Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Busy Afternoon Half Day

It was a windy, fall, afternoon half day and our trip was only four hours. With some frisky live baits swimming happily in the large circulating bait well, I decided to head straight to the edge and get right to it. As the boat slowed down just past the edge of the reef, the baits went out and we were fishing in no time! Our guests for the afternoon were from the mid-west and were happy to catch anything.  Suddenly a decent sized mahi charged in and ate out long rigger bait. I made a turn to go back through the area and another good sized mahi mahi came racing in on my bridge rod. The fish swam behind the skipping bait for a few seconds before committing to it and we were on again. Happy with our quick start, we continued to work the area. This time when the rod bent over it was from the pull of a good sized kingfish. Customers, crew and captain alike were enjoying the immediate success as the L&H pounded the spot. Suddenly I saw a sailfish closing in on my bait dragging from the one rod I was fishing from the fly bridge. The fish tried the bait, but missed. Not to be deterred, the hungry sail came from behind with even more determination. When the sailfish grabbed the rigged, natural bait I dropped back for several seconds to make sure the feeding billfish had time to swallow the bait. Upon feeling the sting of our sharp hook, the beautiful sail took to the air and raced for the horizon. Everyone grabbed a rod and began clearing lines as fast as possible so we could begin to chase the fleeing billfish that was now several hundred yards away! After a tough battle we had the fish along side the boat for a few quick pictures and a healthy release. Quickly the lines were set back out and the hunt for gamefish resumed. Out in the deep, a frigate bird swooped down to the waters surface, a sure sign that a feeding gamefish was not far behind. When we reached the spot where the frigate was diving, I could see a couple sailfish chasing bait only a few feet below the waters surface. Maneuvering the L&H into position, and presenting a live bait was just what the doctor ordered and one of the hungry sailfish casually swam up and engulfed the hapless live bait. By now everyone knew the drill and quickly cleared the other lines so we could chase the fish down. Shortly thereafter we had our second sail of the day alongside the L&H for a quick release. With only a little time left, it was time to start working our way back in. Just before taking the lines out of the water and heading for the marina, I spotted yet another sailfish chasing bait on the surface. For the third time in only a few hours, we were hooked up to a brilliantly colored, majestic sailfish! This fish determined to get away, greyhounded at a feverish pace across the clear, blue water! The L&H performed that familiar reverse rumble as we backed down in hot pursuit. Finally after covering a lot of ground we caught up to the now exhausted sail and made another successful release. On the way home our home, our clients enjoyed the air conditioned salon as they reflected on another great day of sport fishing off Miami aboard the L&H!

