Dry Tortugas Trip with Capt Yuri during Thanksgivings in 2012

My fishing report might be different from others because I concentrated on jigging on this trip testing/experimenting tackle as I own a tackle shop specializing in jigging and popping.

I am addicted grouper jig fishermen and I knew I could catch many groupers on jigs on the trip.
But I really wanted to catch black grouper on jigs as I haven't done it before.
Also, I wanted to catch mutton snapper on jigs and figure out what kind jigs work best for them.
But, the most important objective of this trip was to know whether jigging actually scare off mutton snapper as some mutton snapper bait fishermen claim.

Nov 21

The flight from Fort Myers to Key West was a delightful surprise. It was very small plane with only 9 seats. I never thought this kind of small commercial airplane is operating in the US. Pilot said Vacation in Key West starts here and he is right.


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my carry-on rod case goes into the wing.

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Pilot was like a tour guide.
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Key West
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Nov 22
The trip was postponed to tomorrow due to weather.

Frank and Gilbert picked me up at Inn at Key West and went to the boat. Josh and Dennis were catching bait at the dock.

Here are pictures of the boat. The boat is very roomy and six fishermen can fish very comfortably.

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After relaxing on the boat, we went to old town of Key West.
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Sloppy Joe's Bar
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Then, we went to Hoghous Restaurant for dinner. Hoghouse is just next to the Yankee Capt.
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Nov 23

We got most of groupers on the first day.
I started to use 450g Black Hole Cape Cod Special two-piece rod along with PE10 filled with 100 lb leader line/80 lb Jerry Brown Hollow. The choice of jig is my reliable 8 oz Flat Hammered diamond jig.

Red grouper fishing was great. I had a few 10 - 15 lb red on the jig before I got a monster.
I knew immediately the grouper is a big one when I hooked up the fish on 8 oz Flat Hammered diamond jig. It pulled very hard on heavy drag, but I could manage to lift the fish off the bottom. Once I brought up the fish in mid water, I felt safe and I was thinking about loosening drat a little bit, but then the monster pulled hard again taking a lot of line and
the fish could manage to break 100 lb leader line.
I usually use 100 lb leader line for grouper fishing, but it is not safe enough on this trip and I changed to 120 lb leader line.
Capt Yuri told me later the spot holds many big black groupers and the monster must be a big black grouper.

I don't know how many reg groupers I caught on 8 oz Flat Hammered diamond jig on the first day and other fishermen on the boat were very impressed with the effective of the jig.
Whenever I go grouper jigging, the Flat Hammered diamond jig is the first jig I use because I have confidence with the jig as it always produced for me in the past.

When Capt Yuri moved to deeper spots, we saw mutton snapper and I switched to light Black Hole Magic Eye jigging rod rated to PE2.5(25 lb) line rating with PE4 reel spooled with new Black Hole white braid/40 lb leader line. I chose Black Hole Taifun 200g jig first.
It didn't take long I had my first mutton on the jig.
After catching 2 mutton on the jig, I experimented to add strip of squid on hook of the jig as we normally do for seabass jigging.
It was apparent mutton snapper hit the jig more with squid strip added.

I covered bottom and mid depth with the jigs and most of hit came when I bounced the bottom with jig. After this trip, I was convinced that you got to bounce the bottom with jigs if you want to get more hit from mutton as in the case of other bottom fishing on jigs.

I also paid my attention closely whether it is true or not that jigs would scare off mutton as some claim.
I fished along with other 4 -5 guys who used bait. While I was bouncing the bottom with jig next to them, they constantly got hit with bait. I found Capt Yuri loves to use jigs and I asked about his opinion. He said mutton snapper hit jigs regularly and don't believe jigs scare off mutton.
Jigs are designed to attract fish not to distract fish. If their jigs scare off mutton, they must use wrong jigs.

