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Pulley Ridge: Late Report (July/August)

The Pulley Ridge. Words cannot describe how incredible this untapped area of fishing grounds truly is. If I were to describe it with one phrase, utter mayhem would be it. This summer while home from Florida State University I was blessed to be able to make not one but two Pulley Ridge trips. I know this area of Florida's fishery is beginning to catch the eyes of many avid fisherman and that many of you guys are curious about the Pulley Ridge so I thought I'd make a post for those that are interested.

Trip One:

After years dreaming of making the trip, I finally decided to put the plans together and get the ball rolling. This trip was the first ever Pulley Ridge trip for the entire crew, myself included; MAN DID IT NOT DISAPPOINT! After a solid month of planning in advance we decided to make the trip, on July 23rd (five days after the full-moon). With a crew of 6 hardcore fishing machines, we began the prepping 5 days in advance.

Starting Friday night at 9pm we began to load the World Cat 33TE down with bait, ice (1200 pounds), fuel (450 gallons), tackle, and most importantly lots of beer. I'd like to thank my buddy Jeff for being able to come up with a 200 gallon fuel bladder that made this trip possible. By 1am Saturday morning it was go time, pushed off the dock and began the heavy haul out. This being our first trip out, the numbers we had were limited which was something I realized that doesn't seem to be an issue out there. Just as the sun was rising we got to our first spot as planned. It was gorgeous out; 1-2s, sunny, and not a cloud in the sky.

Now here is where it starts to get interesting. If you go into something with low expectations it's kind of hard to be disappointed right? Well went in with high expectations and still couldn't believe what was happening. Pulled up to the first spot and the bottom was unreal, it went from 230 feet to 195 feet almost immediately. First spot first drift: first drop to the bottom instantly gets nailed, and then a double hook-up and a triple hook-up. Three slob red groupers over the side, and the bottom still looks amazing. Everyone goes back down and again the hook-ups are nearly instant. Finished our first drift ever on the pulley ridge with 6 toad red groupers, one 20 pound blackfin, and a mutton in a matter of 10 minutes.

Confident that we can catch our grouper and muttons later in the day and in the night we decided to make the run to the deep side. Another 20 miles out we run over what was the most amazing hole I have ever seen fishing offshore. 3 nearly vertical drop off's all going from 300 feet to nearly 500 feet. the show was unreal. After seeing the bottom all my mind could think was blackfin tuna. I pulled out my flat fall jig and sent it all the way down to the bottom, and sure enough I was hooked up. Big 20 pound blackfin tuna. After getting all the other guys doing the same thing we managed to pick up 4 more tuna and a nice surprise. While vertical jigging I saw something long and silver nail my jig about 40 feet down, a few screamer runs later, my first wahoo was stuck with the gaff and on the deck. I was beyond happy to say the least. I gave it another shot and BAM another one hits 20 feet down, however this one shook the hook. It was amazing to actually see both the hits and with how much force they attack their prey.

Decided to push out further and deep drop. One electric reel and the rest manual, not a good idea. This was the only down part of our trip. None of us really knew how to deep drop and it showed. With only a few snowy and yellow-edge grouper, and one blue line tile to show for about 4 hours of work. Deep dropping is definitely going to take some practice to get down. (As well as a few more electric reels)

Come about 5:30 we decided to start making our way back towards the shallow side. While running we marked a ton of spots, the bottom out there is just stupid good. Each spot produced a few fish, however we hit the motherland after going over a spot we randomly found. First drift, my buddy on the bow throws a 20 pound scamp over, another guy in the back throws a 12 pound mutton in, and another guy in the middle throws a 33 inch red grouper on the deck. Where was I during this organized chaos? Hooked up to tyrannosaurus rex. After exchanging punches for nearly 10 minutes on a Cabo 80, up comes what I was looking for all trip, Mr. Black Grouper. We couldn't believe our eyes, when this 53 pound black filled with air hit the surface. After snapping some pics, it was back to work. 15 minutes later it was Jeff's turn, up comes a 25 pound black on his Cabo 80.

