It it just like last year's yellowtail spawn except there is almost no one here to take fishing for these hungry snapper. This time of the year we should be in high gear, fishing every day but we are not..... so we went out yesterday with Dr John (always good to have the doctor along) , Nardy (dock master and all around good guy), my beautiful wife Patricia, Dave (can't do it without Dave) and myself (Whitey is a stand in, he just wanted to get in the picture) to put some fish in the freezer and escape from the craziness of the world for a few hours. The bite was as good as it gets, (this is about 2 1/2 hrs of fishing) just wish we could share the experience with more folks. Be safe everyone.
Last evening we had some friends out in the channel for some shark fishing. Floyd and his wife were our good neighbors for many years and then they moved up to Tennessee 10 or 12 years ago. We've kept in touch and recently Floyd decided to bring his granddaughter down to show her the keys and the place her grandmother loved. Lawana had passed about a year ago so it was for Floyd to get some closure also. We caught a lot of sharks , several of which were small enough for Halley to handle and a good time was had by all. I did get a new booking today for June which is helping me maintain my positive outlook.
After being frustrated by the yellowtails for what seems like months, they are finally willing to bite. Dr Chuck and his wife spent their last day here in the keys experiencing a really good bite of yellowtail snapper, all nice big fish, biting on every drift that we could get passed the file fish. We started with four folks but had to bring two back as the wind had not come down quite enough to make it nice enough for all. Dr Chuck told me that he is an orthopedic surgeon and like many of us seen his business come to a complete stop due to the virus. The word is that today is the last day for visitors to visit the keys for a while and while the emotional and economic impacts for everyone will be brutal I see some very positive things coming out of this event. This too will pass and we will be stronger for it!
We are winding down here in the keys (pun intended) as we got the word last evening that they are asking all hotels and motels to close by Sunday evening due to the virus. Chris and Bob (our clients last evening) are headed out this morning and flying back to Memphis today but Bob told me last evening that "fishing with us was definitely the highlight of their trip". Chris just joined the marines and this was the last chance he and Chris would have to do things together for quite awhile. We caught a bunch of sharks during the evening and both Bob and Chris said they would sleep well after all the exercise. We have a trip on Saturday and Saturday evening and that will probably be it for a while unless we get folks out of south Florida coming down for a day of fishing. Interesting times!
The Pandemic didn't stop these guys from having a great time. Luke may have had a bout with seasickness but his twin brother Ben wasn't bothered in the least as he hauled in snapper after snapper. Ben's older brother Jack absolutely had a blast catching the yellows and was doing it all by himself after a little tutelage by Dave. Love to see these guys again on a full day and I'm sure we will after things quiet down.
Cambell and Gram were spot on with the yellowtail snapper today. We started in the deeper water because the water on the edge was really clean and there was very little current. That made me skeptical that we could getting a decent bite but I was proved wrong as the yellowtailing is improving with the water warming and they begin their spawn mode. We had great time with everyone especially the kids, looking forward to fishing with them again.
Bob, Barb, Betty and Barry were our clients today on a 3/4 day charter. We started with some yellowtailing which I like to do with folks that have not had a lot fishing experience. Fortunately the tails bit well enough for our crew to gain some experience because as we started sailfishing and Dave put the first bait in the water up he came. It was Barry's second sail and the perfect ending to our short day.
I was very honest with Taylor and his wife Lynn, I told them it was going to be very rough and difficult to do some types of fishing due to the roughness. They both turned out to be exceptional seamen, loved the whole day on the water and are planning their next trip with us. We caught a few really big yellowtails and ended the day with a sailfish for Taylor. You never know how a day will turn out when you start it but this certainly turned out well!
Last year about this time we were catching the yellowtail really well but so far this year they have not cooperated, with what I saw today perhaps the bite is starting up again this year. If there had been a little less wind today I would have said we close to ideal conditions for yellowtail snapper fishing, with cloudy water and current with the wind. KC and his brother Mark braved the rough seas to do a morning charter today and were rewarded with a very good catch of large yellows. They have both fished with us before (although it's been a couple years) and are now talking about coming back for the summer mahi season and the sailfishing in December. Looking forward to it Guys!
We started with the tunas again because the reef bite has been slow. After catching the tunas at the hump we got an added bonus when a couple of mahi jumped us on the way back and later we caught a few bonitos on the reef edge while trying to yellowtail with no current. We did manage one nice tail but that was that. Everyone had a good time and we will see them again.
Sara was not excited about holding this tuna but she was a trooper and tried. We had a great time catching blackfins, bonitos and snapper with Sara's husband Matt and the other part of the split Greg and Pam. Greg and Pam are planning on coming back during mahi season. They all took fish out to one of our local restaurants and I got received great reviews on their dinners that day.
Bob was having a hard time holding onto those mutton snappers but his wife had no such problem with that big mangrove snapper. The patches were good early for the snapper but the sailfish bite was very slow all day again .
