Monday, August 24, 2015

Lady Catherine in Party Boat Mode

The crew had a lot of fun but it is a lot of work.  I normally sit out the party boat mode since I just have a six pack, but Captain David called me up to be a second mate.  We had nine healthy sized anglers, plenty of beer, a bottle of Jack and a bottle of Crown that got broke open about 9 O'clock.

Other than having to convince the crew that fish do have musical preferences, they mainly like old school music, the trip went well.  Unfortunately, we were cursed with the damn nears, as in damn near legal grouper and hogfish.  Releasing 23.75 inch Black Grouper broke a few hearts.

The Hogfish and Porgie bite was a bit off but we managed about 8 "high dollar" fish with the party boat staple grunts making up the bulk of the box.  Several sharks made the biggest impact on the crew and a Bonnet Head made in the box for appetizers.

Since most of the crew were active duty Army guys from south Florida, grits and grunts wasn't foreign vitals.  Old school grits and grunts call for whole scaled fish which is a bit time consuming but we didn't mind cleaning their catch in the proper manner instead of gringo style.

For anyone wondering, a half day party boat style trip on the Lady Catherine is $700 which works out to $70 a head with 10 passengers.  Since we don't do the ticket thing, customers are responsible for assembling crews and it is a good idea to make reservations in advance.   As always tips are appreciated, but if we suck we suck some that is your way of letting us know.  We didn't suck this trip and a few even mentioned that they had more fun on this trip than most other trips they have been on.

 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, August 18, 2015

Bummer - Hogfish Closure

The National Marine Fisheries Commission has Annual Catch Limits (ACL) for a lot of species of fish for both recreational and commercial fishermen.  For some reason this year there is a spike in the recreation landings so it appears that Hogfish will be closed from August 24 until the first of the year.

This has been a great year for Hogfish so just about everyone and their brother has caught quite a few.  That is how it is with fishing and farming, some years are better than others and since the NFMC uses annual statistics, this year Hogfish will close for recreational anglers.

Since the NMFC isn't the greatest at getting information out, I am sure a few people will not get the word and get fined or worse.  Also a lot of people plan their diving vacations for this time of year so they can harvest Hogfish along with Lobster, Grouper and Snapper.

Now if you go to the link above you can see that the NMFS isn't all that great on updating their recreational data.  All of the Grouper species which are close are not even close to their ACL limits so the closures have been overly effective.  Instead of closing the season when there is obvious reason to close it, the NMFC just shuts it down because they can.  The way thing should work is like the Hogfish closure, close when it make some kind of sense instead of because you feel like it.

The NMFS can also use gear limits to control ACL.  Hogfish are primarily a spearfishing target so they could close Hogfish to spear fishermen using tanks or spearfishing in general.  There are lots of ways to do things and the NMFC seems to have a talent for screwing that up.

So anyway I am sorry that Hogfish will not be on the menu later this year.  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

Friday, August 07, 2015

Barbed to the Bone

I almost had a video of me removing one from myself, but the video and the hook both didn't come out.  I was barbed to the bone with one of those Sabiki rig hooks.  Those little hooks are a bitch to get out.  So it cost me some time and money to get an expert to show me how to deal with "Barbed to the Bone".

The expert was a doctor at the Fisherman's Hospital Emergency Room.  I have on several occasions removed regular barbed hooks from myself and others using the method above.  If you can hold the eye of the hook tightly down, it works like a champ.  If you can't, not so much.  Since neither I nor the ER doc could hold it down tight enough, there were a couple of no gos that seem to drive the hook in a bit tighter.

The ER doc and I had a bit of consultation after the no gos and he modified the method to include a very tightly cinched knot around the bend of the hook well on the barb side of the bend as opposed to the shank side.  That did the trick and got the little bastard out.

Since the video didn't turn out here is the first frame of the failed attempt.

While I am at it I may as well show one of their catch photos.  As I have been saying it has been a weird season and very inconsistent bite for many species but at least the Barracuda are back in form.  I am likely to be chillin' until Sunday and Monday when I have schedule trips aboard the Lady Catherine.  Since I have some fam coming down I have arraigned for my nephew Cary to fish with that group so we will have a real family fun trip or two coming up.

This provides an opportunity to explain "split charters".  Hardly any captain in the Keys likes to get involved with split charters.  We generally let potential split groups discuss things on their own so we can stay out of it as much as possible.  Most splits work out fairly well but there are always exceptions and one bad exception can cost much more than it is worth.  However, costs are getting ridiculous so it is an option.  With a split I like to evenly divide the generic catch between the crew and save the special fish for the actual angler.  Then it is up to the angler if he/she wants to share or not, but I like for everyone that wants fish to have fish and consider fishing a team effort.