After wonderful dinner with fish we caught, we resumed fishing. After I caught many groupers on heavy gear, I started to use ultra light Black Hole Magic Eye/PE 4 reel for night bites.
It was a challenge to land a decent keeper grouper with such a light tackle, but it was ultra fun.

first grouper on 8 oz Flat Hammered diamond jig on the trip.
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I couldn't count how may grouper I got on the jig on the first day.
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Dennis fighting a nice Jack with a light tackle. Dennis is young kid. He love talking and he is genuinely nice kid. I had lots of fun to fish with him.
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I used Black Hole Biter jigs for mutton, but grouper couldn't resist to swallow it.
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I know assist hooks on top of a jig is very popular nowadays, but I still like to use hook at the bottom of a jig. Also some like to use long jig for groupers, but I feel I get more hit using short jigs.
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Trigger fish loves to hit jig though it has very small mouth. A nice triggerfish caught on Black Hole Taufun jigs. I don't know how many species I caught with the Black Hole Taifun jig on the trip.
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First mutton snapper on the trip using Black Hole Taifun jig.
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Second mutton on the trip
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Dinner time
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Frank, Gilbert, Dennis, Josh and myself.
I met Frank for the first time on the trip, but I felt I met an old friend as we exchanged emails for long.:) He is the charter master of the trip. I have been chartering so many times and I know how much he was dedicating to make this trip successful. Thanks Frank for the invite. We are going to fish together many many time in the future.
Gilbert is simply hardcore bottom fisherman and a fine gentleman from Canada. I hope we had another chance to fish together soon.
Dennis is only 17 years old, but he has so much knowledge about fish and fishing. His big smile is a big asset to him. I am going to ask him to fly up to North when bluefin bites are hot. He just loves fishing. I fished with Josh for giant in P.E.I. in Sept. He loves fishing like others on the trip and he knows how to relax while fishing. I already made a plan to fish in Bermuda with Josh and Frank next year. I feel very fortunate to get to know them and fish together. They all have passion of fishing and they are very considerate to others on the whole trip. Thanks guys.
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After dinner, we resumed fishing. I started to experiment jigs with strip of squid and mutton snapper responded very well. For tuna or grouper, it doesn't make much difference to use jigs with bare hook or with hook sweetened strip of bait. But some fish like seabass or golden tile respond very well to jig when strip of bait is added.

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Nov 24

When Capt Yuri moved the boat last night, I couldn't resist to sleep. Gilbert said this spot has lots of red groupers.
So I switched to use 450g Blackhole two-piece rod/PE10 reel. It didn't take long to catch two nice red groupers on 8 oz Flat Hammered diamond jig.

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Nice mutton by Gilbert
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Dennis catching a kingfish with light spinning tackle.
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Nice mutton by Frank
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Mutton on Black Hole Biter jig
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Tutle on a jig ?

I have fought many strange fish in my life, but I never imagined I would hook up a turtle on a jig.
But it happened. While bouncing the bottom with Black Hole Taufin jig using super light Black Hole Magic Eye PE2.5 (25 lb) jigging rod/JM PE4 filled with BlackHole PE4 line, I hooked up with something heavy.
It didn't make headshakes and just pulled hard. I thought it was a big shark. After giving and taking line for long, I finally brought it to the surface. Someone shouted "Turtle !". Yes, it was a big turtle.
So I pushed the drag lever to full position to brake the line. But I couldn't break the line because the turtle swam toward me when I pulled hard. Tug of war continued for a while. Then fortunately the turtle got freedom when the hook got broken fortunately. :)
I couldn't believe the light Magic Eye jigging rod held the whole fight.
Capt Yuri told me later that this was only second time he saw turtle was fought on his boat.

Nice red grouper on Taifun jig again using light Magic Eye jigging rod.
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Gilbert is very experienced mutton snapper fisherman and he only used bait for mutton.
But he joined jigging mutton after he saw me catching mutton on jigs.
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we were hungry after long hour fishing and T-bone steak and fresh fish were not bad at all. :)
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While we were having dinner, I watched screen full of spots. Capt said he stored about 3000 numbers.
When we asked whether he doesn't mind someone steal his number because GPS number is shown on the screen. He said with smile that number doesn't mean any thing if he doesn't know when to fish and how to fish the spots.
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Fishing resumed after dinner.
nice yellowtail on Taifun jig.
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landing a 100 plus goliath grouper with super light Magic Eye jigging rod



Capt Yuri moved to deeper spot after dinner and I used same light Magic Eye/JM PE4 combo for mutton.
After bouncing the bottom with Taifun jig for a while, I hooked up with a big fish.
After battling with the fish us using 40 lb line for a while, I could move up the fish slowly off the bottom. I thought it was a shark, but it fought differently.
Then, I started to think it could be a goliath grouper.
Whenever I gain line, it got it back. after a long fight, the fish finally came up to the surface. Goliath Grouper !
It is no secret I love to catch big fish with light tackle, but I never dreamed I would land a 100 plus lb goliath grouper with a fluke rod. This has to be my highlight of the trip.

