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Three strikes and you're out!

The trip started out with a bit of confusion on whether or not we could keep Red Snapper but as we would not be returning until Sunday morning it was clear that we couldn’t. I enjoyed the excitement of ARS season and especially the fishing marathon but I must confess I am glad it is over. The main reason being the search for them. I prefer going after the best fishing period but that is just me. As long as I’m on a rant let me also say I don’t understand the closing of seasons or at least the logic of how it is done. If the reason for closure is protection of the fishery I get it but shouldn’t it be closed for everyone at the same time when the fish are spawning. Personally under the current system I’d advocate allowing one fish per person with a one day only bag limit during whatever time the best science says is appropriate. Rant done I feel better now.

The trolling on the way out was decent but the catch was limited due to the small number of people trying it. Those that did saw Kings and Bonita coming in at a steady pace. Trolling between spots was OK with a few big Kings and several big strikes that got away. Tip: if you are trolling with braid make sure you have enough mono or fluorocarbon attached for shock absorbing purposes. My friend “Jig Head Ed” recommends about 30’

We started later than usual as Capt. Garret said we were going to an area where he thought the Mango's were bigger. From the start and throughout much of the trip the anchor heading was a problem. This was due to weak wind and strong current. As a consequence we were constantly swinging off productive spots. This makes it difficult to keep a bite going especially Mango Snapper. The result was we caught nice Goozers but couldn’t keep it going. Overall the Mango catch was decent but a bit frustrating as they seemed to want to chew. One bite that was steady and in fact grew hotter as the night went on was King Mackerel. We had a number of people that were making their first trip and their excitement at catching these aggressive fish was a joy to watch.

Day break saw a slowing of the bite so time to move. We hit several ledges with mixed results. As stated anchoring was an issue. Several nice Gags and Red Grouper as well as Mango's were landed. For me it was slow so I decided to soak a large Pin Fish. Just as I was about to reel in and try something else Bang! Something big on. After several tense moments including tangles and a trip under the anchor rope I landed the biggest AJ I’ve seen this year. I figure it was in the 80-90 LB range (what is your guess) but wanted to get it back in the water ASAP. I am happy to report it was released successfully. I hope to see him again real soon.

As the bite was slow the Captain moved us to a wreck he hoped would be productive. From the beginning monster Vermilion Snapper were coming in. There was also a steady bite of Mango's as well as a few Gags. I soaked a live bait but saw no interest. Switching to Threadfin I started getting some nice Goozers. Right in the middle of the bite Bang! Big Gag on. Try as I might I couldn’t turn him and my 60 lb. line eventually popped. I lost one the same way during the night bite. As afternoon approached time to head to some potholes and see if we could get some big Gags and “Fire Truck” Red Grouper going.

The first “Pot Hole” saw immediate action. Multiple hook ups around the boat. Most were big Gags but there were some nice Red Grouper and large Red Snapper as well. Using my big rod with 100 lb. line I put down a large Pin Fish and immediately got slammed by what I think was a huge Gag. I’ve caught Gags up to 54 Lbs. and this one felt he was at least over 30. I gave it my best but eventually lost it. There were over a dozen Gags caught on this spot and most were close to 20 Lbs. We hit several more holes and continued to pick Gag and Red Grouper. Try as I may I couldn’t get another hook up. I guess three strikes and you’re out. I was a bit down but can’t be for long as the full moon 44 hr is just around the corner.

See you out there!
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