Return to Beyond the Dry Tortugas - Rankin Ridge

HooganHoogan Posts: 544 Officer
Went on the first ever Beyond the Dry Tortugas trip and haven’t been back until now April 19th, lots of preparation, deep drop rig making, electric reel, digging up deep drop rock cod and bank sinkers and bringing battery from my other vehicle. Get to Stock Island to meet a great group of 20 anglers all eager to pull quality fish from the deep. Conditions totally lined up, 2-3 foot seas, ocean current neither too fast or too slow, just perfect light to keep things moving without having to use a ton of weight, the entire trip 2 lb. weight was ideal, tangles were minimal and air temperatures were pleasant, couldn’t ask for better conditions or a better group of fishermen ready to do battle. First drop of the trip and we begin a steady pick right away, once again we must have caught at least 20 different species of gamefish and bottom dwellers. Capt. Greg covered the whole spectrum, as I recall we fished as shallow as 250 ft and at times as deep as 900 feet, but according to the line counter of my new electric reel most of the time during daylight we fished 230-250 meters and at night moved to shallower grounds to target Muttons, blackfins whatever else was to be caught. And that we did, fishermen were actually complaining about the quantity of blackfin tuna, mutton snappers were a steady pick as well. Day time deep dropping saw a variety of groupers, Snowies, Yellow Edge and some large Scamps rules the totes, as we moved deeper at about 600 feet we ran into multiple hefty size Queen snapppers and as we approached the 900 feet mark the Golden Tiles showed up (a first for me) another for the bucket list. Surprisingly there didn’t seem to be “a better rail spot” both pulpit, stern and in between kept a steady pick, many two hook rigs came in with double 10 lb. plus Snowy groupers, unlike my first trip Blueline tiles were not a pain, just a few here and there. We used every kind of bait, as we managed to catch kingfish, Bonita, barracuda that we gladly made into strip but squid seemed the food of choice for the most part. The steady pick continued until we filled all the back boxes and one in the front, and unquestionably everyone caught dinner and then some. Once again, Chad’s food was outstanding and the mates were busy gaffing most of the time. A few highlights, trolling was a sure Wahoo producer, on several instances with double hitters, although some fish were not landed due to thrown hooks. I had a well needed moment of glory after a long hiatus from fishing due to life showing up... while I’m watching Bill and Garret pickin at the groupers with their electric reels and Danny kicking all of our butts, with his manual Penn reel bringing in two at a time I realize how I suck at catching with my electric cause I ain’t bringing but empty hooks, I decide to pull the wild card, a Phenix Hybrid with an AVET LX manual reel with 50 lb. Threadlock hallow core with 60 lb. mono top shot with a bank sinker, swivel and a single 12/0 tuna hook on a 15 foot 125lb. test leader with a butterflied Speedo with intentions to target Warsaw grouper. I get the bump-bump, I follow thru with winding as fast as I could to set hook and what ever bit had already made it to the hole, I ease off the pressure the fish comes out I feel it’s head shaking and he’s back in the whole again, my main line gets tangled with another angler’s  Amberjack and after 5 minutes of untangling my line I come tight and there he is with a blistering run and out of the hole, I continue the give and take with a powerful fish, suspecting it could be another reef Dunkey but after carefully gaining inch by inch of line, about 100 feet from the surface of the 550 foot bottom the tug of war stops and I quietly suspect it’s a grouper, after the mate and I see color I ask: is it an Amberjack and Garret slowly says “ I don’t think so” next thing I know is my largest grouper ever popping out on the surface, scale later read 109 lbs.
We ended up heading home early as we filled the fish boxes and ran out of ice, thanks to the crew and Capt. Greg Mercurio.


  • Flight RiskFlight Risk Posts: 2,475 Captain
    Man!!!  You guy's killed it out there!  What a haul.  Hat's off to the Yankee Capts crew. Outstanding job. The bar has been set pretty high on this trip!  Nice pics and write-up. Congrats!

