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Hammer Does the Hanky Panky on the YANKEE


Well, Hell must've froze over because I did it. I actually went fishing on a head boat. Something I'd swore I'd never do. Somehow, some way, I got convinced to go on the Yankee Capt. down in Key West. Like many people, I've been following his catches to the famed "Pulley Ridge", a deep water reef some 40 miles past the Dry Tortuga's. Greg, the captain and I have been talking for some time now and my fishing club, Tropical Anglers even had the boat privately chartered but due to weather, we had to cancel.

Accompanying me on this major step into unknown territory for me was none other than John, the retired mail man. He'd been on head boats before but never the Yankee Capt.

The weather forecast was for calm seas and a slight chance of showers so all was a go. I picked John up from his house and we loaded a small arsenal of tackle into the back of my truck. We decided to get an early start just in case traffic got bad. To our surprise traffic was light and we showed up to the dock at 5:30 where we found Greg sitting at a picnic table doing the business side of the trip. He issued us our fish tags and we loaded our gear onto the boat. This is where I learned my lesson that the early bird gets the worm. The first guys to load the boat get their choice of where to put their coolers and tackle boxes. Being my first time, I went below deck to put my sleeping bag on my assigned bunk. All I can tell you is that I'm not exactly cut out for dark places and below deck was just that. Greg hadn't yet turned on the a/c so it was hot down there as well.

After loading all our gear, we walked over to the Hogfish Bar & Grill. Another Yankee patron was waiting to be seated so we invited him to eat with us as well.

I immediately noticed a guy with a "Sea Shephard" shirt on sitting at the bar. I thought of going up to the bar right next to him and ordering a fried whale sandwich or if he knew anyplace I could get a bat to club baby sea lions, just to get his reaction. Why do I like to push people's buttons? :)

When the waitress arrived, John immediately said "Separate checks please." What is it with old guys that makes them do this? Is it that they feel that they'll have to pay part of someone else's meal… maybe an extra .32? As always, John flirted with our waitress that was barely 1/3 his age…. EARTH TO JOHN, YOU DON'T HAVE A PRAYER WITH HER, (or any other woman that has all her teeth). I suggested that John start his own website www.oldgeezerlookingforlove.com. Oh, I almost forgot. John asked me not to mention his impotence problem so I won't… don't even ask me because I won't tell you. Even water boarding couldn't make me tell you that his noodle is all but useless because he told me that in confidence so it will go to my grave.

I had two margarita's which usually puts me out like a light. I figured that since the boat leaves the dock at 8 pm, I could get settled in and then go to sleep for the long ride to the west. After dinner we went to the boat, it was packed with sweaty, blood thirsty fishermen just like us. Right on schedule we tossed the lines and away we went. I went up to the wheel house to sit with Greg. My preconceived notion about Greg was that he was "just a head boat captain". Well, once again, when you assume, you make a fool of yourself. Greg has a computer science degree and even worked as a mate on the famed "Madam and The Hooker", a mother ship operation that has travelled the world in search of giant marlin and world records. Just to be invited on that boat was an honor and most mates would give their left one to get a job on it because what better way to gain unprecedented experience at wiring 1000 lb marlin?

Greg not only put his fishing experience on the boat but his computer skills as well. He's got a very sophisticated set of electronics that has all the bathymetric charts downloaded into them as well as some 30 years of GPS numbers. To guard all of this, he has a pit bull with aids and a nasty disposition. While this dog looks like a mild mannered labrador, I know a killer when I see one and this dogs name should have been "SATAN" but instead he named her "Brizo".

After over two hours of running… we were just south of the Marqueses. The pain of traveling 8.9 kts was so unbearable that I decided to go to the dungeon and retire for the night. The tequila had kicked in and in no time, I was sleeping.

