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A Reel Screamer On The Yankee Capts. Mar 16 Trip

cameron sleepcameron sleep Senior MemberPosts: 528 Officer
Watching the weather forecast like a hawk doesn't change a thing. Wind is wind and waves are caused by wind. Period. But a smart captain can make the best of it and come away with a winning trip and happy customers. On a three day Tortugas trip, if the bite is slow in shallow water, you need a long enough break in the weather to allow the captain to dart out deeper and then fish hard. And that's what happened, end of story.
Hoping for the best, with an empty freezer at the camper and three hungry grand sons back in Nova Scotia, I had motivation to catch fish. Hunger led me to the Hogfish Restaurant where I was greeted and seated by two shivering, pretty girls. It was quite cool out, cold by local standards, they liked my Yankee Capts shirt, I sent them to Greg, he made sure they had a warm hoodie to wear. That explains that picture.
I actually slept five hours on the run out, probably one of the first times ever! Once again, I was fishing the bow with my Jolly Roger buddies and Alfonso, a familiar face from other trips and now, new best friend for a couple days.
First stop, sunrise, waves, about 100 feet of water, Alfonso caught a keeper and I nailed a mid sized mutton. Off to a good start! On a three day trip, you might see twenty five different spots. Do the math.... So the bite died and while waiting for the move I threw a king mackerel rig out, with a ballyhoo that was improperly hooked. Second cast, it still didn't look right, like it would look if it were swimming, so I re-hooked it and tossed my third cast off the port side this time.
It sank slowly about thirty feet, then suddenly my 40 pound braid was SCREAMING off my cheapo, $50 Penn reel and economically priced, ugly stick rod. The drag was set light and I had thirty feet of mono, to lessen the sudden impact of a good bite, but as this speedster ran, I increased the drag trying to slow him down.
The fish would not stop! I know kings run hard, but this was getting ridiculous. I was only a few wraps from my backer and getting concerned. Then he stopped and I reeled. Time for action. I headed for the stern and open water to fight this opponent, around gaffs, over and under the lines from the other guys fishing the port side, mate leading the way, moving gear, bodies and successfully clearing the back corner for me. Ok, my new home...for about ten seconds, this beeotch wanted to swim on the starboard side. So off we went. The stern guys were very cooperative as I tripped and stumbled through them, but I wound up trapped and passed the rod to the mate, across the big fish box, in an attempt to try to portage around the very big man fishing at the corner. Thank goodness for the mate. It would have been a scary picture, maybe X rated, to see me, rod held high, squeezing around him, back against the fish box, apologizing and trying not to be improper.
OK, open water. Recover more line, jacket now unnecessary, Captain going to move, engine starts. CRRRRRAAAPPPP, too much pressure! I will never forget the sight of this fish as it turned about twenty feet out. I had a monster on and everything took on a new level of urgency. A double take confirmed it was a king, not a wahoo, but it was now pointed toward trouble, and Mr Big and seven other anglers were between me and the open water, where he wanted to go. Geeze I hauled hard! He went down and under the corner of the boat and idling engines and came up along side in a puff of diesel smoke and I yelled for the gaff. Still not at the surface, too soon. A lot of pulling and couple small turns later, a missed first stab with the gaff, a brief, near cardiac event and pants wetting and BOOM!, the hook was in and this beast was on the deck. It wasn't the prettiest stab, but effective and the right result was achieved. This may be an every day event for some, but my biggest king to date was about 20 pounds and I've never even seen a 50 pounder, so at 63 years old, I think I did a good job.
Two more big kings came in at that spot, one won the pool at 35.2 pounds. Mine was much bigger, but I made the decision not to enter the pool this time. Been there, done that and besides, we all know who's was bigger....
The fish ran 400 feet, I measured my line this AM. Start to finish, the fight may have lasted three or four minutes, but every moment is now ingrained in my being and I hope that some day in the future, if I live a long life, I can sit where ever I am, eyes closed and re run this experience, over and over with a great big smile on my face.
Thanks to Capt Greg and the crew, without you this would not be happening for me and many others.
OK, so I'm going to post more about the trip, but a little later and will add it in the later comments to this post. Keep an eye out, there were lots of fun times on the trip.


