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November Mutton Madness on the Yankee Capts

I love my first Yankee Capts trip, after a long summer up north. Seven months I spent, anticipating line screaming, gear wrecking sea monsters, a hundred miles from nowhere and that is what I got!
I've lost count of how many times the YC has been my home for three days, probably over 60, but the same excitement always keeps me awake, when the weatherman and Capt Greg agree that it's mutton madness time! 
Two new mates, Josh and Tony, both upbeat jokers at the dock, OK, they entertain, but can they make the grade in the real school, for extended hours? Well, after a very pleasant and restful ride to the shelf near Pulley Ridge, we were about to find out!
Two days before, I made a quick trip in my trusty bait boat, to catch ballyhoo, after striking out trying to buy goggs. So with a few dozen fresh frozen hoos and an equal number of frozen speedos, I was once again dropping bait to the deep. Did Greg put us on the fish? Were they biting? Would ballyhoo work? Did I forget all my hard earned lessons? About a minute after hitting bottom, mutton like nibbles and pecks made my hair stand on end, as I played line out to make absolutely sure my 12 oz lead did not drag, or bump the bottom, chasing away the curious and hungry fish. This went on for a couple minutes, fish feeding fore play.
Just as mate Tony was promising a prize of a bottle of water for the first fish caught, my fish finished eating and ran line off. Fish on! Wow! I was most pleased to see Tony deftly gaff my first mutton of the season and as I waited for my bottled water prize, number two inhaled my ballyhoo, then number three and four and a big porgie. Then as I was reeling in to check bait, a 20 pound tuna out swam my bait and succumbed to the gaff. Six in the box and it was barely dawn on the first day. OK, now I not only deserved the water, but I needed it!!! No question the mate can land a fish, but the silver tongued goof ball never did get me my prize.
There were a lot of new faces on the boat. Several of us took time to make sure the ones who really wanted to learn, got schooled on the basics, of catch some quality fish. Gotta say, I almost teared up, when a young lady got emotional, upon landing her first grouper, after I gave her a bit of advice and a fresh bait. She and hubby had full coolers by trips end. Many of us did. 
Well, bait ruled the first AM, but jigs dominated a bit later. Mostly the bite was steady enough to keep me at the rail, which is one of Capt Greg's strongest suggestions, if you want to fill your cooler and dinner plate. Even with the back fish coolers full, Greg made another stop and for some, it was the best part of the trip.
Benny put on his usual jigging seminar, schooling others in the art of catching everything that moves on the bottom. Including a pool winning, 52 pound black grouper that looked like a small car floating to the surface as it succumbed to his jig. Well done, Benny! Not long after, I hooked a freight train on a speedo head, that made my nerves grind against my adrenaline, in a way that usually has led to a broken line and bewilderment in past battles. 
Well, with Josh, the other new mate, coaxing me, while gaffing several other fish, five, I believe, I tentatively  retrieved my line and was rewarded with a 20 pound cubera snapper. The fangs on that bad boy qualify it as a river monster. Good job Josh! 
So upon hearing that I was going to write a fishing report, Josh promptly gave me a home work assignment. A 1000 word essay on my fishing trip, mentioning him several times, with pictures. Well this is it Josh, start counting words and looking for spelling mistakes....
Look at the bait I was using for this mutton.


  • benwah22benwah22 Posts: 268 Deckhand
    edited November 2019 #2
    Awesome fishing with you out there Camron!  What a blast on this trip.  That Cubera was a stud - and those fangs looked like it was a vampire.  You put in an absolute clinic mutton fishing. 

    That black was the fish of a lifetime for me. I've been searching for that one for a long time and the stars finally aligned. 

    For those wondering the gear used on the black:

    Gear used:
    Rod: Temple Reef Innovate 8'0 MH 100-400g, Benny Ortiz signature series
    Reel: Accurate Valiant 500n
    Line: YoZuri Super Braid 30lb
    Leader: AFTCO Saiko Pro 50lb fluorocarbon
    Hooks: Gamakatsu 510 assist 3/0
    Jig: prototype, due out in 2020, 250g

    Here's a few more from the trip, and as always, get the meal plan!

