Always Have a Plan B

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As anyone who has spent much time on the water this year knows, it has been one unusual year.  Not to say the fishing has been bad, it has just been off a bit.  The unusually late spring along with cooler than usual summer water temperatures has changed the migration and spawning time table of a lot of the fish we frequent. P7081471What this has meant for the FUNYET is that sometimes we have had to move on to plan B or C or even D, to make an outing shift to the successful side of the ledger.  For example, the dolphin fishing has not been reliable day in and day out as you might expect this time of year.  Sometimes there are huge schools of tiny fish, other times there are only a few fish caught, but they are true slammers, other days you cannot find a sign of fish anywhere.   One way to deal with this is to have several back up plans.  Having anglers on board that are willing to be flexible is also a great asset. One of my recent trips is a perfect example.  The angler’s wish list included dolphin. The day before there was only one fish caught by the fleet in the entire Lower Keys the whole time that I was monitoring the radio.  Our choices for plan B were fishing the shallow patches for spawning mangroves or hitting the wrecks for mutton. So off we went to try option 2 of plan B. We dropped for mutton snapper which had been very cooperative the previous day.  Well that was the previous day and we did not even mark a fish this day.  So plan C came out of the box. We drug out the big spinning rods and went deep dropping for tile fish and rose fish.  We had a fair catch of those and the day would have ended successfully with only a slight disappointment of not finding any dolphin.  We were getting ready to head in when a call came over the radio announcing that there were plenty of schools of school-sized dolphin in 800 feet of water about 12 miles further south. P6151425After cleaning up the lines from deep dropping and a short twenty minute run later, we had found the schools of small but plentiful keeper fish.  After an hour of fast and furious action tossing live pinfish on light spinning rods, we were heading in with plenty of mahi. As if that wasn’t enough, on the way home we found busting tuna on the surface. We tossed a jig and had soon landed three nice sized skip jack tuna. The bottom line is that you need to be ready to try anything instead of trying to beat a horse that is not feeling well, if not already dead. One trick that I have noticed very few people utilizing, is the manual deep drop.  Most people think that you need a fancy electric reel to fish the water where the snowy grouper, tilefish and long list of very exotic creatures that feed in the dark live. P5171379I have been very successful using the new Penn 1050SSV spinning reel loaded with Berkley fifty pound Braid and a Penn Carnage jigging rod in 200 lb class.  Wow has technology advanced.  You could get away with a smaller reel and still make it to the bottom, however the larger diameter spool allows for a much faster retrieval.  The small light weight rod has a breaking strength at a higher rating than anything likely to be found on the old trolling sticks reserved for giant marlin and sharks in the old days.  I simply tie a dropper with three or four small circle hooks and use a one to two pound weight at the bottom of the rig to hold bottom in whatever current you might be fishing in.  You can bait with squid or other cut bait such as strips of bonito or even dolphin belly. As of June this year, the snowy grouper recreational season is closed for the rest of the year.  To avoid catching and most likely killing these fine fish I have simply gone down in the size of my bait and hooks and have been very successful at avoiding these fish for the time being. You can get fancy by adding either glow sleeves or light to your leader however I have had plenty of fish take my frozen squid baits without any attention getting devices. If you prepare for anything, you will never be at a point that you throw your arms up and admit defeat. You can just move on to plan B, C, D, E ……..


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