“On the Road”
For the past six months we have been planning an October trip to Big Pine Key for a few days of intense fishing. Lots of preparation was involved. New brakes on the trailer, bearings thoughly greased. TWO spare tires where purchase, an extra pair of bearings, Suzuki outboard motor water pump repair kit, etc. The boat was power washed, cleaned and waxed. It paid off nothing broke!
The day before the trip we made a stop at AP Bells commercial fishing supply house near the west end of Cortez Road in Bradenton and stocked up on five coolers of ice (15c per pound) tons of chum, Spanish sardines and squid. Our friends at Sam’s provide the liquid nourishment we would require for the trip. Not only did this help us save a few dollars, it saved precious on the water time at our destination. If you do not secure fishing supplies ahead of time the local shops are actually adequately stocked and prices seemed reasonable.
We traveled on Sunday, arrived with a minimum of hassle, launched the boat in the canal and proceeded to fill it with gear in preparation for Monday’s fishing trip. I met with our host, I was sheepishly toting a local area chart and found that he was nice enough to provide a few “starter spots”.
Monday morning was blowing twenty, the past two weeks in the Keys had done the same. Well, off we went out into the Gulf, we did not travel several hundred miles to watch TV. A few spots in the Gulf which was fairly protected from the Southeast winds provided dinner of mangrove snappers. We also encountered schools of ballyhoo which we caught on baited sabiki rigs. Lot’s of holes and keys to fish around, too bad we only had three days of fishing time to spend.
Of course that was not enough for us adventurers, we then ventured over to the Atlantic side, encountering seas up to eight foot we chugged along to a spot three miles off shore and fished one of the near shore reefs. Couple of small grouper, same problem as our area, everything ½” short of keeper size. We did load up on some keeper cero mackerel (silly willy squid type spools) yellowtail snappers (chum and bait with shrimp) and a four foot moray eel.
Going offshore on the Atlantic side is quite a bit different than the Gulf we are expierenced with here. Aproximately one mile from shore the water depth is forty foot. As you go further east the depth over the surrounding reef rises to twenty foot. At eight miles out you are in four hundred foot of water and go into six hundred at ten miles.
The quick drops offs and reefs leave hundred of places that hold fish. The crystal clear
water is a visual plus.
Tuesday and Wednesday morning we ventured out for dolphin the original quest of our
Trip. Trolling a variety of surface lures, ( Spanish feathers, skirted ballyhoo, weighted feathers, 125 to 150 pound fluorocarbon leaders six feet in length) we worked the depths of 250 to 600 foot. Starting in the early morning at speeds of five to five and a half knots we gradually increased these speeds to seven plus knots as the sun rose to the midday height. We looked for the traditional weedlines that the Mahi frequent however the winds and waves of the previous days had scattered this surface structure.
As we trolled we kept our finger on the MOB button on the GPS and “nailed” promising bottom structure to grouper/snapper fish later in the day. A few of these spots yielded grouper, shark, snapper and tile fish. These spots were work, try cranking up a rig from 400 feet below worse yet one with a heavy fish on the other end.
Dolphin mahi mahi
surface topwater trolling lures
Spanish feathers, ballyhoo in skirts.
feed on small baitfish
caught in 250 to 600’
several skyrocketing jumps
troll 5-6 knots am, as sun gets higher in sky 6-7 knots.
Keep some lures lower possible tuna or sail.
50lbs line leader of feet and test fluorocarbon preferable.
Look for birds, weedlines
As you troll keep eye on bottom for grouper/snapper sites.
Zigag troll varying different depths
Convential or spinning tackle,
When fish hits turn boat so fish is on side of boat, keep moving along, may catch another plus forward motion of boat keeps hooked fish from fouling other lines.
Drift fishing with drogue
Chum, bait with
Keep hooked fish in water, this keeps school near the boat.