Yankee Capts 3 Day Mutton Marathon!
A three day trip on the Yankee Captains that wasn't shortened due to weather. Not perfect conditions, but fish-able. Things started windy, but by mid trip the breeze dropped to near flat seas. I fully expected a lay up behind the Marquesas, heck that wasn't so bad a couple weeks ago when we pulled in a half dozen muttons in thirty feet of water. The one I was lucky enough to snag was about ten pounds. But we cruised on past, through a huge school of small ballyhoo. I tried dip netting them and found that if I held the net to the left of me and dropped it as a cluster of hoo came into view on the right, I could catch a few. Aedel suggested skimming the net across the wave tops and when I tried it, my catch doubled.
With three dozen super fresh baits now in my cooler, I was feeling very good about the trip. The boat was pretty much full, about thirty anglers, four ladies in the mix and a young man in his teens. The rough-ish conditions soon took their toll and at least ten patrons were a bit sick. To their credit, all of them recovered quickly and were fishing like fools by mid trip.
I was lucky enough to land my biggest mutton early in the trip and a stringer of decent yellow tails. Saturday night, with most people sleeping, we were treated to a spectacular lightning show in the distance. The rain and wind portion moved closer to us and in a rare moment of caution, I vacated the pulpit and fished mid ship near Jarvis. He had just landed a decent mutton, so my motivation for deserting my lonely perch was a little more logical.
The rain and wind were very close as I allowed one of my fresh ballyhoo to drift with the current. Several small taps on my bait gave hope that someone else was home down there and hungry. All heck broke loose, wind, rain and a mutton headed south as I pulled north. Not a giant, but number two was in the box. Everyone else had already evacuated to the comfort of the inside as I baited with another hoo and waifted it out to the same neighborhood and hoped for the best. The boat was swinging, rain pelting hard enough to clean the decks and we were about to be blown off of our sweet spot as a small mutton grabbed too high on the bait and joined his brother in the box. Now I had three, Randy had three Jarvis was uncertain if he had six or twelve and Sunday morning broke with a promise of heavy rain for much of the day.
Somewhere along the way I picked up a nice scamp grouper and mid trip I spotted a mahi close enough to cast to with a baited king fish rig and landed him. Bonita were plentiful and king mackerel were coming over the rail quite often. But the mutton bite was short of spectacular.
On Sunday, it poured much of the day and only three of us were foolish enough to fish forward of the cabin, but were rewarded with large yellow tails in good numbers. I got brand new rain gear for Christmas, but didn't want to get it dirty or something, so I left it home, opting to wear my old stuff. Soon I was soaked to the skin and in fear that my contact lenses would float out of my eyes. We got inches of rain, but fished our hearts out.
The stern guys were catching lots of grouper, but as we moved to deeper water Sunday night, things got quiet. Jarvis was putting on a bonita show, mixed with Aedel depleting the king mackerel population, but no muttons. Huge sharks were teaching us who was boss, flag yellow tails were instantly destroying our baits and most of us felt rather intimidated.
Jarvis, with a big toothy smile, cut a three pound bait from a fresh bonita and threw his guaranteed shark bait to bottom. Meanwhile, Aedel, using a bonita bait, was wrestling a sea monster of his own and to the amazement of all Lyndon gaffed a near forty pound black grouper for him. Moments later, Jarvis was hooked up on his gynormous bait, with a medium sized mutton. The theme was, go big or stay home! I hooked a one pound bait and was rewarded with a big flag yellowtail and others followed suit. Still, no big mutton numbers, and it would continue that way till the end of the trip. Jarvis continued to pull in the odd mutton here and there and kept everyone upbeat and hopeful.
Everyone was catching something and I think many new first timers know where their next gear upgrades will be used. The Tortugas fishing bug has bit hard and that determined look is about.
Sunday night, with my bait on bottom, I tangled my braid beyond repair. Lyndon offered to cut out the tangle and tie the ends back together. To avoid the tragedy of getting a bite while he was mid way reconnecting my line, he wrapped my line around the rail several times to take the strain. I was getting taps on the bait as he gave the all clear to unwrap the line from the rail, but as he walked away, I noticed something was amiss. The knot was perfect, but what should be a straight line was still looped around the rail. Lyndon cut the line and re tied it properly, waiting patiently for the teasing to begin. As soon as he had the new knot tied, I teased him without mercy....
Randy, on the other hand was playing a new game of his own. He must have been a bit punky, tired from endless hours at the rail. I was watching as he baited his hook and dropped it to bottom, but couldn't quite grasp his method. His hook and bait were attached to an eye on his rod as his lead merrily sank toward bottom all by it's lonesome. Randy was intently watching his line play out right up till the moment I pointed out that his bait was still twelve feet above water. Funny things happen on the Yankee Capts!
The final spot, daylight on Monday promised to be a winner. We had motored an hour to change it up, but the bite was a dud. With only moment to go, Jarvis tossed a large ballyhoo out on a kingfish rig and true to his ability, landed a monster in the thirty five pound range.
Jarvis set the pace for the whole trip, advising the new bees until they were successful catching fish, and showing the rest of us that there were actually fish to be caught. Much of my early coaching came from Jarvis and it was a real pleasure to see him in action putting on a training camp for all of us.
The new mates are grooved in and ever so helpful. Always by your side just as you need their assistance. We had an engine quit a few miles from home and it was poetry in motion when we docked without incident at the harbor.
The bite will improve, but the thrill of being with such a great bunch of people can't get any better. Thanks to Capt Greg for continuing to plow through difficulties and give us unforgettable experiences.
Happy New Years everyone!