2009-11-15 - OU Weekly Report - Key West, Islamorada, MA Giant Bluefin
November 15, 2009
South Florida Sailfish Action Heats Up
Things are certainly starting off with a BANG here in S. Florida. You know it’s good when we are catching them in Lauderdale, Islamorada, and Key West all on the same day! This is shaping up to be a great season for sailfishing here in South Florida. The sails have showed rather early, so come catch ‘em while they are here! We certainly have the area covered, with the ability to reach the fish from Palm Beach, all the way down below Key West.
Captain Joe McGivern up in Lauderdale has had quite a hot hand as of late, which is of no surprise. Joe’s been seen on the tournament leader boards quite a bit the last couple years. Capt. Joe’s preferred method of targeting the sails has been with the Kites. Live Goggle-Eyes have been the bait of choice for him this week. As we move on down into the middle Florida Keys, Capt. John Oughton was chasing them around in the sand, sight casting live ballyhoo and cigar minnows to them on Friday. A completely different approach necessitated by different conditions. The sails are up inside the reef in the Middle Keys, pushing ballyhoo up into the shallows. Then back down in Key West, Capt. Ted Lund is also at it with the Kites. Fishing this week on the center console, Ted had his best luck flying the kites using Goggle-Eyes and chumming with live Pilchards.
The sailfish tournament season kicks off this week with the SAILFISH CUP, run out of Miami, FL. Then we have events such as the Islamorada Sailfish Tournament and the SAILFISH KICKOFF just around the corner in December. We’ll be fishing an aggressive tournament schedule out of Ft. Lauderdale this year, and have plenty of openings for anyone who wants to join our tournament team. The tournament season is capped off April 13-17 with the World Sailfish Championship, the grand daddy of them all down in Key West, with a guaranteed top prize of $100,000! We hope to see some of you standing on the winner podium with us this Winter!
We fished with John Brownlee from Salt Water Sportsman down here in Florida with the big SWS Sweepstakes winner Pat White and a few of his buddies.
Thursday we spent the day reef fishing. The winds were not really allowing us to do any deep fishing. We had a great time catching and releasing plenty of short Red Groupers with a few Black Groupers mixed in. The Yellow tails seemed to want to eat too. It was tough with the lack of any current but we managed. The big ones however seemed to elude us. Mostly 1 ½ to 2 pound fish about 15 inches. The mangroves I believe have made their move back to the gulf; we were not nearly as productive with them as we were in the last few weeks. Also, we had one of the guys work the old Gotcha lure and again very productive with the Ceros and small Kings.
Friday we spent catching a few snappers in the AM for dinner and they tried to do some Sail fishing. I had noticed them showering bait inside us. We putted our way inside to 25 feet of water and there they were, great action for those who have never seen it before. The first two fish swam right up to the transom. Andrew pitched bait out and handed it to Pat and they all got to watch the fish do its thing, nature at its finest. Pat came tight and off we went. We didn’t have much time as the fish only seemed to stay inside to feed for a short time. After a safe release I ran back inside and found another one, pitched out bait and got another release….perfect. We then decided to head out to some deeper water and try some deep drops for a large Mutton or Grouper. Unfortunately that did not work out. Now we slipped back in on the reef edge and tried for another Sail but instead we found a handful of 10lb King Mack’s. Overall we had a great time and the guys had LOTS to eat!! Thanks to John Brownlee for the pictures!!!
Sunday we fished the Ladies, “Lets Go Fishing” Club!! Had a picture perfect day….Sunny and Calm, however the conditions were anything but in our favor. The water temps were a perfect 79 but we had no current and the water visibility was near 100 feet. This made for lots of stops, which we made work out pretty good considering it was like fishing in a fish tank!! The Ladies caught plenty of small Red and Black Groupers and the Yellow tails bit a little, just enough to gather up a nice dinner or two. They also found themselves tangled up with just a few Mangrove snappers.
Sail fishing was slow at best today, the last few days it was very good. I believe the lack of current up and down the reef edge was the big issue as this means one thing….no movement in the water flow, no fish!
This week's cold front really kickstarted our fishing here in Key West. Along with the cooler temperatures, pelicans, pilchards and ballyhoo have arrived. There are plenty of fish following them along the reef, too.
On Friday, Steve Hall and wife Trudy traveled all the way from the UK in hopes of catching his first sailfish. He and Trudy worked the kite baits like experts and were rewarded with an estimated 45-pounder about 20 minutes after our lines hit the water. He went on to catch another and jump a third fish off, all on live herring and goggle eyes. After our sailfish session, we moved inshore along the Sambos reef area and managed to boat a dozen cero mackerel to 7 pounds on light tackle before calling it a day. We haven't seen any blackfin tuna in quantities yet, but they are sure to show up any day. In the meantime, the yellowtail, mackerel, muttons and other species will keep you busy.
On the flats, now that the wind has finally died, we're getting some good shots at permit. Live crabs on spinning tackle have been working best. There are also some big cudas finding their way into the flats, and they are a blast on spinning rods armed with tube lures.
All in all, we're in season, and the fishing is great, so come on down. We hope to see you out on the water!
Steve Hall from England with his first sailfish of the day.
Steve's second fish, just prior to release.
With a typical Key West cero mackerel
New Jersey Fishing Report
What a Storm!!
Well not much to report this week up here in NJ as we have had one of the worst storms in quite some time. It started blowing NE Tuesday night and finally let up on Saturday. We had winds that were around 60 knots for quite some time as well as severe flooding throughout the whole area. A good bit of Avalon remained under water for around 4 hours of each passing high tide. We moved our boat to a safer area to stop getting hampered by the Nor’easter.
