The Ole Drifter
June is yet another great month in the middle keys and Key Colony beach area and as the temperature gets hotter so does the fishing. The Ole Drifter Crew from Sanibel, Florida found out in grand fashion what hot Florida Keys fishing is all about first hand. Those of you who follow my articles (all three of you) know I write on occasion about the perfect day! The perfect day is a combination of timing, the right place at the right time, making the best of or adapting to an unfolding situation that allows us to capitalize on what mother ocean chooses to offer us that day - and shared with good people. These days happen at random and are truly special when they do.
The Ole Drifter is a state of mind. Originally, a kind gentleman named Bill named a car Ole Drifter and then passed the name on to many of his boats and then his fishing team. The team is made up of four great guys: Bill, the mastermind and diplomat; Bill’s son Matt, who is the “Jigging Machine” and commonly known as the one you don’t let drive the boat; then there’s Jim, the quiet giant who goes by “Meat Hooks” and is the muscle of the operation; and last but not least the “Ladies Man”, George.
This group of guys was referred to me by a long time client who said call Bobby he will make it happen. Yep, thanks for that - nothing like a little pressure to get you on your game! Their request was simple: big fish,eating fish and trophy fish. No problem - lol!
Day one and two were all about tuna. Although the bite was slow to non-existent on the troll, live baiting and jigging really paid off. Jigging for blackfin tuna is work make no mistake, it takes effort. Locating the fish on your fish finder and dropping a seven ounce jig three hundred feet down and aggressively working it back up takes stamina, especially if you do it all day but it is worth it as we found out on both days.
Matt was especially good at jigging after just a few quick lessons and did all of the jigging with me as we hooked fish and handed them off to the other gentlemen in the group. Matt was all about hooking his dad up and he worked tirelessly at it. He enjoyed the success and pleasure it brought to see his dad and friends having so much fun. I think the biggest pay off for Matt however, was watching a certain boat that has a tv show he follows, struggle to catch fish while we were catching singles and doubles every drift. There was a huge sense of pride and accomplishment associated with outfishing his hero and you could see it on his face! Matt asked why they weren’t jigging like us.I had no answer other than they didn’t want to work for it.
By day three we were all a little tired from the constant tuna action. It had taken its toll over two days and the weather was perfect for some trophy fishing.
(Permit are on the wrecks offshore right now and will soon move off and back to the flats they are so accustomed to. Permit fishing requires patience and the right tackle. Twenty pound flourocarbon leader, twenty to thirty pound main line and a half or three eighths jig head tipped with a small quarter to half dollar size crab for bait.)
We got to our wreck to find a few boats in the area attempting to do the same which was fine. We were not anchored. It is more an adrift and light motor type of fishing. Ideally you will be able to see the school . It’s a big school when they are ten feet below the surface. The water color will go from clear blue to a yellowish blue quite distinct once you know what to look for. It should be said you absolutely need the right conditions to do this type of fishing, not too rough, with clear water and bright sun.
Bait maintenance is crucial and this would become evident in the next couple of hours of fishing. Some of the boats that were on this particular wreck were fishing with crabs that were dead. Simply having a crab will not do, it needs to be live. We watched in amazement as a boat or two would cast at the school, not get a bite only to retrieve the crab and let it hang in the sun at the end of the rod for ten or fifteen minutes until the next opportunity to cast at the school came around. Come on man, put the crab in the live well or bucket and change the water so it is fresh and cool! This will increase your odds of hooking up by one hundred percent!
Matt was back on the rod casting at the school with me and I have to say, this young man had a knack for fishing. He developed the touch quickly both on the tuna fishing and the permit. Bill had mentioned his interest in catching permit if possible and as I stated before, the conditions were optimal.
Four hours later, after multiple hook ups a few break offs in the wreck and four released permit, everyone on the boat had caught one. We also managed a nice mutton snapper that decided he liked the crabs too.
Permit is one of the many great game fish we have in the Keys. They are a sought after and highly regarded gamefish with incredible strength, great runs and a fierce fight. Three perfect days in a row, hard to beat! Hats off to the Ole Drifter Crew! We will see you in November for round two.
June is trophy time, whether it be tarpon (The Silver King), Permit or Slammer Dolphin. Memories are made in June. Tight lines, good luck and “Stop Wishing Go Fishing”!
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