Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Amazing Car


The bus needs newer tires and I have been watching craigslist for a few months trying to find a deal.  I had planned to borrow a pickup for the tire pickup, but it was committed to a move and the tires would likely not be around if I waited.  So figured I would give the Camry a shot.  After removing the rear bench seat and clearing out the trunk, I managed to get all 6 8R19.5 Bridgestone tires in the car that doesn't quit.

8R19.5 are rather large in case you didn't know and extremely expensive new, between $200 for cheapos and over $300 for top of the line.  Thanks to the Camry, the bus now has 6 newer tires for the cost of about one new tire.

Marathon in the Florida Keys should be your next fishing vacation destination. Join us for charter fishing, fishing guide trips or our fishing 101 so you can fish on your own with better success.

 Tight lines,

 Capt. Dallas

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Dallas Darts 2014



Every year around April I make my trolling lures Dallas Darts.  Quite a few people like to use them so it seems I never make enough for me and everyone else.  A lot of people make their own and there are similar lures for sale that work about as good.  The Dart is just a bullet head lure with an Octopus skirt and a vinyl insert in order to stiff rig the hook.  Back when Billy of Billy Baits fame was making his lures in Marathon he was experimenting with a stiff rig for his lures.  I kind of beat him to the punch with the vinyl insert in the lure head instead using an after the fact modification.  The only thing particularly original about the Darts is that vinyl insert.

In the bottom of the photo above you can see how the hook, a Mustad 3407 7/0 eye fits snugly into the back of the lure head.  In the next samples you can see how the skirt hides the hook.  Fish don't know squat about hooks, so the skirt is hiding the hook from weeds making the lure weed resistant.  They are not weed proof by any stretch, but the stiff rig does reduce weed ups and helps the lure shake weeds.

On the finished lures at the top you can see the brass lock Ferrell.  There is a Ferrell under the skirt to keep the skirt in place and an expanded Ferrell over the front of the skirt to hold the skirt in place for high speed trolling/chasing.  With a tight fit the lure can troll over 18 knots which is more for being able to get ahead of a school than actual fishing.   Most of the time you can get a boat on a plane with the lures out and not even have the pressure on the lures trip the outrigger release clips.  Fishing can get kinda competitive on the weekends down here and this little feature provides a slight advantage over the dead bait and big lure fishermen.  Most of the guys that make their own don't include the front locking Ferrell.

Some folks call the Darts "Plumber's Lures" because the heads are made out of brass and copper fittings.  Since salt water is an electrolyte, the combination of copper, brass, chrome and tin on the hook means the lures will corrode.  While they are corroding, they are producing a weak electrical voltage/current which some species of fish sense.  I have pulled Darts so corroded that there was no shine to the head at all and they still caught fish.  If you want to keep them shiny, a little fine grit sand paper (200 to 400 grit) will polish them back to close to brand new.

This year I am only making Blue and Silver Darts for general trolling and Black and Purple Darts for Tuna.  The blue and silver will catch tuna also but the dark colors are a little easier for the tuna to see.  I was going to make red and black but the quality of the red and black skirts sucks.  If someone wants another color combination I will try to find decent skirts.

Not everyone likes the stiff rig which does make the lures spin if not properly aligned meaning ball bearing swivels are recommended.  So I sell the lures unrigged for the local captains and rigged for everyone else.   Unrigged are $5.00 and rigged $6.00 each with some quantity discounts negotiable.

If you are looking for real Dallas Darts, give me call or leave a comment.  I will also try to keep some in stock at Pancho's Fuel Dock and The Tackle Box.  They both add a little to the price, but not enough to scare most folks away.

Marathon in the Florida Keys should be your next fishing vacation destination. Join us for charter fishing, fishing guide trips or our fishing 101 so you can fish on your own with better success.

 Tight lines,

 Capt. Dallas

Monday, April 14, 2014

Mo' Fishing 101

A new crew is in town just in time for the full moon.  The full moon doesn't really kill the fishing but it does make catching a bit more of a challenge.  On the Bayside spot the wind and current where just a little off, normally not a big deal, but yesterday the bite just shut down.  Same at the bridge and the rockpiles.  Catching didn't start until we hit the patches and the reef proper.

Yellowtail in 65 foot were respectable but not monsters and stayed way back.  It took a while to get the crew into the subtle art of "tailing, but once they got the hang of it they could have limited out in a little longer than normal time despite the moon.

