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Yankee Capts Half Way Ledge 4 Day iron Man

XafXaf Posts: 1,132 Officer
My fishing buddy, Mike and I, started out early, 0530, to get to the boat for the 6 pm departure.   With a few stops along the way it usually takes us about 8 hours to make the drive from Melbourne.  If you have ever been on one of these trips you know the parking lot is quickly filled with cars, coolers, bags and fishing rods. The first order of business was to stop in the Homestead area to pick up fresh goggle eyes we had ordered.  About half way there we got the dreaded call from the bait guy. Fresh water from all the rains had gotten into the water where he keeps his pens and all his bait was killed off.  With 80 degree water temps it did not take long for the gogs to deteriorate to where they couldn't even be used for dead bait.  After a few phone calls I managed to find a couple people with frozen goggle eyes,  I prefer fresh dead but sometimes you have to go with what you can get. For what its worth, with the bite the way it was I'm not sure it mattered. Luckily we didn't have to go to far out of our way to pick up the goggle eyes.  So after a stop at the Yellow Bait House to pick up some ballyhoo and a gas stop we arrived at the Yankee Capts about 2 pm.   There were already a few people there when we arrived.  After a little confusion about the departure time and the 2nd Captain at the health clinic with an ear infection we managed to go through the ritual of loading all our gear and departing.  I believe it was about 7 or 7:30 when we departed but Greg said it wouldn't affect the time we started fishing.  (I believe this is the first trip I have been on the YC that did not depart on time.)

Departing Stock Island                                                                      

As you can see there was no shortage of fishing gear

The first day we awoke to overcast sky's and an occasional drizzle, which in reality was a blessing.  With the breeze and the clouds the heat wasn't as bad as I was expecting.  The bite started out pretty good, by noon I had a big mutton, a big red grouper and a big black fin tuna along with a couple smaller fish.  The bite was pretty consistent through out the day. 

My fishing buddy with a few red groupers, i caught one of them but not sure which one.


and yet another red grouper with a fish on in the background.   

 Daylight soon slipped into darkness but the fishing continues.  (So much gear on the bench there is hardly any room to sit down.)                               

The next day was bright and sunny.  Luckily my spot was in the shade most of the day, so I stayed there and didn't move around to much.  With only 20 anglers there is plenty of room to move around if you want to.  I didn't mange to get a picture of it but Adel [Sp?] managed to create a little excitement by hooking into a good sized sail fish that came out of the water along side the boat right in front of me.  The sail eventually got off to be caught another day.

Even in the shade, sunglasses are needed for the glare off the water.

Plenty of room to spread out.  (Adel in blue shirt.)

Plenty of room along the rail but a couple no-nos aboard the Yankee Capts.  Only the rod you are using should be kept on the rail in case someone hooks a big fish and needs to move down the rail quickly.  As for the second picture, someone jokingly commented that Greg must have his spots marked with red buoys because they were on every spot we fished.  (The buoys were connected to the sea anchor that was deployed.)

 Extra rods on the rails.                                                                

Red buoys that followed us around.



  • XafXaf Posts: 1,132 Officer
    edited August 2018 #2
    Yankee Capts Half Way Ledge 4 Day iron Man (continued)

    It was good to see Brizo was feeling better and doing well.  Although she did scare the bejesus out of me.  I was at the cutting board in back, with no one else around.  All of a sudden Brizo let out a loud bark just above my head.  I guess she just wanted to let me know she was there or maybe she wanted a piece of the fish I was cutting up.  Either way I nearly jumped out of my skin.

    Jigging, especially slow pitch jigging with very light poles, has become very popular on these trips.  A lot of the fish caught on the trip were caught on jigs.  I tried it a few time but to no avail.  I don't know if I don't have the patience or just don't know what I'm doing.  I believe there were more tangles than usual this trip.  In my opinion it was because some people were jigging and some were bait fishing.  I saw numerous times when someone jigging threw out over someone bait fishing and knew that a tangle would result.  I believe it is just common courtesy to move away from someone bait fishing if you decide to start jigging.  Again that's just my opinion.

    On the afternoon of the second day Greg decided to change things up a bit.  He moved to 500 feet.  The current was ripping.  I had to use 26 ounces just to reach bottom.  I'm not sure what else was caught (because I was so busy trying to get my bait to the bottom) but I managed to catch 3 nice ham bone snapper(black fin snapper).  You had to be quick.  It seemed to me that as soon as you hit bottom you got a bite.  if you didn't feel the bite when you first hit bottom and waited awhile to reel in your hook came up empty. 

