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3/20/14 Yankee Captain Tortugas

It has been years since I have posted and even longer since I have taken a ride on the great Yankee Captain to the Tortugas for the best mutton snapper fishing I know of. Being an absolute fishing freak and living only 6 miles from the dock, it is hard to imagine why it took me so long, but, alas, life gets in the way. So, like the rest of the gang, I rushed around until the last minute re-spooling, rigging, finding baits and getting my proverbial #@$%together.

I arrived at the boat around 9 with my freezer burnt bonitos in tow. I couldn't get out on the water for something fresher. They would have to do. I like to knock the sides off and make strips. In the dim light, I did not notice till it was too late that three of them were full of roe. I had pierced the sacks. Fiddlesticks, I kept them anyway and loaded my bait cooler with the carnage, some ice and a box of salt.

The bunkhouse was nice and cold, just the way I like it. Dark with..."Wait a minute....Where are the racks I'm familiar with?" Yes, it has been that long. The "Navy" style racks have been replaced with a nice padded bunk, covered in commercial carpeting. Comfortable yet tough and low maintenance. Exhausted from work and running around getting ready, I quickly hit the sack in preparation for sunrise city.

Way too early, I woke to find that we had made a stop to wait out some weather. Probably somewhere around Boca Grande Channel. I can get there in my own boat so I declined to stay up and fish. Back to bed, in energy conservation mode. I intended to make the most out of every waking moment.

Sunrise City came none too soon. The weather was amazing! Hardly a ripple, let alone a wave, and it stayed that way for the remainder of the voyage. The current was ripping and I, not having done this in a while was getting frustrated. I noticed that Greg had finally given in to the braid contingent and I wished I had brought a rig. Oh well, I'm not so sure it would have helped me. I just couldn't get bit. At one point, guys on both sides of me (within 15 feet or so) had three muttons each. Definitely a testament to the angler being more important than the spot (we were midway starboard) but frustrating to a guy with 40 years on the water and 10 or so YC trips under his belt.

Sometime in the middle of the night, the flyers came in. Three guys seemingly gave up fishing to catch flyers by the dozen. In the mayhem, I got my run-off. Of course, I was not paying attention to my reel. I was too busy watching the netters to realize that I had been on the bottom for a few minutes before the line started rolling away as if I had just dropped.

I needed some fish for the cooler so I changed gear and put together a few stringers of yellow tails and porgys. There were some big muttons caught, but the pick was slow and steady. Nobody really crushed them. Still, way better than working! Captain Greg was finding fish, but, as he says, "It's easy for me to find the fish. Finding fish that bite is the challenge." We made a bunch of stops and I only slept through one. When the mackerel showed up, I got a nice cero and cut him up. It didn't help my cause. I think goggle eyes did best.

The big fish was a cobia caught on a chicken rig. There was also a nice king. I will self identify as having the coolest catch, a nice African pompano, close to 30 lbs. I caught it on a 30 lb leader. That made me happy.

Captain Greg worked his butt off for us. Mates Matt and Phil did a great job running the deck by themselves. Joe held down the galley. As always, I met some really nice people. This is a fantastic trip and I can't wait to get out again!


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