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Report: Yankee Capts Pulley Ridge Ironman July 18 - 22

I wasn't planning on going on the four-day Pulley Ridge Ironman trip because it was sold out long in advance (as expected), but I got the call Monday morning that a last minute spot opened up. I quickly booked and jumped on because I had not yet had the opportunity to do some deep jigging in Pulley.  I got together an assortment of jigs, packed my bag, and headed south. 



The forecast looked awesome - flat calm seas, and very low wind.  I got to the boat about three hours early for a 10 PM departure.  Here we are loading up before shoving off:



I brought my Temple Reef Levitate slow pitch jigging rods with me paired with Accurate DFS Slammer 500n reels.  During the day, I primarily used the Levitate 68-4, which is the most capable in the series for heavy jigs and deep water.  I was using 400g jigs from Sea Falcon and SeaFloor Control for the majority of the trip as we fished from 600-900ft during the day.  At night I was using my Levitate 68-2, focusing on jigs between 200g and 300g as we moved up onto the bank targeting mutton and grouper in about 250ft of water.  The comparison of hand cranking 250ft versus 600ft was, pardon the pun, night and day:



Most of the other passengers had already arrived and were loading up massive amounts of gear.  If anyone needed a jump because their car battery died, this was the place to be.  Car batteries for days.  Multiple electric reels, and the usual "bring ten rods and fish two" was the norm.  While on one hand I can understand that folks want the security of knowing that literally any base is covered while they are offshore, I think a little dose of realism wouldn't hurt.  Remember those Penn Spinfishers you've had in the garage for six years that are half full of old braid?   Yeah, you're not going to be needing those.   Before loading up the truck, maybe stop for a sec and ask, "Do I really need three coolers per person?"  I think I saw more stuff coming off the boat unused than I ever had.  So, when packing for these trips, please keep that in mind.  There's limited space on the boat.  By all means take what you need, but I think being reasonable is important. There was little space to even sit in the cabin because there was just so much stuff.  At this rate, the Yankee Capts is going to have to start charging baggage fees like an airline to keep things in check.  Anywho, enough of my two-cents, let's get on to the good stuff.

So, I've said this many times, and I'll reiterate here, GET THE MEAL PLAN with Chef Chad.  Not only do you not have to bring coolers so you can eat crappy cold cut sandwiches three days in, but everything is included, including drinks.  It's a no brainer if you like to have delicious food and all the drinks you want or need.  I ate better on this trip than I do at home, and found myself asking Chef Chad for recipes because the stuff was so darned good.  As an example, the first night we had flillet mignon with coconut bok choy and portobello mushrooms over a cheese risotto.  Yes, I'm serious.  Other choices included pork tenderloin, buffalo chicken wraps, and a couple of the best breakfast sandwiches I've ever had - in a restaurant or otherwise.  Here's a little taste of that fillet:



As the sun came up on the first morning, it revealed that the forecast was spot on. Flat calm.  Virtually no wind, although there were some very strong current rips.  I saw some of the largest mats of sargassum that I've ever seen. Some stretched for what looked like over a mile. Those rips were a bit concerning . . .






Now, despite having near ideal deep drop conditions superficially, what you can't see is that pesky loop current under the surface.  The sea anchor was really a God-send for Thursday and Friday, which really helped slow down the drift.  Otherwise, we were boogieing.  It was very challenging to stay vertical with slow pitch jigs, even with all of the right gear.  I dropped down to 14lb Fireline to help cut through the water better.  The few times I could get straight up and down in a current shift were instant hook ups, which produced some cool fish, including a long tail bass, snowy grouper, grey tile, short bigeye, blackfin tuna, almaco jack, and an unknown species that absolutely crushed me in about 800ft on the bottom, ran upwards, then ran back down and pulled the hooks.  My gut says it was a barrelfish, but I'll never know.  Here's a couple of cool fish that came up on the jig:



