I have known Jim Knapp for almost my whole life. When I was much younger, fishing tournaments on the Frick and Frack, with my grandfather, dad and brother, Jim's team was always finishing near or on top and they were the boat to beat. I had never fished with Jim before, so I was very excited when he called a booked a full day with us. He was only bringing two family members, Ken Hallstrom and Lad Lubanovich, both from Ohio so he had no problem with Debbi, James and Laurel coming along to help out. The bait came very easy so I decided to try some bottom fishing to get some action as well as a few fish for dinner. At our first spot as soon as the lines got down, we got bites immediately. This was a very good sign. We had nonstop action and in no time had fifty yellow-eyes, vermilion's and silver snappers in the box. When the action slowed we found ourselves at a new spot and caught several nice tile fish and a snowy grouper. When the grouper came in I decided to run to the south and try to find a few more of these tasty fish. Somehow our team on the L&H found ourselves in one of the best deep water grouper bites we had ever seen. We were catching them like crazy, sometimes three at a time and there were a lot of nice fish up to fifteen pounds. Every spot had them and they were biting. Just before everyone was ready to go look for dolphin we stopped and caught a few almacos, including a twenty-five pounder Jim caught on spinning tackle. With an amazing quantity and assortment of bottom fish, I then steered the L&H offshore. The sea was flat calm and you could see for miles. About ten miles out we came across a two foot piece of foam with dolphin all over the place. Our team went to work and soon dolphin were flying into the boat fast and furious. All of the sudden the school came together and hid under the boat. From our view in the tower Debbi and I watched as a mako shark nearly three hundred pounds raced up from the depths through the middle of the dolphin in an amazing display of speed. It was truly a sight to behold. Wes and Greg got the shark rod out right away, but the mako and the rest of the dolphin had left the area. Before we moved on we caught a nice wahoo to add to the nearly full fish box. A few miles away, Wes spotted some birds and when we got there dolphin were everywhere. Again the L&H team had dolphin coming in the boat like no tomorrow and in short order we had our limit. It seemed like everything we tried that day was working, so why not try for a day time sword. The first try we had a good bite, but didn't hook up. I was feeling confident that we could get another bite and a few minutes later we did. The rod doubled over and line melted off the reel, we had a big fish on! After twenty minutes we knew this was not fighting like a sword, more like a thresher shark. When we finally got the beast to the surface everyone was shocked to see a big swordfish coming in backwards. After we muscled the big sword into the boat we were shocked to see that it was not hooked, only the leader was looped around its tail. It was amazing to pull that fish all the way up with so much pressure and have it stay on all the way to the boat! As Debbi, James, Laurel and I rode together in the tower I felt so very lucky to have such a wonderful family, crew and friends to share such and amazing day with. We caught a couple nice tunas close to shore just to put an !!!!!!!!!!!! on the day and when we made it to the dock it seemed like it took forever to unload all the fish. When word of our catch spread, one boat owner was reported as saying "There is no way the L&H caught so much fish in just one day, my boat was out the day before and they only got a few dolphin". It is days like these that separate us from the rest of the fleet and that is what makes the L&H so special.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
John Ouelette has been fishing on the L&H for twenty years and he knows our operation very well. He is very fun to have on the boat because he always has a positive attitude and loves to get involved and help out. For the past several years we have fished the Mechanical Contractors Tournament of South Florida, a dolphin tournament out of Ocean Reef and nearly every year we end up in the top five. The tournament is very hard on the boat and the crew, leaving in the dark and almost always returning in the dark, running the boat hard all day. There is no time to fish for bait so we must go out ahead of time and have the bait on the boat, but to see John try so hard and get soooooo excited when we hook a big fish it somehow makes it all worth it. The fishing had been slow leading up to the event, so when we picked up John and his family early in the morning at the Ocean Reef fuel dock we knew the odds were against us. I decided to run far offshore and not stop until we found something to fish to. When we reached two thousand feet of water off Key Largo we found a likely area and before long John spotted a piece of floating debris that we picked a few nice fish off. With something