    Instagram:  @mrbennyortiz
    Slow Pitch Jigger
    Occasional Fish Catcher
  • JCameronRSleepJCameronRSleep marathon flaPosts: 61 Deckhand
    Yes it was a great trip! Here are a few more pictures.
  • CaptJCaptJ Posts: 1,707 Captain
    Studs! Congrats on a strong showing.
  • SnaphappySnaphappy Posts: 1,427 Officer
    Incredible!! Great job guys! 
  • AOKRVsAOKRVs Posts: 2,053 Captain
    another great trip - thanks for the report

    Marathon, FL -- World Cat 320CC -- Charter Service cheaper than renting <br></code><div>573-216-4078<br></div><div><br></div><code><a rel="nofollow" href="http://"></a>&nbsp;&nbsp; -- The best prices on the best best brands everyday.<br><br>
  • piner_wahoo1piner_wahoo1 keysPosts: 847 Officer
  • JCameronRSleepJCameronRSleep marathon flaPosts: 61 Deckhand
    sore arms.....
  • CatknappCatknapp Posts: 12 Greenhorn
    I was on this trip also. It was my first trip with Yankee Capts. It will also be my last. The fishing was good but I have done far far better fishing the Dry Tortugas with Captain Yuri. The boat bait was a joke. I am glad I brought my own bait or I wouldn't have caught anything. 
    I did catch 20 nice fish. Several Groupers, big Muttons and Jacks. All excellent eating fish. The deckhands were awesome. The food was great. And all but one of the fishermen were awesome people. To the one who stole the drinks out of my ice chest, well you know who you are and karma is a ****.
    We paid for a meal plan that included a sit down breakfast on the return home. Unfortunately the captain decided to leave at least 6 hours early so we lost a good portion of fishing time. 
    Also I am a bait fisherman. I am too old to be working jigs for hours and my hat is off to those that do. It is a very productive way to fish. But, if you fish jigs have a little etiquette. Don't keep throwing over the bait fishermen and fouling lines. Why do you throw down the rail over 6 or 7 lines when you can throw out away from all the other lines. I don't get it and its rude. 
    Also the bunks (mine in particular) are extremely hard to get in and out of. 
    All said and done I caught some nice fish. I met some great people. And had good assistance from awesome deckhands. It could have been a far worse trip. But it could have been the trip of a lifetime if not for rude people, a captain in a hurry to get home and one thief.  
  • JCameronRSleepJCameronRSleep marathon flaPosts: 61 Deckhand
    I was surprised and pleased that Greg took us to the final spot. The rear boxes were full and that is usually the sign we are headed home. I can't recall ever heading home much later than we did. 20 fish puts you in the top 3 or 4 anglers, for the price paid, I call that good value.
  • dihrddihrd Posts: 247 Deckhand
    Great report Cameron.  
    Cubera is a bit of a unicorn catch congrats.  

    I really like the scad jig

  • Reef BanditReef Bandit Posts: 1,031 Officer
    So, Mr Katnapper, I have some observations here that I'd like to address.  First, I was not on the trip but I have been on several trips on the boat so I am trying to understand your unhappiness.  First, you didn't like the boats bait.  I think it's pretty clear on his website and extremely clear to everyone that knows anything about fishing that fresh bait will out produce old frozen bait.. you brought your own but you still complained about the boats bait.. why?  Then, you were upset about jiggers getting tangled with you.  Would you rather everyone fish cut bait?  There are up to 20 lines in the water at one time, of course there's going to be tangles.. Let me guess, you NEVER got tangled on Yuri's boat right?  BIG difference between 6 anglers and 20.  You then said someone stole your drinks.  I can actually understand your frustration here because that is a classless thing to do BUT, maybe the person got confused as there are a bunch of coolers up there?  IDK.  Obviously this is not the the boats fault as there's really not too much Greg can do to stop this.  BUT, if you were on the meal plan, drinks were included weren't they?  As far as Chads breakfast's go, I've never had a sit down breakfast, it's always been a bagel stuffed to the max, a croissant etc.  I've always held it in my hand while I was fishing.  You then complained that the bunks were hard to get into.. Are you really that bad off that you can't bend over and roll into a bunk bed?  What were you expecting, private quarters?  You are literally the first person to EVER complain about that.  But here's the part that really got me, I understand that maybe you're some kind of great fishermen and you've fished with all the best guys blah blah blah but to come on here and say "I've done a lot better with Yuri", that's just a d*&k thing to say. I'm not going to get into the debate on who's better but you're comparing a six pack charter to a head boat.  A friend of mine just got back from fishing with Yuri and had an absolute HORRIBLE trip but did he get on here and rag on Yuri?  Nope.. it's fishing.  Greg's one of the few that will get on this site and tell it like it is, if it's slow, it's slow, he's not going to candy coat it.  When it's not slow and the fishing is good, he lets his patrons do the bragging, just like the person that started this thread is doing.  You said you met a lot of nice people.. I wonder if they'd say the same about you?  Next time you're on Yuri's boat, the boat that you've caught so many monster fish, had roomy bunks and sit down breakfasts, don't forget to bring your knee pads.  Greg, I'm sorry if you don't like me jumping on your patrons but you darn sure don't need whiny customers like this..

