers for bait.)I picked a fish or to off of each stop and then caught three nice muttons during our epic sunrise bite. I saw Josh and Chad literally running around gaffing fish. Everybody was catching muttons and a couple big blacks as well.
Saturday was started off great. Flat seas and and a decent bite. The ocean really seemed alive. We saw five or six sailfish at different times free jumping and chasing bait. The gulf stream current that has been pushed up onto the reef must off come back because by mid morning the current was screaming out deep. I switched gears and threw a out a small jig and instantly hooked up with awhat felt like a small tuna or bonita. after a brief fight he got hit by somthing and I thought it was a done deal when I again felt that rattle of a tuna on the line. To my surprise when I got it to the boat there was not one but two tunas. The first one(minus a tail) had slid all the way up my line and was stuck right at my braid/flouro splice. The jig had slid out his gill and the secongd blackfin had picked it up and was trailing fifteen feet behind the first.
Saturday afternoon we were fishing shallow around 85 feet when I caught a mutton that when it hit the deck it spit up a little critter and I immediately put the little morsel on my hook and sent it down. Next thing you know I was chasing my best mutton (17 lbs)of the trip the length of the boat as it shot under and lengthwise on its first run. Got it up and my new secret weapon bait was still on the hook! Dropped it down and another nice mutton...and still on the hook. Next a flag yellowtail and...bait still there. Dropped it down and another mutton! Three muttons and a yellowtail on a bait that had come from a muttons stomach.
By Saturday evening around five the conditions had really deteriorated as the wind picked up. Capt Greg made the call which we all kinda expected and said lines in we are headed back early. They said it was pretty fluffy the ride in but I wouldn't know I slept until we were back at the dock. I think we had eighteen totes but we had some really good sized fish. I heard several people say they had either caught their biggest grouper or biggest mutton of their life that trip. I ended up with 20 muttons to go along with my scamp and my two little blackfins.
Another great job by outstanding Captains and crew of the Yankee Capt.
Here are a couple pics of a few back at the house. First a couple 12 pounders and then a pic of the 17 and 15.
I fish these trips with a little less drive and a lot more relaxation than Dudley and ended up with 10 nice mutts and a couple misc. eaters in my cooler. A limit could have been rounded out with yellowtails but I've learned to focus on muttons and release my YT's. If mother nature had allowed us to fish Sat night, I'm sure my catch would have been more numerous but I certainly "caught dinner" even in the wind shortened time frame. As it was, I still ran the vacuum packer for a couple of hours and bolstered my freezer inventory substantially. Fresh scamp dinner Sunday night and muttons last night. Yumm!
The mates this season are one of the best deck crews I've ever fished with. The YC always has always maintained high standards but this crew goes above and beyond. Thanks to Chad, Josh and Landon for all your assistance. The sunrise bite Saturday was wild but the guys never missed a beat. Big muttons all around the boat but when your fish neared the surface one of them was waiting with the gaff. Great job guys!
The conditions on Friday were so pristine that I thought of the summer fishery in the Tortugas, when winds and seas tend to be light and flat. In case you're living in a cave and haven't heard, Capt. Greg and the Yankee Capts will be remaining in Florida this summer and we will all be able to enjoy the fabulous fishing offered aboard his vessel all summer long. He is currently working on the updated schedule (it should be up shortly on the YC website) and I will certainly participate. Hope to see you all there!