Not quite timely but work took over as soon as I stepped out of the boat.
Florida fishing reports – 05/07/05 to 05/09/05
What a weekend we had. While Boston was bracing with a Northeastern my buddy Steven and I, spent three days fishing the waters of Florida. A first time for the two of us. What an experience for two (European) Bostonians! I had no idea that the fishing opportunities could be so great in the Sunshine State. Between the two of us we caught 14 species in three days. I guess that qualifies for a grand slam. Had the wind not been so strong during that long weekend we would have probably caught even more species. We did both fly and spin fishing.
Saturday – 05/06/05 – Everglades, Flamingo – Capt. Pete Silot
Met with Pete at 4:30am at his place. It took us about 2 hours to reach Flamingo. Once there the Saltwater Junkie (Pete’s boat) was in the water in the blink of an eye. Unfortunately the wind was not cooperating. Decision was made to stay in rather than trying the offshore wrecks. Cruising the Everglades is quite an experience if like us you like nature. That day on top of fish we saw alligators, dozens of different type beautiful birds, turtles, dolphins (porpoise). A must see for any wildlife enthusiast. The mangrove is like nothing I had seen before. Beautiful and peaceful but you could easily get lost in there. Pete knows that place like his backyard, he does not uses a GPS (but has one on board) which is quite amazing. Anyway back to fishing. After we reached our first destination I opted for the spinning gear while Steven gave a shot at the fly rod. I used shrimps as bait. On my second cast I was battling a trout. A few casts later I had a small jack on the other hand of my line. We tried several options with the fly rod but they wanted the real stuff not the feather. We fished several spots on that day and never had a shot at offshore as the wind did not die down. We caught 10 different species mostly juveniles. No size to it but the variety of the catch made it a very interesting day. Two exceptions though: Steven landed an estimated 40-pound ray. Quite a long battle. I hooked and lost a decent size grouper after he cut my line on some underwater structure. The species we landed were:
- Trout (see pic)
- Snapper 1
- Snapper 2
- Goliath grouper
- Skipjack (not the tuna one)
- And yes ……. Puffer
We looked for reds and snooks but were not successful. Juvenile snappers are like our scups: bait stealers.
At one point we were looking for bait to net and saw a huge tarpon a few feet from the boat. What a sight. Overall a great day on the water with a great captain.
Sunday – 05/07/05 – West Palm Beach – Capt. Scott Hamilton
Overall a tough day on the water that could have ended in a skunk. We met with Scott at 7:00am at the boat ramp. We were in the water in no time. Scott is a fly fishing only charter. We first look at some fish activity off the ramp. Nothing. We then tried to locate bait to net. The way Scott fishes is very different than what I had ever done on the fly. The day starts with netting bait that will be used to chum and attract the fish to the boat once you mark them on the fish finder. Once the fish are in a frenzy mode, cast your fly in the pack, retrieve and usually your are on in no time. On Sunday, while we located the fish they were not interested in feeding. We covered a ton of water going up 10 to 12 miles offshore in hope to locate Mahi-Mahi. We did not find them there. As the day was winding down and we were making our way back to the shore, tired and frustrated, we gave one more shot at some fish that we marked on the fishfinder. This time they responded to the chumming. A few albies mixed with blue runners surrounded the boat pretty quickly. We both landed two blue runners. I also hooked a cuda. Short battle, just long enough so I can see the fish passing along the boat just before he cut me off. The fish disappeared as quickly as they showed up and we were not able to make them come back to the boat. Still no albies. We kept moving but could not get any fish to come to the boat. We were on our way back to the ramp when I spotted what looked like feeding albies. After chumming for a little while they finally showed up. 10 to 12 pound missiles were flying all around the boat. Wow! Two flies in the water, two albies on. You don’t know how powerful this 10+ pound albies are until you have one on the Weight #10 fly rod. This is truly amazing. To make a long story short, Steven hooked and landed two. I hooked and lost two. The first one I had on for about ten minutes when it spitted the hook. As I was retrieving the fly to the boat something grab my fly. I thought it was another albie, but it was not fighting the same and all the sudden the water was full of blue and green colors: Mahi-Mahi!!! We had dolphins all around the boat. They were following the one that I hooked. I landed that one and one more. Steven never had a shot at them as he had to battle two freight trains. While we spent more time boating than fishing. The few blue runners, the two big albies and two beautiful dolphins saved the day. Not to bad overall but according to Scott it is not unusual to have none stop action for hours just with the albies.
Monday – 05/09/05 – Everglades, Flamingo – Capt. Pete Silot
The best day of the three. Steven had to work (he just relocated to Fort Lauderdale from Boston) so it was only me. Pete was kind enough to pick me up at Steven’s place at 4:30am and we headed back to Flamingo. Nice chat with Pete during the trip. Things looked good from the get go. Wind appeared to be down from past days. When we got there conditions where perfect. Boat was in the water in no time. The first stop was for bait. We found a place where birds where gorging themselves on pilchards, “greenies” and other local bait. Pete showed his mastery with the net. We filled all the live wells and headed to a secret spot offshore. That’s the only time he used the GPS and believe me you needed it out there as I could not see land. Anyway we got there and there was already another boat. Pete knew them so we were able to anchor not to far from them. At first nothing was really happening but Pete was convinced things would turn for the best after putting some of that bait fish in the water. He was right. Fairly quickly small jacks were around the boat, and then cobias joined to feed. I battled a couple small jacks on the fly and we landed 2 or three cobias on spinning gear. Could not get them to take the fly. But the best was still to come. The chumming attracted a huge school of big jacks. They stayed around for a couple of hours and I had one of my best day of fishing ever. I lost count of how many I landed. It was an absolute blast. Some were big but the slightly smaller guys were faster than them and would inhale the fly first. To make the day even better I experienced two other species. At one point I was ready to land a jack that I battled with the weight #10. The fish was along side the boat, 2 feet under the surface, all the sudden a gigantic mass came from the depth and literally gulped the jack: a huge Jew fish. The drag on the reel started to scream. There was nothing I could do. Try stopping a 250-300lbs fish with a weight #10.
The tippet finally broke, I could not believe it. He gulped an entire jack at once. A little later we were visited by a pair of ~7 feet bull sharks. When you know the reputation of these sharks you want to make sure you stay on the boat. Pete asks me to land a Jack on the fly while he prepares some heavy gear. Later a jack was swimming along side the boat with a huge hook in his mouth. After a few minute a shark came from under the boat and savagely attacked the jack. The shark was at my feet shaking its head trying to rip a chunk of that fish. He then went for the depth with the boat in tow. Minutes later I was at the bow with a fighting belt trying to tire the shark. The fight lasted probably 10min before the line went slack. There was still something on the other end of the line. Check the pic to find out what we got back. We went back to were we started and battled a few more jacks. The wind started to pick up early afternoon so we decided to go back to the Flamingo area and try for red or snook. No luck we them but we landed a few lady fish. It was then time to go back to the ramp, tired but with a big grin on my face. On that day I also saw a giant turtle and a herd of porpoise (dolphins) that swam along side the boat for a little while. What a day on the water.
I would highly recommend Pete. You will find his data on his website (www.saltwaterjunkie.com