Friday, December 30, 2016

Nearly a New Year with maybe some new regulations

 The big one for me will be Hogfish.  Right now they have to be 12 inches long and you get five per person.  Hook and line fishing for Hogfish has never been a slam dunk.  You get a few every now and again and on a slack current you can occasionally limit out, but that is pretty much a front page find of day.  Most Hogfish are taken by divers because they are just plain stupid, the Hogfish, and a diver with a commercial license could load up on a good day.  Now, the powers at be want to change the limits to one fish per person at least 16" long, which is really going to suck on a slow day when Porgies and Hogfish are about the only game in town.  When that goes into effect is up in the air and there might even be a closed season because people creating regulations don't really have much better to do.

 Grouper of course closes January 1 through April because Gag grouper are supposedly hammered someplace north of here and Red Grouper are under pressure north of here in the Gulf.  The closures are based on typical spawning times for the northern fish, but since spawning is driven by water temperature and moon phase, Keys fish wander down a different path spawning wise.  So as usual the regulation are designed for someplace else and enforced in the Keys where there is about 200 times as many charter and recreational anglers.  Since the regulators are sadistic little bastards, they close all grouper in the Keys pretty much because they can.

 So this is probably the last Red Grouper for a while.

When the regulators close seasons on some fish plus decrease bag limits and increase size limits all at the same time, that tends to shift pressure to other species meaning there are more landings of fish that normally don't have as many landings.  More fish landed to the regulators seems to mean that those fish are being depleted so they close their season as well.  Now if these regulatory geniuses picked one control method at a time instead of hitting the triple whammy button, they could actually do scientific stuff like surveys to determine if there needs to be more or less regulation and even define zones where regulations don't apply.  However, there appears to be a glut of liberal arts majors with crap math skills finding government jobs saving the world killing one fishing industry at a time.   So Yellowtail Snapper like the one above will probably be closed around November this year along with Porgies, Hogfish and just about any other kind of fish with tasty white meat, because people will catch more of the easier to catch fish. 

Now, "easier to catch" generally means that there are lots of fish, not a shortage of fish.  However, liberal arts majors, a guestimated quota based on landings during a bygone era of people just fishing isn't going to be that useful if you don't allow for the impact of knee jerk over regulation forcing a shift in fishing pressure. 

These Mangrove snapper have so far dodged the regulatory free for all so with any luck I will continue to be able to let customers catch enough for dinner. 

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, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah, but renting a boat sucks

Since the winds are up but most of the guys down for the holidays have plenty of time to wait it out, I and taking a rare Christmas day off. 

Yesterday we fished from a 24 foot Hydrasports rental from All Aboard Boat Rentals with a 250 Yamaha.  The boat ran great and everything worked well enough to have fun.  However, there are plenty of boat renters that would have been aggravated by the time it takes to check out and the bottom finder not working perfectly at full throttle.

Electronics are quirky, probably by design to ensure job security.  So high dollar units, tweaked perfectly will pick up at full speed but most tend to have noise issues meaning so fine tuning and adjusting your speed is required most of the time.  Experienced boaters know that BOAT stands for Broke Or About To learn to deal with situation were you don't have 25 people waiting patiently for your tech support call.  So an "old salt" is much less likely to be disappointed by the quality of a rental boat provided it can make a round trip without sinking. 

Rank amateurs and people believing they should have been born with silver spoons up their butts tend to be much more critical of just about everything in life than people in the "know."   The main reason I guide is to show people how to have fun on the water without tearing stuff up and hurting themselves.  Every time I see a negative review of boat rental companies I know that there is a pretty good chance the complainer could have saved themselves some grief by hiring someone like me. 

I have been through this a few times with the Coast Guard and others, but a guide with just a bit of local knowledge and a crap load of boating experience is a good thing.  However, in our litigious society, "people in authority" think everyone in a "position of responsibility" has to be certified up the wazoo, bonded, drug tested and strip searched before they can be "trusted."  There are plenty of 13 year old kids with experience on the water that can save people time, pain, trouble and money. 

