Team Cobia hits shallow water ledges off Hudson known as the “meat ledge"
100-hour maintenance is complete, 3 pumps replaced, nav and underwater lights fixed, and a new Airmar B175M 1KW thru-hull transducer added to the Fair Weather Fisherman (FWF). So much broke from not using my Cobia 296 since 29 July. Stuff just breaks if you don’t use it. The marine environment is not kind to gear. Next year, I will have to make it out at least once in Aug and Sep, regardless of work. Anyway, fall is here the fronts have started. The t-storms are gone, the bait, Kings and sharks are moving south and the Gag groupers are moving in. Mark J, Jonathan L, Bob, Sal V, Pa and I went out on the FWF in search of Kings and Gags. Target spots: The Meat Ledge off Hudson and the RR Ledge 22 miles NW of Anclote. The good thing about this time of year is that you don’t need to hike 80 miles out to the middle grounds to find solid action. The not so good thing is a wind out of the north still blowing 2 days after a cold front. The seas where only 2-3 feet, but with a gulf-chop-tight spacing that prevented us from making any travel time. Yes….plenty bumpy with some extra 3 foot drops that cold sea water spray bonus. I should have not left the bib overalls at home. Getting soaked is fine in the summer.....not so much when the water is in the 60's.
After catching about 5 dozen fresh, frisky pinfish off the south end of Anclote, we headed north to a large shallow water ledge off Hudson known at the “meat ledge.” This ledge got the name due to its consistent productivity during the fall and winter months. The bottom around is ledge is real sticky. We wanted to troll some, but due to all the grass in the coastal offshore water, I knew that would be a challenge, so straight to ledge fishing we went. The place was white grunt city. Grunts are good eating but they don’t get that big and are not the target. We did get some gags at the Meat Ledge, but no keepers. While there, we watch both the Cottee River based Miss Virginia and the Tarpons Springs based head boat, the Two Georges work the entire ledge….back and forth and over again. I did not witness these boats bringing up any big fish, but after putting 2-and-2 together I came to the conclusion that this is not the only day these local party boats fish here. I think I will take the FWF and crew further out. Maybe 31 feet is not the day’s magic depth for gag grouper and kings. We did see some big Spanish macs but our focus was on grouper. Here is Johnson with one of the many undersized Gags we caught. In the back ground is the Miss Virginia. Mark was disappointed that he did not get his monthly butt kicking by a shark.
Jonathan was the fisherman of the day with the largest Gag and a very robust Dusky Shark. He also got a second keeper grouper, which meant he caught half the boat’s keepers this trip.
If I had to do this trip over again, it would be to go out again Sunday and catch more and try some trolling around the ledges in 50 feet. We did not get any kings, but to be truthful, we did not focus on that. There certainly are kings out there. We did flat line a pin which got picked up something. The other thing I would do would be have the crew bring more chum and less ice. We brought a "summer load" of ice and hardly any of the ice melted.
There are so many more ledges out there that are holding gags now.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone, and I will see you on the water,
Very nice report. What kind of Cobia do you own (year, motor)? I've got a 2001 Cobia 250WA and yeah, I agree there are days where you are wishing for Eisenglass (like the last two times I went out) - I keep a pair of goggles that go over my glasses since it makes it much easier to wipe the salt water off. But I'm seriously considering getting the 'glass next year.
I think I know the exact area where you all stopped first. Used to be one of my favorite shallow water spots to dive, but over the last 2 years I keep seeing the head boats on them every time I go out. I guess it works for them and the tourists catching grunts, but it sure does make it tough to find keeper gags, etc.
Out in about 45-65 feet due west of NPR are some amazing ledges with a lot of 23.5" and smaller gags, with a few keepers here and there but tough to shoot since they are so skittish. I think hook and lining and trolling is the key from this point on.
I've fished it a few times over the last few years with very few keepers. It really gets pounded since it is so apparent as well as being on several public number lists. It's still a beautiful dive with big basket sponges that were never hit by the last few red tides.
BTW, that looks like a sandbar shark rather than a dusky. They are often confused. The big fins, coloration, and the location of the dorsal fin forward of the trailing edge of the pectoral fins say sandbar to me.
(fixed your title)