Nice catch, good friends, gourmet food!
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  1. #1
    Senior Member harbison's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2011

    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:

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Port St. Lucie
    Awesome report and pics, great haul!!

    Just curious..Don't want to pry but was wondering what a trip like that costs?

  3. #3
    Senior Member harbison's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    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
    Last edited by harbison; 04-24-2012 at 03:18 PM.

  4. #4
    Moderator Reel-Lucky's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Oldsmar, FL
    What a great report and video, thanks again Bob.
    P.S. A little sporty out there this weekend, that's hardcore.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Dogman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Niagara Falls, Canada and Madeira Beach, Fla
    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!

  6. #6
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Tampa Bay
    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.

  7. #7
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Indialantic, FL
    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. Looking forward to the next trip.


  8. #8
    Senior Member flatsrunna's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    that was some serious catching

  9. #9
    Senior Member harbison's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    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.
    Last edited by harbison; 04-24-2012 at 03:21 PM.

  10. #10
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    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!

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