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Last weekend was the true definition of tough fishing. We had some really harsh winds and seas to contend with and the normal "hot" surface bite didn't show up.

Friday, I did a half day with Hayes and his buddy. This day was the nicest conditions of the 4 that I fished. During the Sailfish season, nice conditions are not what we look for unless we are going for a boat ride or a day on the sandbar. However, we had a fairly busy afternoon catching 6 decent Kingfish and going 0 for 1 on Sailfish and losing a nice "gaffer" Dolphin.

Saturday, Devon (mate) and I met Frank, David and James for 2 days of fishing. Saturday started off with North winds blowing 20 knots and we were greeted with seas at 3-5'. The bait was incredibly easy that day and the guys were very efficient at catching them so most of our bait were "primo" hookers and I only threw the net one time to top off the other livewell. We struggled a bit through the day and tried several different methods of fishing to give the guys the full experience since they were fishing for 2 days. We tried some bottom dropping while working the live baits on top which produced a small Mutton Snapper. We caught 2 Barracuda, 3 Kingfish, 1 Cero Mackerel, but never saw the first Sailfish. The Sail fishing was so slow as evidenced by the Ocean Reef Sailfish tournament which had 49 boats stretched over a wide area of water and only caught 20 Sails for the entire day.

Sunday, Frank and crew showed up for Round #2 and the winds were out of the SW which created mild seas on the edge. The bait patch was harder this day and we had to work a bit to get enough bait, but the mission was accomplished. We headed offshore and put out our lines. 4 baits on the surface, 1 bait down 50' on the downrigger and 1 bait on the "meat stick" fished one crank off the bottom. 5 minutes into it the bottom rod jerks with the typical Mutton bite and then, as it is coming up, the rod is jerked to the gunwale. Oh Boy, something just ate our Mutton and got the hook. 1 hour later we still haven't seen color and the rod has been passed off 3 times. Another 10 minutes goes by and we think we are gaining when the leader just couldn't take anymore, and parted. The chafing on the leader showed signs of a shark. The fishing was slowing down significantly as we only boated 1 Kingfish when the wind shifted quickly to the NW, as the cold front approached and started blowing 30 knots. The seas rose to a solid 5' with the tops blown off and only a 4 second interval. We headed for the wreck to drop for Muttons and Grouper. Holding the wreck turned out to be a real chore. We did manage to catch 1 Mutton, 1 Barracuda, and a very small 18" Cobia and several other fish that never made it past the wrecks "Guard Dogs". After some time fighting boat position we went back to the edge to try and get the guys a Sailfish. We did dredge up another Kingfish. As the day wound down to the end we started dumping the leftover baits and low and behold a Sailfish rises and starts chasing a "freebie". Then our left rigger bait starts skittering around as another Sailfish pounces on it. Before we could get the rod and secure it to our angler the fish senses something and takes to the air twice spitting the bait before we could come tight on him. Out of time and out of luck! We gave it our best shot.

Tuesday, we took Russ (RT4YT "Mr Permatrim") and his brother Neil out for the day. It was the coldest day this year. Air temps in the high 40's-low 50's. The seas were nice compared to the weekend with waves in the 2-3' size. The water was crystal clear. We got our bait although they were a bit finicky that morning. We set up our lines as we did on Saturday covering the whole water column. We began the day with the normal sport fishing setup but also included a bottom rod. Nothing happening. We opted to move over the wreck and see if we could get some more Mutton's since they were more about the food fish anyway. Holding the wreck this day was a much easier task and it produced 2 Muttons before the "Guard Dogs" started to chew off everything on the way up. Then came the payback. We got the normal thunking of the rod tip signaling another Snapper and boom the rod doubles over. Russ fought the fish for 30 minutes and passes the rod over to Neil who fights the fish for another 30 minute. No one else to take the rod so Devon get on it and puts the heat to the fish. Slowly he gains ground as he puts max pressure on this fish today. I see color! Oh my God, what a fish! As it get closer and closer the size becomes more apparent. I grab the leader and bring this "Guard Dog" of the wrecks to the surface for a photo op. There it was in all its splendor. A perfect specimen of a Bull Shark, approximately 8' long and weighing an estimated 250-300# without a scar or blemish on it. Absolutely, mind boggling, beautiful. After the photos I gave the 80# leader a jerk and sent him back down to resume his job guarding "his" wreck. The fishing continued to deteriorate as we only managed to pick up 1 more Mutton Snapper on the edge of the reef. Not 1 Kingfish bite! Now that is the epitome of slow when you can't get a King to bite. We opted to run north and fish another wreck, hoping maybe a Barracuda or something would want to play with my anglers. Finally getting a bite down 75' towards the wreck and then it happens again. Same scenario as the last time but it was hooked up on 20# line. 30 minutes, once again for Russ, 30 minutes once again for Neil. We are laughing at the track back on my chartplotter as this fish just has his will with us, walking me offshore and back to the wreck, in a circle and back offshore again, repeatedly for an hour. Now they pass the rod off to Devon once again. It's getting late and I wanted 1 more shot at a last minute Sailfish. Devo' looks at me, with the anglers done and enough time spent on this fish, I give him the nod. Without having to say a word he knew I meant, make it or break it. He put maximum pressure on the fish. The next run was as quick as the first like the fish has not been dragging a 33' WorldCat over miles of ocean. The following run was so fast that Devo' couldn't get his hand off the spool fast enough and with a sharp cracking sound, the line gave way. We went back to the edge and set up for a few more minutes of Sail fishing while we dumped the wells, flooding the area with "freebies". A free jumping Sailfish and we tried to head him off. Won't eat! Wouldn't even eat the "freebies"!?! Then another Sail free jumps and again the same case. Getting really late now we pulled our lines and headed for the barn. To coin and old saying, you have that sort of day, that's why it's called fishing, not catching!

Capt. Jim
305-233-9996
[email protected]
www.beastcharters.com
 
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