  • bigh20bigh20 Senior Member Stuart, FLPosts: 251 Deckhand
    Great report! Sounds like a blast!!!
  • cameron sleepcameron sleep Senior Member Posts: 528 Officer
    A Reel Screamer 2

    Ok, so the king mackerel is the big story, now back to normal. I didn't regret not winning the pool, by not entering the pool and knowing what good bait fresh king fish can be, I hacked a couple big chunks off. You can see from the pictures that the hacking started before the pictures were taken. Amidst all of the back patting and compliments, Alfonso took note of my less than stellar hacking and poor control of a 4 inch knife and slippery fish, in 3-5 foot waves, got a bigger knife and dissected the mighty fish while I bagged and rewarded the best back patters and my friends with fresh juicy chunk of bait.
    Not much to report for the next day or so, 90-110 feet of water, spotty catch, uber yellow tail catches, a few quality muttons. Kind of normal.
    We moved up as close to the Fort as permissible and Alfonso pulled up a big keeper, as I reeled in a sand tile fish. They look like an eel and are slippery, so we call them a slippery ****. Crude, but very appropriate amidst a group of guys on a fishing boat. I was about to shake it back into the water and Alfonso said they make good bait. That disagreed with my mental file about bait, as a couple people said the opposite, (somewhere in the past) so I gave it to him. He deftly hacked it in two, dropped it to bottom and less than a minute later, hauled up a 12 pound mutton. That explains his big smile in the picture. The other half of the **** got hammered so hard, I thought he was going over board. The fish won that battle.
    Sunset city was pretty good fishing and after a couple scattered naps, I felt refreshed as the winds died. We motored a while and I let out a whoop when Greg announced 190 feet of water. Hook ups were immediate as American red snappers gobbled baits and were released, as they are out of season. I cast my 12 oz lead away and started hauling another quick eater. On the way up, a shark inhaled most of my catch and left me the head of a nice mutton. Others around me were met with the same fate.
    The way I dropped the bait left me hitting a honey hole of porgies, very decent size porgies. I landed one, then the sharks shifted gears and took over. The bigger my catch, the closer to bottom they ate it and my gear. I was on my third rod (spares) when my bait got eaten by something too big for the sharks. It fought like a big grouper and finally came far enough off bottom that I was winning. Half way to the surface, my 50 pound leader gave out, near the hook, chafed through. New rule, 60 pound leaders for me.
    Six or seven times my fresh mackerel bait was consumed within a minute of hitting bottom. Only the one porgie made it to the surface. If I had landed all of the keepers I lost at that spot, my cooler would have been full. One porgie I hooked was so big I barely was able to get it off bottom and I've caught a lot of porgies! Greg moved soon to I think 170 feet.
    The next few hours are a blur, timeless actions and activity. I landed three big muttons and a few porgies. The boat was organized mayhem, from bow to stern. My first big mutton spit up a long piece of octopus tentacle and with a nod from my new, good buddy on the bow and the fact that regurgitated belly contents from a fresh caught fish, should be proof of what they will eat, I hacked it in two and dropped it. Immediately it was attacked. Violently it was pecked repeatedly. I waited and tried to set the hook, but it was a tug of war, and the hook was not set. I didn't think the tough tentacle was gone and being only a few feet off bottom, I let it drop back down and immediately got the same pecking. Porgie captured! More pecking and hooking ensued and I did my part to harvest ripe porgies.
    I caught four with that bait, totally awesome. A word to the wise. Porgies don't appear to be able to slurp a long, tough bait, like we would do to spaghetti, the pecking seems to be their attempt to get it all aboard before some one else comes around for a tug of war. They will stop pecking when their mouth is full. BOOM!
    Our last sunrise spot started really strong with quality muttons and other species, then less lovable types took over. Amber jacks, almacos and big 15 pound blue fish were ripping up the baits, providing lots of fighting opportunity for all the anglers. Loads of kings were caught and everyone on board seemed very happy on the ride back to Key West.
    I had 10 medium to large muttons, four over 10 pounds, about 8 porgies and three red groupers. (we were fishing in the Gulf of Mexico, where they are legal to keep right now)
    All in all, this trip was a slow starter that turned out great, not because it was a super catch, but because the capt made the best of it and it worked out for us all. There were about 14 or 16 totes at the dock and as Capt Greg would say, everyone caught dinner!

