Well, it's that time of the month again.
Snapper have a tendency to go crazy during the full of the moon. The best of the best is a couple of days before the full moon. Thirty six very excited anglers board the Florida Fisherman Friday afternoon. We are ready to go! The February full moon is Tuesday the seventh day of the month. The excitement level is already off the chart. And why not? We will be challenging the monsters of the deep from Friday night, all day Saturday, and well into Saturday evening. That's enough time to show our many Northern friends on the Florida Fisherman how to put a good old Southern hurting on some real fighting fish. Bet they go home with some exciting stories about the Sunshine State.
Captain Mark Hubbard guides the Florida Fisherman under John's Pass Bridge and immediately heads North West, North West towards the bountiful waters of the famous Florida Middle Grounds. Last year was a record year on the Grounds. Will the middle of Winter be as good? Who knows? Let's go see!
First thing on our minds was food. Let's show our Northern Sportsmen/women what good old Southern pulled BQ pork sandwiches are all about. Talk about a way to start a marathon trip. Gosh that BQ pork was seasoned to perfection. OK! We are stuffed and ready for a good night's sleep. Those bunks really look inviting. It takes plenty of food & rest to challenge the monsters of the deep. Wonder when Captain Hubbard will ring the 'get up & get them' bell? Now that was a quick night, it's only eleven P. M. Is it really time to get up? Suddenly, almost without warning, the lights are on, those two huge diesels come to a halt, and captain Hubbard says we are over fish. Go get them! And that we did. Immediately we began catching beautiful mangrove snapper and even a few amber jacks. Talk about a real challenge. Mangrove snapper love to eat and run, run without paying for their meal. They sure are hard to catch, but well worth the effort. They fight well and are extremely good eating. What a prize! And then there is the amber jack. This brute is just dying to tear the living daylights our of one & all. What a fighter. Mister Tony Baker really has a knack for catching mangos & AJ's. Glad he was there to show us how. Tony taught us well. We had one of the Florida's huge fish boxes full before the sun came up. Our many Northern friends were having the times of their lives. In fact, we limited out on AJ's before 9 A. M. And, guess what? This marathon adventure was just beginning. Would really be nice for NOAA to know what is really out here. No problem!
We were honored to, once again, have FWC biologist on board. Mister Butch Oayala and crew will carefully study our catch and report directly to NOAA. In fact, during this trip alone, these very dedicated biologist will tag over 150 fish. These tags help in future studies. We can help by reporting any tagged fish we catch. The number to call is on the tag.
The fishing never was very fast, but steady. We were in fish the better part of the day. Mister Craig Scott, a Florida Fisherman regular, had a field day with mangos. This expert can teach us all something about fishing. Crag was not only catching his limit of 20 mangos, but also huge amber jacks. What a thrill to see this man work, he is all business. Craig was not the only one catching these fighting machines. Mister John Teufel, Mister Dick Sutton, and everybody who wanted them were doing battle with this fighting machine. In fact, even the ladies were doing well. Chelsea showed the guys how to fish. She 'women-handled' amber jacks, mangos & American red snapper, . That girl knows how to fish.
Unfortunately red snapper, gag & red grouper were out of season. We could have loaded the boat with them. Tony Baker caught seven big gags. Mister Tim Fischer caught a monster red grouper. What a fight! Tim was give out. Man that thing pulled! All grouper & American reds were properly vented & sent home to fight again. Come June the fight is on.
Well, guess all good things must come to an end. What a beautiful trip. The fishing never was fast. Never-the-less, we ended up with a very respectful catch.
Last year was a record year on the Grounds. Will the middle of Winter be as good? Who knows? We do! The Florida Fisherman will not again challenge the Florida Middle Grounds until March 9. March ninth another full moon trip, that time of the month again.
Bob Harbison A proud Native Florida Sportsman & active member of the Florida
Outdoor Writers Association.
The Florida Fisherman is loaded with enough food & drinks to feed a small army. Thirty six excited anglers are ready to challenge the Florida Middle Grounds. Think I will take a trip back in time on that pirate ship, maybe next week:
Night time on the Middle Grounds means AJ's & snapper
Mister Tony Baker:
Full box before sun up:
Our F W C hard @ work:
(Click on link to see movie...click on 'that time of month again' above Photobucket, to return to the report)