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Battle Tested

Coming off back to back to back trips I didn’t know how tired I was until I stopped. Even though my passion is as strong as it ever, what my old body needs is a little down time so I’m taking this weekend off. I am enjoying the much needed rest but I was still a bit envious of those out there getting after them. As I had no time between trips I’m going to combine three trips in to one.

Trolling on all the trips has been a bit mixed. On the way out it has been mostly Bonita’s as the Kings seem to have moved further off shore as the water continues to warm. Catching Bonita is a good thing as they not only put up a good fight but make excellent cut bait. Trolling between spots once in deeper water has been fairly productive with nice Kings and Blackfin Tuna coming up on a regular basis.

The night Mangrove Snapper bite has been great. Many anglers limited out before Sun rise. On the Sunday trip one fisherman got his limit on the first stop. (Tip) When the Mangos are chewing it is important to try and stay in the chum line. If you are able to cast pay attention to where they are coming in and how the boat is swinging on anchor. By doing this you can cast to the same spot and keep the Goozers coming.) Personally I limited out on every trip. Gags, Red Snapper and Vermilion have been steady at night as well. Mangos during the day were fairly steady especially in the morning and late afternoon. By my observation the day Goozers were of a larger average size and seemed to be more consistent on live bait.

The American Red Snapper (ARS) bite has been steady with most anglers reaching their two day limit of four on every trip. My general suggestion has been “If you have to measure them DON’T” This is especially true on the first night. By the end of every trip people have been giving away keepers. The risk is you may come up short of your limit but the reward is you average will be much better and you will have room for the “Monster” if you be so fortunate. In truth the big ARS (any over 12 LBS) have been scarce. The biggest I caught over the three trips was around 10- 12 LBS caught on a live Pin. The biggest I saw over this period was one around 15 LBS caught on a butter flied cut bait.

The Gag bite I would label as good but not what I would call hot. This may be a bit of a biased opinion as I didn’t land a keeper during this period. To be fair there were some nice ones landed and definitely some nice ones lost. My pattern (which I plan to break next trip) is no hits on my heavy rod with 100 LB test and multiple hits on my smaller Mango rig that were either shorts or “Monsters” I couldn’t turn. On one stop we were on a wreck with multiple people hooking Gags. I got slammed by what turned out to be an Amber Jack in the 50 LB class. Fighting my discouragement I shot down another big live bait and BANG! After a great fight during which time people were bringing up Gags all around me I landed an AJ in the 60 LB range. Giving up on live bait I let down a large Threadfin and got slammed immediately. My excitement turned to frustration as I cranked in a Jack Carvel. A JC 100 miles offshore come on man!

The highlight and low light of the three trips came on the last trip. Around 3:00 AM I was soaking a Threadfin on the bottom when BANG! Big Fish ON! I just knew it was a Gag but after a few tense moments on the bottom the fish came up too fast. Turned out to be a ”Smoker” King that once it saw the boat took off and made three long runs. Finally my friend Tyler gaffed the “Beast” that weighed in at just under 40 LBS. The low was on the last stop when following a break off on my smaller rig I once again put down my heavy rod with the biggest livey I had. My bait was nervous as soon as it hit the bottom and promptly got slammed. I knew instantly this was a BIG ONE! I was able to turn the fish but it made one last run under directly under the boat. I knew this was going to be a problem. Sure enough I could feel other fisherman on my line. I still had a chance if I could get some cooperation. Hollering “Don’t Pull and Slack Off” to no avail I lost the fish and reeled up another hook attached to mine. The classic sign of being “De-Hooked” by a fellow angler. Oh well that’s “Party Boat” fishing.

I hope I’m rested as I am certainly “Battle Tested”

See you out there!


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