Every day on the water is a different adventure. This was definitely the case on a recent offshore trip that was the “maiden voyage” for my friends new 34’ Yellowfin. Coolers were packed with frozen bait to target red grouper and anticipation was high as we motored out of the canal. In the dark, the water churned around us and fish were running into the boat. Mickey threw a heavy cast net and we had trapped 30 mullet between 10-15 inches! A great start and offshore we went to sabiki bluerunners, pinfish and squirrelfish.
At 8:00am we were in 100 feet of water and things could not be better! Perfect baits, lots of fish arches on the meter and 3 hours later no grouper in the box. Plan B was to go to a snapper spot and sure enough we marked a school, dropped a buoy marker and went and set the anchor. By the time the anchor set, we were 50 yards away from the marker and no one was raising their hand to pull the anchor back in. Normally, if you are not right on the fish, then you don’t catch fish offshore! Today was different. Two chum blocks in the water and we are dicing & slicing frozen bait and in 15 minutes a school of amberjack take residence under the boat. Literally, these fish from 20-40 pounds camped out waiting for us to reel up a snapper.
The most logical thing to do next was to have a little fun catch and release fishing with these back breaker fish. We dropped their favorite food into the water, bluerunners and nothing! Pinfish nothing! Than, the fish gods shined on us as a lively mullet dropped over had 10 amberjack at a time chasing it. Instantly, Mickey, Mike and Manny had rods doubled over, drags a burning and I watched the skunk come off the new boat! Quick photos and perfect live releases followed as they begged for the ol’ captain to hook up. So indeed I dropped a mullet in the water and hooked and lost two 30 pounders, finally landing one and that was enough for me. We were all out of breath and complaining of aching muscles.
The next challenge was snapper. We all dropped small jigs with meat and Manny was quick to put a 14” yellowtail in the boat than we all began hooking yellowtails which apparently the amberjack loved because we could not reel them in fast enough without getting eaten. Frustrating for sure until the BIG yellowtails showed up. Too big for the AJ’s to eat. Manny had the hot stick and when the first 7 pound yellowtail came over the gunnel there were lots of high-fives! We all agreed it was the biggest yellowtail we had ever seen. The next two hours fishing was amazing. We all hooked monster yellowtails but they would straighten hooks or break our lines. Imagine that! But Manny had a different program. He got the big bites and filled the cooler with behemoth Flags as they call them when they get that big. Manny had the hot stick and just the right amount of backbone to horse them in. Add to that a 5 pound mangrove snapper also blessed Manny’s line!
With a cooler full of yellowtail, we went back to hunting grouper with no success. On the last drop Micky connected with an odd fighting fish and when he swung it overboard an octopus hit the deck! What an encore to an incredible day!
A maiden voyage for a new boat doesn’t usually turn out this way. More often, you find out all the things that are not working right on the boat. This day the boat was perfect and lady luck was on our side. We caught just the right bait that the A’J’s wanted and we anchored over a barren bottom by accident to discover a monster yellowtail spot. It really does not get any better than that.