Well we trekked out 37 miles to wreck out in the gulf where i have caught plenty of cobia before only to not see one, what a great journey in 4 footers off the starboard quarter. Seemed like we were on a logfloom ride that never ended. After about an hr and a half we finally reached our destination. This was the first time i have not caught a cobia on this wreck. But to our surprise the tarpon were biting, yep i said it , Tarpon, we went 1 for 2 before i made the executive decision to go to another wreck, as we were in the hunt for cobia. Another 12 miles to the famous Gunbar wreck we still didn’t catch any cobia, for the one reason that the kingfish wouldn’t leave us alone. And if it wasn’t a kingfish bite it was a bonita frenzy in between the Kingfish bite. All in all My clients Chris and John from Sacramento CA had a ball, lots of action. We hooked a jewfish which decided to eat one of our 20 pound kings a meal fit for such a voracious eater. So hopefully next time we will find the cobias out there, just this time they became a little elusive.
Happy thanksgiving everyone, i had to work, which isn’t a bad thing, i got to meet some really cool people. The wreck fishing was a little slow, well actually all the fishing was slow on this full moon, but we had a great time anyway. We had a mixed bag everyday. One of our better days we caught two nice grouper a mutton and 20 or so mangroves and yellowtail mix, and this was done on the patches. Whgen we first started fishing we caught like 40 small amberjacks on 15# test, what a hoot, even at 4 pounds they are drag screamers. At the end of this trip we ended up catching a 30 plus pound amberjack, which was caught by the smallest angler onboard, Isabela, what hoot that was, she wanted to give up, i could see it, but she kept going and going. The deep water was a bit slow, but we seemed to do well on the patches down to the west. All those fish we caught on the patches so looks like i will be continuing the patch fishing for now, and i am going to try the gulf, as i just booked a cobia trip, i sure hope it pans out well, because i love cobia fishing in the gulf, we catch kings and mackerel and groupers too while we are back there too. I will load up my live well with pins, and pilchards, and probably some grunts too just in case the groupers want the grunts, its always good to have an assortment of bait when you go out. So i will let you know how we did on the next post. Just to let you all know i have moved my boat from castaways, its now sitting behind Curly’s coffee shoppe and marina. Its still small and quaint, but at the other end of the island. I have really great feelings about this move, i can just feel it in my bones. I also had picked up some new takle this year i have added some more smaller conventional tackle for our dropping on the wrecks, i had some request for them by some of my regular clients so i got them. Well till next time, have a great one till i see you all.
Well its that time of year again guys, cool weather cooling water, bringing wahoo, sails and kingfish to the Florida Keys. Even with the high winds from the North the waters arent too rough to fish. We have been using ballyhoo and google eyes for bait and catching a few sails, some kings and a wahoo every once in a while, the wahoo will start stacking the temperature edge and the deeper wrecks this time of the year, posting up on them can be very productive. Make sure you make your reservations early this year, my books are starting to fill in.
It been real quiet down here, i have only had a few charters recently, but the fishing has been great. I mainly have been taking my clients out for mutton snappers on the wrecks. We have also caught some amberjacks and other species while doing this. I heard that there are some sailfish around right now and we will doing some slow trolling with live bait for those fish. I also have been catching some nice big kings around 20-30 pounds too,what a great fight they are. The tuna are biting well also, but so are the big sharks, the bigger the tuna the smaller the chances you can bring them in in one piece. There are some dolphin around, but not many, not really worth the time spent looking for them. The wahoo are showing up and they will be here all winter.
As summer heats this part of the country , temperatures can reach 90 degrees with very little wind to cool you down. Many of us Florida Keys residents prefer to mix up our fishing in the night, as there are a few great night time fisheries we have down here for the summer. One is our fabulous tarpon fishing, second is our snapper, and third our sword fishing and deep dropping. Whatever floats your boat, the Florida Keys has it. So, whether you are an offshore fisherman, bottom jerk, or a shallow water stalker, the night has something for you.
