Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Florida Keys Fishing Day 1

8 am Saturday morning and we are boarding the Best Bet II. It is a 35 foot really nice decked out fishing boat. I dont remember exactly what brand, but I think it was a Cabo?

We were going to search for some sailfish, but first needed to get some bait. We pulled up to a small reef and started chumming for ballyhoo. As the ballyhoo started showing up in large schools, there were some really nice yellow tail snapper, barracudas and other fairly large fish swimming around as well. I was chomping at the bit to get out some light tackle and start fishing away, but we were after sailfish and other prestigous fish of the Keys. I could have spent a solid week tormenting all of those reef fish near shore, but its not too often to get a chance to go out sportfishing!

A few throws of the cast net and we were headed off searching for what was supposed to look like big garbage bags floating near the surface. That is how Jason our guide described what the sailfish would look like basking in the sun. While we were driving around searching for the sailfish, we trolled 4 rods rigged with live ballyhoo and attached two of them to a kite. That was pretty cool to see. The fish rigged to the kite would skip on the surface and I passed the time daydreaming about a huge sailfish jumping up out of the water and swallowing one of those fish!

After 2 hours of sailfishing we decided it was time to put some meat in the box. We headed out a couple miles in search of some mutton snapper. We were not able to get our big baits down to the muttons, because the kingfish kept on biting us off on the way down, so we switched over to squid and started catching vermilion snappers- the muttons smaller cousin. Every time you would drop your rig down to the bottom you would immediately catch one, two, or even three vermilions. In about 40 minutes we landed a couple dozen vermilions and then headed out further in search of an amberjack.

When we got to the amberjack hole, I dropped my live pinfish down to the bottom and was hooked up with what seemed like a giant within 15 seconds. That 27 lb fish pulled harder than I could of imagined for its size. I was thrilled with the fish, but somewhat disappointed with how small he was when I finally got him up to the surface. By the way he was pulling, I figured I had hooked a whale or something!!! We spent the next hour dropping live pinfish down to the bottom and wrestling with dozens of amberjack. We landed 7 nice ones and lost 6 BIG ones. After fighting a big fish for a few minutes, sharks would grab them and brake our lines.

We then tried a couple other places for some African Pompano and searched around a bit for some more Sailfish before we decided to end the day at a reef loaded up with King Fish. We got to the King fish reef and started another chum line. It took about 5 minutes for the area to load up on baitfishand, and when it did we were reeling in nice King fish on light tackle two at a time.

About 4:15 pm we were back at the boat dock for pictures and fish cleaning. Jason started cleaning the fish and it took me about 2 whole minutes to find a knife and start helping him out. I dont think too many clients help him clean the fish, because he didnt really know what to say. We soon came up with a pretty good system and got the fish done real quick!

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