    Pura Vida!
  • globalwavetrackerglobalwavetracker Posts: 239 Deckhand
    Art, congrats for the big pool fish. Its a lot of good dinners.
  • XafXaf Posts: 1,050 Officer
    Art great report.  Even greater catch.
  • stc1993stc1993 Albany, GA Carrabelle, FLPosts: 5,545 Admiral
    I know you had to win the big fish pot.  That was a nice scamp I saw in there somewhere.  Nice Queens too.
  • Plastered2850Plastered2850 Posts: 1,786 Captain
    Thanks for the report and pics.
  • SnaphappySnaphappy Posts: 1,408 Officer
    edited April 2018 #7
    Another great trip.  Greg and the Yankee Captain have been on fire lately!! Art congrats on the big Warsaw.  I missed seeing that big scamp while we were out there but that’s another beauty.  
    My 2 cents...Greg is making it look easy right now.  (Which it’s not). On last three trips on the YC have resulted in amazing catches.   I knew he was on them up top but hadn’t seen many reports from deep drop. 
    We had two drifts where pretty much everyone was catching either a queen snapper or a snowy nearly every drop.  Night bite was great, I was surprised so many went to bed early.  Muttons chewed well.  
    The second day was my best over all though.  The fish gods blessed me with a quality fish on every drop except one.  And that one even provided a thrill.  After a 30 minute tug of war with what I was convinced was a 150 lb Warsaw I wenched up some large unidentified shark.  He did his best grouper impersonation that’s for sure....
    Art thanks for posting a report! I’ll add some more pics.  
  • NorthernNorthern Posts: 875 Officer
    What an excellent report.  Felt like I was along on the trip.

    Congratulation on hooking into a Bus and landing it!   Exceptional that you could get a bucket list fish (Golden), and that huge grouper in the same trip.
  • Just 1 MoreJust 1 More Posts: 106 Deckhand
    Very nice,, congrats and thanks for the report
  • cameron sleepcameron sleep Posts: 518 Officer
    Nice going Art! Looks like you didn't get too rusty during your time off. I hope you had lots of cooler space , the warsaw was huge but the others were all quality fish too!
  • tltypeslowtltypeslow Posts: 159 Deckhand
    Solid Warsaw art, glad to see you back out there 
  • cudamancudaman Kendal LakesPosts: 407 Deckhand
    Great report and awesome job on the grouper Art. Congrats on catching that beast!
  • One Named Fishin'One Named Fishin' Key WestPosts: 40 Greenhorn
    Great report and a fantastic catch!

    I did not know you made a report, and wrote one myself yesterday. When I edited something, it went into the abyss, but it may show up at any time. Not trying to steal anyone’s thunder. 
  • One Named Fishin'One Named Fishin' Key WestPosts: 40 Greenhorn
  • AOKRVsAOKRVs Posts: 1,948 Captain
    great report
    thanks for posting

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

  • One Named Fishin'One Named Fishin' Key WestPosts: 40 Greenhorn
  • HappyHooker305HappyHooker305 Miami FLPosts: 1 Greenhorn
    Hello Art,
    This is the original HappyHooker, the same one that thought you how to fish. :wink: ;-) 
    Great report my friend and nice fish.  

  • Yeaaa_ChrisYeaaa_Chris Posts: 554 Officer
    Killed it!
  • dihrddihrd Posts: 99 Greenhorn
    Good meeting you on the way out.  Heck of a fish.  The night bite was on fire.    Almost couldn't get a bait to the bottom through the tuna and mackerel, I did manage 7 muttons and only one red grouper. We had two lit up sailfish swimming around the boat for a minute. Me and my friend brought back over 400 lbs of fish to NC,  Wish I was closer, would like to do it again soon
  • HooganHoogan Posts: 544 Officer
    Hello Art,
    This is the original HappyHooker, the same one that thought you how to fish. :wink: ;-) 
    Great report my friend and nice fish.  

    This fellow was one of the first 10 members of the original FS forum when it was founded 20-25 years ago. Welcome back!
  • Reef BanditReef Bandit Posts: 1,005 Officer
    Sorry about the slow trip. lol  PETA must be going nuts.

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