The Madness of Muttons, Yankee Capts Jan 23.
Finally, the wind slowed down enough to let us escape the land and venture to the mutton grounds, er, sea floor. I've been chomping at the bit, as trip after trip was blown out and waiting for this day..... Precisely at 6 PM, the YC, loaded with mostly repeat customers, with loads of fishing ability aboard, targeted Pulley Ridge on the GPS.
Capt Greg said, get some sleep, so we did, on brand new mattresses, no less, one of the many upgrades in the past few months. Mid way to our goal, the crew changed job descriptions and quickly handled a leaky hose on a pump and then we were off again arriving just as the mutton breakfast bell rang. And we supplied the food. Mostly sushi it was, butterfly of ballyhoo, gobs of goggle eyes, steaks of speedos, bait head buffet and much more.
They were hungry, for real. The bite was a steady pick all day, with a big flurry of activity before and during a squall announcing a cold front that passed through. Bait was the preference, jigs were largely ignored for much of the trip. Perhaps the overcast sky shut down the jig bite? But later, at the dock, there was a decent reward to show for the heavy metal experts. Best to come prepared for both jigs and bait. Both barrels loaded, use what is hot, change when it's not..
We watched a coast guard cutter monitoring us from a distance, for a couple hours, then slip away almost out of view. Fish after fish went into the boxes during this whole time. We had five fish on at the same time and Dudley and I debated what that would be called. Any ideas??? But the coast guard came back and wanted to take a closer look, so a boarding party came aboard, after nearly cruising over the sea anchor ropes. Nice young people, all of them. They had been at sea through all of the recent heavy wind, hats off to them! They took interest in our gear and after whatever they came for was answered, left laughing.
The bite went on, past my usual noonish nap, so I ignored the urge to reboot the batteries and continued at the rail till about 8 PM. All around me, the boys and girl called for the gaff. Several black groupers and a few reds vaulted the rail and torrents of mid sized muttons, with a splash of porgies, margates and African pompanos got iced. Mid afternoon, the wind and current died, so Greg dumped the sea anchor and the drift speed and the bite picked up.
Awake again at midnight, I felt refreshed and ready to fish napless, till the boxes were full, or the trip was over. Well, my big plans were altered by a slow bite and many sea monsters. I did manage a few muttons and there were rewards for those who fished, but a big shark took me for a mate-escorted run to the bow, then back to the stern, before he took over to break Mr Shark off. Others were losing fish to the predators or hooking beasts, unusual for this turf. I raised a huge nurse shark to the surface and a few minutes later, after releasing him, finally my giant grouper rocked me up on bottom. I got him free and fought him to the daylight, only to discover it was another nurse shark, looking suspiciously like the one we just released. Ouch! Then several of my baits and hooks met jaws, as others landed muttons and groupers. My luck and energy were draining...
By mid afternoon, the wind was pushing, the bite was steady and the boxes were nearly full. Time to call it a day. With a few hours left in the trip, I gave my bait to those who needed it and hit the sack.
I was quite pleased to see the catch was spread fairly evenly, among the fisher people and the really quality fish that were caught. Everyone caught dinner! The pool went to Jordan's cubera and Brian's black grouper, a tie! Fitting end to a great trip!
Hoping for favorable weather for Thursday and Halfway Ledge!