Pompano Beach - 4/23/16 - Big Amberjack on Fire non-stop action all morning

Being a full moon, I expected strong currents and relatively slow fishing as the nearly cloudless night allowed the game fish to feed all night. I launched at 6:15am off 12th st. and headed out to look for bait. To my surprise, the bait were right on tap....by 7am my live well was plugged with runners and I began fishing. First bait out was eaten by a solid fish that took one long run before biting off the 40lb wire leader.

After that, I decided to head out to the deeper wrecks to see if the Amberjack were still there that I had tangled with the previous week. Typically I will meter schools of big blue runners around the wrecks and an occasionally some larger game. To my surprise there were large schools of bigger fish down there !


The current was 1.2-1.8kts in 250ft, so only got about 2 drops of the jig per pass on the wrecks, but it was some form of action nearly every drop.



In the above photo you can see the fish chasing the jig down as it sinks.

At one point, I casted out and within 20 seconds of my jig hitting the water, I was bent over on a fish. The fish was peeling line off the reel towards the wreck, so I put some heavy pressure on him and he pulled off. I began reeling in, and another fish smashed the jig, and again pulled off under heavy pressure. When I reeled up the jig, it was bent up with a straightened out hook. Re-tied a new jig with modified stronger hooks and was hooked up minutes later, then my flat-line live bait started screeching on the clicker -- two fish on ! I drifted about two miles before landing both fish. The bait fish was on 25lb line and took awhile. The Amberjack were nearly identical monsters measuring around 48" each.

After photographing and releasing the second fish, I put out another live bait and began a long peddle against the current back. In about 300ft of water straight off Hillsboro inlet, the bait rod bent over screeching.....I expected a sailfish, but was pleasantly surprised to see a nice sized Mahi jumping on the other end of the line.


After that, I metered schools of AJ's on every wreck I visited. There was a lot of pressure on the fish.....every spot had a couple of private and or charter boaters jigging away on the fish. The fish became wary and action slowed down.

Amberjack are a hard fighting challenging game fish that frequently win the fight by taking one's lure into the wreck and breaking the line. They are OK table fare, but the big ones tend to have worms. Combine that with the higher levels of mercury that larger game fish tend to have and it becomes more satisfying to release them so that they can recoup and fight again another day. Some of the fish I landed had scars from previous tangles with other anglers. One was even missing a portion of his gill plate. I learned that the best way to release Amberjacks is face down with a firm push. They need to get those first few strokes of their tail downwards to take the edge off the pressure on their swim bladders and accelerate the process of equalization. If released horizontally, they are sometimes too exhausted to turn and swim down, and instead flounder on the surface(shark bait). The firm push downwards helps accelerate their swim on their way to recovery.

By 1230, I had released 7 jumbo Amberjack,a bonita and had a nice Mahi in my bag to bring to LMR bait and tackle for their weekly weigh in contest. Being a hardcore kayak fisherman, I had to stay out longer. The bite in the afternoon was slow -- one small blackfin, and the current was a little stronger. Finally around 4pm, I drifted over one last big school of AJ's.


I dropped a jig down, and the moment, I began to wind in, my rod was bent over hooked up with the final fish for the day before heading for the beach.

Replies

  • FLATS BROKEFLATS BROKE Posts: 2,060 Captain
    That is a pretty amazing feat from a kayak! We have an amazing fishery off Pompano Beach. So lucky to live here.
  • sammy2189sammy2189 Posts: 998 Officer
    Tight work john
    Hobie outback
  • timmcollinstimmcollins Posts: 849 Officer
    Great work John!
    1 big Reef Donkey and I'm DONE!!! 7 NO WAY!
    "Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, martini in one hand, Cheeseburger in the other, body well used and worn out and screaming WOO-HOO What a Ride!"
  • John McKroidJohn McKroid Posts: 1,807 Captain
    sammy2189 wrote: »
    Tight work john

    Thanks Sammy.
    That is a pretty amazing feat from a kayak! We have an amazing fishery off Pompano Beach. So lucky to live here.

    It was an amazing day. Being a transplant from other parts of the country, there are some things to adjust to in South Florida, but when it comes to fishing, can't agree with you more ! We are blessed with an amazing fishery.
  • John McKroidJohn McKroid Posts: 1,807 Captain
    Great work John!
    1 big Reef Donkey and I'm DONE!!! 7 NO WAY!