    The big fish of the trip was about a 60 lb black grouper.  I'm not sure if it was the second or third day but Gilbert, who had been jigging up until then one decided to put down a bait rig using salmon as a bait.  From what I understand it was a tug of war back and forth for about 15 minutes before Gilbert started to gain on the fish.  In general, fish were picked here and there throughout the trip.  As usual,those who put the time in on the rail were rewarded. Total for the trip, I believe there were 22 - 23 totes when we got back to the dock.  As Greg would say, "everyone caught dinner."

    Totes lined up, ready to unload as we near the dock.

    (Not the best picture), The big black that was caught.

    Any report would not be complete without a word about the food served on these trips.  Chad serves up the best meals I have have ever had on a boat.  The meal packages are the way to go.  You will not regret it.

    Chad preparing dinner.

    Delicious stuffed banana pepper appetizer.

    Strip steak, mushrooms, vegetables and smashed potatoes.  I'm on a diet so I asked for small portions.  This is what Chad called his "Manhattan" portion.  Still more then I could eat.

    Tuna and rice appetizer.

    Pork roast over polenta cake with vegetables. 

    Greg and the mates did their usual great job.  Greg put us on the fish and the mates were there to gaff fish and undo tangles when needed.  I just can not say enough about the great job they do.

    Just a couple recommendations if you are thinking about going on one of these trips.  (1) Read the information on the website. There are specific gear requirements listed for each type of trip.  It is in your best interest to follow the requirements. (2) Listen to the mates and watch the people catching fish.  The way you rig or fish in your home area may not work on the YC trips.   (3)  Don't forget to tip the mates (and Chad).  A large portion of their salary comes from tips.  Their efforts make your trip more enjoyable.  I have seen people stiff the mates or only leave them a few dollars after the mates had busted it for 3 days. (4) Finally, Don't forget to have fun.  

  • xeniaxenia Posts: 1,165 Officer
    26 ounces to reach bottom in 500 ft and you call that ripping?  Ha!  I was using a pound to fish bottom in 38' last week off Ocean Reef  I guarantee if you'd had that current you guys wouldn't have been able to fish.
  • Flight RiskFlight Risk Posts: 2,491 Captain
    Nice write up Bob!  Looks like a very productive trip for sure. Good looking totes there, especially the Black Grouper... Cool.

    Pura Vida!
  • Yeaaa_ChrisYeaaa_Chris Posts: 564 Officer
    Awesome report, thanks for taking the time to write it up and take pictures while you’re out there.

    stud black grouper 
  • One Named Fishin'One Named Fishin' Key WestPosts: 59 Deckhand
    Nice report! I hope to fish with you again soon! 
  • piner_wahoopiner_wahoo Posts: 3,702 Captain
    oh, my goodness- the gregster  delivering the goods! as usual. 
    CUSTOM CHARTERS u pick the boat- Capt.Harlan Trammell
    American Allegiance Charters -LOWER KEYS BACKCOUNTRY FISHING,LOBSTER dives, fish the 33' WORLDCAT w/ AOK+Allegiance!
    your boat or mine, my spots+my gear, your fish.
    checkout our new website-[SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • tarponbro1tarponbro1 jacksonvillePosts: 296 Deckhand
    Do you guys or anyone else bring live bait on these trips? If you do, what's your live well set up - sizes of wells, aereators, pumps etc.?
  • Reel TealReel Teal Posts: 3,963 Captain
    Awesome report. Looks like a good trip.
  • NorthernNorthern Posts: 903 Officer
    Yet another great report for an outing on the YC.  It is wonderful that on each of Greg's outings, there is usually at least 1 or more fisherman that are willing to take the time to write up a detailed report with pictures.  I always look forward to reading these. Thanks Bob.
  • benwah22benwah22 Posts: 268 Deckhand
    Thank you for taking the time to write this, great work
    Instagram:  @mrbennyortiz
    Slow Pitch Jigger
    Occasional Fish Catcher
  • cameron sleepcameron sleep Posts: 528 Officer
    Good to see you are back on the water! Nice report, Bob.
  • One Named Fishin'One Named Fishin' Key WestPosts: 59 Deckhand
    Do you guys or anyone else bring live bait on these trips? If you do, what's your live well set up - sizes of wells, aereators, pumps etc.?
    This isn’t a live bait trip. There are no wells aboard. Occasionally, someone will catch a bait and drop it down alive, but it is not common or necessary.
  • tarponbro1tarponbro1 jacksonvillePosts: 296 Deckhand
    So their getting live baits and letting them die for fresh dead ones, or are they just buying fresh dead baits from the bait suppliers? What's the quality of the bait supplied by the boat, and does anyone use butterflied ballyhoo on the Halfway Ledge and other drift fishing trips?
  • InstaGatorInstaGator Posts: 246 Deckhand
    Thanks for the trip report, sounds like some pretty solid fishing.  I will be on the sept PR lite trip and hope we do as well as you.  I need to learn how to post pics to these forums as they. Are a better report.  Thanks for taking the time to report
  • tarponbro1tarponbro1 jacksonvillePosts: 296 Deckhand
    Sorry for asking so many questions, but I'm trying to get as much info as possible before I decide which trip to go on. The earliest trip I might go on would probably be in December. Like I said, I've fished the Tortugas several times before, but all the trips except one or two were on the Winner Fleet out of Marathon. OK, last question (for now). On the mutton marathon trips it seems they're anchoring, which is fine with me. When they anchor at night do they put a chum bag out and catch yellowtail along with muttons, etc?
  • XafXaf Posts: 1,132 Officer
    You will find a variety of baits being used on these trips.  The go-to bait is usually fresh dead goggle eyes.  Some catch their own but I'm guessing the majority buy them from a bait supplier.  Some people bring frozen bait but I try to avoid it if possible.  When a bonito is caught it is usually cut up and used for bait.  Squid makes good baits on these trips also.  You want a strip or butterflied bait that won't twist up as you drift.  As for ballyhoo, I have used it in the past with good success; however, i dropped 5-6 butterflied bally hoo this trip and never got a bite.

