Everyone who calls me looking for a fishing charter has their own reasoning why they want to fish and what they want to fish for, but, every now and then, I get a great story to go along with it.
One such story begins with a call from Becky, looking for a birthday present for her husband, Carl. They both have high tempo jobs in South Florida, so they take a vacation every year to decompress. Carl has tried for years on these vacations to exotic locations, like Mexico, Costa Rica, and St. Lucia, to get out on a charter boat and do some fishing. However, the weather has never been in his favor and every time they book a charter, right on schedule, the captain calls the night before and cancels due to weather conditions. So, Becky and I made plans for a day to do whatever the weather allows.
The day arrives and we all meet up at the boat. When I tell them the weather’s good enough to get offshore and chase some mahi and tunas, I see this huge sigh of relief wave over both of them. So, we run out and pull a pinfish trap I had set the day before, load up the live well with baits, and head offshore.
As we cross the reef, I see a few sooty terns working in about 350 ft. of water. I drop a couple artificial lures out and, before I can finish explaining what we are trying to do, both baits get slammed. Carl and Becky both grab a rod and winch in a couple keepers--like it’s a race to get ‘em in the boat. I slow them both down and tell them to watch behind their fish for followers and, sure enough, we get covered up with schoolies. I throw out a handful of glass minnows and get both anglers a spinner with a live pinfish on the hook, and the fire drill is in full swing. After 30 minutes of unhooking and replacing baits as fast as I can, the school of mahi gets tired of us. Both Carl and Becky tell me they “can’t believe that just happened!” I tell them a couple dinners are in the box, so now it’s time to find a big one!
I point the bow south and end up in an area I’ve done really well with snowy grouper. As a I get the LPS1200 electric reel out from under the console, I can tell both have a lot of questions. I tell Carl that when you see the tip of the rod bounce, you push the red buttons. It is the only time you can catch a large fish and drink a beer at the same time. So, I throw a chunk of bonito on one hook, a squid on the other big circle hook, and instruct Carl to pull the lever drag back and let it fly. I had already positioned the boat over the structure in 780 feet of water, and within 20 seconds of the rig hitting bottom, something big eats the bait. Carl hit the switch and, a few minutes later, a very nice snowy grouper is floating next to the boat. Carl looks at me and again says, “I can’t believe that just happened!”
Next, we head to the reef and see if we can beat a black grouper. On the way in, Carl spies a wooden pallet. I pull up and it’s loaded with bait, but no obvious sign of pelagic species. I grab a spinner with a big bucktail and tell Carl to drop it for a count of 50 or so, and jig it back as quickly as he can. Bang! It gets whacked! After a few minutes of give and take, I grab Carl’s first wahoo. We take a few pics and head towards the reef.
I get to the spot, get anchored down, and Becky gets busy with the snapper. I explain to Carl how mean the black groupers are and how they love breaking off my hooks. I wish I had something to say other than Carl got owned by the grouper five times. Carl tells me something new--“I can’t believe anyone could stop one of those things!” While Carl is busy losing my hooks, his wife puts a dozen nice yellowtails in the box.
As I’m cleaning the day’s catch, Carl proceeds to tell me this was the best birthday present ever and worth the wait. “I’ll see you next year, Captain!”
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