The main purpose of the trip was to test tackle and I am extremely pleased with the performance of Black Hole Magic Eye PE2.5 jigging rod and new Black Hole HYbrid braid line.

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Mutton didn't like jigs tonight
I had a great expectation to catch many mutton on jigs tonight.
But they didn't hit jigs at all. All other fishermen got hit continuously on bait, but I couldn't get single hit for two hours for unknown reason.
We experience seabass don't hit jigs well on wreck while they hit jigs savagely on rocky bottom. It could be the same reason. Mutton on this spot might feed on something else. Or they might not respond to jigs well at night.
Now, I had three choices. 1) To continue to jig until I get bite. 2) To go to sleep and 3) to use bait.

Gilbert gave me some tips how to use bait for mutton on previous day and it didn't take long to figure out how they bit and how to hook them.
I used J hook first and it worked great. But when I experimented with circle hooks, I dropped a few mutton. When I went to back again to J hook, I had solid hookups. I fished all night and in the morning until the boat moved for deep drop.. There must be more goliath grouper on this spot because I lost three mutton on the way up. It was a fun day again.



Frank with a nice mutton
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Gilbert working his bait
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Deep Drop

Capt Yuri ran to the east for deep drop spots.
As you know, I am not a fan of electric reels, but I wanted to see how they operate with electric reels while I jig manually.
On the first drop, I dropped a couple of nice fish. Capt Yuri managed power drift so I didn't have any problem to use 550g jig. On the second drift Capt Yuri pushed the boat forward for some reason and I knew my line would be tangled with lines of electric reels though I fished on the bow.
After the tangle, I gave up fishing and asked Capt Yuri to make only one drift for jigging after they finished fishing with electric reels.

We didn't fish long and we caught snowy grouper and rosie on each drop.
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Finally Capt Yuri asked me to jig.
Capt Yuri is very good at power drift and I could use a light jig though we fished 600 - 800 ft deep.
On the first drift, I had a big hit on my jig, but I missed. Then I got a big hit again and it pulled line very hard. I knew it could be 50 lb or bigger. After reeling for long from the deep, I was very disappointed to see a shark. But It was my first time to catch a hammered head shark.
You never know what to catch next in this water. :)
I used 450g Black Hole two-piece rod and JM PE10 filled with 60# Jerry Brown Hollow.

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I think not many fishermen try manual reels for deep drop in Florida, but they can use manual reels for bait fishing and jigging for deep drop with Capt Yuri.

We headed back to the dock after deep drop fishing. It seems everyone on the boat was very pleased on the trip.
«13

Replies

  • HooganHoogan Posts: 544 Officer
    Kilsong,

    Outstanding! You've just discredited long standing theories about Muttons and bottom bouncing. Actually you found out they bite better when bottom bouncing the jigs! Those who do not know who Kilsong happens to be in the fishing world, you have ways to go... just google the name and hold on. Actually, your findings do not surprise me one bit, I've heard and seen every Mutton fishing "rule" broken and then some. I won't forget the day I was told: " why you bother using braid? My best Mutton fisherman use only mono" guess what ... now all the best Mutton fishermen use braid.

    Anyways thank you Kilsong, it's an honor!
  • NorthernNorthern Posts: 875 Officer
    Welcome to this forum Kilsong !

    I have read many of your posts on the "high test" jigging forums like "360 Tuna". You have a lot of respect there and it's easy to see why.

    This is an incredibly well documented, educational, and entertaining post.

    I hope that you will continue to use this forum as a format to present your fishing adventures in the future.

