Matador charters update and walkons available memorial wknd
Before I get started with my trip report, I have been planning on being in central america for the end of may, but that has fallen through. I now have the rest of may open to fish in hatteras. I am going to try to set up make up trips in Hatteras all next weekend and will be trying to get a group to fish the Matador home next sunday, weather permitting. Give me a call at 757-749-6008 or check me out at www.matadorcharters.com for more info. Spots on walk ons are first come, first serve. 200$ per person plus tip. Fishing in Hatteras has been wide open for the last couple of weeks. Give me a call and get on the boat. Also the deep drop ban is now open so aside from trolling for dolphin/ wahoo we can go catch some groupers and seabass now.
Now on with this huge trip report:
For the last year, I have been putting together a boat for a friend of mine who owns a lodge in Guatemala. The boat I have been putting together is a 1968 39' Harkers Island (Gillikin) custom Carolina sportfish boat. The boat is owned by Jody and Monte Elswick, who own Buena Vista Sportfishing Lodge in Ixtapa, Guatemala. When he found "Legacy", she had been laying abandoned in a field in in Edenton, NC. It took months of work just to get her to where we could run her to Virginia Beach to get worked on. My end of the work was finally completed and it was time to get her up the road before my charter season began. The boat was a huge project and the final part of the deal was my delivering the boat to him.
I was expecting to have to deliver the boat to the east coast of Guatemala, where Jody would pick the boat up from me and who knows what he would do with it from there. But about a week before our scheduled departure, Jody calls me and tells me a frieghter is going to pick the boat up in Fort Lauderdale, so I would only have to travel half as far. The plan was to leave and go down to Hatteras late tuesday may 8 and leave early wednesday may 9, which we did. Brandon Bartlett and his buddy Brandon were along to help. We didnt anticipate things going so smoothly and with gorgeous weather we cleared Hatteras inlet at 7am wednesday. This boat only cruises at about 18 knots and has a 125 gallon fuel tank. So fuel stops are every 100 miles (where we would take on about 80 gallons) and we would keep chugging. The first day we stopped in morehead and bald head for fuel. We ate dinner in Bald head, which is a pretty cool town. you can only arrive in bald head by boat or ferry and there are no cars on the island. Only golf carts. We had a good meal at a marina restraunt and took it easy for a few as a storm passed over and went back out onto the water. There were a few storms but we put her at 10 knots and headed south through the night and took shifts driving through the night and ended up in Charleston by the end of the first 24hrs.
The next day, we fueled at the Megadock in Charleston and had a quick breakfast and a peek at the newspaper and headed out. This leg of the trip from south carolina to north florida is always kind of a boring leg of the trip. There isnt much to see and the shallow, murky waters make you have to run pretty far offshore. Saw about 1000 shrimp boats, and took in fuel at Hilton Head and Brunswick before setting up for a second night in a row at ten knots. The sun set the second day as we passed about a mile off Jacksonville. There were slick calm seas all night. The lights off florida were pretty and I remember seeing Daytona Raceway during my shift then I slept like a baby. The only fish I saw all that day was a single spanish mackerel chasing after a minnow. It was actually suprising how desolate it was.
By day 3 we were well ahead of schedule. We were to meet the yacht path freighter in Port Everglades on wednesday may 16, and 48 hours into it we are already at Ponce inlet taking on fuel. We figured we would slow down a little and not be so hell bent on getting south. We stopped at a couple of inshore wrecks where we found a pile of junk fish. We stopped at Canaveral to get fuel and asked some local intel about the fishing. They basically told us the fishing was very slow and unless we had a flats skiff to keep it moving. So we did. And we stopped for the day on friday in Stuart at Finest Kind Marina. Finest Kind is one of my personal favorite marinas. Its a very fishy place and it is also the most southern place on the east coast where you can still troll ballyhoos and catch fish. Everywhere south of there live bait fishes.
Friday night we went out on the town for a bit and had a nice dinner. Stuart has a little nightlife area and we went over to one of the restraunts there (that the dockhand told us was an 1/8 mile away, but was probably closer to 2 miles away). We had a couple of cocktails and went back to the boat. Brandon had never caught a snook before and we bought some shrimp and began fishing off the back of the boat at the slip. We caught a ton of fish there, mostly junk, but we did catch some decent size mangrove snappers and a snook.
The next morning we left the inlet and ran 6 miles and put out a ballyhoo spread. No sails for us but in the couple hours we fished, we captured a bunch of mahi up to 20#, missed a couple kings, and came in from the rough seas by noon. Cooked fresh mahi on the boat and then did a little boat mantainence. While Brandon and his buddies roamed around the town that evening, I took a nap.