    LOL, If you fight them by twisting your shoulders and back instead using your biceps, it is not a hard feat. My mistake was not to bring a rodbelt, my adominal area took a beating. I love AJ's because they remind me of California Yellowtail, a target from my youth...similar fighting fish that often wins by rocking or wrapping ones line in the kelp beds off Southern California.
  • palmbeachpetepalmbeachpete Posts: 2,620 Captain
    Nice catch John.:Rockon
  • Dude-On-A-KayakDude-On-A-Kayak Posts: 256 Deckhand
    Sick! Really nice dolphin and an exhausting number of large AJs. Are you able to see the jig on every drop or do you have to position the jig and the boat to make it happen?
  • ProduktProdukt Posts: 592 Officer
    How heavy was the dolphin?
  • John McKroidJohn McKroid Posts: 1,807 Captain
    Sick! Really nice dolphin and an exhausting number of large AJs. Are you able to see the jig on every drop or do you have to position the jig and the boat to make it happen?

    Thanks Dude, Rarely see the line and jig on the FF , but it sure is cool when you do. Positioning of kayak and jig is very critical...it can make or break a day of fishing. The jig is most effective when it is retrieved vertically.
  • John McKroidJohn McKroid Posts: 1,807 Captain
    Produkt wrote: »
    How heavy was the dolphin?

    18.5lbs beat out by a boat fish :(

    https://www.facebook.com/LMRTACKLE/?fref=ts
  • kitesfrkitesfr Posts: 356 Officer
    Incredible! :thumbsup
    Fair winds and following seas!
  • krhyde1066krhyde1066 Posts: 78 Greenhorn
    Hey John,
    Which model Dragonfly do you have? Is it the 5" or 7"?
  • inshore daveinshore dave Posts: 554 Officer
    Great report and pics John. This newb will be fishing offshore here very soon. If you get a chance, I posted a question on the General part of the No Motor Zone forum and would really appreciate your input. Thanks John. Hope to meet you one day offshore!!
    2014 Hobie PA14-Dune
  • John McKroidJohn McKroid Posts: 1,807 Captain
    krhyde1066 wrote: »
    Hey John,
    Which model Dragonfly do you have? Is it the 5" or 7"?

    Its a 7 -- great machine when it works, does have issues from time to time.
  • jcanracerjcanracer Posts: 4,333 Moderator
    Solid day of fishing there buddy. Thanks for the excellent report.
    Hobie Kayak angler for life!
  • palmbeachpetepalmbeachpete Posts: 2,620 Captain
    John, it was good to see you out on the water yesterday. Out bite was slow, a few mahi and a king. How did you do?
  • John McKroidJohn McKroid Posts: 1,807 Captain
    John, it was good to see you out on the water yesterday. Out bite was slow, a few mahi and a king. How did you do?

    Likewise Pete, Good to see you out fishing. Atleast you found the Mahi. It was very slow for me off Boynton, I saw a few kings skyrocketing, but caught only an undersized red grouper on my live bait. Jigged hard for Blackfin and only caught Bonitas. Fish on the skycliff had lockjaw again. Strong drift took me to West Palm, Afternoon bite off WPB produced another undersized red grouper, a king and a sailfish.
  • krhyde1066krhyde1066 Posts: 78 Greenhorn
    Hiya John. Man, that's an impressive feat from a kayak, Sir!! That many reef donkeys, and they weren't small ones either! Even on a sportfisher, after a couple of Amberjacks, I'm getting the captain to change locations because I don't want to mess with them. That's a crazy accomplishment!
    I asked you what model Dragonfly you have, and you told me the 7". You also said " when it works". What do you mean by that, what problems are you having?
    I'm looking to purchase a 7" fish finder combo.
    The three choices I am contemplating are the Humminbird Helix 7 S.I, the Lowrance HDS 7" and the Raymarine Dragonfly 7".
    I just cannot make up my mind, and it's driving me nuts. I would appreciate any info of plus's and negatives that you are having with your unit.
    Thanks Once again John, Great job.
    Yours Sincerely Karl hyde
  • kayakerinkeywestkayakerinkeywest Posts: 504 Officer
    Great job John. Absolutely, does not look like fun. LOL. I'm one of the one and done crowd.
    Youtube - KEY WEST KAYAK FISHING https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCkGY6yxE8kogYHKXisMhA2w
    All About The Bait Store - http://www.allaboutthebait.com/
  • John McKroidJohn McKroid Posts: 1,807 Captain
    krhyde1066 wrote: »
    I asked you what model Dragonfly you have, and you told me the 7". You also said " when it works". What do you mean by that, what problems are you having?
    I'm looking to purchase a 7" fish finder combo.
    The three choices I am contemplating are the Humminbird Helix 7 S.I, the Lowrance HDS 7" and the Raymarine Dragonfly 7".
    I just cannot make up my mind, and it's driving me nuts. I would appreciate any info of plus's and negatives that you are having with your unit.

