The mission was to show my friends a good day fishing. This day would be special for each of us in many ways. Especially for me.
Bleach Bottle Mike, King Slayer Mario, Yellow Tail Keith with Son K.J., and I finally got the scow splashed early Saturday for this much anticipated bottom fishing expedition.
Plans had been made, time hacks had been met, boat, bait, anglers and gear had arrived at the designated spot at the designated time. Things came together 0530 hours at Pioneer Park in Deerfield.
As I begin walking back to the ramp after parking the truck/trailer, I am stunned to hear all four of them arguing about something. Were in the middle of a residential neighborhood at 0530 hours and these guys are yelling at each other. It sounded like someone was going to get gutted and their carcass tossed over the side before we shove off. Oh Gawd, I’m thinking to myself, it’s started already, gonna be a LONG day.
I get to the boat, and poor Mike is backed into a corner and all three of the others are taking very heated verbal pot shots at the poor guy. Come to find out, Keith told Mario the night before to tell Mike not to bring any bananas onboard. Seems Keith conducted a shakedown of the food and found the offending yellow trip killer in Mikes bag. All hell broke loose at that point. “MARIO!!!!” Keith bellowed, “I told you to make sure Mike didn’t bring any of these damn things on the boat today.” “I forgot to tell him man.” Mario retorts. “S#%t man that thing could have sunk the trip before we even started.” Keith screams. “Keith turns his anger at Mike “don’t you know any better than to bring a banana on the boat? You could have jinxed the whole trip.” Mario grabbed the banana and hurled it over the hedgerow that separates the ramp area from the parking lot. Wonder what some guy thought when he went to get his truck and a banana is lying on the hood. Mike has a set of lungs on him and he was taking none of this berating lying down. “I didn’t know no such thing. You guys are crazy. No banana is going to do anything man.” Try as he might, even KJ was hip to the banana lore and even he was letting Mike know about it. I make it to the boat and Keith yells to me, “Hey Nick, what happens when a banana is brought aboard?” “Aw hell no” I say, “That will ruin the trip right there.” Keith looks at Mike and says “that’s what I’m trying to tell him”. “Alright” I said, “is the banana off the boat?” “Yea, I threw it over the bushes” Mario said. “OK then, everyone just put down the knives and back up off each other” I barked. With weapons holstered, a tenuous cease fire falls over the crew.
A last minute check revels alls a go, except…. What is this I spy? Mario has on the whitest newest looking pair of Nike shoes I’ve ever seen. “You sure you want to go out fishing in those nice shoes?” I ask. “Oh yea, these are my old shoes.” He says with a straight face. I’m shaking my head in disbelief as these shoes could have easily passed for my Sunday best.
YT Keith is a veteran of Fort Lauderdale and Keys YT Head Boats. KJ (Keith Junior) a six foot three inch 15 year old future NFL hall of Famer is well adapted to the nuances of anchor chum fishing. Kingslayer Mario would earn his moniker on this trip. Bleach Bottle Mike would land his first rod and reel fish on this trip. Originally from the AVI, his method of choice for fishing gear is a bleach bottle with mono wound around it. “What? No Yo-Yo, Just a bleach bottle?” I ask him a few days prior to the trip. “Can’t it be say a Gatorade or 2 liter soda bottle?” “No” He says, “it has to be a bleach bottle. That’s just the right size.” Come game day, Mike shows up with no bleach bottle and he’s mad at Keith for not bringing one like he was supposed to. I was to say disappointed as I was looking forward to seeing the “bleach bottle” in action.
The trash talking and fish stories had been flowing like cheap wine at a frat party for weeks. The myriad copies of fishing mags littering the lunch table courtesy of me, had provided the fodder for the tall tales of yore.
Stories of seasickness, bathroom emergencies whilst miles from shore in the Ten Thousand Islands, the ones that had gotten away, handline v. rod & reel arguments, bait discussions, chum techniques, mono v. braid discussions, the list of stories/arguments/discussions were heard early and often throughout the work day.
The trash talking was constant and went on unabated. Everyone within earshot of us retards would breakdown in laughter after listening to just thirty seconds of our banter.