    Cheers !
  • kilsongkilsong Posts: 68 Greenhorn
    Thanks for your kind words.
    I have been a member of this site for years, but I didn't post much. I had to register again.
    I visited Florida for fishing many times and I even purchased a condo in Marcos Island about 25 - 30 years ago.
    I fished Dry Tortugas on the Fishfinder out of Key West about 30 years ago and I caught many different fish.
    Many friends I know talked about mutton snapper on the Yankee Capts and I tried to go on the Yankee Capts for years, but I couldn't find time as I was very busy in winter as a CPA. Now I am fully retired from CPA job and I can go anywhere in winter. :)
    I am known as a tuna fisherman, but I love bottom fishing. I used to come down to St. Georges Island off Apalachicola, Fl just to catch sheepshead using live green crab or fiddler crab which I brought from NJ. (it is funny that they catch fiddler crab in Florida, but I had hard time to find tackle shop to sell them).

    Jigging is pretty new to most fishermen though we used bucktails or diamond jigs for long.
    I can easily understand why mutton snapper fishermen claim bouncing bottom with jigs scare off mutton because they fish with sinker stand still as we fish blackfish up north.
    But I found as long as game fish eats live bait fish, they are attracted by jig movement and hit jigs because jigs are designed to imitate injured bait fish.

    I could catch mutton on jigs as many as other bait fishermen did on the first day, but I couldn't get a hit while bait Cfishermen caught them constantly on the second night of the trip.
    But it is very common for any kind of fish when using jigs. It happens for tuna, cod or grouper for unknown reason.

    So I used bait for mutton and I found why fishermen love mutton snapper fishing so much.
    Everybody went to sleep, but I couldn't sleep when mutton were biting. :)
    This was a perfect situation to experiment many things. I used long leader line and short leader line. I used 40 lb Fluoro Carbon and 80 lb F?C. I used J hooks and circle hooks.I changed hook setting times purposely. I used different bait hooking in different ways.
    They were still biting when sun was up in the morning. I wanted to stay there forever, but the boat moved for deep drop as scheduled. :)

    Frank asked whether we do it again next Thanksgiving and I have no reason to object it. :) In fact, I am thinking about coming down soon again. Mutton fishing can be addictive.
  • alacrityalacrity Posts: 2,665 Captain
    best fishing report i have read in a few years. thanks for taking the time to write it and to document it. thanks again.


  • SJCSJC Posts: 2,565 Captain
    alacrity wrote: »
    best fishing report i have read in a few years. thanks for taking the time to write it and to document it. thanks again.

    X2
    The Beatings will continue until moral improves!
  • globalwavetrackerglobalwavetracker Posts: 238 Deckhand
    Kil
    It has been a pleasure to fish with such a tactical dedicated jigging master and in my own mind have to dispel the myth of bottom bouncing jig fishing hampering the bait bite for muttons. Conceeding to fish bait when Jig was turned down during a 12 hour bite was the right fun decision.

    Many a time the red grouper reacted immediately to the jigs before even the bait. I had a live 8" pin on the bottom the first days fishing shallow but all I had was big reds each time. Unfortunately we did not have many Blacks hit our heavy set-up except once and that broke-off at the hook eye. The more than half dozen blacks hooked shreaded our 50lbs leaders. Two of my Blacks hit boat Threads. A live pin on a hammered diamond also produced Black hits.

    Thanks Frank for inviting me on this epic trip with Yuri, surpassing our previous trip with Yuri on the consistent 12-15lb size of the muttons. Josh was the most relaxed bottom fisherman I have seen. His passion is more for the pelagics and giants that roams the depths like the recent grander BFT he landed. As for Dennis, he is a fishing prodigy and a pleasure to fish with. His experience and skills are immense beyond his teenage years. A very likeable team player and a diplomat.

    We started off fishing the shallows for groupers and was successful for the Reds, everyone had their fill. Unfortunately, we were not able to tame any of the blacks we hooked. As Kil said, even if you feel the Blacks is licked, you cannot slacken to give them a chance to turn their heads around. Fishing deep in 300-400' was a breeze on Sat morning, the normal Y Eye, ARS or muttons were mostly absent, we did hook several Almaco jacks and a couple of Scamps fishing new areas as the usual deep holes were overrun by ARS.