At around 6 am, I woke up to find about a half dozen guys standing at the transom, their eyes glued to the lines that extended out to their high speed lures. They were wahoo fishing. I'd asked if they'd caught anything and they said "No" but one of them did miss one. I grabbed a cup of coffee and once again went up the wheel house to find out how long until we arrived at our destination. His dog letting me live by wagging it's tail and licking me almost to death. Greg said that we were just about there so I went down and readied my electric reel, battery and bait. There were 20 anglers all scurrying. Nobody said a word but there was excitement in the air. Greg backed the throttles off and made a slight turn and over the loud speaker said "Let's try here first". Within seconds 40 baited hooks were headed toward the ocean floor some 500' below. It didn't take long until the low grrrrrr sound of Daiwa electric reels filled the air. Snowy grouper and some tilefish were brought aboard. Unfortunately, when dropping that many lines, tangles are the norm and I don't care who you were or where on the boat you were located, you were bound to get tangled soon or later. I put a small blue line tile fish in the boat. The mate quickly came over and stapled my no. 24 to it's cheek and threw it in the fish box. Here's where the "guide" in me started to kick in. Most people were fishing with squid. Well, in my experience, squid always seemed to catch small groupers and yellowtail… at least in the area's that I fished it so I'd brought along some "secret" bait. Some that I knew NOBODY else would have….yellowfin tuna belly. I'd also brought along some barracuda, sardines, thread fin herring and some type of mullet. I figured that I'd outsmart these deep water fish and the other fishermen all at the same time. To make a long story short…….I started putting different types of bait on the hooks along with squid, and the squid out caught every single type of bait that I brought, just as Greg said it would do. So much for me outsmarting these creatures that have a brain the size of a BB.

Whenever someone would catch a nice fish, you'd hear about it. Snapping pics isn't so easy when you're using an electric reel on an 8' rod but I managed to get a few pics.

We'd make long drifts, falling off a sloping drop off. You'd hear laughing coming from the other side of the boat every time a good fish was landed. I'd find myself secretly wishing for the guys around me to get tangled so they'd be preoccupied with the mess, allowing me to have a better chance to hook up without a tangle. The best time to drop your bait would be when the people around you were just landing their fish, that way you knew you were in the clear. Every once in a while someone would hook a shark and the mess of tangled lines would be indescribable. If you have no patience, this is not the trip for you. The mates just took it in stride. The carnage went on all day. Tote after tote was put into the big coolers. By far the majority of the fish were tile fish. A small rain storm came and took away some of our misery from the heat. There was one gentleman that had everyone on the boat in awe. His name was Scott and he was 85 years young. If I make it to that age, I hope I can hang like he did. By the day's end, one of the large fish boxes was full.

Greg said that we were going to make a move on top of the bank and once again a mirage of lures came out. A 30 lb kingfish was boated and then one of the rods really started screaming.

One of the nicest guys on the boat was all smiles when the 50 lb wahoo hit the gaff.

The captain set us up to drift for snappers and groupers in 210' of water. There was hardly any breeze whatsoever and the more experienced fishermen landed some muttons and red groupers. The muttons are noticeably smaller than they are back towards the Tortuga's. The red groupers were very orange in color whereas in the shallower waters they are more brown.

One of the guys on the bow was fighting what looked to be a nice mutton, only to be surprised by the fish being a good sized dog snapper. Another guy caught a plump red grouper.

A 16" baby sailfish swam by the boat along with countless squid and flying fish. I tried to get my camera out and get a shot of it but it disappeared under the boat before I could memorialize it. One guy that was new to fishing caught a black fin tuna. He was as happy as could be. It's cool seeing people that get that excited over catching a fish. I decided that I could use the sleep so I went back down to the gallows to get some rest. All the guys that stayed up were rewarded with some good quality fish. I'm just not that mad at those groupers to stay up all night. I guess that's what age will do to you.

Around 6am I heard the big diesels jump to attention. This caused me to get up and get dressed as we had one more day to help deplete the overpopulation of fish out there. Just like the day before, the fish were biting and we took full advantage of it. My bait hadn't hit the bottom 5 seconds before the rod tip started to bounce. Fishing this way is about as easy as it gets. I caught a double of snowy grouper and blue line tile fish. Everyone around me was doing just about the same thing. There wasn't a person on the boat that was not catching fish. I hooked a fish that was pulling some serious drag when I could feel the presence of someone else's fishing line. If you continue to reel, you will either cut that persons line or your own so I waited for the mates to detangle my line. Unfortunately, the fish got free. Right after that, another angler caught one of the largest queen snappers that I've ever seen. It weighed right at 25 lbs. It measured from the tip of my birdie finger on my right hand to the furthest point of my left shoulder. What a beast of a fish. Then, another was caught.

