Jose wanted to take his kids fishing so he gave us a call. He arrived at the dock with Jason, Nicole, and Matthew in tow. We loaded them aboard and I fired up the 300 Zukes. Devon and I turned The BEAST out for a good day of fishing, hopefully.
Since the wrecks have come to life, we loaded up on Hardtails and then shot out to the patches to get some of our favorite baits, Ballyhoo. The “worms” were a bit slow coming up but when they did they ate the hooks readily. After we had several dozen in the wells, I broke out the big Calusa cast net and made a toss or two. The wells were blacked out and we had more than enough bait for the day. We made our way out to the drop off.
The first thing I like to do is work an area that holds fish although the predominate bite is Barracuda. Many local fisherman have labeled them as trash fish. Not me! They bite good and fight good, especially when you are into the “big’uns”! Most of my customer’s mouths fall open with awe when they see the size of these fish and the impressive dentures they possess. If I’m running by the area, we will always try and get a few of them to warm up the crew and get the skunk off the boat. This is exactly what we did that day but with a surprise thrown in. We picked up a smaller ‘Cuda for Matthew. Suddenly, the the top line took a hit. Jose jumped on the rod and the fish dogged him deep which generally means a tuna type fish. As Jose worked the fish and gained line, we began to see color and chanted… No Bonito! No Bonito! No Bonito! Wow, that must’ve worked because Devon shouted that he saw gold. A nice 15# Blackfin broke the surface and Devon put the steel to him.
We worked the area for a bit longer with nothing much going on, only a few bite offs. Let’s tire these kids out, Dad too, shall we? I decided to make a run to the “Knucklebuster” wreck. It earned that nickname because the fish pin the anglers knuckles to the gunwales. Most of our anglers fight these bruisers out of “Rodney” the rod holder. It didn’t take too long to make the short run and Devon had the gear and lines ready to go when we got there. On the first drop the big rod doubles over and Jose climbs on top of it. He is amazed at the power in those deep wreck donkeys. Devon flops a nice fish over the side and onto the deck! Everybody took turns catching the average sized Amberjack and we lost several fish to some very large ‘Cudas. Devon had to put some heavy trace wire in front of the hook to eliminate the cut off problem. I always get a laugh as I watch people fight the fish from Rodney and still have to double fist the crank handle. They have no idea what it’s like, until it’s their turn.
We worked “Ol’ Knucklebuster” with live bait and speed jigs until the kids tapped out, refusing to take another turn on the rods. They caught 5 or 6 AJ’s and 3 or 4 ballistic sized Barracuda. That was my original intention, to wear them out by catching, not bore them with fishing. I love it when a plan comes together! I gave Devon the nod and he packed away the wreck gear and I throttled up to make a quick run to another area. When we arrived, Devon set up camp for some surface biters. Everything was looking perfect. I idled around the area and we had the occasional bite on the down rod. Little macs! Suddenly Devon is screaming “Sailfish! Sailfish on the rigger!” Intimidated by the wreck donkeys, none of the worn out kids wanted to take the rod. Jose positioned the rod and set in for the battle. This was a good fish with weightlifter shoulders, a worthy opponent on 20# spinning gear. The fight put Jose on his guard for almost 30 minutes, but the reward was well worth it.
After the photo op we released the fish and watched him swim away. We reset lines and 20 minutes later we had another fire drill. A Sailfish rose to the short flat line and whacked the bait, tripping the line. Before anyone could get on the rod, the fish was gone. You can’t win them all. I stayed in the hot zone and the clocked ticked off 35 minutes. Pow! The left rigger got nailed and as Jose was yelling for the boys to come get it I noticed another Sail working the right rigger. Bam! Jose jumped on the first fish and Nicole stepped up to the plate on the second fish. While they were only minutes into those fish, the long flat line gets walloped by a big Kingfish. The Kingfish strike didn’t last long as the razor blades in his mouth severed the fluoro leader like a scalpel. The lines are all cleared and the dynamic duo of Sailfish are dancing all over the water. I was happy that for the major part of this dual duel, the fish stayed together. Towards the end of the ruckus they split up and Jose had to manhandle his fish without the support of the boat. We had to pick one fish to focus on and he wanted his daughter to get her fish. Jose did a great job putting pressure on and off, when needed, to keep his fish at bay while we brought Nicole’s fish to a release. There was no time for us to pull her Sail aboard for a photo, so I snapped a quick shot of it in the water at boat side.
With Nicole’s Sailfish released now, we could put all of our attention on getting Jose’s fish to the boat. The fish was getting tired and 5 or 10 minutes later we had him along side. Devon pulled the fish aboard and got both Jose and Nicole in the picture. After the photo, Devon gently lowered the fish into the water and we idled along for 5 minutes until the fish was fully revived. The Sailfish began kicking his tail rhythmically and Devon let go of his bill. Beautiful job, everyone!
The crew was thoroughly whipped now so we packed up everything and buttoned down for the ride. I turned the bow toward home and put the coals to the burners. I couldn’t hear what they were saying up front as we cruised our way in, but the smiles radiating from all 4 of them spoke volumes!