Friday, September 23, 2011

Monte Hall

I am bored so I thought I would baffle you guys with a little statistical BS. If you remember the Monte Hall game show, you know about the tree doors. Believe it or not, that is a statistical or as I prefer, a probability exercise, figuring out the best odds for a player.

With three doors it is pretty easy, you have a one in three chance to pick the right door and drive off in a new car. Behind the other two doors are goats. Down here in the Keys, goat is not a booby prize, it's good eats, but I will save that for another post. Monte was a fun guy, so once you picked your door, he would open another door and show you some goats. What do you do?

It is kinda trick question, but it is statistical correct, you switch doors. Why? Well, you had a 1/3 chance of picking the right door, so there was a 2/3 chance that the car was behind the other doors. If you think it doesn't matter whether you switch or not, since you have a 50/50 chance with two doors now, you need to remember there is only a 1/3 chance you have picked the right door, unless you want goats for dinner.

So why would I bring this statistical game up on my blog? Well, I have been online solving all the world's problems. Global Warming has turned into a Monte Hall problem. When all this mess started there were three guys. Hansen said the warming would be 4 degrees, Manabe said the warming would be 2 degrees and Charney compromised and said it will be three degrees. All three of these gentlemen can't be right. Since global warming is not warming up to expectations, it looks like the Hansen door has goats. That would mean there is a 2/3 chance that Manabe or Charney have the car behind their door. So what does that mean? Well, Hansen had the fat tail door. That means if it got real warm, it could get a lot warmer. That is probably a good thing, that Hansen appears to be wrong.

This little post is just to show some people that probability is a good thing to know, especially for people with fat tails that like to play poker.

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, September 20, 2011

The Radio Show

This morning I am on the radio show with C.J. Geotis, at least I think that is how he spells his name, at the Seven Mile Grill. Just made Black Fin Tuna with grits for breakfast. Kinda torn between a Cuban Reuben or Dolphin Reuben for lunch.

C.J.'s show is on 1300 AM or 101.7 FM if you are in the Keys. Back home you can get the delayed streaming audio on ... Hum? that's not there anymore, so you have to take my word for it.

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, September 17, 2011

Tasty Tuna

I had trip today out of Tavernier. Chuck and his bride Nancy from Cincinatti, Ohio, were down for a little R&R. With the usual delays getting started, we did a Tavernier style fishing 101.

The usual delays are finishing the boat paperwork stuff and me trying to read street signs through leaves. We managed to throw enough stuff together to get out and catch some fish.

Fishing out of Tavernier on a weekend is a little different. You can just look for boat parking lots offshore and know where just about everyone is fishing. Parking lot number 1 was the Islamarada hump.

There was only seven boats there when we arrived around 11:30. We saw one bird, a lost seagull, which is not a sign of a killer bite. Since I was teaching Chuck and Nancy how to make fishing simple, we only had two lines out and left the outriggers tucked in store mode. I tend to be fond of Dallas Darts, since I make them, so that was my selected lure of the day.

On our second troll of the upside of the hump, we score a double of Black fin tuna. Not big but respectable 5 to 6 pounders. After spending some time trying to find a clear path to that spot, we scored a single that was a little smaller. The next pass we pulled the hook on one. Of the boats that we saw fishing the hump, one hooked up twice and the rest nada. One boat was deep jigging pretty steady, but we never saw a rod bend.

The next parking lot was a weed line a couple miles inshore of the Hump. One of the best weed lines I have seen in a while. Probably one of the best the 20 some odd boats fishing it had seen as well. I trolled down this line more to show Chuck what to look for than actually fish, we still managed a couple of six pound school dolphin and jumped another off.

We went back to the reef so I could show them the chum thing. This was not a parking lot. Since the current was pretty weak, I imagine most everyone had given up on yellowtail fishing. The Ballyhoo did show up, which was part of the program and we caught one short tail.

Not too exciting huh? Well, for about 45 minutes of tuna fishing, about 45 minutes of dolphin kinda fishing and about 45 minutes of chumming on the reef, we are all eating pretty good. Chuck and Nancy have the basics they need to catch fish, so now all they have to do is figure out how many to keep. After some fresh tuna on the grill, they may decide to take some home.

Oh, the weekends do get a bit crowded with the South Florida guys running down for some fishing. During the week, it is not so crowded, though the Islamarada hump does get a work out anytime the weather is good and the fish are biting.

Marathon or Tavernier, 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, September 13, 2011

Yellow Tail Snapper Fishing Techniques: An Over View.