    When we settled down on Saturday sun down in 160', we did not move for the next 12 hours. It started immediately with a few 20" ARS and many fell for lucanus style jigs tipped with kings. The ARS did not appear bloated and went down easily. I landed 2 back to back before it went quiet, muttons pack may have moved in to push the ARS away?. Hope it's not a sign that they are moving in on the Mutton grounds as well. Switching immediately to Gogs, the mutton slaughter started, the bait never sat more than 5 mins before been hammered either by a few 14" lanes, a few sharks, or 12-15lbs muttons. I lost more than half our fish to break-offs, goliaths and sharks. Switching to heavier tackle was resulting in less hook-ups. As for choice of Circle or J hooks, I used both and they seem to work well when I was using 5/0 or 6/0 medium wire but was not doing well on bigger 8/0 heavy wire hooks or 60lb leader. With the large bow in the line when fishing 160', the circle was not as effective. In shallower situations to 110' with little current, light wire circles produced consistently. When we had a slight tide and was not up/down in 160', we seem to miss more fish unless the circles were gut hooked. Fish was able to spit hook even after long waits/run-offs. Frank fishing a heavy bank sinker on a long leader ended up out producing carolinas rigs. Fish were running off hard and hooking themselves without much set-up needed. There were misses as well but with the bigger fish, it resulted in more hook-ups. Many a time even after a long run-off we could not get tight fishing carolinas rigs. Next time to try long leader with fixed 12oz bank sinkers with circles to automatically pull hook to corner of jaw. Anyone experimented with this scenario? Even when tide was not an issue, a 10' long leader still out performed a short 5' one.

    Deep dropping close to KW did produce a few nice fish but was not as productive as the previous trip to Pulley Ridge where the bites were instant and multiple consistently.

    At one point around 2 AM Kil and I had double headers Goliaths, both self released after a long tussle, as they would have died had we brought them up from 160'. The bite went on all night till 3 am when the wind came up and the tide changed. It slowed down for a while and I hit the sack. At 06:30, Kil woke me up, the morning bite, he had landed 2. My mind said sucks, too late, sun's already up but cloudy. Normally, it's over as soon as the sun peaks over the horizon. Got to the rails pronto and as Frank, Kil, and I got the bait down further back with a decent tide running, was able to hold with 6 oz bouncing back we were catching jumbo muttons one after the other with a few sharks mixed in. We had Gogs, Bally, Kings, and Thread Herring all working for muttons. Kil got all his bait muttons on boat Threads, which was was working very well the entire trip. The bite was epic but don't believe they were thick, we had no double/thripple headers, but they were around the entire night even after the tide changed without Yuri repositioning the boat, we were still catching. The Yankee Capts was also in the same area the entire night. Presume they had a wide open bite as well.

    Captns Yuri and Shane made fishing easy for us. A most enjoyable trip. Them taking time to prepare dinner for us while we fished the sundown bite was a huge bonus. As usual, we packed too much tackle individually. King's were not thick and had no luck catching bait at night ( gogs, flyers or squid) . We had few flag YT and the YT/Grunts were not a huge nuisance.

    As Kil was able to show, we could bring-up fish/turtle of over 100 lbs with the light jigging rods using in-line retrieve method using the body rocking front and back to pull line in rather than the rod. As usual, fishing heavier drag above 10lbs resulted in more break-off on mega muttons.
  • conchydongconchydong Pompano BeachPosts: 4,551 Captain
    Welcome back to Florida Sportsman Kilsong. Hope you keep posting your reports here even if the fishing is conducted in places other than Florida as they are always educational.

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

  • Lucky7Team2Lucky7Team2 Posts: 6,794 Officer
    Fantastic Report...
  • cudamancudaman Kendal LakesPosts: 407 Deckhand
    Great report and great pics Mr. Kil and welcome back to this forum :beer, every time I go on a party boat or head boat I have to explain to the fishermen that vertical jigs were made to attract fish not to scare them off. It is difficult for many with old school thought to understand that, but in the last year or so I now see more and more people accepting and practicing vertical jigging.

    I am no advocate of bouncing anything on the bottom with the exception of areas where I am aware there is considerably less reef such as around wrecks in sandy bottoms, lime stone areas, etc… I lose too many jigs and it becomes expensive for me but very productive to those that sell them, or I come back with pieces of the reef. I just don’t like the idea of doing so. I prefer to simply find the bottom and yoyo the jig right on top of the bottom and then speed it up toward the top as I move it in the water column. In my opinion it is as productive and I have a chance at many different species.