    To be honest I don't know what the boat supplied on this trip because I brought my own and cut up a couple bonitos we caught.  I have seen cut up squid, and other bait fish supplied in the past.

    One Named Fishin is spot on about live bait.  I have seen a few guys bring live bait but it has to go on the top deck, you have to bring your own aerator and power (battery). You also need to bring your own bucket if you want to change out the water.  Changing the water out is a real pain because you can't just drain your live well because you will have a bunch of people complaining about the water draining from the top deck.  In short, live bait isn't worth the effort and isn't needed to catch fish.
  • CountryBumpkinCountryBumpkin Fla. Piney WoodsPosts: 1,893 Captain
    Do you guys or anyone else bring live bait on these trips? If you do, what's your live well set up - sizes of wells, aereators, pumps etc.?
    From what I hear tell you don't want to use any bait on these trips.
    They say slow pitch jigs "outfish bait".

    But you do have to bring your own rod to deploy them on. I hear the special $750 Japanese import  muskie rods are the best for this. ;)
  • RareRare Posts: 248 Deckhand
    Xaf, great report and pics!

    Few of the bait guys that sell gogs will have them alive in their bait pen/livewell. They will double their price if you buy them alive. If you are using them for bottom bait, they will fill a cooler with ice and drop saltwater in and then the gogs for a good night sleep. Others dont care and have a set price...Bring a sabiki gog rig. There are times at night when you can drop them and catch fresh gogs or other bait. Others might have a dip net to get flyers and if you are lucky you might get to use it and get a few as well. Most of the guys in south florida just hit the piers to catch the gogs,

  • privateer19privateer19 Posts: 439 Deckhand
    Great report, thank you!
  • tarponbro1tarponbro1 jacksonvillePosts: 296 Deckhand
    Thanks again. How many goggle eyes do you need for a 3 day trip?
  • XafXaf Posts: 1,132 Officer
    edited August 2018 #22
    tarponbro1 -
    Everyone will have their own opinion about how much and what bait you need.  There is really no set answer as to how many goggle eyes you need. One trip you may only use a dozen and another trip you may use 3 dozen or more.  The number of goggle eyes I take depends on a couple factors.  If it is strictly a mutton trip, I like a minimum of 2 dozen goggle eyes plus ballyhoo, bonito, squid, etc.  When anchored, you can usually get 2-3 baits out of each goggle eye because you don't need to worry about them spinning.  If I don't have any other bait I like to have 3 dozen gogs. 
    On the drift trips, Pulley Ridge, Rankin Ridge, Pulley Lite, or Halfway Ledge, I like to have at least 3 dozen because I use a whole butterflied gog so it doesn't spin while drifting. 

    To answer your previous question about chumming - no they do not put a chum bag out at night or any other time.  But yes you will catch yellow tails along with mutton, grouper and any other bottom fish that may be around.

    Hope this helps, happy to answer any questions that I can. It is always best to be prepared and what to expect on trips like these. 