  • TugasTugas Posts: 207 Deckhand
    Great report sounds like a great trip again Cameron . Massive fish BENNY . Maybe one day I’ll be able to catch one like that . 
  • benwah22benwah22 Posts: 268 Deckhand
    Tugas said:
    Great report sounds like a great trip again Cameron . Massive fish BENNY . Maybe one day I’ll be able to catch one like that . 
    Thanks buddy, that is the second big black the Innovate took down - yours being the first!
    Instagram:  @mrbennyortiz
    Slow Pitch Jigger
    Occasional Fish Catcher
  • benwah22benwah22 Posts: 268 Deckhand
    Catknapp said:
    But, if you fish jigs have a little etiquette. Don't keep throwing over the bait fishermen and fouling lines. Why do you throw down the rail over 6 or 7 lines when you can throw out away from all the other lines. I don't get it and its rude.
    This is a good teachable moment. I'm not going to come down on you because I don't think it's productive, and I certainly think you're entitled to your opinion. I'm not sure which angler you were, but I'm pretty sure you know me. 

    When you're jig fishing, one main goal is to stay vertical. In order to do that you need to cast up current. 

    The problem is that on the Yankee Capts, when drifting, you drift toward the bow instead of broadside.  So, when someone is fishing bait (you), their line drifts toward the stern, and is generally close to the boat. 

    If a jig fisherman is more toward the stern than you, your line will naturally cross him. So, the jig person will need to cast over you in the hopes that (1) he doesn't tangle you, and (2) it will help him stay vertical. 

    Essentially, casting over the line is the least possible chance of tangling lines. So, while your comment is that jig fisherman should have some etiquette, the same goes for bait fisherman. If you move more to the stern, and jig fisherman move to the bow, everyone can work out. 

    Or, you can pass blame to jig fisherman because your situational awareness wasn't there. And, maybe it wasn't there because your didn't know or hadn't had that experience before.  I don't know, and that's ok.

    But, passing blame is objectively bs, and I think you probably know that when you reread your post.

    Otherwise, I'm sure we probably crossed paths, and I'm sure we were cordial to each other. But, disparaging the boat after what you've stated was an objectively stellar trip, doesn't seem to hold water and hurts your credibility. 

    My 2¢.
    Instagram:  @mrbennyortiz
    Slow Pitch Jigger
    Occasional Fish Catcher
  • CountryBumpkinCountryBumpkin Fla. Piney WoodsPosts: 1,892 Captain
    Catknapp said:
    All said and done I caught some nice fish. I met some great people. And had good assistance from awesome deckhands. It could have been a far worse trip. But it could have been the trip of a lifetime if not for rude people, a captain in a hurry to get home and one thief.  
    Oh I get could be sitting back sipping a tall cool glass of refreshing lemonade........but you prefer to just be a sourpuss. ;)
  • JCameronRSleepJCameronRSleep marathon flaPosts: 61 Deckhand
    Some people have issues that simply won't let them admit they had a good time. Are you a glass half full, or glass half empty kind of guy.
    Any trip that I come home with 20 keepers, I'm elated, great trip. Within hours, I usually sign up for just one more trip, just one. If it weren't for Capt Greg's loyalty to providing a quality and exciting fishing adventure, I for one would not be in southern Florida all winter. I will not go on another boat, loyalty back at you Greg. Your boat and service level have improved by light years, since I started with you back in 2010.
    We get to fish waters that no one else can reach. It's affordable, comfortable, safe, well managed, great food and you don't have to book two years in advance.
    Negative comments always have an impact on someone who is trying super hard to please everyone. Thanks guys for stepping up and supporting Greg, Yankee Capts. and team.

