We had 2 really nice trips last weekon the approaching full moon. These trips were loaded with fast, smoking hot action!
Steve, Ben, and Landon joined us for a full day of fishing. They traveled all the way from Oklahoma to try some of Miami’s renowned offshore game fishing. Devon and I unleashed The BEAST at 7 am and we headed out. I throttled up the 600 ponies to cruise mode and began looking for some Hardtails.
We hit our specific Hardtail spots but they were not real plentiful. As a matter of fact, they were a bit too large. I pulled the plug on that venture pretty quick to save time and in hindsight I’m glad I did. I picked up the pace as we headed out to look for some Ballyhoo. We arrived on our “dink” patch and set out a chum bag. Wait, waiting, and finally a few began to show up. The tides, currents and wind were all wrong and this was becoming tedious. We burned up a block of chum and only managed to put about 6 in the live well. Let’s move! I ran south to another patch and absolutely no worms in sight. This went on at 2 more sites we visited and I was beginning to stress. 2 blocks of chum down the drain and we still only have 6 ’hoos. This is not looking good. The radio was buzzing, as everyone seemed to be struggling for bait as well. The saving grace was that the boats offshore were assuring everyone that there was nothing going on. I conferred with Devon and decided to make a run north to a couple of other patches. As we were passing the first patch we tried that morning, I got a gut feeling to pop back in. Waiting was agonizing but 15 minutes later the worms came up pretty good. We got enough on hook &line and I tossed the Calusa net and scored enough to do the day. About an hour behind time but we finally have our bait. I pushed on the gas and blasted out to the fishing grounds.
The current was trickling to the north. Our first bite came about 15 minutes into the set and we boated a fat “Snake” Kingfish. We reset our lines in the deeper water searching for some Tuna or Dolphin. Another 30 minutes passed and we get an awesome bust on the left rigger. This has to be our Blackfin and a nice one as the fish took the fight to the depths. The longer the fight progressed we realized that we did indeed have a Tuna on. Devon saw color and announced that we had a nice sized Tuna on but it was a Bonito of about 20 pounds. Oh well, it’s not what we wanted but it was a good fight.
The radio had been and still was, buzzing between Captains about how slow the bite was. By the sound of it, most everyone was fishless or only had one or two fish. We started later than normal and already had 2 fish in less than an hour. I wandered into shallower water at this point looking for some faster action. We missed several bites from smaller Kings on the down rod.
We picked up a decent Cero Mackerel and another Bonito when…Ba-Boom! The short flat line gets rolled on and a Sailfish burns toward the sky. 10 minutes later we had a successful leader touch. That was the beginning of almost non-stop action for us. The Sailfish action started smoldering and then burst into flames. We had 2 more Sailfish hooked up I hailed everybody listening on our channel, when we hooked up the 3rd Sailfish, to let them know that the bite was on. During this time we also picked up another Kingfish and a Cero Mackerel. I didn’t have time to take pictures as we were fighting or unhooking fish, one after the other. Here we go again, a double hookup on Sailfish.
We were having a very busy afternoon and that 3˝ hours passed by super fast. Steve, Ben and Landon had enough and gave me the word to chum out the rest of the baits. What do you think? Yep… we have another double hookup on Sailfish. We caught 1 out of 2 and we took a few minutes to get a picture.
The total head count for the day was 2 Cero Macs, 2 Kingfish, 2 Bonito, and 4 for 8 on Sailfish. I was really surprised that we didn’t have any Dolphin show up at all that day. I turned The BEAST toward the west and boogied for the barn. I love it when a plan comes together!
Our friend, Gimpy (Eddie Conway) came down for his 3rd trip this year. He brought along his buddy, Paulie, and my main man Papi. We met up on this full moon day at the usual time and stowed their gear. We shoved off and I was hoping that the bait would be much easier on this day. As we entered the Bay, the Pilchards were everywhere! I took the time to break out the 10’ Calusa net and get a few. Devon and I took turns tossing from the bow and in no time flat, we had one of the 40-gallon wells blacked out. Well that’s a few! The baits were generally in the 2-3 inch range but we had several good’uns in there also. We had plenty of Pilchards to chum and bait Dolphin or Tuna during the day. This day is already looking better as far as getting bait is concerned. We skipped the Hardtail spot and made the run to the worm hole!
