Ending 2008 on such a positive note sure has been a great sign. With the fishing so good, what better way to start the New Year than to do a Tortugas Trip!! We left Saturday afternoon. The weather was pretty good, about 80 degrees with an east-northeast wind blowing about 10 to 15 with seas two to four feet. We arrived about 9:00 pm that night and anchored down on a reef patch in about 70 feet of water. The water temperature was about 74 degrees and the visibility was about 40 feet. The water was a blue-green color hence the level of visibility. The gang fished a little that night and they caught some nice 3 to 4lb Yellowtails and a hand full of 5 to 8 lb Mangrove snappers. The live baits seemed to attract some 30 to 50lb Amberjacks and we also found a few sharks. After breakfast we headed a little further down, more towards the Bank. I anchored down again and fished a huge rock in about 75 feet of water. The action was quick to happen, the 2 to 5lb Yellowtails were very hungry as they began to show themselves in the chum slick. The current was very light if any at all, this made things a little tough but we just took our time until they got really happy and then it was game on.
Had two guys fishing the bottom and three yellowtailing. We had it going on...over the rail and in the pail, LOL! It was full contact for several hours, my arms still hurt. The two on the bottom caught a few nice RED Groupers, a few more AJ’s and a couple of sharks. One of the guys started to flat line dead goggle eyes and sure enough he catches a few real nice Mutton snappers.
Next we decided to take a break, eat some lunch and go check out another spot. Oh boy...Houston we have a problem! The grapple hook is stuck and I cannot get it out. Bummer we lose our chain so now we are unable to spend the night in the deep. We will never get the anchor to stick without any chain so we are pretty much obligated to fishing in about 90 feet or less. Believe me worse things could have happened. Anyhow we spend the afternoon anchored up in about 65 feet of water looking to catch some Groupers and the plan worked. The guys fished cut baits with knocker riggs on the bottom. They did great. We had a lot of Red Groupers which ranged from 6 to15 pounds, a few Black Grouper from 12 to 25 pounds, and several real nice Strawberry Grouper and even a couple of Scamp Grouper. All are very yummy!! It was getting late, so I decided to make a move back towards the Marquesas and try to drift a few deep spots since I was unable to anchor there. It worked out OK. We stopped on a rough bottom spot in 180 feet of water. We sent down a Chicken rig, a jig with ballyhoo, and a live bait. We caught a couple schoolie Mutton’s and a few Porgies on the Chicken rig’s. The jigs caught two nice Groupers and the live bait produced a few Sharks and a few big Mackerels. It was getting dark so we ran back inside to about 80 feet of water and anchored down for the night. The wind picked up just a touch after the sun went down but we were still pretty comfortable. The night produced yet some more Yellowtails and Mangrove snappers, however I think we were all pretty tired from the long days. Sleep was more on the minds of most, so needless to say, there really wasn’t much fishing going on after midnight.
We awoke to a beautiful sunrise, had some coffee and breakfast and fished till about 9:00am and headed home. The morning was good, a few more Muttons, and a real nice Dogtooth Snapper about 10lb’s. We probably could have caught all the Cero Mackerel we wanted as they were swimming all around the boat. It was fun to watch them. By now, we were pretty much out of bait and ready to go. Overall it was an outstanding trip and we hit the slip at around 2:00 pm Monday afternoon with big smiles all around. And by the way, those of you that know me realize that I now have spare chain onboard, LOL that was a first!
Capt. John Oughton - That's Right
Check out the audio report for this trip - Dry Tortugas trip