For the rest of the folks fishing bait, if you had a reasonable level of skill and could find bottom, it was as many tilefish as you wanted with a smattering of groupers mixed in.  It was like a deepwater version of chicken-rigging for yellowtail in the Tortugas, except noticeably better quality.  A couple of larger snowy grouper in the 25lb range came up, along with an assortment of golden tile, barrelfish, yellowedge grouper, rosies, african pompano, and the other usual suspects. Tuna bite went off Friday night on the bank. While the grey tiles were probably the largest amount of fish caught by numbers, there was still excellent quality in many of the fish caught. With a virtually unfishable current Saturday afternoon, we called it a trip and headed back to Stock Island.  The totes told the tale of a group of people that fished hard for three days in brutally hot, tough conditions.  As usual, if you spent time at the rail, and adapted, you were rewarded.  Here is the scene from the dock at about 2am Sunday morning:



Now, while getting back to the dock at 2am may sound rough, I actually quite liked it.  We were able to get on the road before the typical Sunday traffic picked up, and after a quick nap at home, I was able to clean my catch and get everything processed/vacuum sealed, and stocked away:




Instagram:  @mrbennyortiz
Shimano
AFTCO
Slow Pitch Jigger
Occasional Fish Catcher

Replies

  • benwah22benwah22 Posts: 239 Deckhand
    [cont'd]

    A couple of closing remarks.  As usual, I had an absolute blast on this trip and met some great new people.  Tough conditions or perfect conditions, it doesn't really matter to me.  I just love fishing for the experience and the opportunity, and that's why I keep coming back to the Yankee Capts.  Some trips are going to be epic, some will be ok.  But all will make memories, and will be great experiences.   And always keep in mind, an "ok" trip in the Tortugas will still be a monster producer.  These trips are a marathon, not a sprint. So keep fishing hard, and the rewards will come.  After hand cranking in deep water for three days straight, I was able to put together a respectable cooler that will feed my family for the next few months.  If you were fishing bait with heavy lead, you were rewarded on this trip.  

    Capt. Greg worked very hard to get us on, and keep us on, the fish.   The mates all busted their butts deploying the sea anchor countless times, untangling lines, gaffing our fish, and keeping a positive attitude.  

    One last point on the mates.  These guys all have families and do depend on tips at the end of trips as a primary source of their income.  Please keep that in mind when booking these types of trips, because I saw more no to low tipping than I had seen probably ever on the boat.  15-20% of the fare should be customary - not a handful of singles as I saw in one instance, or a cool Jackson for four days of work.  Maybe I'm speaking out of turn, but it's just how I feel.  They take care of you, please take care of them.  It's important, and it's the right thing to do.  

    I'll be back on the Capts for the September Halfway Ledge trip seeing what else I can jig up, and I absolutely can't wait to get back out there!

    Thanks for reading.
    Instagram:  @mrbennyortiz
    Shimano
    AFTCO
    Slow Pitch Jigger
    Occasional Fish Catcher
  • One Named Fishin'One Named Fishin' Key WestPosts: 59 Deckhand
    Great report! Nice to finally meet you. All the advice is right on the money, although I bring the SS750 on occasion. I’m moving closer and closer to all jig. A lot less mess to clean up. The mates probably like that! See ya soon!
  • benwah22benwah22 Posts: 239 Deckhand
    My pleasure - and thank you for another awesome trip!
    Instagram:  @mrbennyortiz
    Shimano
    AFTCO
    Slow Pitch Jigger
    Occasional Fish Catcher
  • InstaGatorInstaGator Posts: 209 Deckhand
    Benwah22, thanks for taking the time to post an awesome report.  I am going on the pulley ridge light trip in September and hope we have as much success as you do.  I also have taken your advice and got the full meal plan and plan on a 20% tip for the mates as I fully agree with your view.  Makes me sick thinking of people shorting the mates.  I plan on both bait and jig fishing.  Bait will be my back up as I am a novice on the slow pitch jigging.  As I understand we will be fishing in 200-400 ft what would you recommend in term of jig weight to use?  Also I like the sea floor control jigs do you have any recommendations for specific jigs to try.  There are so many styles it’s hard to figure out which ones may be most effective.  I plan on bringing 30or so jigs. Let me know if you think that is not enough.

