5/12/18 Team Cobia Middle Grounds
We had a very successful AJ fishing trip out of Tarpon 12 May. The weather was beyond perfect with flat seas with zero thunderheads. With these ideal conditions, we took advantage of the situation and went to the middle grounds. We left Tarpon Marina around 0730, caught our baited up with pinfish and hiked out to the middle grounds. On the way we stopped at the RJ Thompson tug 31 miles W of Anclote. That wreck in 78 feet already had three boats on it, so we did not stay long. Amberjack (AJ's) where in season and we wanted to find big AJ's. To find big AJs, a nice wreck is a great place to start. Taking a 55 mile runs to the SW to the Mexican Pride wreck 37 miles W/SW out of John's pass was considered as the day's destination, but since the weather was completely perfect, we knew that wreck being in range of bay boats would be covered by the time we got there. The chosen wreck was the Gwalia Ocean tug. From the RJ Thompson, we hiked 50 miles NW to the Gwalia. We got to the target area around noon. The Gwalia, a 130-foot ocean-going tug, was built in Philadelphia in 1907. The ship left Mobile, Ala., on Dec. 2, 1925 with the barge Altamaha and a load of gravel destined for the Tampa Coal Company. Two days later, the tug and barge ran into the same kind of winter storm that sank the Heidelbergin 1859. The tug, taking on water, cut loose the barge and the crew abandoned ship. See http://floridaskindiver.com/WWC%20K%20Section.htm
At the Gwalia, we found our AJs, of all sizes. We also saw pods of cuda by the dozens. Mark Johnson got the biggest donkey of the day, and boy was it a mull. Pa got a blackfin tuna. The action was constant. The AJ's where hitting the metal flutter jigs and live bait and even frozen on stinger rigs. I did not have to pitch a dozen pins out to rally the jacks up. At one point, we had four hooked up at once. Bob was the "chosen one" that had to deal with a ~200lb goliath grouper. We did vent the beast, and it was a fat beast, but it would not go back down. As it floated on the surface, the sharks circled. Not sure what happened after that because the Capt was too busy dealing with all the fishing chaos. Either nature via sharks took its course, or the Goliath swam back down. We did see some sharks and were cut off a few times. I hooked into something on my 40-lb TFO spinning gear with 40-LB Japanese J-Braid while drifting back a jig head with a sardine I could not turn. It took out more line than I got back and I sensed that I whatever fish I was fighting, could move in any direction or speed it wanted too, for hours. I was completely out gunned in that engagement. Fortunately, it broke me off in the wreck. I suspect a huge donkey or maybe the "man in the grey suit."
Once we got our limit of AJ's on the wreck, we moved out 10 miles to the west in the central Middle grounds to an area call the "Humpback." The humpback is a ~40 foot rise in sea bed. The top of the hump is only 88 feet and real sticky. We lost a lot of rigs on the hump. On the sides, we found plenty of snapper and grouper. The American Red Snapper (ARS) we brought up here where bigger than those at the table top. This will be a spot to visit when ARS season is open. And yes, we got some mango snap. We got 2-hours fishing on the Gwalia and 2-hours on Humpback. We started the run in around 5 and got back at 8. It was indeed a long, but remember-able day. Believe me when I say you can't do these type of days back-to-back, at least not for the age of the Capt and crew. I think Mark was the most beat.
Despite the current Monday tropical inflow, the weather looks potentially absolutely fabulous for Saturday 19 May. If you are interested in getting some Aj while they are still in season or just going out to catch some fish, let me know.
See vids and pictures below.