Sunday we went back out and didnt really have a plan. We had basically sunday, monday, and tuesday to burn before we had tro meet the boat in Fort Lauderdale on Wednesday. We put out lines off Staurt and began trolling south. We had a beautiful spread that was completely destroyed by false albacores on a regular basis. I worked out deeper and in shallower and only had one mahi bite to show for it. So we picked up lines and ran south. This was a sunday and the weather wasnt that bad, but there were no boats fishing anywhere which lead me to believe there wasnt much to catch. We steamed all the way south and ended up at Miami Beach Marina and we planned to stay there for the next three days until loading. We ate dinner and drank beer at Montys at the marina, watched the Heat game, and took a walk all through south beach that evening.
Monday we ran around Miami and did boat maintenance and went to some tackle shops. Checked out the town and got ready to fish tuesday. Not much going on. I took a nap on the boat while Brandon and brandon wandered around and awoke to find a huge tarpon hanging out beside the boat. The highlight of the day was going to capt. Harrys, which is a ridiculously huge tackle shop.
Tuesday we fished. It was slow. After catching live baits, we ran south to Fowey light and set up our drift in a weedline. After about two hours of chumming and live baiting, we saw a sail. He swam through and didnt eat. Hung out for a while and then we caught the remora off his back. The remora ate a live bait, but the sail wouldnt. We were all bored so we went in and snorkeled. It was pretty fun. the first couple places we looked were pretty baron, but after a while we found some fun spots to swim. I went to the range marker outside government cut and we found all sorts of baitfish on the tower, as well as a black grouper, some reef fish, and a very curious tarpon that seemed as interested in us as we were in him. We all swam around with them for a while and came back to the dock. On the way back to the dock we saw tarpons rolling. We threw our remaining live baits at them and caught a bunch of jack crevelles. We came in shortly after and went to a mexican restraunt in Miami. Brandon and brandon wandered the streets. I slept.
Wednesday was the day we were supposed to load. We get up and get packed and ready to go, then I get a phone call. No go. The boat isnt there yet. We put one Brandon on the plane and send him home but for now me and Brandon B are now stuck in south beach. We werent really sure what was going on and the transport company, yacht path, wasnt very quick to answer the phone. We hang out with my buddy Joe there at the marina and go tarpon fishing that evening. We caught a bunch of bait at the range marker. Then went over and fished the cut. We saw tarpons rolling and threw baits into them. The times the jacks didnt eat us, we did have some tarpon bites but couldnt keep them hooked. We did catch a bunch of jacks. I also caught a keeper black grouper that was about 15#. We came back in to the marina and sat at Montys and had a drink. Then we took our remaining live baits from fishing earlier and prowled the lights at the docks for tarpons. After a couple failed attempts and pulled hooks, I managed to weave one between the pilings and get my hands on a tarpon. I try to catch at least one every time I go to florida and this one was probably the most difficult one I ever caught. I earned that one. We were out of live baits and it was late. It took a while but mission complete for the day.
Thursday I woke up and started boat maintenance. Found some issues with the genset and I didnt really have to tools to fix them. I called a generator company and spent the most of the day there at the boat while they fixed it. After they finished work, we told them we were gonna go catch bait and go fishing. They insisted on coming along and we all went out to fish the cut for a while. Bait was hard easy to catch but when we set up at the cut there were very few tarpons rolling and the drift was pretty bad. Im pretty sure I would have caught a whole lot more tarpons if I could have gotten access to some mullets instead of the treadfins we were catching. We caught some jacks and came in. Brandon wanted to wait until dark and try to catch a tarpon at the marina in the lights. We had plenty of live bait this time, but they just wouldnt bite. Even with flouro leaders, they didnt want what we had.
Finally on friday, yacht path gave me some sort of idea as to a plan. We were going to meet their boat in Port Everglades early saturday and go from there. Brandon and I at this point were kind of over it and going home sounded good. South Beach is nice and all but any trip that goes unplanned makes you ready to come home. We didnt have laundry or a car and were just tired of being on a boat. Friday morning we went snorkelling and took some pictures. Then we went to lunch and I bought presents to take home for my girlfriend and daughter. We got bored so I drank a bottle of vodka and passed out.
I woke up bright eyed and bushy tailed saturday morning and drove the boat to port everglades and turned it over to yacht path. They are now taking the boat and it will be going to central america sometime in the upcoming weeks. There was an issue with getting the boat to Golfito, Costa Rica, and they will be taking care of it until then. But either way the mission is complete. We bought plane tickets and flew home on the first cheap flight. It was a long trip, but looking back it was a nice paid vacation and Im glad to be home.