    Hi Karl
    I have been using a Dragon Fly 7 for about 21 months. During this time I have traded it in 3 times. The first replacement was for a pin on the back plug in that broke off. The plug in pins on the dragonfly are thinner than other raymarine and lowrance fishfinders that I have owned, so have to be super careful with it. Nothing worse than paying to park, $40 for bait, launching the kayak off the beach and then turning on the fishfinder only to discover that it is suddenly not working. That has happened to me atleast twice. Conclusion..do not hook the fishfinder onto the kayak the night before, or it may get condensation inside of the unit, that may make it not work at all or work irratically in the morning. Always keep the unit as dry as possible prior to being put in the abusive environment of 1ft off the water on a kayak that frequently takes spray. Other issues - on/off button sticking in the on position(have had this on 2 units). Card reader corroding so that it won't read navionics or any other cards. Unit looses fishing spots that I tag -- randomly. When I went to the Bahamas, all my spots from the previous year were still there, but other spots off Pompano Bch are constantly disappearing -- very frustrating when one does not have the power of a boat to re-find ones fishing holes. I never had an issue with the zoom in/out push button knob, but enough people did that the feature has been removed off the newer units. The unit has a great picture in depths up to around 400ft, then it starts getting weaker and fizzles out around 600ft. The unit gets confused in shallow water(1ft), and on sudden changes in depth. That was a problem in the bahamas, everytime I drifted off the ledge from 140 to 300ft, the fishfinder would stop reading accurately. It does not meter well around underwater cliffs. On the plus side, it is easy to use, and presents very useable information for kayak fishing -- some of the other Raymarine units that are twice as expensive have less valuable data set up on the display. I am told that they can be programed to have other data, but have yet to figure that out. Whichever brand you buy, it is worth buying a warranty. May cost and extra $100, but save you 6 or more weeks of waiting and shipping costs incurred when returning a unit for repairs. If you fish offshore on a kayak, it is only a matter of when, that the fishfinder is going to need some sort of repairs -- Regardless of the brand. Good luck on your choice
  • krhyde1066krhyde1066 Posts: 78 Greenhorn
    Thanks so much John for taking the time to reply. I've heard so many good things about the Dragonfly, but of course no reviews from companies ever tell you about the bad things,lol Maybe Raymarine will improve these problems as more units are returned. Sounds like the warranty is a must. Thanks once again, Sincerely Karl Hyde
  • Dude-On-A-KayakDude-On-A-Kayak Posts: 256 Deckhand
    krhyde1066 wrote: »
    Thanks so much John for taking the time to reply. I've heard so many good things about the Dragonfly, but of course no reviews from companies ever tell you about the bad things,lol Maybe Raymarine will improve these problems as more units are returned. Sounds like the warranty is a must. Thanks once again, Sincerely Karl Hyde

    I just bought the Raymarine A78 touchscreen this past October. It's not cheap, but my humminbird 365DI was acting up and I value what little time I get on the water and I went for it. The touch screen handles damp fingers better than you would expect, or at least much better than my Galaxy S6. I made a DYI splash protector that Velcros to the back of the unit and creates a wrap around shield, in an attempt to extend its lifespan. Had I done this for the Humminbird I would probably still be using the Humminbird. It seems to block 80% of the usual spray from the sides and from above.

    So, far the A78 is working really well. The resolution of the imaging is impressive. The only issue I have had was a failed transducer (CPT-100). I bought a new one on Ebay for $50 and it is working good again. Time to see if the West Marine warranty will do something about the original transducer.

