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CK trip 12/26 to 12/29

NobelNobel ALTAMONTE SPRINGSPosts: 75 Deckhand
Day one 12/26:
After a month and a half of reading other people's grouper reports, my two boys, dad, and I headed over to CK from Central Florida in hopes of making our own reports once again. Left around 11:30 and arrived in CK by 2. A quick unload and then off we went on relatively calm seas out to our first area in the 20-25 foot zone. Put the two trolling poles out with rapala magnums dt 30s, one in dorado color and the other blue Wahoo (one of my younger son's Christmas presents), expecting numerous strikes like we had in this area around mid November. After about 30 minutes without anything, we were scratching our heads wondering where they went. Not even a short fish after trolling over several awesome looking rock piles. Finally, the blue Wahoo rod loads up and it looks like a good one. My 9 year old gets to reel it in since it hit his lure. After a couple of minutes of him grunting and a little rod holding help from daddy, we bring aboard what I thought was going to be a short. However, the fish turned out to be 24 1/2 inches and according to my older son's new fish scale he got for Christmas it weighed 6 and some change lbs. A big high five to my boys, fish in cooler, and back trolling we went. After going another 30 or so minutes without a strike, we decided to head out to 30 feet to see if were could fair any better. Several passes over the structure produced nothing. I was once again wondering what was going on and why the bite was so off from our November trip. Was it the drop in water temp. that had them less aggressive? Just when we were about to head in, the dorado rod bends over. At first I thought it could be the structure we had just went over, but when I picked up the rod, I could feel the fish and the fight was on. A couple minutes later, my dad sinks the gaff in our biggest gag yet, measuring in at 29 inches and around 13 lbs. One last troll over the structure and this time my dorado plug does snag on the structure and the line snaps. Bummer. Should have ended the day after catching the big one. A few more minutes of trolling around the area went unproductive so we ran in with the sun setting at our backs. This was pretty much the last time we saw the sun during our trip. Ended the day cleaning the fish, eating some turkey pot pie, watching football, and drinking some Coppertail Brewing Co. Free Dive IPAs.

Day two 12/27:
With the lack of strikes on day one, I woke on day two with anticipation that my rock piles more to the north would hold more action for us since they were likely less pressured. We headed out of the basin a little later than expected though due to an issue with the pole that got snagged on the structure the day before. Every time I tied my fluro leader to the braid and then put hard pressure on it by hooking the lure to the back of the boat in the parking lot, my braid would snap. This happened several times in the parking lot and then when we got out trolling it snapped at the tip of the pole before I finally gave up on it. We checked all the guides and didn't notice anything wrong with any of them. Only thing I could think was when it snagged the structure it put so much pressure on the braid in the spool that it made small cuts in the braid. Haven't messed with it since we've gotten back to make a final conclusion on the issue. Anyhow, once we got out to our rock piles in a little rougher seas than expected, the action was steady, but just no keeper gags. We had a couple push 23 inches. We tried anchoring with some pin fish and squid, as well as trolling. We added some above average sea bass to the cooler, but just couldn't find that keeper gag. Finally around 3:30 I decided to head on in with the skunked flag raised. When we got back inshore, older son and I headed back out to our trout spot from last time with the incoming high tide. The bite was on. Using gulps in white/ chartreuse and new Penney under popping corks, we quickly put 7 keepers in the cooler in a little over an hour. My son had a double on the tandem rig he was throwing, with a 19 incher on the bottom jig head and a 16 incher on the top jig. Before he realized he had two, he thought he had Godzilla trout on. Our fast and furious inshore action made up for our lack of keeper groupers. My mom joined us at night and cooked us up a yummy chicken dish while I downed the rest of my beer from the night before and watched football with the boys.

Day three 12/28:
Woke to a strong wind as forecasted so inshore was our only option. Older son, mom, and I got all bundled up and headed out around 9:30 while younger son and dad stayed behind. We headed right back to our spot from the night before up by north key and picked up right where we left of adding five keepers to the cooler in the first few hours, in addition to releasing a ton of shorts. As the high tide, which wasn't that high to begin with, began to recede and there was less grass flats to fish the bite got a little tougher for us. We still had 7 keepers by 2:00 when mom decided she'd had enough of the cold and wind. We dropped her and her 5 keepers off at the dock and then the two die hards (older son and I) went back out to finish the day. We fished a 2 to 4 foot area behind deadman key and were at times catching trout on every cast, most of which were shorts, but we did manage to add a few more keepers to the cooler before we headed in for the day. I think the day's total was 12 keepers and countless shorts. Mom baked some grouper with a parmesan encrusted breading for dinner and I enjoyed our last CK night sipping on some Blue Point brewery toasted lager.

Day four 12/29:
I had already made up my mind the night before that trout fishing in windy sub-50 degree temps. was not going to happen. We had plenty of fish meat and I was looking forward to a nice long New year's weekend with my wife and daughter. We loaded up and headed out of CK around 11:30. Made it home by 2:30 with a fast Dunkin Donuts stop on the way. Hoping to get back over sometime in February when the sheepshead bite should be in full swing.

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