Since a lot of vacationers don't have access to a full kitchen we recommend cook your catch restaurants that do family style meals with several varieties of preparation.  On the Lady Catherine, Lazy Days South has been kind enough to provide 10% discount.  They do a great job in my opinion but then so do most restaurants down here.

Shipping fish is expensive and can be a PITA.  In most cases, simply freezing the fish as well as possible and getting one of those insulated carry on bags does the trick.  If you don't have a freezer available, a few blocks of dry ice from Publix or WinnDixie does the trick and if the airline or whatever has a problem with dry ice I you can just pitch it in a trash can, which the TSA guys have available after a thorough strip search.  

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, August 03, 2015

More weird Dolphin Stuff

Kinda out of the blue I got called to fill in for Captain David today.  As you can see we found gaffer dolphin.

A few as a matter of fact.  Not a single dolphin strike trolling.  We found a school of heavy lifters/light gaffers and had a few live Ballyhoo in the well to get the bigger fish turned on.   So I think it might be worth while to spend a half hour or so getting sexy baits in the live well before heading out, at least until the full moon is a bit more behind us.

Since the crew was from out of town and flying, we released a number of the smaller fish and just kept about 10 fish.  That was about 25 to 30 pounds of fillets worth, and took them back to the reef for a dip before heading to the barn.

Not a bad day, but considering we found a pallet and lots on huge weed patches with other floaters but no fish, it isn't a sure thing out there by any means.  Probably worth the effort though if you want some pretty fish and lots of fillets.  We found the fish in about 725 foot of water which is about 18 nautical miles off the beach.

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, August 02, 2015

The Weird Dolphin Season

I am not an expert on Dolphin (Mahi Mahi) behavior by any means, but if they are like most other fish spawning time depends on the moon and water temperature.  This year we had some weird water temperatures and we have had a weird Dolphin bite.  The undersized "peanuts" arrived a good bit earlier than normal.  Since Dolphin are a very fast growing species, those peanuts are now keepers.  So the back side of the Dolphin season should be better than normal.

Anyway, that is my theory and I am sticking to it.  This should make some of the late summer offshore trips much more interesting.  I suspect that we can start doing more quick trolling, 8 to 10 knots, which increases the actual fishing time and produces more Wahoo and Billfish strikes out of the blue.  This can be pretty boring for a lot of folks but it only takes a few encounters with Mr. Marlin to get you hooked on the "sportfishing" side of things.

Fishing just for Marlin bores me to hell, but a nice mixed bag with a fairly steady bite doesn't.  Bigger "schoolies" also increases the chances of finding the bigger Tuna.  While Yellowfin aren't all that common out of Marathon I have hooked into a few big tuna that tend to follow the bigger baits, Dolphin, Blue runners, Bar Jacks etc. that are pretty thick offshore and near shore.

These Bar Jacks by the way are also called Blue Stripe Jacks and eat about as well as the Yellow Jack and Rainbow Runners if you are into "sushi" quality jacks.   Should you hook one and want to eat it I recommend getting it to the boat quick.  If you are looking for a bucket list fish, take your time or put them back out as live bait.

On the bucket list side of things the flats are holding quite a few Tarpon.  I had a half day trip the other afternoon and we saw quite a few.  We didn't catch the tide just right so catching was slow, but there are plenty of fish if you do get things to come together.  We didn't have any live crabs which should be right bait for sight fishing and didn't have enough chunk bait for old school fishing.  I also need to re-stock lures, 'Cuda Tubes and Bomber long A's for the other critters that can make the flats fun.  Most of the time 'Cuda will hit most anything but the spoons the guys had were not easy to use around the flats.  When we did get a live Ballyhoo or small Yellowtail, they didn't last long but with the wind and current we had catching bait was a PITA.  As it was, the trip was pretty uneventful but I believe the guys will do better with an earlier start and a better bait variety.   Crack of dawn would be the best time for jumping Tarpon.

I was able to avoid the buggers both on the water and on the road this year.  The local Dion's didn't though and one drove through the front door.  Traffic has been ridiculous and should remain that way until after opening week.  As usual the locals are complaining about the mini-season, but as long as there is a closed season, whenever it opens, there is going to be a cluster.

August is one of my slowest months so I have the doctor scheduled and not much else.  Once the first week of bug season is over though, anyone wanting to fill their freezer with Dolphin should think about sneaking down for a long weekend weather permitting.

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