It was on the chilly side, probably mid sixties and calm. Excellent conditions for the ride to the fishing grounds. The scow loaded and trucks parked we were ready to shove off at 0545 hours. The 30 minute ride to the inlet was uneventful. We slowly turn the last corner of the inlet and it hits me. That one singular moment where you experience your deepest truth.
I am not so arrogant as to think I can begin to shape the words that would describe my complete awe. Before me, Mother Ocean and man, conspired to create magnificent stunning beauty. As diamonds on the necklace of a beautiful woman’s black velvet dress, the inky briny was sparkling with countless small craft lights caressing the coastline. Seemingly endless, shining brilliant points of light and flat calm seas welcoming me home. I was once more free.
Mike had been complaining how cold it was on the idle out. Once I put the throttle on the pins, he ducked down into the cabin, pulled his basket ball shorts up to his chest and had his arms inside his shorts sitting there shivering.
A short twelve minute ride to our first spot seemed to take forever. After some problems with the anchor line courtesy of Moi, Keith dropped the hook. We came tight easily and I dropped the chum bag over the side and shook it violently only to see the chum suspended motionless behind the boat. Not a good sign. We baited up and dropped back. The other guys were using jig heads baited with Silver Sides, I was using a 1/0 live bait hook with a Cuda belly strip. Even absent current, Mario was the first to quickly hook up. He boated a PERFECT size live bait Runner. I flipped the switch on the livewell only to hear the pump run but nothing going into the well. WTF! Switch it off then on again, nada. Switch it off and on again, pump runs but nothing getting to the well. Damn! In the bait bucket he goes. Not to be wasted, he will bring me many YTs as cut bait later.
It was BMNT and the horizon was just barely beginning to glow. Although slow, we were picking up some legal YTs. This lasted an hour and as the sun finally rose completely over the horizon, the current picked up and it was fish on from that point forward.
We hung around that spot for a few hours and boated several Smacs, YTs, Strawberries, Grunts, two Bar Jacks, a huge Chub and the biggest Lizardfish I had ever seen. Keith got at least one of everything at that spot. A true smorgasbord of fish.
Mike was frustrated beyond belief. He blew most hits and when he did hook a fish, it would get away. He would get so mad at loosing a fish, he would jump up and stomp the deck. He did manage to boat a couple of grunts before we departed the first spot.
A quick ten minute trip to spot number two and the seas were still flat. Awesome conditions to be on the water. We throw the hook and miss the first time. Throw the hook again and it comes tight. Drop the bag and go back to doing what we do. The YT bite really heated up on this stop. I was top hook at spot one but couldn’t buy a bite here. The jig heads were the key to spot two.
YT Keith was killing em and it seems like the more the day went on the more life was out there on the water. There were bust ups happening all around us. Smacs were skying, Turtles were huffing and puffing, birds were working, Kings were busting the YTs & Smacs. Everywhere you looked there was life. Other than Bimini, I can’t remember when I’ve seen so much life out there.
Mike finally got a nice drag pulling hit. Everyone was coaching him and I’m sure he was totally confused. The fish stuck on the line and despite four guys yelling instructions to him and reeling the fish all the way up to the top guide, he swung a nice Smac onto the boat almost knocking me overboard off the stern with the fish in the process. There was no talking to him now. “We’re King of the Seas” He yelled. And for that moment, he was Poseidon.
I finally lost my hook to a toothy beast. No problem, I’ve got hundreds of em in the box. I look around at the various boxes, coolers, gear, clothing and junk splayed on the deck. “Hey, where’s my box” I yell to no one and everyone. The silence was deafening. I got that instant sinking feeling that I had left my general box and offshore box on the dock when we were loading. All the other guys assured me that everything was loaded. Now I’m thinking my boxes were left in the truck bed and surely would not be there when we arrived back at the ramp. Turns out I had left them and the riggers at the house. Mario saved the day for me as he had plenty of the 1/0s and my cut offs from that point on were legion.