The guy fishing next to me's rod was bending over pretty good so I could tell he had a better quality fish on and sure enough, he landed a nice sized snowy and followed it up with a beautiful golden tile.

The mates would periodically bring back plastic vats filled with fish caught from the bow of the boat and dump them in the large cooler and then ice them down. If you're a mate on the Yankee, you're kept busy.

At 6 pm Greg called it and the final layer of ice was laid on top of the fish. Everyone readied their gear for the long trip home. All the electric reels were put up top and the deep drop rigs put away.A few guys put out their lures in hope of a last minute wahoo. Since it was late in the day, John decided to take a salt water shower and then rinse off with the 200 degree fresh water shower. Wouldn't you know it but his line got hit right as he was changing. Leave it to John to come out and fight a fish in his underwear. I couldn't make this up.

The seas were flat calm and a large group of us sat up top and talked about the trip. There were black guys, latin guys, white guys and even an asian guy on this trip and everyone got along like we were college drinking buddies. The only smack talking that occurred was when Brian, the tattoo ladened co captain walked out with a Boston Celtics shirt on, I had to rag on him. I told him that Larry Bird and Kevin McKale were gay lovers… that always seems to get those Celtic fans going. I felt it only fit that I show him no mercy because he was also a NY Jets fan and I rank them one step below the Patriots. :)

We arrived back at the dock at 5:30 am, the mates had all the fish put into totes and iced down. There were 21 totes in all. A successful trip by anyone's standard.

We'd caught 23 species that I counted:

Almaco jack
Horse eye jack
Jack Crevalle
Snowy grouper
Yellow edge grouper
Grey tilefish (blue lines)
Golden tilefish
Black fin snapper
Queen snapper
Mutton snapper
Dog snapper
Red grouper
Black fin tuna
Scamp grouper
Black belly rose fish
Long finned sea bass

Would I go back and do it again? In a New York Yankee Capt. minute!

Till Next Time,

Hammer aka "The Reef Bandit"


  • Bull RedBull Red Posts: 21 Greenhorn
    Nice write up Hammer! Thanks for the report!
  • dpdashdpdash Posts: 5,359 Admiral
    Sounds like a pretty good trip! Pretty tame report by your standards:grin
  • Reef BanditReef Bandit Posts: 1,031 Officer
    I was going to add some pretty crazy other pics but you know FS would not be happy. Sometimes I get in one of my moods and basically destroy every one around me in my own little fun way. This trip was a learning experience for a guy has spent ALOT of time down there. My trips basically consist of fishing live bait, teasing fish, shrimpers, cast netting and ME being in control of what goes on... even when I go on other peoples boats, I'm still the go to guy. This was like being on Naked and Afraid only with clothes on. I was no different than anyone else on the boat. I had no extra knowledge, in fact, I had less knowledge about this type of trip than most everyone on the boat. I had to borrow an electric reel and borrow a rod that would work for this specialized type of fishing. As anyone reading this will attest, if you've read Greg's website of what to expect on this trip, he is very precise and EVERYTHING he stated was right on. IF you don't listen to his tips, it will cost you in fish. Don't try to reinvent the wheel. I can't tell you how many times people have got onto my boat thinking they're going to show me a better mousetrap on how to catch fish. This old dog is still willing to learn more tricks. If you have even THOUGHT about doing a trip like this, I highly recommend it. Bring a couple of buddies. There's a reason that his trips booked well in advance.......THEY'RE FUN and YOU CATCH FISH and isn't that what it's all about?

  • Yankee CaptsYankee Capts Posts: 1,003 Officer
    Well maybe they will listen to you when you tell them to listen to me.

    Because right now half do not listen to me.

    Confusing and frustrating. Now you now how I feel.

    Thanks for the write up. I had a fun weekend!