Monday, October 26, 2015

The Cruz Family Comes From Orlando To Fish On The L&H

Our friends from the Cruz family have been following us on Instagram  (@LANDH_SPORTFISHING) and decided to come fish with us for the day! Driving down from Orlando, the family and friends passed hundreds of other charter boats so we wanted to do everything in our power to make sure the trip was worth it for them! Looking for action on the edge of the reef to start the day was the first order of business. Moments after the first lines were set, they were bit. Only minutes after getting started, the Cruz crew boated a nice kingfish. Continuing to work the area, bites kept coming and the family and friends enjoyed good action most of the morning with nice sized kings and smaller bonitos. Suddenly a frigate bird swooped down to the surface of the calm blue water. Up in the tower I could see the dark color of a feeding sailfish underneath the whirling frigate. Quickly, James presented a bait, but unfortunately the sail was not interested in what we had to offer and slowly sunk out. By now the action on the reef edge had slowed and it was time to head further offshore and begin our search for pelagic gamefish in the vast gulf stream. After a while, I spotted a big piece of floating debris off in the distance and was very optimistic about what might be lurking below! Much to our dismay, the possible "fish haven" was completely barren, void of any life, bait or gamefish. Seeing that, it was time to switch gears and try a different technique. Not far from an area where our crew had enjoyed some successful deep dropping, that seemed like a good spot to start. Conditions were fair as our baited hooks plummeted to the ocean floor far below. Bites came rather quickly, but we were having trouble hanging on to them. Finally the stout rod warped over and bounced violently from the tug of a nice sized fish over thirteen hundred feet below. The team worked the fish to the surface and much to the delight of even-one aboard it was a nice barrel fish! Things were looking up as we ran back to the spot to hopefully find another. This time as we waited for a bite on the bottom, the surface bait went off. One of the Cruz group set the hook and a beautiful mahi mahi took to the air! I quickly ascended the tower to get a better view of the situation, hoping to spot another fish! "More Fish!" I shouted down to the cockpit, and no sooner had the words left my mouth, more baits were presented!   All of the sudden we had a few nice mahis hooked up and our team worked together to avoid tangles and get the fish to the boat. Everything worked out the way we hoped and all of the colorful, tasty mahi mahi made their way to our variety filled fish box. With all the attention to the surface action the bottom rod was getting good bites, seemingly unnoticed! It was time to take it up and find out what was on there this time. From the strain on the reel it was obvious that we were tied into something good. This time a variety of great big rose fish and barrel fish. We made a couple more drops and added a couple more barrels for good measure before starting to fish our way home. By now the wind had really picked up and the seas were building. On the way back the Cruz's boated a couple small tunas for good measure. Even though we were faced with some adverse conditions, our friends made the best of it and ended up with a great variety of good eating fish. Back at the dock after a long day at sea, we took some pictures of the catch and filled the cooler with bags of fillets for the family to enjoy back home in Orlando!

Max Gets A Shot At A Big Mako

We had our friend Max out one sunny afternoon for a half day of charter fishing. The weather was gorgeous so the plan was to head offshore and see what we could find. About seven miles offshore, we had a double strike! Two rods bent over and started screaming! Moments later two big dolphin erupted from the calm, blue water of the gulf stream. Max had his hands full as he battled the first fish to gaff.  With the first end of our double header secure in the icy hold it was time to turn our attention to the second fish! Unfortunately, after long battle, the scrappy mahi shook its head and spit the hook just a few feet from the boat. Nevertheless we had secured dinner for Max and resumed our search. With promising conditions, I suggested we try some deep dropping. Arriving at a spot chosen some thirteen hundred feet above the ocean floor, the rig was sent to the bottom. The team  did not have to wait long for a bite! The rod bent over sharply from the pull of a nice fish almost a quarter mile below and the fight was on. One of the coolest things about deep dropping is the fact that one can never be sure what kind of fish will come up! As everyone peered down into the calm, clear, cobalt blue waters of the gulf stream there was something extremely large at the bottom of our rig. When it got closer, the shape all of us were looking at was a big mako shark eating the fish that was originally hooked. Without hesitation, we pulled what was left of the mangled bottom fish quickly into the boat. The angry mako circled around the boat looking for the rest of his meal. Immediately, the remainder of the fish went back over the side, except this time it was attached to a heavy duty shark rig! The brilliant blue, short fin mako shark circled the bait relentlessly, but refused to eat it. It seemed as if Mr. Mako could tell something was not right with the rest of its meal. For several minutes, we watched as the mako circled its prey, a truly amazing sight! It would go out and come back in then go out and come back in over and over again. Finally, the pointy nose mako shark could not help himself any more and swam casually over and engulfed what was left of the deep water bottom dweller. Line slowly came off the reel as Max free spooled to give the shark plenty of time to swallow the bait. When he engaged the reel to strike the fish, the big strong hooks dug in and the speedy, streamlined mako shark was off to the races! Line came off the reel at a blistering rate as the shark raced for the depths. The crew and I readied gaffs, a harpoon, and tail ropes fully aware that we could possibly be in for a boat side battle! Much to the dismay of everyone onboard, the clever shark rolled itself up in the leader and parted it off. Just like that the fish was gone. It was a tough break, but we were thankful to have seen the fish in its natural habitat. After regrouping, we ran back to the spot and caught several nice barrel fish. We managed several more nice mahi on the way home to finish out another exciting day of sport fishing on the L&H!