On the fishing front there wasn’t too much to report this week as everybody was pretty much watching their boats and houses. I expect people will be out most of the week here as it looks like the weather will allow us to get out most of the week. Striper fishing is now the main focus in the area.
Justified arrived in Massachusetts October 9 after a summer on the hard getting some need attention. We began fishing on the 11th. We were able to get out between the weather in Mass about 15 days of fishing before our departure last Monday Nov 9. All and all it was a productive season. We ended with two Giants, three shorts 68” to 71” fish, one Mako and one Thresher. It was a difficult start being new to the area. The first Giant caught on Halloween was 110” and cored out at 666# est. (800#) whole and the second fish a week later was 95” and cored out at 388# (500#) whole. The biggest fish was caught on an 80 Penn VSW with 40# of drag. The total fight took about 2 ½ hours. That rod was outfitted with 130lb braid backing with 130# high seas main line attached to a 15’ shot of 175 fluoro wind-on leader. We were lucky to get the fish because of the duration of the fight and the placement of the hook on our leader was nearly chaffed through. The second fish was caught on a 130 Penn VSX with 130#braid backing and 200# Mono Top shot connected to a 200 a 15’ fluoro wind-on leader. The 95” came up faster as the fight was less then an hour long but he was one of those fish that had us all on our toes. By the end of the fight I was dizzy as he had us spinning around. The track line looked like a telephone cord.
The primary method of fishing these giants of the north is chunking. I have heard of people grabbing a few giants trolling but up there it seems to be that the shorter fish beat out the larger fish for the trolled bait. All the chunking is done on the drift. We used 6 to 7 forty pound flats of herring a day for our chum bait. Hook baits would be fresh Mackerel and Herring or live baits. When we first arrived on scene the gill netters were still out there in force. Live bait and fresh worked in the area of the gill netters was the way to go. We were told by an experienced fisherman that the gill netters find the fall giants first and so starts the fall giant season. He said that from his experience as more and more boats come out and the chunking fleet forms, the fishes’ diet changes and they gravitate to the chunks.
Chunking in MA is similar and different to chunking in NJ. It is important to keep a steady progression of chunks going. When there are marks on the screen it is important to chunk HEAVY. We kept a 5 gallon pail full of chunks ready to go so that when we got a mark we could bomb them. It is always good practice to work your baits through the water column.
The spread that we found most effective and manageable was as follows: two rods floated out on balloon the furthest, one being about 150’ and the second one on a balloon 120’ and a rod off the rod tip 120 ‘ in the shadow of the boat. We always had a working rod with no lead on it to drift out with the chunks. The majority of our marks came at 100’ to 120’. The amount of lead that is needed to put the baits down varied because of the tides and wind. On one rod on a windy day I had a window sash weight with a 32oz lead taped on to it to set it down.
Hook baits are important. Fresh is best. Many of the high liners in the area had connections and were off getting fresh bait. Some guys would net fresh herring and whiting in their gill nets. Fresh or not, baits must look good. It took us about 10 minutes to sew up a Mackerel. Joe took the time to super glue the fins up and took the extra step to make them look fantastic.
It was a great season in Massachusetts. North Atlantic Traders who we bought all our bait from and sold our fish to was fantastic. We could not ask for a better bunch of guys to deal with. We were real happy with the money we got for our fish and much of that comes from North Atlantic Traders’ efforts. Lucas and Corey we look forward to seeing you in More Head City, NC!
When we got back to NJ we did some bookwork and determined that with the two fish sold we were able to break even. The question that was asked of us was, “Would you do it again”? Both our answers were “Yes, in a second!” Knowing what we know now we feel that our next season will be more productive. What we learned in Mass will make us better and more proficient fishermen in NJ/MD. It was a great experience, one we would love to do again.
Now that Mass season is over, Morehead Giant fishing begins. This year there will be two boats down there. Justified and Low Profile will be based out of Port Side Marina. Joe Trainor and Keith will be running the boats down there and they will be crewed by the three J’s “Little John NJ”, “Little John MD” and Joe Bonvetti (not so Little, lol!). I will be shipping off to the Bahamas before Thanksgiving on Over Under the 54’ Bertram to begin our Bahamas Season in the Abacos. Anyone looking to beat the winter weather, the Bahamas is a great place to do so!
Tight Lines Capt. Thomas Neligon
Bahamas Fishing Report
Just talked to JR over at Hawks Nest and wahoo action is already in full swing. Wahoo to 86 lbs have been taken this week in Cat Island . Randy on the Cat Tales had 11 wahoo on an afternoon of trolling!!! Unbelievable!!! Fishing has seemed to really take off there with the past couple fronts that have moved through the area.
Now is the time to book a upcoming trip to the Bahamas with wahoo already in full gear. Its great to see it this good already with just a few fronts hitting the area already.
November 11, 2009: Cat Tales Was out on the Kingfish hunt, pulling in a 40 and a 35. Cow Hunter Hooked up 4 nice wahoo with two coming on the scale at 35 pounds each and one at 41.6 . Not to be out done Two Cats Too with caught a few yellow finn tuna and a few wahoo. Good eatting !
Cow Hunter Caught 3 wahoo and some yellow finn tuna at Columbus Point today.
5/4 (nights/days fishing) - Start in Treasure Cay & end in Cat Island
Back by popular demand, OU has put together an open seating schedule for the upcoming Bahamas season. Pricing is per person, excludes gratuity, and is based on accommodations aboard the Over Under, 54' Bertram. Hotel rooms are available at an additional fee. Rates include breakfast and lunch aboard. Dinners, drinks, and transportation are excluded.