  • tarponbro1tarponbro1 jacksonvillePosts: 296 Deckhand
    Do you have any idea how deep the areas are that they anchor in at night? I wonder if I could bring a chum bags and a couple of blocks of chum on board and use them at night. Again, I used to fish the Winner Fleet and we did well on nice sized yellowtails in the chum slick at night, usually only a few feet under the surface. Once more, thanks to everyone for answering all my questions. I'm very much trying to cover my bases for when I go on a trip. I'm even considering a slow pitch jigging outfit. The Temple Reef website has the Gravitate rods for $256.00. What model should I get if I want to do a Pulley Ridge or Halfway ledge trip and will it work well on a regular mutton trip?
  • conchydongconchydong Pompano BeachPosts: 13,354 AG
    Sometimes chum brings in sharks. I would ask the Captain before you do that. Not everyone wants Yellowtails.

    “Everyone behaves badly--given the chance.”
    ― Ernest Hemingway

  • Reel TealReel Teal Posts: 3,963 Captain
    Leave your chum at home. 
  • Reel TealReel Teal Posts: 3,963 Captain

    That's all the tackle information. People have given good advice here. Dont reinvent the wheel and read the trip descriptions to know what the trip will be like.
  • globalwavetrackerglobalwavetracker Posts: 241 Deckhand
    Thanks for the pics and write-up. It was Tai from VA that landed the 60+ Black.

    It was a glow slow pitch jig (70%) and gog (30%)  trip for me. High hook predominantly used frozen gogs from a previously cancelled trip but also jigged occasionally with good results (25#black). I had supermarket frozen and fresh dead gogs both of which produced well. Frozen commercial speedo and fresh bally not at all this round but had winning results on fresh frozen speedo on a previous trip. Fresh dead had an edge late in the trip as frozen stock was starting to have red eyes.

    As for jigging, 150-220 gm glow JW A141 jigs, that I won in 2016 on Cudaman's charter, using 30-50lbs braid was effective and very productive. 3 hookup in the first 4 drops and first Black on the boat from the 2nd drop. It produced consistently throughout the trip on blacks, scamps, reds, muttons, blackfins and a mahi. Many used flat fall jigs and had good results. With a strong presence of bonita, I only bounced the jigs very close to the bottom and that worked well for me. As for rods, it pays to have one with some backbone on a PB with the swimmers such as tuna to minimize tangles. I used a 350gm 5'6" and it did short work on a 18# black. It's fun to use ultra light tackle but I got spooled even with 600' of 30lb braid. The 60# black took line for 10 mins with the drift according to Tai using a JM PE8 with 100# leader. My son and I lost 4 nice strong runoffs that did not appear to be sharks and several others had similar fates. Bottom Fish of a lifetime over 50# is hard to land and requires patience. 
  • benwah22benwah22 Posts: 268 Deckhand
    Do you have any idea how deep the areas are that they anchor in at night? I wonder if I could bring a chum bags and a couple of blocks of chum on board and use them at night. Again, I used to fish the Winner Fleet and we did well on nice sized yellowtails in the chum slick at night, usually only a few feet under the surface. Once more, thanks to everyone for answering all my questions. I'm very much trying to cover my bases for when I go on a trip. I'm even considering a slow pitch jigging outfit. The Temple Reef website has the Gravitate rods for $256.00. What model should I get if I want to do a Pulley Ridge or Halfway ledge trip and will it work well on a regular mutton trip?
    I would not bring chum.  You are fishing in the Tortugas.  Do you really want to be flatlining for yellowtails there?  You can do that in Fort Lauderdale.  

    If you're fishing a deep drop Pulley Ridge (500ft +) trip I would not recommend the Gravitate, as the water is too deep for it. If you are fishing on a Halfway Ledge or Pulley Ridge Lite trip (200-400ft), the G2 or G3 would do well there.

    Working on a mutton trip is relative. Will you catch fish? Yes.  However, it's hard to slow pitch jig on an anchor when there's current and 20 other people next to you.  If you are just starting out, it's going to be tangle city.  
    Instagram:  @mrbennyortiz
    Slow Pitch Jigger
    Occasional Fish Catcher
  • tarponbro1tarponbro1 jacksonvillePosts: 296 Deckhand
    Thank you very much, Ben. As I do my research I'm becoming more and more interested in slow pitch jigging. If I go on the Pulley Ridge Lite trip, It seems I may want to have three rods - an 8 ft. bait/diamond jig one, a slow pitch jig one and a spinning rod for  jigging for blackfins. Would that be a good setup? Also, do any stores sell the Temple Reef rods in Florida? How about slow pitch jigs? I've looked up jigging world on the web. Is that a good source for equipment for these trips? Any info you can give me will greatly appreciated.
  • globalwavetrackerglobalwavetracker Posts: 241 Deckhand
    A few pics of various jigs that produced and part of the catch
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