to weigh and dinner for the Ouelette family everyone was feeling good. Although we did not catch a ton of fish or a monster off the debris that John spotted, it was crucial to our success that day. The floater put us in the zone where the fish were and we stayed in that zone all day and caught more and bigger fish than almost anyone from Miami to Key Largo! For the next few hours we found school after school of dolphin some with as many as one hundred fish. Then just before lunch we came upon a set of birds that looked like they would be over the big fish we needed. Our anticipation turned to frustration when I spotted some big skipjacks under the birds. Seconds later James yelled "There's a big one dad"! A single big dolphin was mixed in with the skipjacks and Wes teased the fish in close. John delivered a perfect cast with the live bait and we were on! I threw the L&H hard in reverse and it was a little black smoke alot of white water and blood and in a few seconds the fish was in the boat. Everyone was celebrating, what a great feeling! John's son, Kyle followed his dads lead with another nice dolphin an hour later and we began the forty mile trip back to the reef. Just before lines out we found a nice bull dolphin, but unfortunately he ate the bait off the hook and we had to start running for home. Again I pushed the L&H hard and our team slid into the weigh scale with only four minutes remaining. When we pulled the fish from the fish box on the L&H I could see that Johns fish was long, but very skinny and that would cost us. We missed first place by a mere two pounds, to a boat that only caught one fish the entire day. Nevertheless John Ouelette and his team on the L&H ended up taking second, third, and fifth heaviest dolphin. When we finally made it back to Key Biscayne other boats had their catch on the dock. One boat had about thirty small fish and other boats had less than half that. When we threw our catch for the day up, people gathered around asking how long we had been out and where we were fishing. All I had to tell them was "Just another good day on the L&H with my friend John". Thanks alot to the Ouelette family and we look forward to seeing you again soon!
Monday, June 21, 2010
Frank Koenig has fished with me a few times in the past couple months, but unfortunatly this time I was unable to make the trip. Captain Neil Orange Sr. is one of the few people who I feel confident enough to let run the boat. I know Neil will take good care of the boat and always does a good job finding fish. This time was no different. With Greg and his brother Chris as the crew Neil decided to run north to catch bait before making the twenty mile run to south of Triumph Reef before starting to fish, but that is beside the point. I met the crew at the dock when they returned (just before dark) and from the smiles I could tell it was a good trip. They ended up catching three big blackfin tunas, (one of which was nearly thirty-five pounds) a few bonitas and three sailfish. Unfortunatly one of the sailfish came up dead and Neil decided to take it. Everyone onboard loves to eat fish so Neil fillleted the sail and along with the tunas everyone had plenty of fish to bring home. Thanks alot to Captain Neil and Chris and Greg for working so hard, staying out extra late and showing these guys a great time!
Lucky Max strikes again and this time he even surprised Greg and I. The weather for the day was a bit questionable so after catching bait we decided to try a spot close to home. As soon as we got the kites up Max hooked and quickly landed a twenty-five pound kingfish. From that moment on we never went more than fifteen minutes without catching a nice fish. After Greg and I reset the kites I dropped a bait to the bottom and the rod bent over instantly! The way the fish was fighting everyone was sure it was a nice bottom fish and a short time later we put a ten pound mutton snapper in the boat for Max. That is the way the entire morning went. Max and his friend Rick were either pulling up mutton after mutton after mutton from the bottom (sometimes double headers) or they were catching nice sized kingfish on the kite. With the weather getting better all the time we decided to stick it out. The afternoon fishing was almost better than the morning if that was even possible. The mutton snappers continued to bite and we even managed to get a few big yellowtails for Rick (much to the delight of his female companion). Late in the afternoon Max and Rick each landed a big blackfin tuna, both of which made spectacular strikes on the kite baits. With almost twenty mutton snappers, a few big yellowtails, a limit of kingfish, an amberjack, two big blackfin tunas, a big shark, and some bonitas, the fishbox was looking very good and our anglers very tired! Just before we pulled the lines in, Max landed a big sailfish that, like the tunas, took a live bait dangling from the kite. The sailfish put and exclamation point on what was already an unbelievable day of fishing only a few short miles from Max's backyard!
