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Sept 23rd PE

After a day's worth of go/no-go discussions Friday, and morning weather that had me wanting to sleep in, my saltwater withdrawal kicked in and Tamma, my son, and I headed out for the first time in 2 months. I really wanted to go and see what we'd find. I figured with all the hurricanes the debris would be holding fish, and also that fish would have been blown around a bit which might mean we'd find stuff that really shouldn't be there normally.

We got a late start due to the thunderstorm that morning, and sheltered under 17th street bridge for 40 minutes or so while we waited for a window to open. Finally got out, and we were one of only a handful of boats we saw all day.

Stumbled across the first debris/weed line, and on any other day we'd have stopped and fished it. I had expected much more, and we agreed to push a little further. 12 miles ESE out of PE we found weed and debris fields like I've never seen before... kayaks, refrigerators, picnic tables, buoys of all shapes and sizes, deck boxes, etc. along with full chunks of seagrass and even sod was all mixed in with the massive Sargasso patches

We tried trolling for a couple hours, but the scattered weeds around these massive clumps made it slow going. We picked up a single 34" mahi (we realized we didn't have the net or gaff, as they hadn't been put back on the boat after the hurricane prep, and that made for a little extra challenge), and then decided to drift with the patch pictured above. We also only had 6 pre-rigged ballyhoo, and a packet of frozen silversides, so we put on the sabiki's and grabbed a dozen little jacks off the weed patch.

Lots of juvenile almaco jacks - my son in particular had fun catching them, including a pretty decent sized one that really gave that 6-yr old a run for his money.

One of the biggest tripletail I've ever seen (in person or even in photos) wouldn't eat anything we threw at him, and his 8" wide gag-grouper-like head disappeared back under the mat of weeds not to be seen again.

I dropped a jig about 150-200 ft down, while my son and tamma drifted a few live jacks, and I hooked into 2 tinker mackerel, which was very cool (saved those for a future trip, as we were completely under-gunned to actually fish those). Picked up another solo 'phin as 24", which we were able to lift into the boat. and then relocated to an even bigger patch.

This patch was holding so much life it was ridiculous. Thousands of little jacks were crashing even more thousands of little minnows (not sure what they were tbh), and the sound of this miniature feeding frenzy was nuts. We knew it would draw in more fish, and within 5 minutes of saying as much, we were hooked into the school.

We had used most of our jacks, and I was forced to improvise. We landed another 4 mahi, all in the 32"-38", and had a fun time trying to tail grab them to get them in, as we were fishing some really light tackle. Two of which I caught on sun-baked ballyhoo I tore off the trolling rods, and two more I caught on gulp shrimp (should've tried that on the tripletail!).

There were quite a few more mahi around us (and a pair that were easily in the 40" + range). But it was now late in the day, and we needed to get back, so we left them biting.

All in all, it was a pretty spectacular day, filled with some really cool sights. We caught everything we hooked, and my son is really starting to get passionate about fishing too, and for a 6 yr old to hang all day, and not lose his enthusiasm even once, was probably the best part (ok maybe not the 'best' part, but close!).


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