    again, thank you for making the post.  Hope someday they see you on the Capt and get a jigging tutorial from you😃
  • Yeaaa_ChrisYeaaa_Chris Posts: 564 Officer
    Awesome stuff!
  • nightflynightfly Posts: 505 Officer
    Great report.  Thanks for sharing
  • DropTheHammerDropTheHammer East CoastPosts: 556 Officer

    I know this one mate, he has 3 teeth and 6 toes on each foot.  :p

  • One Named Fishin'One Named Fishin' Key WestPosts: 59 Deckhand
    InstaGator, if you go through 30 jigs, we’re all in trouble! 😂 Bring a few of each, no more than 400g if you’re fishing with 50lb braid. Probably won’t need more than 280g if fishing with 30lb. As long as the current is light, you can get away with much less, especially in 200’. Good luck!
  • TONY_YNOTTONY_YNOT Posts: 83 Deckhand
    Looks like a great trip. That's quite a bit of fish totes with horrible conditions and heading home early.
  • Plastered2850Plastered2850 Posts: 1,842 Captain
  • SnaphappySnaphappy Posts: 1,427 Officer
    Another great time on the Yankee Capt.  Funny the fishing felt slow the whole trip but even then we filled the back boxes and had more fish up front.  I had more fish back at the dock than I expected.  I did most my damage the first half the trip.  I slept the second night and then the last day the current was so bad I was just going through the motions.  I had one small snowy the entire last day.  I had planned to jig more out deep but ended up fishing bait almost exclusively due to the conditions.   To escape the small grey tiles I used bigger baits.  Usually whole butterflied gogs.   It worked, I only had a couple large greys and caught mostly snowy grouper with a few pesky jacks mixed in.  If you go this route it’s imperative you check your bait before every drop to make sure it’s not spinning at all.  If it’s not swimming properly you create a mess.  
    Benny you’re the man! Considering the heat and conditions I think that was the most impressive jigging display I’ve ever seen.  Talk about stamina! With results too!! Had more muttons than me and I was fishing gogs! 
  • benwah22benwah22 Posts: 239 Deckhand
    Thank you Dudley.  We worked hard for it, that's for sure
    Instagram:  @mrbennyortiz
    Shimano
    AFTCO
    Slow Pitch Jigger
    Occasional Fish Catcher
  • NorthernNorthern Posts: 903 Officer
    Excellent report in every respect.  Great work with the jigs Benny.
  • Flight RiskFlight Risk Posts: 2,491 Captain
    Great report!

    Pura Vida!
  • piner_wahoopiner_wahoo Posts: 3,702 Captain
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  • privateer19privateer19 Posts: 439 Deckhand
    great report. i like the way you have your rods setup, smart to take off the jigs while you travel. learned something today, thanks.
  • benwah22benwah22 Posts: 239 Deckhand
    I don't like to have lead banging against the blank as it can damage the rod. When I have the hooks on the guide, I never put them through the eye, always through the metal foot so as to not damage the insert. 
    Instagram:  @mrbennyortiz
    Shimano
    AFTCO
    Slow Pitch Jigger
    Occasional Fish Catcher
  • InstaGatorInstaGator Posts: 209 Deckhand
    InstaGator, if you go through 30 jigs, we’re all in trouble! 😂 Bring a few of each, no more than 400g if you’re fishing with 50lb braid. Probably won’t need more than 280g if fishing with 30lb. As long as the current is light, you can get away with much less, especially in 200’. Good luck!
    Thanks “one named fishin”, Benwah22.  Question to you what jigs and weights would you recommend for the Pulley ridge lite trip (200-400’ fishing depth).  Thanks in advance.
  • benwah22benwah22 Posts: 239 Deckhand
    200g to 350g condition dependant
    Instagram:  @mrbennyortiz
    Shimano
    AFTCO
    Slow Pitch Jigger
    Occasional Fish Catcher
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