deep drop time is here and we are ready to look for new spots and visit old
ones. Snowy and Blue Line Tile season is only 4 months long. We try to take
advantage every change we get to mix in deep dropping with mahi and sword
fishing. The first day out was successful with snowy and tile going in the box.
range from 650-850 with a lot of the bigger ones found in the deeper water.
ever I have a free day I go to new areas and drift around looking for new
dropping can be slow at times but the pay-off is worth it. Fishing 800 – 2000 feet
is technical and challenging but adds variety and excellent table fare.
provided a great day to get offshore. Got an early start for teenage boys and
headed straight for the humps. Trolled with two to three in the spread and got
several hook ups and BFT in the box. We did get one BFT that went 22lbs.
was to search thru all of the scattered weeds to try and find a line. With not
much formed up we picked off a couple peanuts and one 26” mahi.
no birds and no pattern it was off to deep dropping for sword. With limited 16
year old patience we were only going to make 2 drifts. First one nothing,
second we get a bite. It was light but something was one. Slowly work it up and
was not a sword but a new species – pomfret.
Next was to hit the Black Belly Rose fish area to try and pick up some good eats. Made three drifts and got 2 rosies and three green eyed sharks. We later learned that this was a new species that was identified last July.
Had some calm seas and a good variety of fish. They boys learned some about fishing and we put some good eats in the box.
couple days offshore, goal was to find some Black belly rose spots and deep
drop for swords.
thing troll 180-300 looking for wahoo or BFT.
Bite was slow but steady and picked up a few BFTs.
was to stop and search for some new Black Belly Rose fish spots.
was to make a couple sword drops. No bites.
day bypass 200 troll and out to find more rose fish spots and spend more time
dropping for swords. Came across a floater and picked up a 24” mahi. Went to a
couple rose fish areas but current made it difficult to keep 10lb weight on
bottom. We did pick up one and with a mahi and black belly rose fish in the box
it was on to the sword grounds.
made a short first drift to set our course. Half way down our second drift we
get bit and it is game on.
a good puller but on the small side. We carefully work it to the boat and once
we are sure it is legal, gaff and over the rail.
to more drifts and got one hooked up but came loose after fighting it for
were in 230 and Sword in 1720.
Great day of fishing
couple of trips into the gulf for kings, sharks and macs when it was too rough
oceanside. We did get offshore and was able to make to the humps a couple
times. Saturday had some folks from North Carolina making their first trip to
the keys and wanted to fish the hump and catch a dolphin. With 4-7’ seas the
running and gunning for Mahi was going to be a little challenging. The World Cat powered thru the sometimes
cresting waves and got us safely out there and back. I was in the tower
watching for weeds or something fishy. Finally came across some weeds in 650
and set out the spread. Trolled for about 20 minutes before the 1st
knockdown. Jonathan was first on the reel and began working the jumping mahi to
the boat. This guy was 24” and being the first fish, it went into the box
this area back and forth catching 6 mahi putting 2 on ice, 24” and 29”. Even
with an injured wrist she got this little guy in. The smaller ones went back in
to grow up.
dolphin checked off their list the hump was up next to put some tuna in the
box. Turned the cat south and when we arrived there was only one other boat there.
Conditions were rough but we put out a couple lines and the BFT cooperated.
Made several passes and put plenty of blackfins in the box. On the final pass heading
north we hook into something bigger. Jonathan has already reeled in 12-15 BFT
in rough seas and this fish is wearing him out.
Finally get him to the boat and it is a nice
sized Skip Jack.
was a good end to the day and they have fresh fish for some great meals.
first-time offshore angler and timing was perfect for going deep. With a flat
calm day and the gulfstream 28 miles offshore this would be a good day to run
out for a sword drop. On the way we were watching for anything fishy. Got all
the way to 900 before seeing some scattered weeds and flyers. Started to troll
in this area and 15 minutes in to it we are hooked up. Jordan grabs the reel
and starts working a mahi.
one in the box. Continue to work along this edge and pick up two more and one
goes on ice. With no knock downs for a while we decide to move on and look for
a better line. A few miles south we come upon a better formed line and start
trolling in 1000’. Caught three more working this area and one goes on ice.