For you shallow water stalkers, docks, bridges, and basins are your areas. Nowadays almost every fisherman has a lighted dock or even lights in the water to attract fish. As they see it, their back dock is their own personal saltwater aquarium. Take note that this now becomes your one of the best areas for your night fishing, especially if the wind is blowing. The light attracts baitfish and saltwater worms which the larger predators use as a feeding station. When you fish someone’s lighted dock you have to keep in mind that the people don’t own the canal or water which they are lighting up, but be discrete, because you are fishing in someone’s backyard. Respect them and they won’t care that you are out there fishing. I have caught many different species off of lighted docks such as tarpon, snook, snappers, ladyfish, jacks, lookdowns, and even grouper. When fishing these docks you can use live bait or artificial, which ever you prefer. However, I always liked using top water artificial – I just love the explosions but that’s me.
The Florida Keys have lots of bridges, but you don’t have to fish the big ones as there are lots of small ones connecting communities that are great to fish. As long as there’s a current and deep enough water, bridges are loads of fun to fish. Most people fish the main bridges, but there are plenty of smaller bridges that can be a great resource of good fishing. Now when I say fishing bridges, I don’t mean fishing from them but from a boat. Most of these smaller bridges you can’t fish from the bridge anyways, but I thought I should clarify this for you.
One of my favorite night fishing areas is the reef. I love snapper fishing, and to be out on the reef with a clear summer sky is breathtaking. The reef is alive at night during the summer, but you will have to try not to fish close to the full moon, as the bite tends to slow down. I prefer to fish the new moon as it’s the best bite you will get. For some reason the snappers don’t really like the light from the boat or the moon, so the darker is better. If you find yourself fishing on the full moon you can still fish, just wait for the moon to go down. This means you’ll be fishing really late in the evening. When the moon is full it’s usually out before the sun goes down, so it will set in the later part of the evening. Fishing the reef you can catch yellowtail, mangroves, mutton, cubera, and dog snapper to name a few. Groupers will tend to eat at night too, but usually they are daytime feeders.
When fishing for swordfish became popular, everyone thought these magnificent beast of the deep could only be caught at night. But about 7 years ago pioneer Richard Stanzick shared his techniques he had learned in Venezuela for catching swordfish. Now everyone has forgotten about the night, drifting 30 miles out in the middle of the Gulf Stream for a rewarding catch. Night fishing for swords is still my favorite way to fish for them. I like the peaceful night, nothing but you, the water, the stars, and the occasional freighter (which you have to keep your eye on, they rarely move for fisherman). I have had a few freighters that would have ran us over while we drifting out there if I wasn’t on my toes! The continental shelf is where the swords live. Some places are better than others, but when fishing at night the swords follow the squid up from the bottom and cruise depths of 300 feet to the surface. I have a few areas where I have had good luck in the past. I usually start down to the west and drift to the north east, but sometimes I’ll back track to an area where I caught fish or where I have gotten bites. But generally I will move the boat south back out to deeper water, trying to cover some area on the edge of the shelf. The idea is to keep on the edge because the fish swim strait up to feed from their daytime areas in 2000-1300 feet of water on the bottom or close to it. But once up on the surface the swords will venture around looking for food, so keep your baits in the water and around the edge of the shelf and you will catch one of these magnificent creatures.
Whether you prefer the shallow water or the deep, when the temperature rises go fish the nighttime – it’s cooler in many ways.