I am revising my Yellowtail post for the guys on the Florida Sportsman Fishing Forum. Like many a good thing, the FSFF under went some changes not for the better. A lot of valuable information was lost when the forum changed its format or software or whatever. Anyway, a once great fishing forum got nearly destroyed. In the Florida Keys General category, there is a FAQ post with plenty of great links to great information that no longer work, bummer. One of those was on yellow tail snapper fishing.

What we call yellowtail fishing is anchored chum fishing on the reef using a free line technique. The chum melts out of the chum bag and drifts with the current. The free line method is to drop your bait in the water by the chum and let it drift with the chum. So rule 1 is if the bail is closed or you are holding your line to feel the bite, you are not free lining. As we say in the South, "I don't care how you do it up North, you ain't up North." So the two basics of yellowtail fishing on the reef is chum and free lining.

Now things can change depending who you are fishing with. I tend to be frugal. That is another word for cheap. Chum costs money, so I prefer to catch the most fish with the least amount of chum since I can only keep so many fish. A commercial snapper fisherman wants to pay the rent so since they don't have to stop at ten fish per person they use lots and lots of chum. It's a profit thing.

To be a frugal snapper fisherman, shallower water is where you can catch more fish with less chum. Shallow water generally means smaller fish, but not always. Commercial snapper fishing with lots of chum is normally done in deeper water where the fish are generally bigger, but not always. It is the not always that makes things interesting or hard on the wallet.

30 to 70 feet is the frugal fishing depth with 70 to 100 the commercial depth. This is of course general. I know quite a few commercial guys that fish the 45 to 60 range looking for 16 to 20 inch fish. Not flags by any means, but there is a good market for them. I tend to prefer the 14 to 18 inch fish in the shallower water for the first part of my bag limit then try to be a hero after some of the pressure is off. If I have a regular crew that knows the ropes, then we mix it up a bit.

Trained Fish: After fishing the same spots for years, the fish seem to recognize me and pop up to say hello before I even start chumming. Unlike most honey holes where you want to guard you numbers with your life, some yellowtail spots are better shared to keep the fish happy or trained if you prefer. So if you stop into a tackle shop on vacation they will likely give you some decent numbers for a yellowtail. This can lead to a little predicament since there is likely a boat on the spot when you get there. Since they are chum fishing, don't get close to their chum slick. If you do a single finger wave is likely. Sometimes they take it real personal. Most of the yellow tail spots though are not little structure areas, they are large coral fields. So several boats can fish the area if they work together by not getting too close or anchoring up or down current of each other. On these trained spots you can limit out in less than two hours most of the time. Giving other boats about 200 yard space is generally good manners in Marathon for 'tailing. In the Tortugas, two miles is a good gap. I don't like fishing up other people's butts nor do I like them fishing up mine, but it is tolerated for yellowtail fishing on "public" numbers. Public is important. If you know that everyone and his brother knows the numbers, you are welcome to join the fun. If you just want to steal some numbers, things can get pretty testy. So use your best judgement.

Patience Pays: Most of my customers want to have a bait in the water from the time they leave the dock until they get back. For yellowtailing it is better to let the chum do its job and get the fish up before putting a free line in the water. In shallow water that may be just a few minutes or in deep water that may be 20 minutes. When the time to catch begins, try to work like a team. Sometimes one or two lines in the water at a time is more productive. Some times three or four lines started at the same time is more productive. Five or six lines at a time with four or five of them getting tangled is generally least productive. As a fishing consultant on your boat or rental boat, my job is to teach, and people learn from their mistakes so I am perfectly happy to let you learn from your mistakes if you prefer to not listen to me.

Tackle: I definitely recommend a spinning rod for yellow tail. The line comes off the spool much smoother with less effort. You can use a baitcaster, but it requires a lot more attention and tends to be backlashed when a big mackerel crashes the yellowtail party. Hook size ranges from size 4 for a slow bite to 2/0 for a killer flag bite. Bait size varies with the hook size. Leader material is not required if you have new or clean clear monofilament line. In very clear water with spooky fish, flourocarbon can make a big difference, so I always carry 12 pound flouro. Most of the time no weight is required. Small pinch weights, size seven and smaller are useful if you line does want to flow off the reel right. Some people prefer to use small 1/8 ounce jigs or smaller with yellow a popular color. If something works for you stick with it until someone else starts showing you up. I normally will use a barrel swivel about five feet from the hook if I need weight. It also helps cut down on line twist where there aren't enough mackerel in the area.

Snapper Don't Like Wire: Speaking of mackerel. If you get tired of them cutting your hooks off, you can use a light wire leader, number 2 to number 4 about 6 inches long to catch these guys. You will probably find that since you are ready for mackerel, that you start catching yellowtails. Fish love to make a liar out of people, so don't believe everything you hear, sometimes wire works like magic.

