Yankee Captains Private Charter, Drift Trip Feb 5-8-2018
Luckily a New England charter was a few men short this week and several of us were able to join the group. Departure was at 11 AM and I was delighted to see an old friend, Glenn and his private chauffeur, Ron, who travelled down from Tampa area. By old friend, I mean Glenn is old, no kidding! He was old when I first met him 8 years ago on the YC and is still going strong, choosing not to sleep the first night. I watched him subdue more than a couple big fish to the surface and their coolers were well rounded at trip's end. It gives me hope for the future, especially since his wife makes the best carrot cake in the world and Glenn always brings one.
Another pleasant surprise was seeing Ron Teke, whom I've met several times shrimping and bull-crapped with, about our past YC trips. He will be writing a forum post with more pictures than mine, so you can switch over to his report now, cause the rest of mine is just boring words.
Dave, from the "Reel Seat" brought his team of jigging artists from the New Jersey area, hoping to distract, impact and bring to gaff, as many Gulf of Mexico groupers (currently legal to fishers on the YC) and muttons. They succeeded quite well and all of the stern boxes were filled. The bling they brought along was impressive! So many bright colors, shapes and styles. I was almost too intimidated to fish with my stinky dead fish, almost,,, At one point, Mike, their most successful jigger, had three guys to his right and three to his left, all competing in the same patch of water, but Mike was the only one catching. I was watching this display from the corner, where fish were refusing to bite, as time after time, a massive red grouper was outwitted by iron Mike. I think he casually rearranged the dental configuration on 5 big reds in only a couple hours!
Well, I had my own, brand new jigging rod and fully aware that there was an unfair and unseen balance between he who was catching and they who were not, I slipped a not very fishy or tooth tested chunk of jig iron to the depths. Several bling flings later, I was not surprised to be fishless, once again, as I came to realize that, at this point in my fishing career, I will stick with my money maker; stinky, dirty, bait fish. I have since sold my new jigging rod at a $5 loss and 5 pound loss of dignity and the money will be used today, for bait. Yes, jigs out fished bait, but in all fairness, it was about 65% jiggers and 35% bait. Oddly there were long time periods of fish landed, only on jigs and similar stretches of bait-only catches. I can proudly say that during the bling drought, a few of us converted at least three Jerseyites, away from the dark side of heavy metal and had them merrily hoisting both muttons and firetruck reds into the totes.
Oh and I think I did as well as anyone, using about 22 of my tags, on mostly big fish, including a mutton at 13.75 pounds, three red groupers in the 15-18 pound range, a black grouper, incorrectly weighed on the boat (by me) at 16# but actually tallying 24 pounds at home (no, not a "fish" story) and to top it off, a 29. something king mac caught near the end of the trip.
Some of the "magic" that occurred this trip:
We rode through fog for hours. (possibly it followed the Jersey boys??)
I muscled a monster close to the surface, only to have my mono top-shot cut. Only seconds later, while getting a new leader and lead, mate Mike, excitedly jumping up and down, motioned me over and there was a jumbo amberjack writhing, with my hook and leader stuck to it's cheek. Tired, stupid, fish was still hungry, I guess ate another bait at the surface.
Capt Greg saw my bait (a ballyhoo) and said "Take out the spine". I did and dropped it with no hesitation straight into the mouth of my 24 pound black grouper. Greg was right!
I dropped a whole butterflied flying fish, hit bottom, (it was mostly unsuccessful bait this trip, only sharks or other toothies) then saw a dozen mahis near the surface. Four were landed. I rapidly reeled my flyer up to hook one and engaged a fish halfway up, with my drag set for grouper. As my top shot appeared, a big mahi was flung aboard and was thrashing about, behind me and my fish went ballistic. It ran away from us about 60 feet and as I horsed it back, to our surprise, it was bright, shiny, silver and Capt Greg and others said "King mackerel", just then it sped under the boat about 50 feet, dangerously close to a dozen lines and tangles. Another rush away and now coming back to us, only a few feet from the surface Greg said "raise it up!" or something like that and Mikey gaffed it. Whew!
There was good success using fresh cuda, spineless ballyhoo and believe it or not, small hound fish a friend gave me just before the trip. Fresh cuda caught me four groupers and a couple muttons on a hot run. Mackerel and tinker mackerel were working too.
I did a bait check on my cuda chunk, dropped it back down and caught my biggest mutton less than halfway back down to bottom. Must have followed it up, must have been surprised, I sure was!
Oh my! The things that happen on the Yankee Capts! Well, my friend Phil and I go out on a YC drift trip Monday, then 5 or 6 of us from the Jolly Roger are out on the 26th, I am the luckiest man I know!
A big heartfelt THANK YOU to chef Chad and mate Mikey. They heard me say I had no fish yet for the upcoming fish fry and selflessly jigged up a few groupers, the first night, which were donated to help the cause. Once it was obvious I had enough fish, I donated a couple back for the Wed night dinner. Delicious as usual!
When I arrived back at the campground about 8 AM, the smell of fish filled the air and a team of knife wielding, well trained fish fry helpers followed my Jeep to the cleaning tables, looking much like a scene from a zombie apocalypse movie. A dis-assembly line was formed and two filliters, a cheeker a skinner, a ****, a chunker and a bagger made short work of the catch. Thanks guys!
I think I may have had the two biggest fish, but intimidated by all the jigs, testosterone and confidence at the start of the trip, not wanting to risk a problem with the Jersey bling boys and thrilled about a $125 pool win on the football game, I totally ignored my wife's final instructions to "ENTER THE FISH POOL FOOL" and clutched my $20 bills like a little **** and refused to enter the pool.
Thanks Capt Greg and crew! Keep an eye out for a post from "Team Teke".