All of us had big hits throughout the morning. Every one of them ending up in cut offs. We knew there were some big fish hanging around down there but we were YT fishing and not bothering to throw baits to the big predators looming in the distance. Mario gets a slamming bite and starts getting his Diawa spinner dumped. A screaming, rod bending run. I’ve done this dance a thousand times but this was Marios first. I cleared the deck and started barking orders like a Drill Sergeant. “Keep the rod tip up. Don’t touch the line or drag, walk him around the back, walk him back forward, swing the rod tip to the right, swing the rod tip to the left.” So on and so forth.
KJ was standing right on the Port side corner and Mario was fighting on the Port Cockpit gunnel. KJ accidentally let his bait drop down right behind the chum bag while he was looking at Mario. BAM! KJ almost gets the rod yanked out of his hand just as Mario’s fish heads to the Stern. The surprised KJ is solid on to a Remora. I yell “break off the Remora! Break off the Remora! Break off the Remora! WTF? KJ is fighting the Remora not breaking him off and just as if I had a crystal ball the Remora crosses Marios line. I thought I was in charge here. Shows you how much respect I get on my own boat. To throw one more problem into the mix, Mario’s line is now entangled with the chum bag as well as crossed with KJs Remora. I can only tackle one issue at a time and I get the chum bag off Mario’s line. KJs Remora finally gets loose and we’re now clear. Mario takes well to coaching and never hammers the drag. A couple close calls when the fish goes under the boat and around the engine but we make it through those.
After a good fifteen minutes we see color. Still deep but I’m sure it’s a King. Two more nice run offs and Mario is sweating and praying. When the fish runs I keep telling Mario to just let him go, I want him exhausted when he gets up here. When we finally get a good look at him from about 15 feet down everyone is amazed at it’s size. Slowly it rises with the constant pressure. It’s whooped and comes in head first but a little deep towards the stern from the Port side. I ease the gaff into the water and miss a head shot. The King makes a short circle under the boat and within 10 seconds from the first miss it’s a sold belly shot with the gaff. I heave to and over the gunnel it slams on the deck. Little jig head still sticking out of it’s upper lip.
Mario lets loose with a loud YEAAAAAAAA! and Praise Jesus! That King is his biggest fish ever. I was ecstatic for him. High fives, fist bumps, hand shakes and hugs abounded. Someone hand me an Old Milwaukee cuz’ it just doesn’t get any better than this. I never would have thunk I’d be using it, but when Mario asked what we were going to do with this fish, I said “hold on”. I went into the cabin and emerged with a tournament bag. We loaded the monster in, threw a twenty pound bag of ice on it then zipped it up. Who would have thunk I would need the tournament bag on a YT trip?
We fished for a couple more hours adding to our YT and Smac count then pulled the hook as we ran out of chum. All in all we spent over eight hours on the hook.
2 Bar Jacks
1 Smoker King (exceeded the limit of Keiths 32 pound Boga with much room to spare.)
And best of all, one boat load of happy campers. Especially the Captain for putting his friends on the fish. I’ve been walking six feet off the ground ever since.
Gettin' ready to shove off.
Mario & Mike
Keith & KJ
KJ on a solid YT.
Mike's first keeper rod & reel fish.
Keith standing watch.
King Slayer Mario.
The Bottom Line.
Last edited by Zecura; 03-31-11 at 08:01 PM.
This too shall pass.
Nice report Nick! I'm jealous man
That must be your boat, what is it? What size? When we goin' fitchin'?
The skow is a 257 CW Seafox with a WAY underpowered 225 Merc 4 stroke on it. Can't get out of it's own way but that cockpit is ginormous and makes for one comfortable platform.
The ladies at work want their own trip now.
I'll give you & Pea Dubya a heads up when we go. I'll need some back up.
This too shall pass.
Last edited by WAHOONBOX; 03-31-11 at 08:23 AM.
Nice job Nick, im from south FL myself. It's so sweet to be able to fish just a few miles off the port and catch quality snappers and kings.
Good job Zeke...thanks for posting it up!!
Pray for our Leader. Psalm 109.8
What a well written story! Only fitting it comes from a captain named Nick!
Congrats on your fun day on the water and thanks for the very entertaining report!
FROM PICS & STORY... LOOKED LIKE A GREAT DAY OF FISHING. RIGHT ON!