    Down in Miami when fishing on the Reward Won party boat, we jig by hand crank down to 600 feet deep and now the Sealegs party boat has started to do jigging trips as well and they also go in very deep waters.
  • kilsongkilsong Posts: 68 Greenhorn
    glovalwavetracker,
    I had a great fun to fish with you on the trip. you are dedicated hardcore bottom fisherman. I love to fish with you anytime.
    The hardest part when jigging is to resist the temptation of using bait when fishermen catch fish with bait left or right while you don't get any hit on jigs. :)
  • kilsongkilsong Posts: 68 Greenhorn
    cudaman,
    Nice to see you here again.
    I have very strange habit. When I go fluking, I concentrate on fluking and I don't like to catch seabas while fluking.
    When I go seabass jigging, I only want to catch seabass on jigs.
    When I go bottom fishing on jigs, I don't like to catch AJ, bonito or kingfish. That is why I concentrate on the bottom with jigs. But I always respect what others do.

    When I fished bluefin out of Hatteras, nc about 20 - 25 years ago, Capt didn't allow me to use jigs believing I couldn't handle big tuna in 100 lb - 150 lb range with such thin and long jigging rod and jigging spook tuna.
    See what happens now. Even fisherman overseas to come to NC for bluefin jigging.
    Very few believed we could catch seabass on jigs only a few years ago until we explored and popularized seabass jigging.
    You never know until you try.
    I tried Inchiku jig reeling very slowly from the bottom on the trip and it worked well. I think Inchiku jigs become very popular in Florida soon as there are many bottom species which respond very well to Inchiku style jigs.

    Surprisingly yellowtail responded to Taifun jig very well. I had 6 yellowtail on the jig in 15 minutes, but Capt Yuri moved to deeper spot for mutton. As I said, Dry Tortugas is bottom fisherman's paradise.
  • Lazy BonesLazy Bones Posts: 941 Officer
    awesome report, thanks for taking the time.
  • soflah3soflah3 Posts: 589 Officer
    alacrity wrote: »
    best fishing report i have read in a few years. thanks for taking the time to write it and to document it. thanks again.


    X3 :hail:hail
  • kilsongkilsong Posts: 68 Greenhorn
    conchydong wrote: »
    Welcome back to Florida Sportsman Kilsong. Hope you keep posting your reports here even if the fishing is conducted in places other than Florida as they are always educational.
    Hi conchydong,
    I am willing to post reports here as long as Florida sportsfisherman members like my reports. :)
    I have a deep drop charter with 20 fishermen on the 100' Atlantic Star out of Wildwood, NJ tomorrow.
    I'd like to show you how we fish golden tile in 400' - 800' together using manual reels.
    When I fish with Capt Yuri again, I'll ask other fishermen to use their own rods for deep drop so that everybody can involve.
    With Capt Yuri's experience with power drift, it can be done easily even it is not calm.

    I go to Puerto Vallarta next week for big tuna hunting and go to Cancun just before Christmas Holidays for grouper jigging or swordfishing which very few fishermen who visit Cancun have done it before.
  • capt benjcapt benj Posts: 125 Officer
    Fantastic report and pictures, love the detail in tactics.

    Thanks!
  • brianbbrianb Posts: 2,321 Captain
    I'm speechless. That's some crazy muttons.
  • ontheedge5658ontheedge5658 Posts: 2,664 Captain
    kilsong reading that report made me feel like I was on the trip. Those pics are awesome.A trip like that is on my bucketlist. I used to live in Brooklyn and fished for Fluke in the Summer. Also used to fish Hudson Canyon for Tilefish mid 70's-81.We used wire line back then for the Tiles.
  • Gatorzone19Gatorzone19 Posts: 127 Officer
    Great report!
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  • cudamancudaman Kendal LakesPosts: 407 Deckhand
    kilsong wrote: »
    cudaman,

    I tried Inchiku jig reeling very slowly from the bottom on the trip and it worked well. I think Inchiku jigs become very popular in Florida soon as there are many bottom species which respond very well to Inchiku style jigs.

    Surprisingly yellowtail responded to Taifun jig very well. I had 6 yellowtail on the jig in 15 minutes, but Capt Yuri moved to deeper spot for mutton. As I said, Dry Tortugas is bottom fisherman's paradise.

