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Late Tortugas Report: July 3-4 with Capt Jeremy Edwards

Told Ada I would post this report weeks ago, so better late than never! This trip was from the July 4th weekend, a weekend that I promised my wife I would spend the day with her on Sat the 4th, enjoy the neighborhood block party with tons of screaming kids later that night, and do all the yard work on Sunday. I took off Friday, so I could at least get a day of fishing in with Capt Chan on the Gulfstream, prior to all the “exciting” July 4th weekend activities.

I called Chan on Weds to make sure he was in town, and, ugh, he had a charter. Plan B, the Sea King in Marathon, was only going out Friday night, and I’d rather slit my wrists before trying to make it down to Marathon on a holiday weekend, during rush hour. So I called Dave in Key Largo for ANY other suggestion that involved being on a boat, and fishing. He said, “want to go to the Tortugas with us?” After considering all the July 4th weekend promises I had already made, I thought about it for 1 second, and said…YES!

The wife had a party already planned at the house with all of her female Bloomingdales co-workers on Thursday night, prior to my Fri 2:30 AM departure. So being the great husband that I am, I joined this party, and had quite a few scotches in the process. But I had the car all loaded up, and hit the sack by 10 so I could be up by 2. Well, let’s just say I’m glad my wife woke me up at 3! Out of the house by 3:15, a couple of stops for Dion’s chicken and gas, and still made it down to Stock Island with plenty of time to spare.

The trip was a hard core Fri/Sat 32-hr trip, so I figured 25 speedos, plus whatever we caught, would be plenty as far as bait. Dave said not to worry, he would bring them. When it comes to bait, there is never is enough for Dave—he prob brought 200 speedos, plus another 100 pounds of other assorted bait! We were ready, and off we went right about 9 or 9:30. A little over 4 hours and a speedy 17 MPH later, we made it to the first stop.

This was Tortugas trip # 4 for me, and I knew the muttons would turn on at some point during the trip. My goal was to catch just 25% of whatever Dave & Ada caught, and not make a fool of myself in the process, so 5 or 6 nice size muttons and I would have been a happy camper. Was hoping it would start at stop #1, but not in the making. A small mutton for me, and nice red grouper for Dave. That was about it. The sunset came and went, with not much to show for it—but the night time and overnight bites were still to come, so no need to worry.

Right on time, we made it to the 10 or 11p stop, and we were in business! I caught the first 10 pound mutton, and was delighted that it was game on! I was readying the 10 lb mutton for pictures, and Dave said, “Let me said that mutton—where’s the black spot?” Looked all over it, found the black spot, and pointed it out to Dave. He said, “that’s his ****!” With my 6 years fishing experience vs Dave’s 30, I simply explained to him that this was a “True American **** Mutton”. He corrected me by saying, “that’s a True Red, you ****”. Back he went to live another day. For the next hour nor 2, it was red after red, all 10-15 lbs+…all back to swim. Then the sharks got in on the action, and they were delighted we were there to feed them—Red Snapper smorgasbord! I see now why the American Red is such an endangered rare species according the FWC, and our fine members on Congress.

Jeremy worked his butt off for the next 4 or 5 hours, probably moving about 6 or 7 times til about 4 am. It wasn’t happening. Time to worry, the trip was becoming a disaster—a whopping 2 or 3 fish in the cooler for me, a few more for Dave & Ada. Just the sunrise and late morning bite to make our trip. Nothing for sunrise, panic time—so we figured we’d at least get some yellowtails to go home with SOME fish. We headed off for an hour or so trip to the final spot.

The final spot. Dropped half a speedo down just for the hell of it—had plenty of bait left in the cooler. 5 mins later…BAM! Biggest mutton I’ve EVER seen—much less caught—at least 20 lbs! Then Dave hooked up—same size. And Ada joined the party. For the next 4 hours, it was 15 lb mutton. 20 lb mutton…non-stop! 2 or 3 15-20 pounders on the deck at all times! Sick!! A 10 lb black joined the festivities for Ada. Jeremy was cool enough to delay departure until the bite slowed down—and he didn’t leave until it did! The final stop…mission accomplished! Final tally: 27 hours of hell. 5 hours of heaven. Winner winner, mutton dinner…at least 30 lbs of fillets in the cooler for the ride back for me, prob 5 times that for Dave & Ada!

Thanks for a helluva trip Jeremy! Not many pics because the pavement was 10,000 degrees—here are the highlights:

Group shot--Jeremy said this was the biggest fish he EVER caught!

Ada's Mutton:

Tight Lines All,

Hollywood Joe


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