New Jersey invades the middle grounds

Returned Sunday morning from a thirty nine hour middle grounds trip aboard the Florida Fisherman, Hubbard's Marina. This time I fished in between Mister Don Lewis, and Mister Greg Chinault, retired Department of Juvenile Justice executives, and, on the other side, the "Jersey Boyz." I was ever so eager to show Mister Kile Stevens, & Mister Brandon Caldwell, the brothers from New Jersey, why Florida is known as the fishing capital of the world. I wanted to prove to them first hand what the Florida Middle Grounds is really all about. Are the grounds really that good? Well! we shall see. I tole them to get plenty of rest on the way our, they are going to need it. Kile suggested that I call this report, "New Jersey Invades the Middle Grounds."
The trip begins:
Many of us arrive a couple of hours early to catch our own bait. Mister Teigh Hatmaker is an expert at catching pin fish from the Florida Fisherman. Teigh is hoping for some huge ARS & red grouper. Mister Craig Scott catches one of his very favorite baits, lady fish, off the Florida Fisherman's dock. Craig shows us how he prepares lady fish for a real killer grouper, and huge snapper bait. It's an art well learned. I saw mackerel, bonito, and kings, being caught trolling on the way to the grounds. Mister Mark Almestica put on quite a show for us. His, and our, reward, a beautiful king fish. What a prize! Mark had a good catch long before we reached the grounds. OK! So it takes ten hours for us to reach our destination deep into the grounds. Great fishing, Tammy's cheese burgers, and snoozing, on the way out, so what? Who cares? We still get around twenty hour of fishing time on the fabulous Florida Middle Grounds. Those five hours of night time fishing on the grounds can be most rewarding. Many epic battles between man & monster are fought, and usually lost, long before we ever see the sun. Talk about challenges! And don't forget the mangrove snapper, they love the night. In fact, Don & Greg tore them apart real early Saturday morning. We caught them all day long, never really fast, but relatively steady. And then the big boys took over, the American Red Snapper. We caught a few at night; most were caught during the day light hours. Mister Mike Miller had one heck of a fight on his hands with a monster ARS. This time, Mike won. Wow! One of our professional mates, Will, loves to show off our catch. I think both Will & Captain Hubbard are even more proud of our catch that we are. "Jersey Boyz" Mister Kile Stevens caught something I had never seen in my thirty + years of middle grounds fishing, a yellow mouth grouper. It was big & beautiful. Talk about big & beautiful those, "Boyz" from Jersey sure know how to catch our middle grounds fish. I saw them catch huge mangos, gags, tons of ARS, and gags, and red grouper. Our grounds made an impression on them, and they on us. Both are not only great fishermen, but fine young gentlemen. If they are any indication as to what the peoples of New Jersey are like, I hope we see many more from the Garden State visiting the Sun Shine State. Good job New Jersey.
We caught numerous goliath groupers. I had one take a whole ARS away from me. Our mates would hang over the side of the boat, vent them, and send them home. What a show! Our own Department of juvenile justice people, as well as, I like to call them our, "Jersey boyz" knocked them dead. I can just imagine the stories they will be telling for years to come. They, along with virtually everyone on board caught more American reds than we wanted. We picked along all day at them. Then, after Tammy's fabulous chicken & pasta dinner, we still had several hours of prime evening fishing left. The red snapper were absolutely on fire. We wanted to catch a few more mangrove snapper. Guess what? No way! The reds would give the mangos absolutely no chance. Finally, we just gave up and headed back to John's Pass. When our day on the grounds was finally over, Tammy had a huge very cold water melon waiting for us. Gosh that hit the spot! What a trip. Plenty of great food, many new friends, and loads of fish for everyone. And, to top things off, our new friends from the Garden State of New Jersey, the "Jersey Boyz" left with enough memories of the Sunshine State to last a life time. Way to go New Jersey, you did yourself, and us, proud. When "New Jersey Invades the Middle Grounds" good things happen.
Bob Harbison A native Florida recreational fisherman, and proud of it.
(didn't get to take a final pile of fish picture, raining too hard!)



