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Fillin the box on the Elbow and water in between

kscottartkscottart Posts: 48 Deckhand
For some reason the Central Gulf Coast has a bad wrap for its offshore fish-ability from the guys on the “other coast”. I have to say I have fished both many times and the bottom fishing production is far greater on the Gulf Coast excluding the Bahamas. They also don’t believe we actually dive and spearfish over here. I have always had some good ammunition to fire back at these guys but now I really do!
The alarm rings at 4am. Most people (at least under the age of 70) think “What the hell am I getting up for!?” but I do not. I rolled out of bed, loaded the gear and headed north. Destination, Redington Beach.

Big American Reds on rod and reel were the main target but with a boat full of guns and tanks, Hogfish and Red Grouper also jumped in the mix. We headed out through John’s Pass as the day started to break to the East. Fortunately, the live wells were full of Pinfish and a few randoms. Our abilities with the net this particular morning only produced the ever feared “bananas” which the Threadies easily eluded. So we put the throttles down and headed for a spot 70 miles out.

As we ran, I scanned the horizon for any irregularities on the water or one bird that would point us to some fish. I was trying anything to pass the time. Thirty miles later, we broke the 100 foot mark and the sun was starting to light up the glass-like water, like a giant aquarium. After a couple pit stops on a few monster schools of Threadfins, nothing more than Bonita and Cero Mackeral was found. As we continued West, I caught something out of the corner of my eye… Way south of our course.* As we closed in on the object, I realized it was a crab float and roughly 40 feet of line covered in barnacles hanging below the surface. As soon as we got close, a wall of shinny blue and yellow rose from the depths.

The Mahi alarm went off and before you could blink, sardine chunks and lines were being thrown in. Fish were hooked immediately and drags were screaming. As I watched all the commotion, I thought ‘This would be a great time to get in the water and shoot some reference video for my next Mahi painting!’ So I did. As one “sacrificial lamb” swimming around the boat with a six ot hook in his lip, his buddies just couldn’t gain the smarts to swim away. Instead, they kept swimming up to me and posing for the camera. After about five minutes, I had seen enough and wondered if they would be interested in my spear-gun as well. As I climbed back into the boat, I could hear the skunk was definitely out of the box and Mahi was on the menu. I hopped back in the water, gun in hand and partner by my side but the fish were gone. We kicked around for a few and made our way back to the Crab debris and out of the blue came a wall of Mahi! Of course their curiosity led them right to us and unfortunately (for them) we shrunk their school by a few fish very quickly. We got what we wanted, I got some great pictures and video, and we piled in the boat and headed West.
Forty miles later, we hit our first mark. The bottom machine didn’t look too impressive but we figured we would drown a couple pinfish and some cut bait and see what happens. As most bottom fishing goes, if you hit the bottom and aren’t slammed, you missed your mark. Well, this wasn’t the case. We nailed some nice Red Grouper and of course some monster Gags which were released. But as the reader showed, the bite was short lived so we moved on. Mark two led to the same results, a few nice fish but short lived. After we killed the morning moving around and slowly filling the box, we decided to make a little run to a different area named Fire A.R.S.. With a name like that you can only imagine what went on for the next few hours. We pulled onto the spot and the reader blew up! We hammered the American Red Snapper (A.R.S.) and Red Grouper.

As the box filled and the day progressed, we had enough with the rod and reel. We wanted to suit up and see what we could find with tanks on our backs. None of us were comfortable diving in 180 feet of water, even though we wanted to. We headed East for a wreck instead. We were told this wreak was in 100 feet of water so we fired her up and ran, optimistic about the life that was going to be on the wreck. As we closed in on the wreck, the reader told us we were still over a 160 feet (and of course the show on the machine was out of this world!). We decided to forfeit the diving and just fish. On the first drift, all the rods were bent and the lucky ones that got their fish to the boat landed more nice A.R.S. and Grouper. So we made the drift again. Each time we drifted over the wreck, I could see a lot of color coming up into the chum. I decided I was going to free dive to see what was actually down there. Knowing what is on most wrecks and that we had chum in the water, I got my partner and told the boat to stay close.

We dropped*in and I made my decent. I kept an eye on my watch and crept towards the wreck. I hit my maximum depth number, hung out for a few seconds, and saw nothing. But as soon as I turned for the surface, the fish started to come up. So I surfaced, got a big breath of air, and headed back… This time diving just a little deeper. I broke the 50 foot mark and all of a sudden an image appeared below me that I had only seen in “Pirates of the*Caribbean” and on Discovery Channel! It was a tornado of fish over this wreck! Everything you could imagine… There were Permit, monster Amberjack, American Reds, Grouper, Jewfish,* Mangos that were as big as I had ever seen, and of course a pile of Sharks and Cudas. Unfortunately, all the action was out of my*free*diving reach and as soon as I headed up, the fish followed.* This action was happening out of my partners reach too so I called for a third diver. This time one that would be able to dive to the action. We decided that one guy would attract the action and the other would make his accent as the school started up. We did this and I dove down, brought the fish up and my partner dove. I watched the action from above as the school of giant Mangrove Snapper*surrounded*him in which he shot at quickly! His aim was on and when he surfaced, his first words were “This is the biggest Mango of my life!!!”. He pulled a monster Snapper out to the water hollered like it was Christmas!
The giant Bull Sharks stayed below and the Mangos kept*coming. We did this same routine a few more times with the same result every time. By now we had run out of chum and the fish were*starting to get to spooked so we called it a day,*climbed*back in the boat, and headed East. The stories flew and the “adult beverages” went down quickly as everyone commented on what an*unbelievable*day we had just had.

To all those that frown upon the Gulf Coast fishing production, maybe you should venture across the state and spend a day fishing our flat bottom and green water. Actually, maybe they should keep thinking this side is no good! It could lead to some more great stories…
Check back next Wednesday for another adventure, could be fishing, diving, or something about a new painting….who knows!

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