After about two years we have been shut down from fishing in 240’ of water and deeper for snowy grouper, tilefish, queen snapper, and yellow edge grouper so that the Warsaw grouper could be protected. But if they knew anything about the waters where we fish for these species I listed above, they would know that Warsaws don’t live where we catch these species. Most of the Warsaw population lives inside of 500’ of water, whereas the listed species live in 600’ and deeper. Kind of reckless if you ask me. And who paid the price? We did – the recreational fisherman and the commercial fisherman. Not too many people deep drop anyways. We lost our fishery for almost two years because an organization that had good intentions had no idea what they were talking about. If we had to point the finger at someone, it would be the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), and the idiots in charge of shutting down fisheries employed by the NOAA. Most recreational fisherman fish with conservation – we have been at it for over a hundred years! It’s the recreational fisherman who donate for research and push for conservation through our own actions. There are some that don’t know about conservation, but they are the newcomers. And as recreation fisherman go, we respect our fisheries and we fish with conservation so our children and their children can enjoy our resources. My father taught me to respect our resources and one day I will teach my children to understand that we must manage our resources by ourselves, because we are the ones out there every weekend or even every day. We see the bio mass as it is, not as the researcher who may go out a couple times a month. It’s our responsibility as fisherman to fish with conservation.
The ones who need to be watched more closely are the commercial fisherman, as they take way more poundage than us recreation fisherman. I used to be one, and I know what’s on a commercial fisherman’s mind – MONEY! It doesn’t matter at what cost, but commercial fisherman would take 100,000 pounds year if they could. Since I used to fish for yellowtail snapper I know that 30,000 lbs. -65,000 lbs. is what some good commercial yellowtail fisherman take in a 3 month season. This is their spawn season, where the fish gather in huge numbers to repopulate the reef with their offspring. It would hurt a lot of fisherman to have a closure this time of year. I have seen great numbers of fish taken from the area and the population stays up all year. Recreational fisherman couldn’t even catch that much fish combined with our 10 per person limit! So when the NOAA thinks of closing down a fishery they need to really look at the commercial fishing market before taking away from the recreational fisherman.
At first I hated the fact that they closed down grouper for their spawn from Jan 1st. to April 30th, but after the second year of the closure we charter boat captains have noticed a great increase of numbers of black, gag and red grouper which live on our reefs even after the two years. For the first month of the grouper season which is May, I have only had 2 fish with roe out of 35 black grouper which I caught for my clients. So the biologists got that one right even though at the beginning I was against it. Now I am only one person, but our grouper population will only grow with this closure, shutting down harvest for a slower growing fish during its spawn makes sense, but it’s unfortunate that we can’t keep any during that time of the year. Keep in mind you can still catch them and release them unharmed!
The thought of any closure scared most of us charter captains. Once they close something it could take decades for us to ever get it back even when the population returns like the goliath grouper. The NOAA needs to really revisit this closure. I am an avid diver I can sometimes count more goliaths than black groupers on our reefs. On most dives I can cover 200 yards of reef and find more goliath grouper than black grouper and of course in other areas lots of black groupers and not many goliaths. A tag system would work well, as we don’t always catch goliaths. That way we could harvest this great eating fish and money would be generated through a tag system to pay for the research so their populations can be counted and managed. And hopefully, one day the biologists would get a good idea of the population and be able to determine a proper size and or number for a daily limit.
In fishing with conservation we all win – the commercial fisherman and the recreational fisherman. Even the animal rights people who don’t want us to take any fish would get to see the species they strive to protect on the dock and then packed up, frozen and taken to our client’s freezers. Each time they open their freezer and pull out some fish they caught on their vacation, they are reminded of what a great time they had in Florida. Have fun out there and only keep what you can use! Remember, help us to protect our resources with facts – not an ideology.
Summer time has arrived and the dolphin have been waiting. I have a great feeling for this summer, you can’t imagine how good it’s been all year and from my past experience this year is going to be the year of the dolphin. I expect to see some big fish hit the docks this May! Last year there were a few really big fish, I mean 60+ pounders, but instead most of captains and recreational fisherman hammered the 20 pounders and caught 10-15 daily. That really fills the box up with some quality fish. However, hunting the big ones means turning down the gimmies and focusing on that one big one!