    I thought you would do good and you did on those rubber tail jigs (that's how I call them, LOL), they have been very productive and are fun to use with little energy spent. It gets a little getting use to them to bring a fish up since the fish mostly get hooked on the lips and have to have pressure on the line all the way up, at least I think. It is a good jig to use and rest in between vertical jigging.
  • yurifishmanyurifishman Posts: 54 Greenhorn
    Thank you Kilsong for taking the time to write this detailed report and sharing your experience. It was fun trip for me- sharing great company with plenty of fishing enthusiasm and knowledge! I hope I have an opportunity to fish with you all again.

    I sure hope this report will prompt more experimentation and alternate fishing methods (like bottom jigging) in the Dry Tortugas. I for one am looking forward to try using popping techniques on some species in our area and try to expand on some of the bottom jigging techniques I have learned from Kilsong. Trying different techniques and tackle, exploring new fishing areas and fishing for so many different species is what makes my job so exciting and rewarding.

    One observation which proved true again this trip, is that you do not have to use big, heavy, bulky tackle to catch fish. Lighter, matched tackle coupled with properly tied knots and fighting technique will subdue any game fish. It is more fun and rewarding to catch a fish that way! I myself have been getting away from my commercial fishing days of bottom fishing everything with 120 lb. class line and 9/0 senator. I now prefer Shimano Trevala style jigging rods with spinning or light conventional reel for most bottom fishing. Kilsong agreed with my somewhat unpopular preference to use a lower gear ratio reels about 4-5:1 and short rods. Lighter reel with a slower gear ratio coupled with a strong, light rod can simply put more direct and smoother pressure on the fish. I was really impressed with the performance of the combos Kilsong was using and was honored when he asked me if I wanted to be on the pro staff for Black Hole rods. Their blanks use a very advanced nano fiber technology and are super strong and light. I am really looking forward to build some Black Hole rods from their blanks to try out.

    Gilbert had some observations on abnormally high misses on the muttons during the trip. I know some people like to have the mutton or other snapper run off or take line before coming tight for a hook set. I do not feel that is advantageous. Perhaps that is one reason for the misses. I usually feel the initial bite, drop the rod towards the fish to relieve tension and give slack, then when I still feel the fish or a second bite, I reel to set the hook. I have very few dropped bites that way. Another reason that usually causes more misses was perhaps the use of circle hooks? Not sure if anyone was using these for the muttons during the trip. J hooks will definitely have more and better hook ups on all snapper. In my experience offset circle hooks can approach J hooks in effectiveness for a few species like grouper or amberjack, but definitely not snapper. Whatever hook is used, for good hook ups, it is very important to always hook the bait of choice only once, do not burry the gap, keep most of the hook gap exposed.

    Unfortunately we were not able to boat any black grouper this trip, but I am sure we had some connections. They can be some of the hardest fish to get to eat sometimes.

    We already have another mostly jigging trip planned for Dec. 28-30. Right now there are only 3 anglers that are committed, so we have room for 3 more. If you would like to join a few other dedicated jigging fishermen for a trip to the Dry Tortugas, please contact me or send PM to Jorge (dt-fishing).
  • globalwavetrackerglobalwavetracker Posts: 238 Deckhand
    Capt Yuri

    Glad to know that letting the mutton chew and letting them run-off for a while before coming tight is not critical. I do prefer lip hooked fish as the abrasion is less of an issue. The only caveat on this was the hook not penetrating the hard jaw and dropping out during the fight. Several lip hooked fish had hooks drop out after the gaff.

    Will definitely try the shorter dwell time between the 2nd tap to run-off. Waiting for the strong run-off with J hooks also lead to high misses on this trip. Having experimented with offset circles and long dwell, the fish still ended up being gut hooked. Straight circles almost always had jaw hook-ups.