Mister Craig Scott uses lady fish for bait
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Mister Mark Almestica catches kings on the way to the grounds
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Don & Greg with night mangos
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Mister Mike Miller fights, and lands, a big ARS, Mister Ayala, FWC biologist, will study this fish
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Will is so proud of our ARS. He likes to show them off.
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"Jersey Boyz" Kile with yellow mouth grouper, Will with ARS
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Brandon and a very nice red grouper, Vence, our professional mate, looks on
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Don, Kile, and Greg with big ARS
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Captain Mark Hubbard weighs in a "Jersey Boyz" yellow mouth grouper
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Captain Hubbard weighs in Greg's jack pot winning ARS
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Left this one out. We caught a very good # of gags (Jersey Boyz Kile)
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Replies

  • Mango ManMango Man Posts: 11,078 AG
    Your "yellow mouth" looks like Scamp. ;)

    Still a nice fish. :beer


    America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.
    Abraham Lincoln
  • TennesseeDaveTennesseeDave Posts: 308 Deckhand
    Thanks for the report Bob. Sure wish I could go every week like you. Guess I need to work harder so I can retire early. I am slowly getting my gear ready for those monster AJs in August. Keep sending the pictures so we can see what we missed!
  • XafXaf Posts: 1,058 Officer
    There was actually some debate about whether it was a scamp or yellow mouth. It had characteristics of both.

    BTW: Mike's red snapper was 13.5 lbs and the jackpot winner was 16.5.
  • Mango ManMango Man Posts: 11,078 AG
    Xaf wrote: »
    There was actually some debate about whether it was a scamp or yellow mouth. It had characteristics of both.

    BTW: Mike's red snapper was 13.5 lbs and the jackpot winner was 16.5.

    The tail is the decider.

    How'd you do Bob?


    America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.
    Abraham Lincoln
  • XafXaf Posts: 1,058 Officer
    I limited out on mangroves but didn't hook any big red snapper this trip, mine were all dinks. After I got cut off three times in a row while knocking, I put a piece of wire on and caught a nice king.
  • Mango ManMango Man Posts: 11,078 AG
    Sweet on the king!

    How's the Gag fishing? A little slow?


    America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.
    Abraham Lincoln
  • harbisonharbison Posts: 3,442 Captain
    That fish in question looked like a big scamp to me also. I called it a yellow mouth grouper because Captain Hubbard & Will both said that is what it was. That darn fish was caught immediately next to me by that gentleman from New Jersey. He is down here on a short vacation & landed a fish I have never seen in 30 + years of grounds fishing.
    As far as being retired and going fishing often; I paid my dues. I went to school for so many years to learn my profession. I have a degree in Psychology. For many years I worked with very troubled kids. I worked for the State, Department of Juvenile Justice. OH! in the meantime, I also raised three daughters. Yes! I put in my time.
    I saw quite a few really nice gags caught and we were not targeting them. As far as being slow, everything was pretty slow until late Saturday evening. When the American reds decided it was dinner time, they really turned it on. It was fun! Bob
  • GulfWarriorGulfWarrior Posts: 141 Officer
    Although highly unlikely, it is possible that the fish in question was a Yellowmouth (usually farther south and deeper than the M.G.s). The Yellowmouth too has a ragged tail and this fish doesn't have elongated outer rays on the tail like a Scamp does. But either way, I'm betting it was great eatin'.
  • harbisonharbison Posts: 3,442 Captain
    Thank you sir. Mister Ayala, biologist FWC was on board with us. I will ask him his opinion as to the identification of the fish in question. Regardless, it was on heck of a fish. Bob
  • ontheedge5658ontheedge5658 Posts: 2,665 Captain
    Bob. Great report and catch. can't wait until our trip on the 17th of July. Do you mind if I ask you a couple of quetions about bait and tackle? My email is [email protected]. Thanks Stuart
  • Reel-LuckyReel-Lucky Oldsmar, FLPosts: 3,118 Moderator
    Another fun report. I think Tammy deserves some "lens" time one of these posts.
  • harbisonharbison Posts: 3,442 Captain
    Agreed 100%! Tammy is in a class by herself. She makes our trips.
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  • harbisonharbison Posts: 3,442 Captain
    Always happy to answer any queations I can. Bob
  • harbisonharbison Posts: 3,442 Captain
    A question arose as to wether this fish from last weekend's middle grounds trip was a yellow mouth grouper, or scamp. Mister Butch Ayala, FWC biologist, was on board. To maker a positive identification, Butch studied, took pictures, and actually took samples back to the lab. Butch just reported that the fish in question was indeed a yellow mouth grouper. Bob
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  • johnDjohnD WC FLPosts: 6,403 Admiral
    Very nice haul !! :fishing
  • HawkboatHawkboat Posts: 1,030 Officer
    Nice job fellas.