When trying to hunt down the big fish, you have to be prepared, have baits rigged and ready, and extra pitch rods in case of a foul up. It can happen at the worst time and it usually does. I like having a pitch rod with a large ballyhoo rigged to the pitch rod. I found when chasing big dolphin, at times you can’t always get up wind from them so having baits rigged to the hook on the pitch rod allows you to make the furthest cast without wondering if the bait is going to stay on. By rigging the bait to the pitch rod you will have the confidence to make the longest cast to that trophy fish you’ve been wanting all these years.
One of the greatest sayings I live by is “Don’t leave fish to find fish.” If you’re in an area where you are finding fish, make a mental note not to venture more than two miles either south or north. If you stay in this avenue you should catch fish all day. The biggest mistake people have is they leave an area where they are finding fish. I see it all the time, as people think the further out they go the more or bigger fish they are going to catch. I don’t mean stay within a 2 mile range where you caught a fish but extend that area to east or west, stay close to that depth zone. Most of the time dolphin will run in waves down a particular part of the ocean. If you can find the avenue that the fish are coming down you will find the big one eventually. When I first started running my Hydra Sport 33’ I over ran the fish all the time, but I have learned by my mistakes, and I slowed down and I analyze the waters more closely now before blasting off for deeper water.
It’s hard to find and catch that big fish you’ve been wanting. Now they are no Marlin, but they do have impressive burst of speed, that will test any line and terminal tackle. Most of the time we use 20# class rods for dolphin, but with the bigger dolphin you might want to have a 30# class rod available just in case you stumble across a monster dolphin. Good luck out there, and always remember: keep what you need, and support our national fishing organizations who fight for our right to fish. We have had unfair rulings against us because of the animal rights activists, but you can fight back by supporting any of the groups fighting for our rights.
The beginning of spring is near, as the sailfish pour through Marathon on their way to their spawning grounds somewhere in the Gulf of Mexico. Many anglers and charter boat captains are about to embark on the best sail fishing of the season as March nearly approaches, the baits dangling from kites or slow trolled from our riggers and sailfish flags will be flying. March has historically been Marathons best month for sailfish, as they pour down the reef’s edge, there will be pods of fish crashing bait as they make their trip around the coastline of the Keys. While fishing for the sails you will encounter many different other species as well, kingfish, dolphin and blackfin tuna will also be some prize catches as you troll the edge of the reef.
During this run of sailfish, run-n-gun fishing will be highly effective. Find the bait showers and you will find the fish. Running in areas which are rich in bait is essential, so look for the bait and chase down the birds, as they will show you where the feeding sailfish are balling up the bait. Don’t restrict this style of fishing in the deep water; many times sailfish will cruise in the shallows where bait is more abundant. This method can be expensive, but it will be the most productive under the right conditions. Many of us soak baits in certain areas outside the reef. We generally look for the outcroppings of the reef that tend to cause eddies which in turn hold bait. Once I found a good area I will just hold the boat in that area, because with baits in the water you really can’t cover much ground, so I post up where I think the fish will pass through and wait. Sometimes when it’s slow, I will move in or out depending where there might be a color change or a trickle line of weeds. I am always thinking conditions, depth, and history. Well what I mean is first I look for conditions, like weeds, color change, birds, or bait busting. IF then no bites, I will remember where they were the past week and try in that area or depth. The more you fish the more you will see patterns which the fish exhibit, and the more you will catch.
Along with the great sail fishing we will have in March, our bottom fishing will be outstanding, large yellowtails, mutton snappers, American red snapper and of course groupers. We also get some other fish such as African pompano, yellow jacks, amberjacks, and cobia. I recommend that you buy a Squeak’s Pinfish Trap, it’s the best, you can get them from him direct if you call me or go to Big Time Bait and Tackle I know they have them there. Put out the trap the day before you are going fishing and you will have more pinfish than you will know what to do with. Pinfish are an essential bait here in marathon, it what we catch most of our mangrove snappers, muttons and jacks on. Pinfish are a very versatile bait; they can be used for dolphin or cobia which might be cruising on the surface this time of the year. They can be cut into small pieces and used for yellowtail or if they are small enough a large yellowtail will enjoy them on a small jig.
