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This past Sunday I took out a group of brothers, Scott, Ben, Sterling, Billy and their Dad, Wayne. We all met at the dock at 7 AM, Devon stowed their gear, food, and drinks. We pulled the strings on The BEAST and motored out into the Bay under placid conditions. Very little wind and very calm water is usually a sign of good boating and **** fishing. I throttled up the 600 ponies and we were off. We coursed the Bay and into the patch reefs to find the exact same conditions there. Oh well, we'll try to make the best of it.

We arrived at our favorite bait patch and deployed the chum and within minutes we started seeing bait. We put 3 guys on the bait rods and started catching our days bait. About 15 minutes into it and the tide is starting to go toward slack. Oh boy?!? The bait started to get finicky and confused, moving in and out trying to lock in on the chum scent. I threw the net, but the mirror-like water let them see it coming. Each and every one of them successfully dodged the 10' net. We had to work them with the rods some more. We finally had enough bait for the day and as we were securing the rods the bait came in to the chum, feeling secure. I loaded the net again and thanks to my old duck hunting days, I led the school just right with the net toss. Now we are definitely good to go!

We pulled off the edge and put out our customary spread. About 15 minutes into the day and the d/rigger went off. Billy brings an average Kingfish to the boat. Several minutes later and Ben has one on. After boating that fish it was Wayne's turn.

With 3 Kingfish in the box within the first 30 minutes, the current really starts ripping to the north. Things are looking up. Shortly after the strong current began we had the right rigger pop off. Scott is hooked up to a Sailfish. Several nice jumps and a down and dirty fight for 15 minutes and the fish is led to a swift tag and release. This was his first completed Sailfish catch. Not a bad start for conditions on the ocean that more resembled the water of a secluded pond. The fishing is much better than we anticipated. As we're BS'ing a bit, I caught something out of the corner of my eye and yelled, "Left rigger!" Before anyone could get to the rod the fish goes skyward, ejecting the bait . Too slow on the reaction time there, boys.

We hit a bit of a lull for about an hour or maybe a bit more. We all had enough downtime to eat some lunch. Devon and the other guys began pounding the water with speed jigs and jig/bally's. They managed to pull out 3 Bonito and a Blackfin to stay busy.

As the afternoon moves along and the sun is up on the calm water I noticed fish marking deep and it looked like balls of bait. We dropped the d/rigger to 75' but nothing happened. We checked the bait and Devon said let's go to 80' or so. I dropped it to 100 feet. 5-6 minutes later and we have a bite on the d/r. The fish is coming up! Yahoo, another Sailfish! As the fish moves to the right, the left rigger goes off. He brought a friend… Double! The right rigger goes off and yet another friend… Triple!!! No wait, fish #2 spits the hook so we are down to a double. Fish # 1 goes airborne and lands on the line of #2 and snap, we are down to one. That doesn't happen too often! We brought the fish to the boat, removed the hook and placed a tag. Release #2.

Devon gets the cockpit back in shape and sets out another spread. Yup, d/r to 100 again. It worked last time, maybe it will again. No more than 5-10 minutes elapsed and the d/r goes off. The fish is coming up! NO WAY?!? Yes way, another Sailfish and he brought a friend that eats the right rigger. Double! The fish are heading right at another boat, so I hailed them on the radio, and they politely gave me room. Thanks guys! The second fish is a monster. He clears the water twice and then #1 begins to jump and catches the line of #2 in his mouth as fish #2 is coming down. Can you believe this. Fish # 1 has jumped up into the line of fish #1 and pop, it's a done deal. We are down to one fish and once again they bring it boatside for the tag & release. I am dumbfounded that this oddity happened, not only once, but twice in one trip. Un-flippin'-believable!

OK, we regain our composure and set up another identical spread. As we pass some underwater structure the d/r once again pops off and Devon and I look at each other, totally stunned, as the fish is coming up to the surface. You're kidding me? We realized there would we no third time when the fish stopped about halfway and then worked Billy hard. Maybe a nice Blackie? Nope. Instead we see color and realize it's a Jack of some kind. As Billy works it almost to the surface we can see it is a 10# Horse Eye Jack. We boat him for a quick photo and release.

With time running out, we packed it in and pointed The BEAST for the corral. There were plenty of smiles to go all the way around the deck. We managed to go 3 for 7 on Sailfish, 3 Kingfish, 3 Bonito, a Blackfin Tuna, and a Horse eye Jack. Devon and I kept the entire crew busy, most of the day. Not too shabby for a ¾ day trip. The fishing is off the hook… in S. Florida.

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, and a prosperous New Year, to everyone!

Capt. Jim
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