  • TommTomm Posts: 359 Deckhand
    Looking forward to my trip in October....hope the weather cooperates. Keeping my fingers crossed!
    2016 Sea Hunt 225 Ultra / 250HP Yamaha

    2014 Sea Hunt BX 22 BR / 250HP Yamaha **Retired**
  • HJaredHJared Posts: 226 Deckhand
    Thanks for the report
  • Keeping It ReelKeeping It Reel Posts: 12 Greenhorn
    Wow nice trip! been there on that boat couple times , never seen that many varieties of fish being caught. Though last couple trips my arms did cramp up reeling in fish for three days! Muttons , groups, 23"+yellowtail at midnight in a storm, u prob know the deal. May have to go out again after ur post.
  • SnaphappySnaphappy Posts: 1,427 Officer
    Man that was a fun read!!
  • bottom feederbottom feeder Posts: 1,554 Captain
    That was a great report. Thanks Hammer.

    Leaving Florida... take a developer with you!

  • XafXaf Posts: 1,125 Officer
    Great read Hammer. Thanks for mentioning following Greg's advice. So many guys don't and at times can actually ruin the fishing for those around them.
  • Yankee CaptsYankee Capts Posts: 1,003 Officer
    The Yankee Capts and the Reel Seat have teamed up for 3 day trip to Pulley and Rankin Ridge.

    Trip leaves on October 4th around noon and come back on October 7th. As of today we only have 10 people booked. So it looks like it is going to be a ultra limited trip. Cash discounted price of the trip is $600. Credit card prices are slightly higher.

    Please contact Dave at the Reel Seat at 732 223 5353 or [email protected].
  • bigsnapperbigsnapper Posts: 2 Greenhorn
    great report and even nicer read.
  • piner_wahoopiner_wahoo Posts: 3,702 Captain
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  • LitiGATORLitiGATOR Posts: 819 Officer
    Great report Hammer
  • HooganHoogan Posts: 547 Officer
    Well maybe they will listen to you when you tell them to listen to me.

    Because right now half do not listen to me.

    Confusing and frustrating. Now you now how I feel.

    Thanks for the write up. I had a fun weekend!


    I was on the Red, Blue & White bus and the character next to me was annoyed by my rising collection of Muttons... Finally I saw the opportunity to help the fellow out and not being percieved as giving unsolicited advise, he was fishing for Muttons with one of those store sold 130 lb. test "grouper rigs" with the beads and the big egg sinker that moves up and down the rig for about half a foot and is stopped by yet more beads and crimps. I rigged him up with an 8 foot 50 lb. mono leader and a single hook with the sliding sinker above the swivel, I went upstairs to get a drink when I came back down he had his " grouper rig" back on, needless to say he never caught a mutton. :-(
  • lucluc Posts: 245 Officer
    Hammer, ever thought about writing a book of fishing trips!?

    Hilarious fun read.
  • Reef TankReef Tank Posts: 128 Deckhand
    I was going to add some pretty crazy other pics but you know FS would not be happy.

    Who are you and what have you done with Hammer?!?!
  • Glass MinnowGlass Minnow Posts: 54 Greenhorn
    Love it. Entertaining report!
  • Reef BanditReef Bandit Posts: 1,031 Officer
    Reef Tank wrote: »
    Who are you and what have you done with Hammer?!?!

    Oh don't you worry. My next story is going to be a little bit different. I'm going to Africa and there will be NO RULES when it comes to the story. We're going hunting, fishing and diving. I'm not sure if Zimbabwe can handle me but we'll find out. I'm going to ask the natives if Obama was any good at tracking game.
  • Reef BanditReef Bandit Posts: 1,031 Officer
    luc wrote: »
    Hammer, ever thought about writing a book of fishing trips!?

    luc wrote: »
    Hammer, ever thought about writing a book of fishing trips!? Oh yea, it's coming but I've got lots of chapters to go. There are fish I've yet to catch and they MUST be included..... besides, the statue of limitations isn't up for some of the things I've done lol


    Hilarious fun read.
  • HooganHoogan Posts: 547 Officer
    "Hammer, ever thought about writing a book of fishing trips!? Oh yea, it's coming but I've got lots of chapters to go. There are fish I've yet to catch and they MUST be included..... besides, the statue of limitations isn't up for some of the things I've done lol"

    I will get on the line to get my hands on a copy of that book, seriously that book would be a high seller, can't wait.
  • Reef BanditReef Bandit Posts: 1,031 Officer
    3 guesses what the subject of CHAPTER 13 will be?
  • The Cat's EyeThe Cat's Eye Posts: 1,627 Captain
    3 guesses what the subject of CHAPTER 13 will be?