Charter fishing has been my life for the last decade, knowing I am not going to be rich, I am rich, the faces of the kids after they catch a fish is absolutely priceless, this profession which I embarked on 10 years ago has brought me together with some really great people, lots of my clients have become great friends. Over the years my clients have invited to their home to experience some of the fishing they have where they are from, and now I know why they love coming down here, most of the fish they catch are the size of our bait. Fishing is fishing, as long as you’re with good friends it really doesn’t matter what you catch. I enjoyed catching small rainbow trout on fly up in the mountains, to catching bass and crappie in a pond, as long as you’re with good friends good times are going to be had. So when you go fishing, remember this, bring a friend and have a blast.
During the winter and spring we tend to get plenty of wind, and as the wind blows the seas pick up to heights where people just don’t go off shore to fish. Don’t let the wind and waves get you down, get out there, and just don’t go as far. There is plenty of inshore fishing around the Keys to fish. Up and down the Keys there are numerous areas which are protected from the wind. You can choose to fish the patch’s which are are only 3-4 miles out. During the winter the winds will generally be somewhat a northern direction so fishing on the south side of the island is where you want to be.
The patches are anywhere from 35-15 feet of water so you won’t need the big rigs, but 10-20 pound gear is what I use. The patches are a conglomerate of grass and reef all intertwined together. Since its shallow the grass can grow and the reef flourishes well in this shallow water too. When hurricanes hit, the shallow reefs do take a beating and I have seen in some areas where entire reefs patches have been destroyed by heavy seas. There are many baits I like to use on the patches and to have an assortment will improve your catch. I prefer to have ballyhoo, shrimp, pinfish and pilchards. I like the knocker rig as well for the patches, since there is rarely too much current to use a knocker rig it is very effective on the patches. I will use cut ballyhoo, pinfish, shrimp, and pilchards on this rig. Because we are fishing near or on the patch a leader rig will get hung up too often for my tastes and the knocker rig is designed for keeping your bait close to the bottom, allowing the fish to run with the bait and if you do get hung in the bottom it has a greater chance of freeing itself. If you get hung in the bottom with a knocker rig don’t pull hard, as you will only drive the hook further into the snag, or wedge the weight in the coral crevice. But instead, let the line go slack and jerk up violently. Do this repeatedly until snag comes free. It’s important to let the line go slack as this will change the direction of the pressure of the line when you jerk up. Do this for 2-4 minutes and at your last resort break it off.
When people think of the patches they think of hogfish, as this is where most of them live. The grass beds and coral patches contain their favorite food, crustaceans. Shrimps, little crabs are the diet of the hogfish, but they will eat fish sometimes. So when targeting these tasty critters you should use shrimp on a 1/8-1/4 oz. jig or the same size knocker rig. I will tend to choose patches that are close to the grass beds or even grass beds themselves. I will not put chum out if I am targeting them but I will pop the heads off the shrimp and put them into a chum bag and lower it down to the bottom on some cord with some weight. This will keep the small yellowtails and blue runners from converging on your chum slick as if you were to use frozen chum. If you use frozen chum and you toss out shrimp 50-1 you will catch anything but a hog fish as they will generally eat it before it hit the bottom, whereas hogfish are slow eaters and with all the other fish around they only get the scraps. So try this method without chum just the shrimp heads, if you want you can also just pitch the shrimp heads over the side but I find that keeping them in the bag they will last longer. Move from patch to patch until you find a good gathering of hogfish or jump in and look around and shoot them with a spear gun. But using this shrimp chum method really works.