Flag Fishing: Flag yellowtail are fish over 20 inches or close to three pounds. For their size, yellowtail are pretty good scrappers. So flags can be a challenge. With a good flag bite you will need fifteen pound line minimum with twenty a good idea unless loosing fish is not big deal to you. Flags take off for the bottom as soon as they feel the hook so you will need a heavier drag setting than normal, about 50% of line test. The heavier line and the heavier drag setting means larger or stronger hooks. Size 2 to 2/0 depending on things.

Bait: Fresh is best. Yellowtail are not all that finicky. They will eat nearly anything. Some baits are better though. Fresh ballyhoo fillets are great. You can cut them into just about any size you like. You can get all fancy and stuff a little chum in a roll of fillet. You can also catch fresh ballyhoo most to the time you have a chum slick going. Silver side minnows are also a great bait. They are in the right size range, the right shape and they smell like fish. Since they are small fish, you don't have to slice them up. Just stick one or two on a hook and get to fishing. Fresh pilchard are a great bait alive or dead. You will probably have to cut some down to size, but if you have the two to three inch pilchards, just stick 'em on the hook. In the winter, it is a good idea to have live shrimp. Not that you need them for yellowtail, they just can increase the variety of fish that take you line for a ride. Squid is the bait of last resort in my opinion, messy and smelly, but it does work. Size is the thing with the baits. try 1 1/2" to 2 inch strips and adjust as needed.

Chum: There are quite a few "secret" recipes. I know one guy that cooks elbow macaroni for his chum bag. Others have a blend of ground bait fish, menhaden normally, rolled oats, Purina Shrimp Chow, dry dog food, dry cat food and/or anything they may have read about. Ground baitfish, menhaden or sardines, works fine with some oats not a bad idea.

Chum Bag: Small mesh bay, medium mesh channel and landing net deep. With a small mesh bag a 7 pound block of chum will last nearly three hours. With a medium mesh a 7 pound block will last about an hour. With a landing net mesh bag, a seven pound block of chum is nearly a waste of time, get the 25 pound block. At a buck a pound average, you can figure out how long you want to fish and how much you are willing to pay for snapper.

The Bite: If you are free lining properly you may never feel a bite. You will just see the line start to peal off faster or sometimes slow down. When it does, just close your bail and reel. Nothing to it. Anytime you close your bail, you may as well reel in and check your bait. The 'tails will almost always bite while the line is drifting with the chum. They only bite with the bail set to make me look like a liar.

Starting The Drift: No casting is generally required, just drop the line in the water and let it go. If you have birds or trash fish bothering you, casting may help. Some like to shake the bag at the start of the drift. Fishing shallow with a medium mesh bag that is not a bad idea, neither is a splash of oats with your bait. Watch the fish to see what works best. Deep water fishing you should have a steady chum flow, so no shaking required.

Conditions: Wind with the current is best. If the chum is flowing out of the back of the boat things are looking good. If the chum is flowing up the anchor line, things will be slow. If the chum is falling straight to the bottom, no current, things can be interesting. I catch most of my hogfish and larger porgies with no current, but most of the time the 'tail bite is very slow. Cloudy water normally means a better bite with shallower better than normal. Crystal clear water normally means a slower bite with deeper water better.

One of the great things about yellowtail fishing in the Keys is all the other critters that may show up in the slick. Have a rod ready to pitch a big bait to a big fish. Having a bottom rod down with a big live bait is also a good idea. The main thing is to take advantage of the opportunities that present themselves.

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, September 06, 2011

Deep Water Grouper Ban Lifted

After just hearing this on the radio I am about giddy with excitement. I don't know if my posts calling for everyone to contact the South Atlantic Marine Fisheries Commission help, but I am pretty sure it didn't hurt. There was and article in the Keynoter on August 31st saying in may be lifted. The actual decision is supposed to be made on the 9th of this month, but rumor has it it is a go. This is very unusual because the fisheries commission is supposedly admitting they made a mistake. I have never had a problem with people making mistakes, its just owning up to them that is a problem.

This could be a very good sign for a little more reasonable fisheries management. I don't know of anyone that doesn't want to protect our resources down here. It is just keeping track of the impact to both the fisheries and the fisher people in enacting and reviewing rules that gets me a little flustered. Maybe someday we will get a responsible revision to the Goliath Grouper regulation?

I would love to tell y'all a fishing story, but all I have right now is boat fixing stories. Maybe in a few weeks I will have a catching fish while running a new charter boat story?

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