  • CatknappCatknapp Posts: 12 Greenhorn
    Obviously I had a different experience than everyone else. So my apologies to everyone that had an outstanding trip. I have only fished party boats out of San Diego. I am still learning that the east coast has different ways and not bad ways. Yankee Capts fills a needed nitch in the Florida fleet. It's not for me. But it is for others. I must have misunderstood the information I was given or read. 
    I hope all of you that fish this boat continue to catch record fish and find new productive grounds. 
  • Reef BanditReef Bandit Posts: 1,031 Officer
    Apology accepted.

  • JCameronRSleepJCameronRSleep marathon flaPosts: 61 Deckhand
    Apology accepted.

    Yup. Agreed. Enjoy the fish you caught!
  • Knot AwakeKnot Awake Posts: 47 Deckhand
    I was on that trip as well and I have been on at least 20 trips with Greg. I think Benny, Cameron, and Reef Bandit said everything that I would have said already so I won’t rehash it.  Greg and his Crew work extremely hard to put you on quality fish and take care of everything at a reasonable price that most people can afford. The value and the potential for true trophy bottom fish is there. 

  • natural anglernatural angler Posts: 291 Deckhand
    I also had a bad trip. I only filled 2.5 of my 3 yetti's with grouper and snapper. I was not happy that my largest red grouper was only 17.22 pounds and my full grouper limit only had 4 scamp included. several of my mutton snapper where only in the 10 lb range. I also did not catch a 51lb black grouper and that is not really fair. I guess I will only go 6 more times next year based on the above :smiley:
  • natural anglernatural angler Posts: 291 Deckhand
    In all seriousness, day one was super hard for me. I had only boxed 2 fish, both where small mutton and I had to return my third mutton back as he was half an inch short. I stuck to my jigging method and would not deviate. Relaying on all the previous trips and keeping my spirits up with memories of getting tons of bites and landing quality fish. 

    I finally went to bed around 2am on the fist day with little to show for my effort. I also decided to sleep a bit and did not get up to fish until around 5am. This was new for me as I normally fish all the way through and save sleep for the ride home, but my lack of making it happen finally washed over me and I decided to pack it in.

    Upon awaking I felt refreshed and I was given the update from those that stayed up through the night, the the bait bite was pretty good (as it was for most the day previous). Also keep in mind that on the boat are some of the best slow pitch jigging experts I know, so for me the pressure was on (I like to pretend that I know what I am doing). 

    As the sun rose I continued my jigging and was just not happy with me continuing with the same system that had left me with very little to show from day one. I decided to go into my bag and and started grabbing some jigs that I had never really fished before. Also with a commitment to alter the presentation from my standard approach to more of a falling presentation (mixing the two but focusing on making some changes to the style). 

    What came out of the bag was a short stocky FCLLABO SLZ. This jig takes a bit to get down but is very strong on the fall action. On my first drop I finally had a good contact and it turned out to be a large porgy. From there things changed for me, I was getting lots of bites all through the day. Grouper after grouper and snapper after snapper. Things where back on tract. A very good pile of large red grouper and muttons to show for it. 

    In the end I had a solid trip with about the same amount of box fish as I normally bring home. Hard to say if my altered approach was the difference as day two I think was better for all jigging, but for me that does not matter, what matters is confidence in the attack. If you dont feel great it is not going to turn out well (like most things in life). 

    Great trip and great company. I always look forward to these trips and look forward to many next year.

    It was also nice to see Benny with his 51lb black, it gives me hope that mine is in the seasons to come and also validation to all he has put into this space. Awesome fish sir! 

    If you like to slow pitch jig or are looking to learn (I am forever learning) there is not any place I know of better to do it for the price and the value of these trips. 

    As soon as we hit the dock coming home I am already missing that feeling. 

    I met a bunch of really nice folks on this trip, we all traded information and had great conversation over great meals and time between spots. Some of use traded phone numbers and please reach out if your ever in Jacksonville or looking for a spot to fill on a trip. 