Patches are loaded with fish but some are barren, so cruise around and look for schooling fish, this will indicate natural food is present and that there may be great fishing ahead. After you have chosen your location I like to spiral out with the cum bag in the water spreading out the chum as I said before, there is generally little current on the patches, so use the boat to spread out the chum before you anchor down. If you find out that there is no current, you may and try another spot. Fishing in front of the seven mile bridge, there is always water movement here, if there is no current there is always an influx of water from the tides here. I love mangrove fishing and my favorite bait for them is pilchards with pinfish coming in as a close second. Using a knocker rig I will hook the pilchards a little different than most. I hook the pilchard through the anus and come out right before throat. Just under the pectoral fin. I use a #3 long shank hook for this method, as it will not work with a short shank hook. This will not kill the bait if done right, and it will allow the bait to swim up off of the bottom in sight of the large mangroves. I generally allow the mangrove snappers to run with the bait for about 3-5 feet, this allows them get the hook in the mouth, as mangroves tend to grab and run with the bait before they take it all the way in their mouth. So, by allowing them to run with the bait for a few feet will help your hookup ratio, especially if you are using cut ballyhoo or live bait.
If the wind is blowing too hard to even get out on the patches, there is another untapped area people overlook. Here in Marathon there are plenty of along shore fishing areas. The bridge may not be for everyone, but Sisters Creek has snook, ladyfish, snappers, groupers, tarpon, and even redfish this time of the year. If you don’t have pilchards then shrimp will be the next best bait to use. You can chum, which I like to do and get a feeding frenzy going. Now since you are in a creek or canal there is always water movement so make sure you have sinkers up to 1 ½ oz. and in this area I like using a short leader rig with a swivel which keeps the bait away from the weight. Like the bridge, in certain areas the tide will spread out your chum. You can use pinfish here as well as long as they are really small or cut them in half if you can’t get those candy sized baits. When I look for places to fish I will look for turns in the creek or heavy over grown mangroves trees. Fish right up against the trees and if you do have pilchards throw some out as chum. I even catch mackerel in the creek so you just never know what there will biting that day but there are always mangroves and grouper. Don’t let your vacation or your day off go to waste, get out and go fishing even when the wind blows.
I always thought I started fishing when I was six or so but a few years back my sisters put together 30 years of photos as a present for our folk’s 30th wedding anniversary. Amongst all the photos they found one of me in 1976 when I was two years old, fishing on the dock with my red Sterns lifejacket, sure did bring back some memories growing up on the Chesapeake Bay. Those days you could kick your kid out of the house, give him a bucket and fishing pole and let him go to the park or down the dock without someone calling child services on you. Ha, those days are over, but with all the crazies in the world now, I can see why they have made some of these rules for parents.
I moved to Florida in 1996 and attended Johnson & Whales University where I spent most of my spare time out on the head boats 5-7 days a week. I could never get enough fishing in. Most people were out drinking where I was addicted to my favorite activity on earth, Fishing. Going out on the head boats I got involved with a few different clicks of fisherman. I got to know all the captains and mates on the docks; they gave me special attention as they saw my love for fishing. I even got involved with a few commercial fishermen, they let me go fishing with them for free, and I thought it was the greatest thing that ever happened to me. Live baiting for kingfish at anchor or dropping with 4/0 senators for amberjacks, they were getting free labor and I was getting my addiction taken care of. Throughout the four years of Collage I became great friends with everyone on the dock. I finished up collage and started to work for Marriott as a banquet chef, in the processI lost the ability to go fishing. Working 60-70 hours a week I was jones’n to go fishing, but once a week just wasn’t enough. After a long look at my life I decided to quit being a chef and get into the fishing industry. I got a job on a charter boat at Haulover Marina where I used to get on the head boats at. My first job was on the oldest, beat up boat with six mounted chairs in the cockpit. The Shark was this leviathan’s name and the owner’s dad had built that boat in his backyard back in the ‘60s. I learned fishing from an old timer Capt. Roger Kohn, looking back , the ways we fish has not changed for 50 years and new ways are always being thought of. This was the beginning of my epic adventures on the open ocean. I have learned from some of the greatest captains in South Florida, from Capt. Bouncer Smith to Capt. Dennis Forgione in Miami to Capt. Roy Limback in Islamorada and Capt. Ted D’ Esposito, who was the one who really gave me my Florida Keys foundation. Since then I have been learning on the job trying new things and also sharing with my other captain friends, as we all tweak our techniques.