All good days come to an end however. As the sun began to set the storms began to roll in, with our radar down, we decided not to play the dodging game 160 miles away from land. This ended up being the right choice, we were in and out of foul weather the entire ride back home. The worst storm hit us about 15 miles offshore, and man was I grateful that it wasn't all the way out there. Only way around it was through it, lightning strikes everywhere and 40 mph winds; truly scary stuff. It is times like that, where I appreciate the catamaran hull. We were able to bust through that storm doing 45mph in 4-5 foot chop.

We hit the dock at 2am, back in just over 24 hours (not quite the 36hours we originally planned for). That being said, we did amazing considering the time we fished. Our trip one results were great: 6 man limit of Red Grouper, 2 Black Grouper, 5 Scamp Grouper, 2 Snowy Grouper, 3 Yellow-Edge Grouper, 1 Blue Line tile, 6 big Muttons, 6 Blackfin Tuna, 1 Wehoo, and a variety of misc. fish.

Trip Two:

This trip was made in the middle of August. My buddy Eric gave me a call a few days before the trip saying the needed an extra man. Pulley Ridge? I guess I can make some time to go to the best fishing area in Florida.... This one was made on a 41 Sea Hunter; man was it a beautiful boat. Left the dock loaded down and with 5 guys at 6PM Friday and headed out with plans to be back at about the same time Saturday.

This trip was not quite as bountiful as my previous trip. We made it to our first spot at about 9pm and Eric throws the biggest mutton I've ever seen (at least 22 pounds) on the first drop. I was standing there thinking, "okay, game on its about to get real", but sadly that wasn't quite the case. The bite was a little slow all night. For some reason the tide was nonexistent all night, WHILE ON A FULL MOON.... At one point, we only moved 300 feet while drifting for an hour long period. The guys decided to get some shut eye while the bite was slow, and me being the determined person I am decided to pull an all-nighter slowly putting scamps and red grouper in the box. By about 5:30 am the box looked half decent.

Sticking to our plan, we were over my Blackfin spot at sunrise. On the first drop, I throw a 20 pounder on the deck. However, that was the only one. The almacos were out to play, seriously wearing our arms down (fighting the biggest almaco jacks known to man from 400 feet down isn't necessarily our cup of tea). Time to get that elusive wahoo. By 7am we got the high speeds out and trolled for about 30 minutes over huge drop off after drop off to no avail.

With no wahoo and only one tuna to show for our hard work in the morning we moved on to deep dropping, again with only one electric. This time we did have a big bent butt avet to help. After about two hours of deep dropping, the pickings were slim again. Another Blue Line tile and handful for deep water grouper.

With the heading sensor turned back to shore we decided to give our shallow side spots another shot. While the night current was nonexistent, the day current was moving at 2 million miles per hour. Power drifting was out only option. After some frustrating work we were able to put a few more fish in the box, but the current was just too much during the day. A few of the guys had plans back home, so we decided to head back in around 2pm. At about 100 miles from the pass we ran into a weed line that was holding mahi, as well as a 50 gallon plastic garbage can mixed in. After throwing basically everything we had at two giant triple tail, we left the area with only a mahi to show for it. I'd say that was the icing on the cake.

My take from trip 2: never go to the Pulley Ridge while on a full moon, too expensive for tough fishing. Even though the trip was tough we did manage to put a decent box together. The trip two tally was: 7 Red Grouper, 3 Scamp Grouper, 3 Mutton Snapper, 3 Deep Water grouper, 1 Blue Line Tile, 1 Blackfin Tuna, and 2 tank Almaco Jacks. For a lot of people this still is considered a good trip.

I'd like to send my thanks to Bill for inviting us out on his beautiful boat and for the good times. Next time we'll get them! The Pulley Ridge is without a doubt the best fishing area I have had the blessing to fish and I plan to return out there as soon as the opportunity presents itself!
33 World Cat TE --- 27 Edgewater CC


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