I believe this is the 3rd or 4th year these three have fished with us as a group, Bob and Barb have had some of their family on before that, but recently these three have fished together. Over the last few days the fishing has been challenging to say the least, some good, some slow, therefore yesterday I decided to head right for the hump and get an early start on the tunas. The wind was picking up as the sun was rising and the closer we got to the hump so did the current. We had no bites initially and I begain to think I'd made a bad decision to start this day but all the sudden it was as if someone threw a switch and the tunas started to bite. We caught our limit of tunas plus a mahi, went in to calmer seas, caught our limit of vermillon snapper and finally made it back to the reef (and the calmer water), where along with a few less memorable fish we caught a decent mutton. As always a fun day with these great folks, looking forward to fishing with them again next year.
Alisha caught this really nice mutton snapper on our pm half today and someone photo bombed her at the dock (notice I'm not mentioning any names). The bite was a lot slower this afternoon but we did catch a few other fish and this beauty. See you next time folks!
The wind was down and we caught two mutton and two grey snapper right away at the bait spot, that's a good start to an am half day. The big mutton came out of 110 ft and then it was a cero, yellowtail and king fish to round things out. We spent the last hour or so sailfishing as per our guest request. Jim and Joan were great guest and Jim did a tremendous job catching these fish.
A bit chilly today for our group of bachelor partiers and plenty of wind for them also but they all did very well even with the big waves. The feather tunas bit at the Islamorada hump, we caught a big black grouper at the little hump and some cudas. Sailfished for a few hours toward the end of the day but didn't see one.
It's been a couple years since we have seen Earl and his pearls but everything gets better with age and so did Earl and his pearls. The bite was a little slow but we caught some vermillon snapper to start and turned lose some true reds. On the way to the hump we founds some birds that had skipjack tunas under them and caught a few almacco jacks once we got there. It was a short day and we have another short day scheduled again with Earl on Thursday, hopefully with the waves a little smaller.
Been a while since we caught the vermillon snapper (beeliners) well but today we caught what we wanted and moved on. Mitch, Max and Sharon were all into it but Max especially enjoyed cranking the pink ones up from the deep water. Max heads for the U of Mass on a baseball scholarship next year and this was his present from his parents for working hard and getting accepted. Max really wanted to try some fresh tuna so after catching the snapper we went to the hump and although we got there at the tail end of the bite we did catch a couple small ones so he could get his taste. Good luck to all these good folks and hope to see you all again soon.
Mike and Brian returned from up north to fish with us today, they drove all night, slept a couple hours once here and fished all day..... now that's fishing dedication. It a little slow today and we dropped quite a few fish that were on the way to the boat (just one of those days) so the guys had a chance to grab a few winks at times during the day to catch up. Mike and Brian will fish with us again on Saturday although we have a front on the way and the wind is supposed to become strong so we will see what happens.
Engines always decide to have a problem on the weekend for some reason. I had a problem with a circulating pump on my port engine very recently and last Saturday the starboard circulating pump decided to quit circulating, not just a weekend but President's Day weekend! Yesterday we replaced the offending part and today we got to go fishing. A mixed bag of tunas, jacks and snapper kept our group busy for most of the day and we sent them away with a good bag of fish for their planned dinner a Lazy Days restaurant this evening and we get to go fishing again tomorrow.
King fish, a couple nice mutton snapper, porgies and some other species were our catch for today. Bob and his son Cole did a nice job of angling to get these up to the boat and although we pulled the hooks on quite a few fish it wasn't assignable to anyone or anything in particular. They are with us again tomorrow so we will see if we can find something good to test their abilities on.
Caught the dinner but didn't get the movie today. The current was with the wind today which was great for yellowtailing but not the best for other types of fishing. Our split party of Jim, Alan, Jim and Michael had a great time and they had plenty of fish to eat for a good number of dinners. If you have never fished for yellowtail snapper, it takes a little time to learn the techniques, these guys picked it up well and fairly quickly, not all do as well. Had a really good time with this crew and I'm sure we will see them again soon.
Gotta love that Australia accent and yesterday we had three gentlemen from the country "down under"so we heard a lot of blimeys , mates (not the same as Dave job but a friend) and other idioms that we don't get to heard often enough. We started slow but the kingfish and mutton bite started to pick up as other boats left the area. Caught a nice red grouper which was big enough but not in season, a number of smaller muttons along with some big muttons which were enough and this African pompano, which showed up at the end of the morning trip to make for a good finale. Great group of guys and I hope they can get back to Florida sometime to fish with us again.
Sunday we left the dock, got part way to the reef and lost a circulating pump on one engine. Yesterday the mechanics put the new one in and today we were finally up and running again. It was a little bumpy this morning but got better as the day progressed, the fishing was just OK with the kings biting early and a one legal mutton and a tuna showing up late morning. Lots of pulled hooks throughout the day to give the day a little frustrating edge but not a whole lot we could have done differently.