This past week I had a captain come down from the West Coast of Florida, I used to go withthis captain in Miami as a client back in my collage days. My buddy Kalvin and an old fishing buddy Bravid who used to fish the same boats up in Miami as I used too, came down here to do some bottom fishing. Now it was up to me to put them on some fish, no pressure, hahaha. We spent the early morning catching my favorite grouper bait, white grunts. It wasn’t long before we had 30 or so nice grunts. I then pulled my pinfish trap which was loaded will all sizes of pinfish. Now we were ready to take on the groupers. I started at one of my favorite grouper spots, which is a wreck in 104 feet of water. I had some really good anglers onboard so I figured we could get our limit pretty quickly. After ten minutes we had three hooked fish and only got one to the boat. We were using 80-130# test gear. We had hooked some really big ones and unfortunately they got in the rocks even with great anglers and stout gear. After breaking off another two fish the bite turned off, instead of going to another wreck I have learned to shift the boat and re-anchor on a different side of the wreck. When fish get spooked they usually will not go far, just in another quadrant of the wreck. Now that we have only moved 200 feet it wasn’t ten minutes before we had a double header, one turned out to be a goliath and the other got back to the wreck. Then we pulled the hooks on the goliath. It’s quite easy to tell when you get a goliath; its fight is strong, with slow tail kicks, unlike a black grouper that digs hard and fast. After losing 19 fish from them getting rocked up or eaten by sharks we left and went to a reef spot where we lost a few more blacks to sharks, but we did manage to get another one around 12 pounds.
It was almost noon by now, so I decided to start hitting the deeper wrecks for some muttons and amberjacks. First drop we had a double header amberjack and up in the front of the boat my buddy Kalvin and his bosses cousin were jigging diamond jigs and were catching genuine red snappers. This time of the year we have to release them. It’s astonishing how we get more regulations each year, even though we are catching more and more fish. You might think that if the stocks are increasing then we are over regulated. Just kind of makes sense to me. If we could get to a point where the stocks stay the same each year then I think the bureaucrats would shut us down completely. I have learned from biologists that are currently working on the grouper studies in the Gulf, and they say that each year is different because of the population of offspring that survived to grow up and become adults where then they have to run the gauntlet us fisherman put them through. So some years you will have better stocks than others. There is no way around that, but for the bureaucrats to not just look at landings, but talk to the fisherman, do interviews, and hire neutral parties to conduct non-bias studies.
After catching another grouper on the wrecks and more amberjacks than they wanted to catch we moved in close to the patches where I have been doing well on large mangrove snapper. It takes time sometimes to get the fish to gather behind the boat. Knowing your bottom you can figure out where the fish are going to hang out and where you can get them to come to you by chumming. When I fish the patches I like to fish on the sandy bottom on the up current, outside edge of the patch. I will also take a big circle with the chum bag around the patch to get the chum spread out. So when the current takes chum away from the boat, it starts out as a big cone, narrowing down to the back of your boat. This time of the year the patches are loaded with fish that are coming from deeper water looking for food (ballyhoo) which is piling up all over the reef. After cast netting a half of a five gallon bucket we rigged up our rods with jigs and knocker rigs and it wasn’t long before we started catching mangrove snappers. My Capt. buddy Kalvin and I used to fish 5-7 day a week together almost 12 years ago and it sure was nice getting to fish with him again. Bravid too, he was always good to fish every weekend or when his work allowed him to during the week. Getting to fish with old friends really makes fishing much more enjoyable, so catch up with an old friend, invite them out to go fishing and rekindle your old friendships and have a hoot, oh yeah don’t forget, catch some fish.