    Read more:
  • NorthernNorthern Senior Member Northern MNPosts: 903 Officer
    As always, I really enjoyed your recap of the trip. Makes me feel like I was along on the adventure.
  • XafXaf Senior Member Indialantic, FLPosts: 1,132 Officer
    Great report, Great King, Overall sounds like an excellent trip. Hopefully if everything goes right I will make it out next month. When will you be leaving for the frozen north? If I don't get to see you have a safe trip.
  • piner_wahoopiner_wahoo Senior Member big pine keyPosts: 3,702 Captain
    *****in- whudthe king hit and how big?
    CUSTOM CHARTERS u pick the boat- Capt.Harlan Trammell
    American Allegiance Charters -LOWER KEYS BACKCOUNTRY FISHING,LOBSTER dives, fish the 33' WORLDCAT w/ AOK+Allegiance!
    your boat or mine, my spots+my gear, your fish.
    checkout our new website-[SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • CaptJCaptJ Senior Member Key Largo (Mostly)/Miami(As little as possible)Posts: 1,887 Captain
    That is a full grown King. Reminds me of the 70's
  • cameron sleepcameron sleep Senior Member Posts: 528 Officer
    Xaf wrote: »
    Great report, Great King, Overall sounds like an excellent trip. Hopefully if everything goes right I will make it out next month. When will you be leaving for the frozen north? If I don't get to see you have a safe trip.

    Well,I hope it goes right! We leave for NS mid April or just before. See you in the fall Bob.
  • cameron sleepcameron sleep Senior Member Posts: 528 Officer
    *****in- whudthe king hit and how big?

    bally who on a three hook king rig. 2 ounce white jig with white bristles. tore off all the bristles. The 35 pound one was small compared to mine. We guessed 50 plus. Of course I had a digital scale, but didn;t remember it till we slabbed all the meat off for bait. I'm not as smart as I look....
  • AOKRVsAOKRVs Senior Member Sunrise Beach, MO -- Marathon, FLPosts: 2,064 Captain
    Great report sounds and looks like a lot of fun - thanks for sharing

    Marathon, FL -- World Cat 320CC -- Charter Service cheaper than renting
    573-216-4078   -- The best prices on the best best brands everyday.

  • Plastered2850Plastered2850 Senior Member PEMBROKE PINESPosts: 1,842 Captain
    Way to go,time to fire up the smoker.
  • Flight RiskFlight Risk Senior Member West Palm Beach, FLPosts: 2,491 Captain
    Nice report for a good time had by all!

    Pura Vida!
  • cameron sleepcameron sleep Senior Member Posts: 528 Officer
    Nice report for a good time had by all!

    If there was any moaning and groaning, it quit when the bite turned on. Funny about that.
  • Paramount21Paramount21 Member JupiterPosts: 72 Deckhand
    Great report. Is there a cook yet or byo food?
  • bcarrbcarr Junior Member Jax and MarathonPosts: 2 Greenhorn
    On a 3 day trip can you keep 3 times the daily limits of your fish?
  • cameron sleepcameron sleep Senior Member Posts: 528 Officer
    Great report. Is there a cook yet or byo food?
    Very good cook, kitchen smells dragged me off the rail!
  • cameron sleepcameron sleep Senior Member Posts: 528 Officer
    bcarr wrote: »
    On a 3 day trip can you keep 3 times the daily limits of your fish?

    The boat has two captains and sleeping bunks. Yes, for some reef fish you are allowed a multiple day limit. Ask the captain or crew for specifics.
  • CaptJCaptJ Senior Member Key Largo (Mostly)/Miami(As little as possible)Posts: 1,887 Captain
    It's a two day limit.
  • TugasTugas Member Posts: 207 Deckhand
    Great report .... can't wait to hear about your next trip
  • capt louiecapt louie Moderator citrus countyPosts: 10,873 Moderator
    Cool trip to a great area.
    "You'll get your weather"
  • Yankee CaptsYankee Capts Senior Member Key West FlPosts: 1,003 Officer
    CaptJ wrote: »
    It's a two day limit.

    Not true. Party/headboats are allowed a 3 day limit in the south atlantic. Charter boats are only allowed a 2 day limit. If you want a 2 day limit in the GOM you then need two captains.

    Thanks for taking the time to post Cameron.

  • CaptJCaptJ Senior Member Key Largo (Mostly)/Miami(As little as possible)Posts: 1,887 Captain
    Even better then!
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