    One think I do have to mention is that the Raymarine technical forum is a JOKE. There is maybe two moderators who seem to not care or not know enough to help. It takes 24 hours for them to approve your post. Then another 48 hours to submit some lame reply. I think the one I got was "I have that one on my boat and haven't had that issue". Thanks for the anecdotal, non-technical and ultimately unhelpful response Raymarine technical forum moderator!
  • John McKroidJohn McKroid Posts: 1,807 Captain
    I made a DYI splash protector that Velcros to the back of the unit and creates a wrap around shield, in an attempt to extend its lifespan. Had I done this for the Humminbird I would probably still be using the Humminbird. It seems to block 80% of the usual spray from the sides and from above.

    So, far the A78 is working really well. The resolution of the imaging is impressive. The only issue I have had was a failed transducer (CPT-100). I bought a new one on Ebay for $50 and it is working good again. Time to see if the West Marine warranty will do something about the original transducer.

    Dude, Not a bad idea to make a splash cover. I have flipped my kayak with the unit taking a bath...and it miraculously kept working as advertised(huge peace of mind to know that I was drifting in towards the beach in my disabled kayak). Weeks later the card reader corroded up and stopped working. Now I electric tape seal the card reader door -- since none of them are as waterproof as they claim to be. For big surf crossings it is good to have a dry bag to keep the fishfinder in during the transits.

    In regards to the West Marine warranty -- It was explained to me that once you have brought something in for repair, and they replace it with a new one, your warranty is spent. If you want to be on warranty after that, you need to buy a new warranty.
    Since you got the transducer on ebay for less than your warranty value, I would wait until something else breaks to exercise your warranty. When that happens, bring the the whole unit with your already broken transducer, and they will same day give you a brand new box off the shelf, or atleast that is what they have done for me -- Twice.
  • Dude-On-A-KayakDude-On-A-Kayak Posts: 256 Deckhand
    Dude, Not a bad idea to make a splash cover. I have flipped my kayak with the unit taking a bath...and it miraculously kept working as advertised(huge peace of mind to know that I was drifting in towards the beach in my disabled kayak). Weeks later the card reader corroded up and stopped working. Now I electric tape seal the card reader door -- since none of them are as waterproof as they claim to be. For big surf crossings it is good to have a dry bag to keep the fishfinder in during the transits.

    In regards to the West Marine warranty -- It was explained to me that once you have brought something in for repair, and they replace it with a new one, your warranty is spent. If you want to be on warranty after that, you need to buy a new warranty.
    Since you got the transducer on ebay for less than your warranty value, I would wait until something else breaks to exercise your warranty. When that happens, bring the the whole unit with your already broken transducer, and they will same day give you a brand new box off the shelf, or atleast that is what they have done for me -- Twice.

    Cool good to know about West Marine. I remember you mentioning the microSD slot being an issue, so I put some 3M Super 33+ electrical tape over it (better than the cheap electrical tape that melts in the sun). I'll try to remember to post a picture of my spray shield.

    Are you rocking the newer PA 14 with the skeg these days? If so, is tracking noticeably better offshore? I installed the H-rail on my 2013. The only thing I don't have is the skeg...and that bothers me!
  • John McKroidJohn McKroid Posts: 1,807 Captain
    I'll try to remember to post a picture of my spray shield.

    Are you rocking the newer PA 14 with the skeg these days? If so, is tracking noticeably better offshore? I installed the H-rail on my 2013. The only thing I don't have is the skeg...and that bothers me!

    Dude, I would like to see the shield if you can post a picture.

    Dude, The Skeg does improve tracking in most conditions, but I have also noted that it has slowed my speed down in a following sea by up to .5knts ! It also makes it hard to make sharp turns. I find that I don't use it that much, as I have the sail ruddar that helps with tracking. Maybe it's my imagination, maybe it is because their is less abrasion on the hull, but it does seem like this hull design does go faster through the water than the earlier model. The things I like best about the newer PA is the H-rail and the fact that the rod tubes are easier to access because of less mounting plate fwd. The H-rail does allow alot more options for mounting, however the plate connectors are a little on the weakside for my heavier rigs. I am going to fabricate some reinforcement, as I fear the mount will break off if my drag is set strong.
  • HialeahAnglerHialeahAngler Posts: 9,612 Admiral
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