100 miles off Madeira Beach
For the last few weeks offshore trips have been few and far between. Change of season has hit us hard. We can hear the Florida Middle Grounds calling. The weekend forecast calls for winds of 20 +. We will need every inch of that big old cat Florida Fisherman. We are going! This is going to be a very special trip. Mister J.D. Jeibe just graduated from fire fighter school. What a reward! How better to celebrate than a weekend fishing with friends 100 miles off Madeira Beach. Hopefully this fine young man, this public servant, can fish as well as he can fight fires.
First stop a visit to Tom the pin fish man. Tom, I want to catch some big fish. Hope you have some frisky pins. Bob, I do!
Mister James Watts is loading up on some very special baits. I want to win the jack pot!
Our chef, Tammy, a New Jersey transplant, is first to welcome us on the Florida Fisherman:
The jaws of John's Pass Bridge open wide. We are out of here. Next stop the Florida Middle Grounds, 100 miles off Madeira Beach, Florida.
Gosh! Even on a cold, windy, Friday afternoon many are still enjoying what beautiful Madeira Beach has to offer:
Young Mister Jeibe, our public servant, picks up tips from Joe, our mate. J.D. wants to battle a huge amberjack so bad he can taste it. Good luck my friend, you have earned it:
Time to hit the bunks. Battling the monsters of the Middle Grounds for twenty hours will take all the energy we can muster. Oh! But first a visit from Tammy:
12:45 A.M. Saturday morning. Captain Mark Hubbard slows those huge caterpillar diesels down. Go get them! That warm bunk sure was hard to leave, but we are on a mission. Those monsters of the Grounds are in for the fights of their lives. We hope! Cold, a heavy mist, cloudy, and storm winds. What a beginning. Well! That big old cat, Florida Fisherman, was right at home. What a platform from which to fish. Only one problem, the fish were still asleep. Even Mister Craig Scot, the experts expert, did very little. Well J.D. hopefully later.
Breakfast time! I'll take the Tam slam, chef Tammy's special, pan cakes, eggs, sausage, and bacon. What a way to greet the morning. Even the fish are beginning to wake up. A few mangrove snappers and red grouper begin to hit the deck. It may be slow but at least we are catching something. What's that scream? Our public servant has hooked a monster. What a fight! This is exactly what J.D. has been looking for. Finally!
Wow! the AJ's are on fire. Some great battles are won, most are lost. These things are powerful. They do not know the meaning of the words give up!
Our public servant does it again. J.D. is having the time of his young life:
The great battle continues:
After a long fight to the finish, mister Craig Scott is the obvious winner:
Florida Fisherman regular, Sun citie's Mister Carl Kisner, wins another one for our team:
Mister Willis Ellis does his part:
The great battle continues.
That's it! The entire boat has limited out (two day limit) on A.J.'s. Lunch time. Tammy time. We are starved. What's for lunch? Our favorite! Beer batter dipped fresh off the grill fish. We are in heaven. Thanks Tammy!
A.J. are off limit. Red grouper sounds good:
Joe is so proud of us:
Finally, the snapper are making a showing. Way to go J.D.:
That was just the beginning for our young public servant. He ended up with a very impressive string.
Hold those beauties up Joe:
Master fisherman, Mister Craig Scott, limited out on mangoes, that's 20. What a catch:
Box number one is filled with A.J.'s, number two is starting to look impressive:
Oh no! Look what Mister Kisner just caught, a rare African pompano. Carl was using cur Spanish sardines for mangrove snapper. What a prize! Will, our first mate, can't believe his eyes:
Hold on! Even Captain Mark Hubbard can't believe it. Look what Mister Bob Bush just landed:
A first for the Florida Fisherman. Captain Mark Hubbard has spent a life time on the water. Never-the-less, this is a first for this man of the sea.
Captain Mark Hubbard (L), Mister Carl Kisner, Mister Bob Bush, Mister James Watts:
Now what? Mister Cliff Vandenbosch spots a large mahi close to the Florida. Cliff tosses a Boston mackerel to this mighty fish. Bam! What a hit. Immediately this fish, this rainbow of color, leaps towards the sky. What a spectacular sight. Good going Cliff, good going indeed:
Gosh! Even Joe, our professional mate, can't believe his eyes:
Jon & Nate, FWC biologist are with us. On the water data is there, If only NOAA would use it, use it correctly!
Jon is studying, tagging, venting, and releasing our American red snapper.
Mister Willis Ellis, what the heck have you hooked into? Our public servant, Mister J.D. Jeibe, is always willing to lend a helping hand, or in this case, hands:
It's a shark, a big one:
On and on goes the great battle. Willis does not know the meaning of the word QUIT! I will beat this monster. Finally! The great fish has had enough. He gave his all. This wonder of nature has earned his freedom. Thanks for the memories.
We are tired, cold, and hungry. What's for dinner, Tammy? How about a fresh garden salad followed by green beans, Texas toast, dirty rice, and the best pork loin you have ever tasted? Tammy, you are the best! Our Tammy leaves Sunday, November 18, for New Jersey, her birth state. Thank you New Jersey for sending us Tammy. And NO! You can't have her back. We in the South believe in sharing. We will give you the shirt off our backs, but not our Tammy.
Before we hit our nice warm bunks, let's fish the sun-down bite.
Larry, what a tuna!
Not bad for a cold, windy day, not bad at all:
Pay day for these jack pot winners:
Grouper: Looks like the effort spent catching those 'very special baits' really paid off for Mister James Watts (L). James won the grouper jack pot.
Amber Jack: Mister Craig Scott is in the money. Craig also limited out on mangrove snapper (20). Craig 'almost' caught a huge king fish. A cuda cut Craig's prize to pieces.
Mister Larry Miller (R) took the snapper honors with a 6.3 pound beauty. Larry fought some epic battles. We are proud to have him on our side.
It was a tough but very enjoyable trip. The weather was terrible. The fishing was, by our standards, slow. The food was outstanding. But what really stands out above all the rest is the companionship. Sportsmen/women are the best.
What fun! Let's do it again. Next trip November 30, is a full moon trip. The full of the moon is Nov. 28, 9:47 A.M. A few days after the full moon. The mangrove snapper should be on fire. 100 miles off Madeira Beach, here we come!
Bob Harbison Florida Outdoor Writers Association
Check out the short action packed video of our trip: (click on the link)
Last edited by harbison; 11-27-12 at 07:42 AM.
Good times and a mess of fish. Good eatin' ahead, huh... You guys got into some nice AJ's.
Thanks! We had a blast. We had 18 on board the head boat Florida Fisherman. Our trip was for two days; we had a 2 day legal possession limit. We limited out on AJ's way before noon. They were there for the taking. They have been very consistent for months now. We limit out on every trip. Bob