    Ok I'm game. My three guesses for the title or subject of Chapter 13 would be:

    Prolific Poacher
    Casita Cash
    Lobster Mobster
  • Reef BanditReef Bandit Posts: 1,031 Officer
    You silly kitty Cat.... Chapter 13 will be entitled "Hammer in Da Slammer".

    "Prolific Poacher"- doesn't work as the word "prolific" means to multiply and I only have two kids. The book WILL consist of other types of poaching activities that have occurred throughout my life, ie Bahamas, Turkey Pt., Flamingo, Tortuga's... something for everyone to get angry about.

    "Casita Cash"- doesn't work as I wasn't the one making the money. In hind sight, growing illegal marijuana would have been much more lucrative with less jail time but I don't do drugs... only fish and lobsters.

    "Lobster Mobster" doesn't work as the fish house that was buying the lobster was named "Lobster Mobster" and they're already in the book.... in chapter 12

    You see, it's harder coming up with titles than you think but keep trying.
  • The Cat's EyeThe Cat's Eye Posts: 1,627 Captain
    I deleted my own post.
  • Reef BanditReef Bandit Posts: 1,031 Officer
    Oh come on, you KNOW I thrive on controversy... come out and play kitty kitty.
  • The Cat's EyeThe Cat's Eye Posts: 1,627 Captain
    Oh come on, you KNOW I thrive on controversy... come out and play kitty kitty.

    My second post was in very poor taste, and i do not want to go down that path. Despite its originality it could have put me into trouble with the moderators.

    I think this latest report of yours could very well mean you will probably NOT require a ghost writer if you ever decide to write a book.

    All of friends and relatives keep telling me to write a book about my adventures, but no one would believe it. However some of my adventures have been published, but i had to sugar coat my story to get it into print.

    I have compiled a list of my 22 near death experiences that most people would have a hard time believing. I also experienced the out of body "thing" and this is the main reason i use Cat in my user name. My theory is that every time you save a person's life by placing yours in complete peril you gain 9 more lives. I have saved several people's lives, but only two put me in severe jeopardy, so I'm now over my limit, since i wasn't born with 9 lives like a Cat.

    Don't forget your Malaria med's when you head over to Africa. Three of my immediate family members have been over there, in fact one of my three step daughters once worked with Doctor's without Borders from West Africa to S. Africa as a physician. The two other family members went over for safari type vacations, and my oldest step daughter (An attorney) did a great white shark dive (in a cage) offshore of Cape Town.

    BTW we once met 14 years ago, and the experience was a positive one.
  • Reef BanditReef Bandit Posts: 1,031 Officer
    Cat, I apologize for my post being deleted but evidently I wrote something that offended someone. Let me rephrase it in a politically vanilla way. I have no problem with people ragging on me, it's kind of fun and I'm a big boy, I can take it. Throughout my life, I have saved two peoples lives but I have never risked my life to do so so I commend you for doing so. The book that I'm writing will not be ghost written and it will be a "tell all". Some things are hysterical, some are downright scary and some are beyond stupid..I don't plan on making a dime off of the book. It'll will be my little contribution to the people of S Fla to get a few chuckles before going to bed.

    As far as going to Africa, I am planning on going to my Dr. shortly and get the pills. I too will be swimming with the white sharks... I'm trying to figure out a way to get a tooth without losing a hand. BTW, how did we meet 14 years ago?

  • Reef BanditReef Bandit Posts: 1,031 Officer
    "Shaking the bushes boss, shaking the bushes"
  • The Cat's EyeThe Cat's Eye Posts: 1,627 Captain
    I spent about $250, at Hammer Lock Industries Inc. in 2001 or 2002, and you were surprised that i identified the correct species of a photograph of a large Marlin on your office wall. It was a black marlin i believe.
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