Ken Strochek has fished with me dozens of times on the L&H and he is a pleasure to fish with. This time he brought his son Jason and the infamous Walter along. Ken has been fishing longer than I have been alive and always has great stories of past fishing adventures. He has caught his share of sailfish in his day and wants nothing to do with them. Ken only wants eating fish and lets you know this by deducting from the tip everytime a sailfish is caught. We got a ton of bait very easily and went to try for some kings first thing. While other boats were struggling with bait the L&H stayed busy with double and triple header kingfish in the ten to fifteen pound range. In the middle of the kingfish flurry I spotted a frigate bird diving in very shallow water. The boys pulled everything in and we raced to see what the bird was over. Our decision was rewarded with a pair of twenty pound dolphin that quickly made their way to the fishbox. Again we resumed kingfishing and shortly there after we had our limit. Just before leaving we pulled up a nice mutton snapper much to Kens delight. With good conditions I figured we should try for a permit, a fish that is one of Kens favorite. Again the decision was a good one and we soon found ourselves hooked up to a thirty pounder. After a tough battle the big permit was in the box. After another lengthy battle we pulled the hook on a second permit just feet from the boat. I felt as if our luck had run out. James and I searched and searched for one more fish, but nothing. Finally, just before we were about to head elsewhere we found a truly large permit well over thirty pounds. The fish inhaled the bait and we put alot of pressure on the fish right from the start. The tactic worked to perfection and in only fifteen minutes we had the monster permit in the boat. We decided to go look for dolphin and about fifteen miles offshore, found a piece of floating debris with thirty nice fish on it. Wes, Greg and James worked together with our anglers like a well oiled machine and we caught nearly every mahi in the school. It was a great day with ALOT of eating fish for our friend Ken, and without catching a single sailfish everyone was happy!
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
As far as I know there is no other boat to have caught a permit and a swordfish in the same day out of Crandon Park Marina. These fish are very different, they are caught in totally different areas, they eat totally different baits and the fishing methods are as similar as night and day. On this day, Eloy Garcia and his crew of Daniel, Gianni, Coach, Oscar, and David brought both fish together on the L&H. It was a beautiful day and the water was crystal clear. After leaving the bait spot I found a few permit on the surface in shallow water. Wes made a perfect cast and we were hooked up. After a tough fight we put the thirty pound fish in the boat and I began to look for the school again. Before long, I spotted the fish and this time Greg made the cast and again we were on! This time the battle was even longer but again we were successful and now had two big permit in the boat. As we moved offshore we came across a few schools of dolphin, but most were undersized and were released. Everyone enjoyed the action, but only a few were keepers so we kept heading offshore. Along the way we came across a few sailfish, but they would not take the bait. By early afternoon we found ourselves in the middle of the sword grounds and Ely was up to giving it a try. The first drop did not produce, but a few minutes into the second drop the rod tip began to bounce. Then suddenly the rod bent over and we were hooked up! Catching a swordfish in broad daylight is one of the most exciting moments any fisherman can ever have and this fish was no different. When I finally saw the fish for the first time I knew it was a nice one. This sword was tough and the L&H spun like a top to keep the fish from getting under the boat. Greg did a great job on the leader and Wes placed a perfect harpoon shot through the fishes gills. The rest of the team sunk gaffs and helped secure the fish and then we pulled the big sword in the boat. As we ran for home I couldn't help but to feel so lucky to fish in a place like Miami, where we were able to catch such amazing fish. Not just in the same day, but in our own backyard.
Mark Johnson, Beth McGinn, Jon and Alli Moses from Atlanta, GA were referred to us by another L&H customer and just so happened to be there for one of the best days of fishing I have ever had on the L&H!!!!! We caught bait easily and as soon as we hit the deep water we spotted and then caught a nice cobia. Could this be a sign of things to come? As we trolled offshore a small billfish ate the right rigger but came off, and this is quite possibly the only fish that got away the entire day. A few minutes later I spotted a twenty pound dolphin and in no time he joined the cobia in the fishbox. A little while later Wes and Greg spotted a big flock of birds with an even bigger school of tuna underneath. As we trolled by we hooked up instantly. Then we did it again, and again. From my perch in the tower I could see tuna busting on the surface as far as the eye could see. The tuna refused to go down and the school stretched for miles and miles. These fish were very hungry and aggressive. Our anglers caught them on live, dead and artificial baits and often when someone would get a tuna to the boat there would be ten or more tunas following the hooked fish. Just after lunch time while we were fighting a quad of tunas Greg pitched out and artificial lure and hooked a dolphin. Then thirty more nice dolphin showed up and things got very interesting. I often say that I have THE BEST mates on the dock with Wes and Greg, and the boys proved it this time! With almost perfection (except for dropping a gaff in the water) Wes and Greg guided our GA anglers to all four tunas and every dolphin in the school. By now the fishbox was nearly full with several hundred pounds of tuna and the dolphin and cobia and our anglers needed a break. I decided to run inshore and try a shipwreck to get them something different. When the lines went down they were bit right away. When two big amberjacks came aboard the 500 pound fishbox was filled to capacity and we could not close the lid. Everyone looked up at me like 'now what' and I said "drop em back down"! I quickly ran into the salon and emptied out the drink cooler and took it outside. After our team put five more big amberjacks and a big almaco in the drink cooler it too was filled and the lid would not close! On our way back home we found a big school of dolphin and the gang just started putting the fish on the deck we simply had no more room! We caught what we needed to get our limit and ran for the dock. A very tired and dirty L&H team arrived at the marina with nearly a thousand pounds of fish and a day I will never forget! Thanks alot to my anglers and crew!
