About ten years ago when I was mating for John L. Dudas on the L&H, Leo Rodriguez would fish with us quite a bit this time of year. Then, Leo disappeared, and I had not heard form him until he booked us for a morning half day. I was very happy to see Leo that morning as he sported his L&H tee shirt. On the way out Leo told me he had tried fishing up in Fort Lauderdale and Hillsboro, but was unhappy with the effort and results. Leo said he was unable to find an operation like the L&H and was happy to be back. With the boat fresh out of the boatyard, I knew everything would be to his liking, but now we need to have a good catch to get Leo back. James had the day off from school so he joined Jim, Travis, me and Leo's group. After getting bait we headed offshore and found a huge area of sea weed. I was excited, but the excitement proved to be short lived as the sea weed had no bait or life at all and our hot spot turned cold. Further out we went and then I found a current edge with some life on it. We quickly got a nice mahi to take the pressure off and gave hope that the current edge was holding fish. A few minutes later, James spotted a mahi feeding in the weed and when we got closer there were ten nice fish there. Everyone sprang into action and we boated every fish in the school. All of us were happy (especially me because I wanted so badly to have a good catch today). Forty minutes later we found some more nice dolphin and things were looking good. Then the edge went straight into the reef line and forced us to fish much shallower than we would like. Not to be denied, we adjusted our spread a little bit and the change worked as we quickly boated a nice, 35 pound wahoo! This is Leo's favorite eating fish and it could not have come at a better time. We continued to get action as we trolled the edge of the reef with tuna, bonita and a few more mahi. Just before heading back in, we made a quick stop and got four snowy groupers just to put an exclamation point on Leo's reunion!
It is time for the L&H to make her annual trip to the boatyard for routine maintenance. Every year we pull the 46' Hatteras, L&H out of the water so we can do the necessary work to keep the boat running and looking in pristine condition. This year, Jim, Trav and I took the boat up the Miami River to haul out. It was a relatively short two week window we had to get everything done. The boys and I worked really hard and put in long days. We accomplished everything we needed to do and are very happy with the outcome. I also would like to thank Captain Stan who provided us with wonderful information, great advice, and shared a huge amount of his knowledge (Stan owns two beautiful charter boats for nearly forty years) with us only to make our jobs that much easier! Finally, when we were finished and returned to the marina, we knew that we had done a good job in the boatyard. The owner of the boat tied up right next to the L&H started telling his mate about all the work they needed to do so their boat would look as good as ours!
Our friends Mike and Allison Lawrence along with Moe joined us for a day of fishing. The fishing had been good lately, but we had a big storm go through and no boats had been fishing for several days. When we got offshore it was evident that things had changed. There was a big body of green water where we had been fishing and this pushed us farther offshore. When we were about fifteen miles from shore I spotted a big log floating. As I steered the L&H toward the possible dolphin haven, fish started showing up from all directions. Before long Mike, Allison, and Moe were pulling in dolphin one after the other. Unfortunately almost half of the fish were undersized and had to be released. We still ended up with a good amount of nice fish before we resumed the search for more fish. As the day wore on, we continued to find more fish with the majority being undersized. Finally, later in the afternoon we came upon a big stick floating and were able to get some more nice size mahi. It was a great day of fishing with our friends, and even though the fishing was tough today we still ended up with plenty of fish for everyone!
JD who fishes in Panama, and his guys were here to celebrate a 50th birthday. After a couple days of flats fishing, they were excited about going offshore today. The bait was biting very good today so we were able to head into the gulf stream early. Once we got to the area we have been fishing there were tuna all around. The first pass on the first school we hooked six at once. A couple got off but it set the pace for what would be a great day. I steered the L&H south and we continued to hook multiple fish at once. Today we would catch a lot more of the skip jacks than blackfins, but the skipjacks were all nice size and boy do they take line. After catching a dozen or more of the skip jacks we continued trolling through the sea weed. From my perch in the tower I spotted a few nice mahi which the team quickly hooked. Then more and more of the mahi started showing up. JD and the guys were now catching mahi as fast as they could go. Before long we had a bunch of mahi in the fish box with the skipjacks. One of the guys told me that it would be great if we were able to catch fifty fish on the 50th birthday. Now we had a goal to shoot for. As the afternoon wore on the L&H continued to stay in the fish. We got a few here and a few there and when it was time to head for home the fish box was looking pretty good. When we got back to the marina all of the guys were counting the fish as I threw them on the dock. Who would ever have imagined, but we ended up with fifty fish for the 50th birthday! It was a great day for all of us and we all had a great time getting to fifty!
I have been fishing with my friend Ricky Q on the Jichi (owned and operated bu Louis Isasis) for the past few years. Ricky is an important part of our tournament team and has caught several clutch fish for us in the past. Unfortunately, Ricky has terrible luck in pursuit of a daytime swordfish. With at least fifteen fishless trips in a row, some even call him the "Black Cat"! Ricky met Jim, Trav and I at our marina early one morning and we loaded up on Rickys boat and headed out to find a sword for the Black Cat. We ran strait out to one of my best spots and began fishing. We did not get any action all morning as we fished hard and tried several spots. Finally early in the afternoon, we got a bite but didn't get lucky with the hook up. We quickly ran back to the same spot and dropped again. A few minutes later another bite, with the same result...nada. It was starting to get late, but there was one more spot I wanted to try. Ricky agreed to make the ten mile run for one last shot. As we approached the area, Jim told me he had a good feeling we would get one here. A few minutes after setting out we were bit again. Finally the boys were able to get this one hooked and Ricky began to work the fish toward the surface. As soon as the leader came up, the swordfish shot straight to the top. Then, we all watched as the sword jumped completely out of the water. I leaned hard on the throttles and Ricky's boat charged backwards as we tried to get a gaff in the fish. The fish went back down just out of gaff range and I feared we might not get another shot. After some great teamwork we got the sword back up and this time the gaffs went in and the fish came in the boat! It was a tremendous sense of accomplishment and everyone was so very excited! I steered the boat for home as everyone celebrated the catch all the way back!
Gabriel and a couple of his friends joined us today on the L&H. The fishing had been good lately so I was excited about our chances. After getting bait we ran offshore and almost immediately found a big flock of birds with feeding tuna underneath. On the very first pass we hooked six tuna! James, Travis, Jimmy, and our three anglers battled the fish as I happily watched from the tower. For most of the morning we stayed with the school and continued getting multiple hook ups. After landing nearly two dozen of the hard fighting tuna, our team was ready for a break. Time to try something else. As we pushed farther offshore, I came across a weedline that was running east and west. A little while later James and I spotted two big dolphin swimming down the line. Felicia got the biggest dolphin and decided to have a trophy made of her catch. Everyone onboard was really excited about how much action we were having and it was about to get much better! Not much further down the line, I spotted a few more nice dolphin and as we worked on those, I saw the big tree branch that the fish were on. When I got closer to the branch, more and more dolphin were showing up. Soon there were fish all over and our team was having a field day. With three really good mates and three very eager anglers the L&H caught the limit of sixty mahi in short order. The fish were coming over the sides like crazy and it seemed like we couldn't lose any. It was just one of those days when everything seemed to go our way! After we were done with the mahi, the team got a few wahoo and we decided to head back early! It was a great day with great weather and great fishing.