YC Iron Man PR Trip 8/15-8/18
Gonna start by saying Capt Greg and crew Lyndon, Matt, Mike, and Joe did another outstanding job. Their hard work and dedication combined with the camaraderie of the the fisherman this boat attracts is what makes these trips so enjoyable. I have been on board the YC many times but this was my first trip to Pulley Ridge so I was pretty excited. It did feel a little weird heading down without a cooler full of gogs and speedos so I made a stop at the fish market across the parking lot of Cudjoe Sales and picked up a flat of large squids (looked liked awesome sword baits big and fresh). More on the bait thing later.
After loading up a ridiculous amount of gear and coolers for 18 guys I went over to the Hogfish and scarfed down a sandwich before our 10 pm departure.Greg said we wouldn't be on the grounds until around 10am so I didn't bother rigging anything before hitting the rack. Out by 10:30 and slept until sunrise. A few guys put out some trolling gear and a few bonitas and small black fin were caught. Joesph broke off an unidentified sea monster pulling a large Braid Marauder. Not having any suitable trolling gear I decided what the hell and put a cedar plug back on my ocea jigger 5000 jigging set up. It had no problem winching in bonitas for bait (more on bait later) as we cruised at 10 knots or so.
Mid morning it was time for our first drop and I felt a little like a newb. I was using an electric for the first time and really didn't know what to expect. It proved to be pretty simple and actually a lot of fun to fish. For here on out it was sort of a blur. Grey tiles (blue line) , snowy grouper and yellow edge would be caught in waves. We would drift without much action for a few minutes then four or five of us would hook up at once. The bite continued to get better as the day went on. Finishing the day with a great snowy bite just before dark in 600ft of water.
We moved up on the bank at dark and drifted depths of 200-250. Again this was new to me. I'm used to fishing for muttons and grouoper from an anchored boat. Lyndon suggested using just enough weight to get the bait down and scope it out to where it drags just off the bottom. Me being a hard head continued to play out line in free spool then reel in ,drop and repeat. Third drop I got a nice mutton. Joseph and Caesar had picked one up as well. A few tunas were caught too but not much else. I went to bed around 1130 and when I woke up at 5 only Joeseph and Caesar were still fishing. Neither had much to show for their efforts. About the time I'm telling Caesar I'm glad I went to sleep instead of paying dues at the rail Caesar gets bit. He fights a fish on the drift that seemed huge. Shark? Jewfish? Nope big slob black grouper over 50 lbs.That my friends is why it pays to put the time in at the rail. You just never know when the bites going to come. As the sun came up we a had a flurry of action. I picked up 3 red grouper between 15-20 pounds. Two on a 220 gram pink glow Super Sardine and one on an 8 ounce bucktail tipped with a bonita strip.
Day two deep dropping was a bit slower than the first day but again there were waves of action. Some beautiful snowys and yellow edge were caught up to around 25 pounds. We also saw a few queen snapper. I had four total, one that went 17 lbs. They are by far the hardest fighting of the fish we caught out deep. Even a 12 pound queen put up more fight than a 22 pound snowy. At the end of day two Greg moved us up on the bank a little earlier to see if we could get some groupers, muttons and tunas at sunset. There were a few caught with most the action right at sunset. I tried bait and jigs then about 11pm decided i would try something a little different. I put on a 3 1/2 ounce jig (something cheap too many kings) and cast way up current. As we drifted over it would hit bottom and I would get a few jigs. if no takers I would then speed jig it as fast as i could back to the boat.. I managed a stud red grouper a mutton and two blackfins around 20 lbs in about 30 minutes before this too stopped working. Again I got almost 6 hours sleep.
Day three on the deep drop was more of the same. Grey tiles and snowy grouper. For the last drift we moved to a bit deeper water around 800 ft. I think two golden tile came up along with a few big greys and some nice snowys. I spent most the drift picking out a tangle and re rigging but that is the way it goes. Capt said ten more minutes about the time I was rigged and i was able to get one more drop in that produced my biggest tile of the trip. Then I hit the rack and woke up at the dock lol.
Couple things about the bait. One the big squids I bought that looked so nice....worthless. Fish wouldn't eat them. I tried whole hoping to get past the smaller fish and get big grouper. I tried them sliced up into strips. The small squid from the five pound boxes and boat squid just out fished them. By a long shot. I also tried butterflied tile fish, bonito, barracuda, tile strips and blue runner fillets. Nothing worked anywhere near as good as small squid.
Two I don't think there is a need for fresh bait on the bank. The guys who did the best fished jigs or used the frozen bait the boat provided.
Overall those who had done the trip before as well as the Capt and crew said the bite was a little slow. I promise you never would of known back at the dock. the off load was impressive to say the least. Tote after tote after tote. Wow. My best fish was a 22lb snowy and an 17 lb queen.
Also a little about the deep drop gear I used. I fished a Daiwa Tanacom 750 spooled with 50lb Diamond braid. I bought it spooled from Pelagic Outfitters for $550 bucks. Incredible deal. Reel was on a Phenix Hybrid 809xh and the outfit was light and comfortable to use. I fished a 2lb lead for most the trip using 3lbs only when I fished the big butterflied baits. For a battery I had a Sears die hard 27M series deep cycle. I used it for three days straight and never recharged it. It was still going strong at the end of the trip. As far as rigs I definitely think less is more. I tried the rubber squids and octopus but nothing beat a plain 8/0 circle hook. Lights not needed either. Didn't make a difference.
As usual I didn't take many pics but I have a few I will try and post.