Max Puyanic and his good friends Alex and Sheldon always seem to have a great day whenever they fish with me on the L&H and today was no different. I have fished with these guys for a number of years and we have grown to be good friends. Today my wife Debbi came along and with her great set of eyes and her excellent fishing sense she is definately an asset. With flat calm seas we decided to run offshore to the gulfstream. After trolling for a while Wes and Greg began to see birds and we could see tuna underneath. After a few passes with artificial lures we had four nice tuna in the box and resumed our search for dolphin. After venturing further offshore we hit the jackpot! We found a large tree branch with mahi mahi all over the place. Debbi and I watched from the tower as Max, Alex and Sheldon went to work on the hungry mahi. Wes and Greg did a great job keeping everything organized and in no time we had nearly thirty keepers in the fishbox. When we finished up with the school the guys went inside to cool off in the AC and we started heading toward shore. On the way back in we found a couple more schools of mahi until we had our limt and released the rest to fight another day. Just before we hit the reef edge we spotted a big bull dolphin and Max did a great job fighting the fish all the way to the boat. With the biggest dolphin of the year within gaffing range a person (who would rather remain nameless) sunk the gaff only to have the fish wiggle free, break the leader and bolt off into the depths. All we could do is laugh, it had been a great day and we werent about to let a fish ruin it.
Saturday, June 12, 2010
Tom Angelo and his son Hunter fish with us on the L&H every chance they get and we have had some great catches. Last trip Hunter and his sister did great on the bottom fish and we were excited to try and get Hunter his first tuna next chance we got. When our tuna trip came the bait was hard to come by but before long we had enough. When the L&H crossed over the edge the water looked great! As soon as James and Greg got the baits out a big blackfin tuna jumped out of the water and and stole the bait off of the right long. Before we could react another tuna crashed on the right short kite bait, but somehow a sailfish grabbed the bait first and Hunter was hooked up. After some great angling, Hunter had the fish alongside the boat and James grabbed the leader and released the fish. Minutes later Tom and Hunter were hooked up to a double header. Tom's fish turned out to be a big bonita, but Hunter had something that was fighting much harder. After another great job of angling, Hunter had his first tuna, a 33 pound blackfin to leader and Greg and James quickly put the fish in the boat. By now the seas really started to pick up, but we decided to put the baits out one more time. Once again, as soon as everything was out we were hooked up! This time it was a triple header, two sailfish and another big tuna. The father/son duo made it look easy and we successfully landed all three fish. I headed the L&H toward home as Greg filleted the tuna for Tom and his son to take to a friends restaurant. It was truly a great trip and one that I am sure Hunter or his father will not soon forget. (PS the photo is of one of the Amberjack caught on a prior Angelo Family Trip)
Friday, June 11, 2010
Answorth is one of the guys who handles the painting on the L&H every fall and is also a good friend of mine. He took a few of his friends for a long afternoon of fishing and we had great action the whole trip. Our plan was to fish by a shipwreck, get some action and also alot of fish for a party they had planned for the next day. When we got all set up the first fish we got was a sailfish and just before we released it Greg noticed the fish had been previously tagged. After retrieving the tag, we released the fish and resumed our goal of catching some eating fish. We soon had a double header of kingfish and a big amberjack in the fishbox and we were on our way. As the afternoon wore on the big blackfin tuna began to bite and this meant Answorth and his buddies would be hooked up to these strong fish again and again. Since the boat was anchored and we often had multiple fish on at a time and some of the fights would take place on the bow of the L&H! On several occasions Greg would yell "Give me the big gaff!!!! Answorth has another big tuna on the bow". It was great action and everyone was worn out by the end of the trip. After the dust settled Ans and the boys had landed a total of seven big tunas, two sailfish, several jacks and kingfish and a pile of bonitas! After taking a few photos at the dock we filled up several coolers of fillets and steaks of fresh fish for the fish fry that my friends would enjoy the next day.