<p>I got a call from my Brother-in-law, Michael, who wanted to set up a day to go fishing with his daughters and their friend. He wanted to get his girls out for an afternoon of fishing before they went back to school. I told Mike it wasn't a problem and we set up an afternoon run. Afternoon trips can be tough during August with daytime temps reaching 90+ degrees but he said that Berkeley doesn't do mornings very well. I told him I was sure we could put them on some big fish. OK, let's do 3 PM to dark. The night before the trip, Mike called and said he had to hurry out of town on business the next day but the girls and their friend were still anxious to fish with Uncle Capt. Jim.
My nieces arrived on time and we were ready and waiting. Berkeley, Paris and their friend Greg were very excited. We loaded their gear and I fired up The BEAST. As we headed down the channel I took that time to refresh my Uncle status with my nieces and I also got to interrogate Greg as well. It turns out he is a very nice kid! Sorry Greg, I can't negate that protective fatherly instinct when it comes to the girls in my family. During this time, we also caught plenty of Hardtails for bait and the group was already a pile of smiles. After we loaded about 2 dozen Blue Runners into the wells, I pony'd up the Zukes and made the run offshore.
Since Greg and Berkeley are attending UCONN they don't get much chance to catch big fish up there. I told them that Devon and I would definitely target some big fish that will test their will. We arrived at our "Grunt & Sweat" wreck and immediately started dropping baits. The current was light and conditions were great. Devon was working a speed jig for them and the live Hardtail was down below drawing attention. Devon's speed jig got tapped first and Paris, the smallest of the group, jumped up and ran to take the rod. She is so tiny that I was a bit worried that me might have to hold on to her so we didn't have to fish her out of the drink. No way! She manhandled the smaller Almaco Jack to the surface and as quickly as we had started, the skunk was off the boat. We slid this "eater" into the fish box.
A minute or so into the next drift and the speed jig connected again. Berkeley took the rod and was onto a little better fish. Berkeley brought her fish to the boat and it was a smaller Amberjack. The fish was well over the legal possession limits but we decided to release it after a couple of quick photos.
We had bites on the Blue Runners but for some reason we were not connecting with solid hook ups. We missed a couple of fish. I think the fish were a bit too small to eat the sizeable baits we were dropping. Well… that's my story and I'm sticking to it! At this time the only staying hooked up were the fish that ate the speed jigs, but they were the smaller kind. Another nice Almaco (25 lb) ate the speed jig. I don't remember who caught it because the action was quick and at times they were tag teaming the fish. Once again, we missed another on the live bait. C'mon… really? We reset again and on this drift the sonar screen was showing me that the big fish had awakened and were ready to play. The Hardtail was taken and this was a better fish. Oh boy was it! Double! The speed jig got whacked again and hooked up another small AJ but the Runner had enticed a nice 44 lb fish into eating.
The live bait was doing the job now and Greg was into a good fish. Greg was doing pretty well at raising the fish when suddenly it grew about 200 pounds. Greg thought he had lost the fish but remarked that there was still something there. I laughed. Yeah, the head! You just got sharked. When he brought the remains to the boat we could see that it was a very big "Guard Dog" that had been keeping watch on us. He had waited to pick out his perfect sized fish. A done deal in one bite!
The next fish just piled onto the Blue Runner and was trying with every fiber of its being to get loose, and there was plenty of fiber to this one. I believe all 3 of them took a turn on this one. The fish was big and it took them a good bit of time. We finally saw color about 75' below. Holy Guacamole, that's a nugget! We put this one on the scale and she pulled it down to 75 pounds. Nice fish. Devon suggested that we release this big breeder since we already had a couple in the box to eat. Everybody agreed and Devon vented her and tossed her overboard. We watched her swim away into the blue.
Everyone was ready to take a break so I asked Devon to set out a trolling spread and we would see if we could get some Mahi or something else. We pulled the baits for a short time when I saw a flock of birds working and for the next 35-45 minutes we kept getting double and triple knockdowns and hookups by large Bonito. I worked our way inshore hoping to get a Wahoo on the down rod. We missed a couple of bites and right before dark the rod sounded off. All right! Berkeley woman'd up and took the rod. We were anticipating a Wahoo after the second good run and then we saw color about 40' out. Rats! It's a 20-pound Caribbean Spotted Mackerel. Oh well, that 'Cuda was a good fight, anyway.
Daylight was gone son I turned the nav lights on and pointed the bow toward the barn. We had boated 4 Amberjack, 2 Almaco Jacks, 10 Bonito, and 1 Barracuda in about 4 hours. They were a bit tired but all I saw were their smiles. I really had a great time fishing with my nieces, Berkeley and Paris. I would love to do it again, soon! Oh yeah… you too, Greg!
About The Author: Captain Jim Barlett
Company: Beast Fishing Charters
Area Reporting: Miami & upper Key Largo, , Florida
Bio: Beast Fishing Charters is an offshore, light tackle, live bait, fishing charter. Capt. Jim has been fishing South Florida waters for over 35 years. The BEAST is a 2007 WorldCat 330TE, powered by twin 300 Suzuki's and is a stable, comfortable, center console. Capt. Jim specializes in, but is not limited to, Sailfish, Swordfish, and Dolphin. Wreck fishing and bottom dropping are also on the menu.