Another couple of weeks have gone by with the usual unseasonably warm weather and then a surprise we got a cold front. The 2 days right after the front passed showed a dramatic Sailfish bite, but as luck would have it, I had no trips during that time. This winter has produced a very sporadic season at best which truly defines the phrases, hot and cold, on and off, yin and yang. This is frustrating when people come from all over the globe, most trying to get a shot at a Sailfish. I’m sure many of my fellow fishermen can relate to these slow conditions.
The past 3 trips prior to today were a struggle. One day the bait was almost jumping in the boat and the next day we had to make up little tricks to fill the wells. The trusty old downrigger was silent for the most part. Why? Your guess is as good as mine. The Kingfish were so fast and loose, but now are lacking. They were our “stay busy” species while waiting for the more desirable Sailfish bite, of which we only had one in the last 3 trips. We did manage to catch a Bonito, a couple of Cero Mackerel, 2 or 3 small, sub-legal Kingfish, and a small Dolphin or two.
We spent too many boring hours with no action. The only thing that kept me from second guessing myself was the fact that everyone else was having the same struggle as us. Being disappointed was becoming commonplace. At some point on most of our trips, we went to one of our favorite wrecks. The Amberjack and Almaco Jacks were in good numbers and willing to pull on our fishing lines. We did have an encounter with a large Hammerhead. I’m not kidding when I say large. This Hammerhead was every bit of 10-12 feet in length. The dorsal fin rose 2’ above the water and the head was over 3’ feet across This monster took a full minute to eat my kite bait and we were hooked up… for about 30 seconds.
The day of this writing Devon and I met Jon at the dock at 7 AM. The biggest problem was that the rest of the group wouldn’t get there until 11:15. We took our time and ventured into the bay to get some bait while we were waiting. Things were going good as we chummed up some Hardtails and Ballyhoo on a spot east of the Marina. We fished our live wells full and headed back in. Perfect timing! As we arrived at the dock, the guys were getting out of their car. We exited the Marina and I pushed the throttles down heading straight out to sea. Our game plan was to begin by putting these guys on some AJ’s first and wearing them out. I immediately changed that plan when I heard some of my boys having triple header Sailfish action as I was coming across the patches. One quick click on the VHF and Donny confirmed it for me. Stiff winds out of the SE had the waves on the reef all slopped up and the reef edge had 5’ standers. My 600 pony powered World Cat 330TE punched through all of this at speed.
First lines in and 5 minutes into fishing and we have a double header of Sailfish going. One is hooked up and the other knocks the bait off. A good bit of jumping ensues and the fish takes my angler “down and dirty”. With some coaching we get the leader touch just as the fish pulls away from the boat again. The angler was fairly new to fishing so I tried to teach him how to cup the spool to give added pressure when needed and to release the spool when he felt the fish pulling. This was a mistake. I should have left well enough alone. He didn’t have the feel for this and the 20# line parted. No big deal, it was a legal catch, we just didn’t get the tagging done. I consoled him by remarking that it was a good thing since the fish wasn’t tired out and we could get back to fishing. The action slowed some so I put out a kite with one bait. The downrigger was quiet, as usual here lately, when suddenly it pops off. This is not a Kingfish by all indications of the fight. No sir, instead we boated a 30 pound Cobia. NICE!
A short time passes and the kite bait gets hit and we are into a nice Dolphin. As we work this fish to the boat we see it is the Cow and the smaller Bull is about 15 feet to the outside of her. An errant cast, trying to put a live bait out to the Bull, almost costs us the hooked fish. Devon sticks the gaff into the Cow and 30 pounds of Dolphin slides into the fish box.
One of the guys has to make a flight at MIA so we get the word to dump the live wells and prepare to button up the show. We had plenty of bait and dumped all of it at once. Within minutes the ocean came to life with Kingfish skyrocketing out of the water and a Sailfish taking the kite bait. Bada bing! A quick hook up! It ended just as quickly with a bit of angler error when he didn’t come tight on the line quick enough after the first jump.
Keep in mind that the half day trip the day before only resulted in a Dolphin and that Hammerhead bite. This next day, although short as well ended with 1 for 3 shots on Sails, a 30 pound Cobia, 30 pound Dolphin, a small “snake” Kingfish, and a Slippery ****. This just goes to prove what a difference a day can make!