way to the next spot I saw the top of a board bobbing up and down. We trolled
past it a couple time with no bites, so we pull up to jig it. As we get closer
there is a chunky triple tail there. Jordan is dropping a deep jig while I get
a pitch bait ready. We switch rods and on the second cast he has the tripletail
quick sword drop and the bait gets hammered on the first drop just as we were
getting close to the bottom. Reeling up slack like nothing is there and then
pop, hook comes out. Reset and tried a couple more drifts but no bites. Caught 6
dolphin keep 3, 24-28” and a chunky triple tail. Was a nice first-time
laid down enough for a run to the Marathon Humps for someone who has never been
there after fishing in the keys for over 20 years. Stopped at a floater on the
way but only saw a small triple tail. Got to the humps put out a spread of
three and headed toward some birds. Before we even catch up to them, we have a
double on and put two BFTs in the box. Reset in some scattered weeds and head
to the birds. This time the right goes off, the reel is screaming, and then we
see a good-sized dolphin jumping. Ben works it to the boat, where she jumps and
puts on a great show boat side. Finally, in gaff range and we have about a
20lber in the box, his biggest dolphin.
the World Cat back towards the birds and try to find the bull. Troll right to
and under them and we have a double on. This is not a dolphin but two more
tunas. We keep working this area and have a couple big fish on, but they broke
free before we could ID. There are
scattered weeds all over but we keep trolling with several double hook ups. One
of the passes produced a fight that was much stronger and lasted longer than
brings in a nice 10lb tuna to add to the box. A few more passes and in about 3
hours we have 26 tunas and a mahi. We also had hooked up to something big that
we could not turn. Chased and fought it for 40 minutes before the line broke.
The north winds started picking up, so we turned and headed for the dock. It
was first time to the humps for one and a personal best mahi for the other.
December 27 – been windy for last couple days so other work and some bayside bait catching. Went out for a few hours last couple days and the water is dirty, weeds everywhere and choppy. You can put out chum and pick up pinfish, snappers, jacks and get blues and Spanish macs in the mix. Loaded up pinfish and hooked up with several blues and macs. Freezer full of mahi and grouper but brought this guy home for a fresh catch and cook
December 29 – Big blow over and NOAA says 3-4 for Saturday. Finally a family day at the marathon hump. Well they were wrong there was some 6+ waves but the World Cat got us there. Made 4 or 5 passes and had all the tuna that I wanted to clean. On the way back stop a scattered weedline in about 650’ and put the spread out. Left long goes off and we have a dolphin on. Nothing huge but a lot of action and Casey loves tuna.
Two Days left to get some grouper. Set up on first spot no action. Went next spot looks a little more promising so I get set up. Already have some live bait so the bottom rod gets loaded first. Then set a live one off the transom with a balloon. Then I start working the chicken rig on the bottom to get more bait. Picked up a nice rock hind, small yellow tails, grunts and a green eel. The next drop is pulling very hard but I finally get it off the bottom and up pops a nice red grouper. Caught two of these that got vented and sent back down.
is the bottom rod that gets bent over and at first it puts up a good fight. He
doesn’t last long and up comes a Yellow Jack. Then a couple drops later up
comes an even bigger yellow jack.
and in a few minutes the bottom rod gets bent but not as hard as a grouper. I
am thinking another jack but up comes a 22” mangrove snapper. Box has some good
eats in it but no grouper. Keep working
the chicken rig with the action slowing down and then I see a dolphin in my
chum slick. Grab a rod with a bucktail on it toss it out and get hooked up.
Mahi jumping and pulling hard on this 6500 spinning outfit. As I am working the
dolphin I see my bottom rod double over in the rod holder. I put the dolphin on
hold and start cranking the bottom rod and feels like a grouper. After getting
the grouper off the bottom I go back to the dolphin. As she gets closer to boat
makes a big jump, headshake and comes unhooked. Now back to the bottom rod and
work this fish to the surface and success a black grouper. With a box of good eats it is time to head in
with one day left for grouper.
Have two split days in a row. Day 1, quick trip early for Wahoo – lines in at 7am. Only had a couple hours but with a cold front and a full moon coming it was worth a try. Started at 180 headed to 350 with a lot of weeds. Got a dolphin on but she spit the hook. Zig zag between 300-180 with nothing but weeds.
Back to the dock to take care of some business then back out around noon to try the reef. Landed on a good spot but not even the grunts were biting. Went out towards the hump looking for weeds and did not see anything until we got to1000’. Made couple laps and picked up some BFT for dinner. On the way back in we tried a nice weedline in 770 but nobody was home. Strange day, no birds, no flying fish and nothing on the weeds. Still was a beautiful afternoon and dinner in the box.