    The one thing I noticed was the fish on this trip took mostly short runs before stopping. There are merit to both style and it is really a matter of personal choice. All my early muttons previous day were on non offset circle sea 5/0 without any misses. The high misses was only in the deeper waters and I suspect the long wait was the cause as the fish ate the bait and spit the head back quickly or dropped the bait. One more experiment on circle hook with heavy bank sinker on 3 way swivel.
  • FlatwaterFlatwater Posts: 30 Deckhand
    Fantastic post. I need to try these jigs and book a charter Cap Yuri! Fantastic fun!
  • swordslayer71swordslayer71 Posts: 398 Deckhand
    Great report. I love using hammered diamond jigs, and they hurt a lot less to lose then more expensive vertical jigs.
  • migsthunnusmigsthunnus Posts: 112 Deckhand
    Great post with alot of useful information. It is interesting that the muttons hit cut bait while you were bouncing a jig on the bottom. There goes that theory !! Actually there may be some vailidity to being stealth when they are tight lipped. Mutton fishing can be surprising. I have seen them pass up live baits on the bottom and hit a freelined ballyhoo on wire intended for kingfish. Have also been on board when they wont touch a fresh gog or flying fish but will inhale speedo chunks that were sitting in my freezer for 1 year !!!!!!!!!!!!

    Who knows ? They can be as hard to figure out as women. Come to think of it, they do have alot in common Probably why some fisherman desperately pursue both !!!
  • Go MongoGo Mongo Posts: 2,107 Captain
    Awesome!
    “Every day is a new day. It is better to be lucky. But I would rather be exact. Then when luck comes you are ready.”
    ― Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea
  • TrollaltdeleteTrollaltdelete Posts: 660 Officer
    Great report. Looks like you guys had a great time.
    Take out your boat, make a memory!
  • HooganHoogan Posts: 544 Officer
    Great post with alot of useful information. It is interesting that the muttons hit cut bait while you were bouncing a jig on the bottom. There goes that theory !! Actually there may be some vailidity to being stealth when they are tight lipped. Mutton fishing can be surprising. I have seen them pass up live baits on the bottom and hit a freelined ballyhoo on wire intended for kingfish. Have also been on board when they wont touch a fresh gog or flying fish but will inhale speedo chunks that were sitting in my freezer for 1 year !!!!!!!!!!!!

    Who knows ? They can be as hard to figure out as women. Come to think of it, they do have alot in common Probably why some fisherman desperately pursue both !!!

    :Agree:Agree:Agree

    I've seen all of the above happen with Muttons time after time...
    For instance, last year I caught four Muttons, 3 of which went 15 lbs. each and the fourth one went 21.5 lbs on one ballyhoo cut into four tiny chunks! while other fisherman fishing next to me watched me biwildered with their buterflied goggleyes and big baits remaining untouched.
  • jakedgejakedge Posts: 1,303 Officer
    They can be as hard to figure out as women.
    Good point.
  • Shark bittenShark bitten Posts: 209 Officer
    Hey josh well it's funny the first time we'll talk is on a fishing forum. I'm Your girlfriends brother in law Joe Flanagan Lisa is my wife. It's a small world and smaller people crazy about fishing world. Looks like you really had a great time last week, i haven't been to the Keys yet. Can't wait to meet you and go cross some eyes. Don't know if Chrissy told you we live in Port Charlotte, Charlotte Harbor being my little slice of heaven. Hopefully I can get out there this weekend while the water temp is warm enough for multiple species to stay around a chew. Fall early winter and spring is just awesome, everything is biting and the weather is prime but my tilt & trim has a electrical issue. I own a little 15'6" Gheenoe micro skiff prefect for the redfish, trout, snook or tarpon on flats, canals and mangroves . If the wind isn't blowing we can fish the beaches and Boca Grand Pass. Now you have another excuse to fly down for some r&r. Tight lines, Joe
  • FishaholicFishaholic Posts: 57 Deckhand
    Hey josh well it's funny the first time we'll talk is on a fishing forum. I'm Your girlfriends brother in law Joe Flanagan Lisa is my wife. It's a small world and smaller people crazy about fishing world. Looks like you really had a great time last week, i haven't been to the Keys yet. Can't wait to meet you and go cross some eyes. Don't know if Chrissy told you we live in Port Charlotte, Charlotte Harbor being my little slice of heaven. Hopefully I can get out there this weekend while the water temp is warm enough for multiple species to stay around a chew. Fall early winter and spring is just awesome, everything is biting and the weather is prime but my tilt & trim has a electrical issue. I own a little 15'6" Gheenoe micro skiff prefect for the redfish, trout, snook or tarpon on flats, canals and mangroves . If the wind isn't blowing we can fish the beaches and Boca Grand Pass. Now you have another excuse to fly down for some r&r. Tight lines, Joe


    Just what we've been saying all along... :)
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