    Where does this boat sail from.

    I only know of only one other boat out of tarpon Springs that fish the middle grounds.
    Capt Bill
  • harbisonharbison Posts: 3,442 Captain
    The Florida Fisherman, Hubbard's Marina, sails out of Madeira Beach Florida. The 72 foot catamaran is located just inside John's Pass Bridge, a couple hundred feet from the Gulf of Mexico. The Florida's Middle Grounds trips leave the Marina three P. M. Friday, and return six A. M. Sunday morning.
    We have been limiting out (2 day limit) on ARS every trip, plus tons of mangrove snapper. We sure caught some big mangos last weekend. I caught one that was so big it had to be gaffed.


    July 1 – 3 Fri - Sun 4th of July weekend
    Red Snapper Open Season $299

    39hrs 3pm – 6am Every Captains favorite time of year lets go get our limit of them

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  • HawkboatHawkboat Posts: 1,030 Officer
    Is that an open boat or limited load of passangers?
    Capt Bill
  • XafXaf Posts: 1,058 Officer
    Hawkboat, I'm not exactly sure what you mean by open boat. They make reservations for spots and bunks. The max they take out is 50 people, but it is seldom that crowded. There is usually room to move around especially on the bow. Check their website - hubbardsmarina.com it has a lot of information.
  • HawkboatHawkboat Posts: 1,030 Officer
    Open boat means that you have walk ups even you have 30 on the boat already. I understand the reservation part but I have done a few Trips in the Keys that the total amout of anglers on 100 foot boat was 20 for 3 days. Cost a little more but there are some of us that do those types of trips.

    Fancy words for a private charter.

    I am guessing this boat has livewells, didn't read the whole bio as I am getting ready to an offshore trip in the morning so sort of on a break now.

    Oh this has my interest for sure..I'm only a few hours away and the price is not bad at all.

    As a matter of fact I know a few guys from NY that do some trips like these guys from Jersey did, I'll have to send them the link for this boat and post.
    Capt Bill
  • Navy_FishingNavy_Fishing Posts: 817 Officer
    Hawkboat wrote: »
    Open boat means that you have walk ups even you have 30 on the boat already. I understand the reservation part but I have done a few Trips in the Keys that the total amout of anglers on 100 foot boat was 20 for 3 days. Cost a little more but there are some of us that do those types of trips.

    Fancy words for a private charter.

    I am guessing this boat has livewells, didn't read the whole bio as I am getting ready to an offshore trip in the morning so sort of on a break now.

    Oh this has my interest for sure..I'm only a few hours away and the price is not bad at all.

    As a matter of fact I know a few guys from NY that do some trips like these guys from Jersey did, I'll have to send them the link for this boat and post.



    If the boat has a fishing spot open, then yes, someone could walk up and go fishing. They will not sell more spots than they have onboard. Yes there are live wells on the boat. It's really a cost effective way to fish the MiddleGrounds. Since it's a party boat that is gone for more than 24 hours, you can keep 2 days worth of limits. If you were to travel out on your own boat and fish the same area for the same amount of time, you would be restricted to only one days limit. With fuel coats the way they are, unless you can pack 8-10 people on your private boat, the cost of fuel would probably equal out to what you pay to fish this boat.
  • harbisonharbison Posts: 3,442 Captain
    :RockonThanks, Navy, you explained the Florida Fisherman's trips to the grounds very well.
    I fished immediately next to the gentlemen from New Jersey, the "Jersey Boyz." They were absolutely thrilled with their adventure. They left knowing what good old Southern Hospitality is all about. Bet here is that they had some real stories to tell the people back home. We would love to show, "A few guys from NY" what real Southern Hospitality, and the Florida Middle Grounds, are all about. Bob H.
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  • HawkboatHawkboat Posts: 1,030 Officer
    I'll be in contact within a few days thorugh the site or PM me.
    Capt Bill
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