The patches where a bit slow as well but the slow bite fish, Porgies and Hogfish, are often worth a bit more wait than normal.  The crew is on their own today so we will see how well they do sticking to one flavor of fishing instead of the typical Fishing 101 whril wind tour of stuff.

Weather is looking great for the next week if Windfinder is to be believed.  That should open up the offshore parts of the Fishing 101 which are closed most of the winter.

Marathon in the Florida Keys should be your next fishing vacation destination. Join us for charter fishing, fishing guide trips or our fishing 101 so you can fish on your own with better success.

 Tight lines,

 Capt. Dallas

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Spring Cleaning Projects

The Florida sun did a major number on the RV clear coat making it look pretty shabby.  There is no easy way to fix that, at least that I know of, other than getting rid of the clear coat.  Three days and a dozen razor blades later;


 This is what the sunny side looks like.  I am going for the fish camp chic look.
Fish camp chic involves lobster in the Keys so what better way to make that statement and get rid of a rusty bunch of decorative metal work?  There are tasteful lobster work appointments inside also, which I may post in the future.

That takes care of project one, still a work in progress as all boats and RVs are.  Now for project 2.

This is a vintage Wellcraft V20 which next to the Grady Wet, is probably the wettest production boat ever built.  It is however a very stable fishing platform for bridge, back-country and near shore on suitable days.  I have a number of regulars that would like reasonably priced catching trips for those days that there is no boat really big enough for offshore.  I need to go through the hull to figure out just how big a headache this old girl will be, but I think I can lose the rail and windshield and have a pretty spiffy Po Boy fishing/bait boat that won't break the bank.  Anyone crazy enough to send donations will be credited with future Po Boy Fishing Expeditions(TM).

Marathon in the Florida Keys should be your next fishing vacation destination. Join us for charter fishing, fishing guide trips or our fishing 101 so you can fish on your own with better success.

 Tight lines,

 Capt. Dallas

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Nearly April

The crew from Tennessee finished up fishing Friday.  The weather and bait didn't cooperate for a sailfish photo op, but the crew had a fine time fishing the Bay for steady action and a little bridge fishing.

Weather and bait have been big topics lately.  Pilchards are harder to find that normal and ballyhoo on the reef have been iffy.  Several guys are starting in the Bay to catch the more reliable ballyhoo and pinfish before heading out top the ocean side.  Even the Threadfin Herring on the bait spots are playing harder to get.

Most of the weather problem and possibly the bait problem is the variable wind direction with way too much West wind for my taste.  A west wind down here just seems to make catching much more difficult since the prevailing wind is normally Easterly in these latitudes.  Friday we had an East to Southeast wind between 15 and 20 knots most of the afternoon which is normally very fishable even in smaller boats.  However, since the winds have been variable, the chop was more confused than normal for what should be a fishable breeze making things more of a challenge.  With April nearly here the west wind associated with the more wicked of the northern cold fronts should be less of a factor.

April is a major transition month into our more summer species, Dolphin, Tuna, Tarpon and Permit.  The Spanish Mackerel and Kings will be thinning out and heading north along with most of the Cobia than haven't found a wreck.  Snapper, Mangroves, Yellowtail and Muttons will be a little easier to find and likely a bit larger on average moving into the summer spawn and there is only one more month of Atlantic Grouper closed season.

More predictable winds should also make it easier to book in advance.  The way things have been going I have everyone trying to book the same week which makes it tough.  My dedicated reef Yellowtail guys should be able to plan a trip with more confidence.

Marathon in the Florida Keys should be your next fishing vacation destination. Join us for charter fishing, fishing guide trips or our fishing 101 so you can fish on your own with better success.

 Tight lines,

 Capt. Dallas

Saturday, March 22, 2014

New Crew

The new crew from Tennessee has arrived so we will be doing a mixed bag over the next day or two.  Since they we Jonesing to get out on the water we managed a quick part day of mainly boat checking and load with a block of chum worth of yellowtail fishing.


 The bite was a little slow likely because the water was so clear and calm, but the fish that did want to play were respectable.  The plan for tomorrow is the bait basics with bridge and rockpiles then since Yellowtail basics are pretty much covered, perhaps a tuna/dolphin basics since they are biting pretty good at the moment.

Marathon in the Florida Keys should be your next fishing vacation destination. Join us for charter fishing, fishing guide trips or our fishing 101 so you can fish on your own with better success.

 Tight lines,

 Capt. Dallas