So since I am a bit of a PITA to many in "authority" my cards say "fishing consultant" and I do not present any documents other than driver's and fishing licenses when I function as a guide on a rental or private boat.  A guide, is a cheap date which means the average first time boat renter is more likely to take advantage of the service.  Renting a boat with a guide isn't a "charter" or any other kind of regulated action requiring fees so some fat assed got miner can get paid to dream up more regulations to prevent more people from enjoying a day on the water.  Some states are requiring boating licenses, which is fine, but the standard for getting a boating license is mainly having access to a boat, breathing and money to pay for the privileged.  Boating experience is required to actually know what a boater is supposed to know and having someone on board with experience, regardless of credentials, can seriously reduce the costs of gaining that experience.   

This rant is for all the warm and fuzzies that think Utopia is heavily regulated and that a "boat" is a privilege reserved for the wealthy elite. 

Now that that is out of the way, All Aboard, Quality Boat Rentals, Jerry's Boat Rentals, Captain Pips, Vacation Boat Rentals, Tropical Boat Rentals, Captain Hooks Boat Rentals, and a probably a dozen more I didn't mention in the Marathon area, all rent boats and are still in business, meaning the vast majority of renters had an enjoyable time on their rental boat without doing damage to the boat or themselves.  Each and every one has former customers with a gripe here and there because of BOAT and not being aware of what an enjoyable boat rental experience requires, like actually listening to during the checkout and reading the paperwork before signing.  If you don't know the area, try asking some questions ahead of time and think about either hiring a guide or asking one of the rental employees ride along with you for a quick check out.  Everyone wants you to have a good time and not tear their stuff up, so concentrate on that instead of the 15 minutes of time you are "wasting" during orientation if you happen to be a first time customer.

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, December 24, 2016

Chicago Joe and Detroit Dave

Updated to add a photo of one of the larger Cero Mackerel with Joe.

My Christmas season regular Chicago Joe is bake in town and we fished on a Detroit Dave rental boat.  With Chicago, Detroit and Dallas all on deck, by standers might have though a poker game was about to start.

Due to winds over 20 knots we fished in a few of my spots that are sheltered and caught a lot of fish thanks to having anglers that were real hungry for getting back on the water so they could forget about the snow.  While Mangroves and Porgies were the primary target, the Cero Mackerel proved to be the main event.  Unlike some of my other regulars, Chicago Joe and crew don't have to be convinced that fresh Mackerel is good eats.

Mangroves were a bit disappointing, but we did manage about ten nice sized fish and the only porgy we kept was a solid three pounds, also nice.  Frank, the chef in Joe's crew, also opted to keep plenty of grunts that were over 12 inches long and big enough to filet.

Frank also wanted to tangle with a big shark which proved to be more difficult than normal.  He had one shot at a big girl, but after that Ceros and smaller sharks took over.  We saw a few big ones passing through but for some reason they just didn't want to hang around.

Detroit Dave bought All Aboard boat rentals not too long ago which was news to me.  When we got back with a cooler overly filled with fish, Dave and everyone on the dock was pretty impressed so a lot of my cards got distributed.   Fishing in high winds can be pretty tough and we did have a pretty good day.

My phone played tricks on me so I have to hope the crew posts some they took so I can add a few to the post. 

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, December 20, 2016

Fun Fishing with the Boy Scouts

 Had back to back half days with a group of scouts down for the week.  We fished the Lil' Lady Catherine on the bay side and looked for the biggest mixed bag we could find.

We had to hunt a bit to find water that wasn't too churned up but managed two nice mixed boxes of lane mangrove and yellowtail snapper, speckled sea trout, spanish mackerel and were surprised by some large gaffstop sail catfish which are good on the table.  Added to the food fish were jack crevalle, ladyfish, bonnethead, lemon, sharpnose and blacktip sharks.  We managed to keep both groups pretty busy catching and hook enough larger fish to make it exciting.

The water temperature was 79 degrees according to the sonar so diving for lobster is still an option.  Either because of the warm water or the murkiness, the Spanish Mackerel were pretty finicky and wanted pretty much nothing but fresh whole ballyhoo.  Normally, any kind of strip bait will do but that produced next to nothing this time out.

It is still a bit windy on average so we haven't been temped to visit the ocean side in the smaller boat, but that side is producing for the larger boats.  Nothing is guaranteed but there have been some nice wahoo, tuna and dolphin brought to the dock along with plenty of yellowtail and mutton snapper plus good catches of grouper.  Sailfish had been a big story but haven't seen many reports the last few days, but some guys have found cobia to take up the slack. 

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