Finally good weather and good fishing

The 44 hr. started out with the promise of great weather, which was a welcome change as the previous two 39 hrs. were during the week the sun rarely shined. Trolling started out a bit slow but picked up as we hit blue water. Several nice Kings and Bonita came over the rail but a number were lost due mostly to improper tackle. Reminder you need a 2/speed reel to effectively troll from a party boat that you can’t expect to stop on the way out.

As we left the dock at 10:00 AM we started fishing about 2 hours before sun down and the bite was instant. I put down a medium size Pin fish and Bang! On my first bait I got a Gag around 26”. I looked around and there were multiple hook ups. About half those landed were just short but we had a dozen or so keepers on the first stop. I personally caught 2 shorts both 23” and had a nice one on that came un-buttoned. Side note one off the toughest thing about the new size limit of 24” on Gags is trying to explain to someone why they have to throw back the biggest fish they’ve ever caught. FYI I have no issue with the new size limit as it seems about right to me. We also caught a few Mangrove Snapper as well. We tried another spot close by for the sun downer but it was slow compared to the fast action of the first spot, though there were a few keeper Gags landed.

Time to target some full moon Goozers. Throughout the night the Mango bite was steady but never what I would call on fire. There were fish coming up all over the boat so nothing to complain about. I think the main reason we couldn’t generate one of those flaming bites was the conditions. There was no wind and a fairly strong current which meant all lines running to the back of the boat. This not only leads to tangles but the chum line tends to group in one spot. Those fortunate enough to be in the sweet spot did experience a heater bite. One experienced angler who happen to be in that spot limited out before sun rise. I was fishing on the bow and had over a dozen by sun rise. Since everyone can’t fish the same spot on the boat the best solution to this is use heavier weight so you can hold in one spot and avoid tangles. Fishing like this calls for a bit of patience because with more lead used means you give up some sensitivity but as the fish swim around the reef you will get some hits. Often the reward is larger fish when you catch one as the smaller fish seem to stay in tighter schools while the larger are often lone marauders.

I expected there to be more night Gag action than there was but I did land a keeper Red Grouper and saw a few others come up. On one spot I was fishing a large Threadfin when Bang big hit. I just knew I had a decent Gag on as it was digging and taking drag. Turned out to be a monster Porgy over 12 lbs. The highlight of the night for me was one of our lady anglers catching double figure Goozers. This was her second trip and she came determined to do better. On her first trip she was by her own admission reluctant to except help. This time she sought me out and we worked together. Not only did her skill level greatly improve but most importantly her confidence level was high. I should also mention her husband is an active duty Marine. I want to thank him for his service and encouraging his wife to fish in his absence as she is a joy to have on the boat.

The day bite was a bit slow and very hot but we managed to pick a few on every spot. I managed to land a nice Red Grouper around 15 lbs. and several decent Mangos. Several hard fights with large AJ’s left fishermen excited but worn out. There was also a scattering of Gags including the Jack Pot caught by great young man that earlier in the trip had asked me to show him some knots. He mastered the nail knot and I don’t know who was more excited his knots held him or me. As the day waned the bite picked up and I had an exciting but frustrating experience. We were on our last spot and I was fishing with Threadfins as there were some decent Mangos coming up when Bang! Big fish I thought it was a Red Grouper and knew if it was it was a big one. I had it coming my way and my heart was beating as if it didn’t come un-buttoned this was going to be a chest pounder. All of a sudden the fish started pulling away and I thought a Goliath likely had it. Turned out it was a large Sandbar Shark that kept hitting and letting go my monster Red. I reeled up nothing but the head and the 8’ plus shark even tried to take that on the surface. I figure the fish would have been in the 25 lb range. The guy next to me exclaimed “That was awesome” I was diplomatic and said only “You might not feel that way if it had been yours” What would you have said =)

All in all a great trip and I’m already pumped for the weekend!

See you out there!

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