Devon was out fishing for fun the day before and clocked the worms at one of our spots. We bee-lined it for that spot. Crap! The winds and currents were wrong again, and this time the tide was slack too! After burning a block of chum we decided, since Gimpy rates his trips more on edible fish in the box. We would run out and troll up some Dolphin and feed them some Pilchards. I headed offshore and found some quasi weed lines with birds picking at the weeds. We put the lines in. A few minutes passed and we had a 4-line knock down but they were very small fish and the only one that was hooked up came off Gimpy’s line.
We never found them again and after an hour I pulled the plug and headed back in to try again for some Ballyhoo bait. I was anticipating the tide change would move the chum. We hit 2 patches and nothing came up again. Ugh! This makes my job tough, to say the least. I decided to head out with only the Pilchards.
We hit the edge and I slowed to an idle while Devon put out the baits. The water was beautiful and the seas were 2 feet. Devon chummed out a big handful of baits and a few minutes later we had a line trip. Sailfish on! Awesome! Papi took the rod but a few minutes later he realized at 80 years old it was too much for him. He passed the rod to Paulie who finished off the job and we were on the boards.
We reset the lines but all that action had alerted the Terns and Frigate birds who bombarded our bait killing them one after another. We finally got tired of having lines dragged across all the others, leaving us with tangled messes. I made the call to try one more time for some Bally baits so we wouldn’t have that problem. We headed back in for some worms. We hit another patch and still, nothing came up. Holy Crap! What’s does a Captain have to do to catch a break? Pull’em and let’s run north again. As we passed an area Devon saw Bally’s skittering over a patch. I made a Bat turn and we dove into the spot. There ya go! We got the worms up and less than 20 minutes later, we had enough to fish the rest of the day. Off we go again!
The bite was a bit slow, catching only 1 huge Rainbow Runner. I knew it should turn on as usual, but it might be later than sooner. Fish up! Sailfish! Here we go! Gimpy was on the rod and the fish worked him. After plenty of minutes we got the fish boat side for a hook out and quick release. Devon reset the spread and we’re fishing again. We have been missing a bunch of hook ups on the down rod due to all the small “Snake” kingfish around. This time when the down rod sounds off, we are into a better fish that is hooked up solid. A nice chubby Kingfish comes to the boat and we snatch him into the box.
We get back into position again and Devon is chumming Pilchards and has a 5 line spread out. Bada Bing! Sailfish hooked up! Paulie takes the rod and while he is fighting the fish Devon clears all but one line. Gimpy, wake up, the other line tripped! He grabs the rod and winds down tight. Double! We have 2 Sails going for a very short time when one pops the leader. Now we are down to 1 and in short order that fish takes a 6’ airborne leap and spit’s the hook back at Gimpy! Oh well, Sailfish are masters at that! I ran back around to that area and we set up again. We chummed and chummed some more. Fish up! There’s another one on the left rigger. Double! Hold on… I have one chasing the right rigger now. Triple! We have a triple going and Paulie’s fish jumps off so I handed him the rod that I have hooked up. The double is going along smooth when suddenly Gimpy loses his fish. We went from 3 fish to 1 fish in the blink of an eye so I wanted to make this one count. Paulie works the fish as I work the boat to help keep him tight. After 25 minutes on the rod and out in deep water now, we get this beauty to the boat. The sun is making its quick dive toward the horizon and Devon snatches the fish over the side for a quick photo op.
Stick a fork in us, we are done! I turned the bow for home and throttled up the 300 Zukes. The bait fishing problems took up some fishing time but it is something that must be done to reach success. Besides the Rainbow Runner, Kingfish, and numerous misses down below, we went 3 for 7 on Sails that afternoon. Gimpy has caught a Sailfish with us before in late spring and wanted to catch Dolphin, Wahoo, and Tuna to eat. I think he now realizes that catching Sailfish during the peak season is as exciting as it can get out there.
If catching Sailfish is not on your bucket list, you need a bigger bucket!