Day 2– early am for Wahoo and then an afternoon run. Out at sunrise and head south till we clear the weeds around 200’. Spread of 5, bonita long middle, cowbell with 48oz weight left, jet head with 24oz right, small feather and plunger headlong on outriggers. Trolled for a while with no action finally come upon a weedline forming. Followed for about 1mile, then short left goes off and the 50 wide is screaming. First we are thinking wahoo but the run was short and then we see a big dolphin jump. Clear the other lines and work the fish towards the boat. He put up a good fight, but we get the weight to the boat and handline the leader in. Gaff shot and over the rail and into the ice for this 40lber.
High fives and get the spread back out. Work this weedline for another couple hours with two knockdowns. One ran into the weeds and pulled the hook. The other straightened the hook and both were good sized cows. Back to the dock to care of some business and to pick up another for a quick afternoon run. Made it out to 550 and no signs of weeds. We turned east to loop around and look for something fishy. Finally found an edge with a little bit of weed and temp change. Put out the spread and followed this line for miles with only one knockdown. Brought in a nice cow that made a big mess.
Saturday went out the backside looking for bait and whatever else might show up. Found a decent spot, set up anchor and the chum block. Had bait action right away and then they started getting bigger. Caught several small lanes and mangroves then the cut offs began. Time to switch to wire and got hooked up with several Spanish macs. One of them was on a 3000 series Penn after it ate the pinfish we caught on a bait rod. Only there for a few hours but it was nonstop action.
Sunday was out on the reef to test out a new kite and look for groupers. Went to several spots and not much showing on the sonar. Finally picked one in 95’ and set up to try and make something happen. The current was smoking, had to use16-24 oz weight. Bottom bite was slow with small lanes and a couple short muttons. Also had a live bait freelined down current. The live bait gets very nervous and then we see a fish jumping nearby– it is a Mahi. It charges the bait and we are hooked up. This phin puts up a good fight but we get it next to the boat and on the gaff. No grouper bites but the mahi is on ice. Weeds are thick and the bites drops off.
Time to move and put the kite out. Find a better looking spot to anchor on with lots of marks. Got 2 on the kite, two on the bottom, one freelined and one chicken rig. Off the bottom comes rock hind, lane, grunts and finally a keeper mutton.Action on the bottom was slow but steady, nothing on kites baits and only a couple sharks and a break off on the grouper rig. Seas were rough but action was steady and caught enough for dinner.
Out on a trip to try a sword drop. First 8-10 miles not too bad then it got rough. With seas to nasty to drift we look for weeds or birds in about 1000’. Got one diving on the water so I turn the boat and set a troll towards the frigate. By the time we got the spread out the bird was gone. We continue to troll on the same path even though there is no weeds. It doesn’t take long and we have a hook up. With one on then we see the bull with her. I grab a pitch rod and a pilchard and he piles on it. After a good battle and some tricky gaff work we get them both in the boat.
That was a good start but with no weeds or birds we move on to look for something more fishy. Make it about 5 miles to the east and see some small birds so we drop back the feathers. Not much weeds but a little rip and it produces a couple of BFTs. Now we are close enough to the humps that we steer that direction and get 2 more BFTs on the troll. Couple more circuits produce another BFT and then get sharked up. Decide to try drifting a couple pilchards and the first one gets hammered but pulls the hook. Next time as we head west to set up we see a nice weedline forming. Get the spread out and bam mahi on. Getting close to the boat see a friend so I pitch out a bait and get hooked up. These are two more nice sized dolphins. As we work to get the first one in the second pulls the hook.
We have 5 tunas and 3 phins in the box.
Time to look for more while heading back inshore. On the way in we come across floating rope and it was 5-6” in diameter. We drift around and see lots of jacks and undersized triple tail. Mess with them for a while and then decide to pull the rope in. After we get the rope in Lance sees flash and throws a bucktail at it. Hooked up it was an acrobatic Mahi that put on a great show. She had friends there so we threw out some pilchards and hooked up three more. Got a total of three more in the boat and maybe the biggest of the day got off.
Was a good day under rough conditions and plenty of meat in the box.
Had a couple miss the picture but ended with 6 mahi and 5 BFT. Couple almost slammers and rest gaffers.