    Kind regards, 


  • JCameronRSleepJCameronRSleep marathon flaPosts: 61 Deckhand
    Hey Chris, thanks for your input! Just back from another super trip. Report soon.
  • natural anglernatural angler Posts: 291 Deckhand
    I cant wait to read about it!!! 
  • tarponbro1tarponbro1 jacksonvillePosts: 296 Deckhand
    I read comments about casting over other people's lines and not moving when fish are hooked up, etc. Why don't fishermen get together and rotate spots. Keep the bait fishermen in one area of the boat and the ijggers in another, i. e. the bow for jiggers and the stern for bait fishers. When you reel up whether with a fish on or not go to the back of the line and the others move forward, especially on drift trips. If you both jig and bait fish, move to the bow when you jig and to the stern when you bait fish. Also, don't drop your line straight down on top of someone whose line is angling under yours. It seems to me these two things could avoid a lot of tangles and tensions. I noticed this problem las summer on the Gulfstar. I was getting ready to drop and the guy's line to the right of me was scoping past my spot. I asked him if we could switch places so I didn't drop and get us tangled up and he just looked at me like "huh?". One guy was fishing 6 ounces of lead while people on both sides of him were using 8 ounces of lead. He tangled with someone almost every time. When I jigged I went to the bow and got away from as many people as I could. Why can't we just do a few little things to make everyone on the boat's fishing (and lives) more enjoyable?
  • natural anglernatural angler Posts: 291 Deckhand
    When I grew up as a deck hand in SoCal fishing tuna and what not, we used live bait free lined. 100 foot plus boats packed with anglers. I used to help the fisherman and help all catch more fish "no angles no tangles" keep barking it out and helping customers understand the flow. then all the sudden they all get into the system along with the rest of the boat and every one starts hooking up. 

    I was on a charter last year on the Yankee Capts, this was a jigging charter and there was no group effort to get together based on the drift to get jigs straight up and down. it was not like the group did not want to cooperate it was more a lack of understanding. 

    on the morning of the second day the stern was pretty wide open and I the queen snapper where chewing, drop after drop I was hooking quality queens, along with some other SPJ fishermen. Then the rest of the boat assumed that the bite was in the stern (not true)! So all the rest of the anglers left bow positions to pack the stern. 

    The bite at the stern had nothing to do with bow versus stern it had all to do with angler cooperation. 

    the folks on the stern prion to the rest of the boat coming in had to do with s very simple rotation, go to one side, pitch your jig and fish it down the line. if you hook up good, if not reel in and go to the back of the line on the other side.

    this assembly line of anglers allows for at least 20+ to fish SPJ in the perfect way with some simple cooperation. 

    in the end every one was catching fish. I had to do some quarterbacking at first but as everyone feel in line it became second nature for all. 

    we ended up all of us, killing on that trip, basically taking advantage of a few drifts with complete team work. 

    I am sure many will recall the trip I am talking about. We where fishing in 450 feet plus  and at the end tangles where rare, fully vertical jigs, big fish abundant and smile and high fives all around. 

    the same concept can be accomplished with a combination of bait fishers and jig fishers if we all engage in open communication, respect for what each group is trying to accomplish and coordination. 

    tight lines and sharp hooks 

  • XafXaf Posts: 1,132 Officer
    I just found this and realized I never hit post when I wrote it.)
    Tarponbro, I just read your post and have a couple comments to add. Personally, I don't think you will ever solve the problem of tangles when you are fishing on a party boat with anywhere from 20 to 40 (I've fished on boats with as high as 70 plus) people with lines in the water.   One reason is the skill level, you have everyone from novice to seasoned anglers on board. Another reason is fishing experience.  Again, some guys have only fished from an anchored boat, others have only trolled, some fish in other areas where the techniques used are different and a few fish the same boat week in and week out. Then there is motivation, some guys are just out for an enjoyable few days away from everything, other's think they have to fish hard to get their money's worth, and a few are fishing to make money (yes, I know it is illegal to sell the fish you catch). 
    If you read enough posts on here where guys have asked questions about fishing on the Yankee Capts and other party boats you will hear one common bit of advice, "Listen to the mates, Capt or regulars. "  But I have seen people who say "Don't tell me how to fish," refuse to change the way they are rigged, won't hook their bait differently (so it doesn't helicopter on the way down), cast in a different direction, etc.  By the same token I have seen people with little to no experience who listen to the mates end up with decent catches by the end of the trip.  
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