Club Fishing Reports

Grouper

Made a trip out of Stump Pass with a boat from the Freedom Boat Club. There was four of us Harry, Frank Pat and myself. Pat, Captain for a day and I didn’t do to good with no grouper caught. The first time ever. Harry was the big winner with four up to 25″ (it made him feel good ) and Frank with three others. No snappers and only a couple of grunts. O yea I caught a Lizard Fish ! Filets of grouper anyone?

 

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Sheephead are here !

One good thing about fishing hear in FL is that the fishing keeps changing month to month. Red grouper are hear all year and they are about the easiest fish to catch. But when the sheephead are in it takes some luck and a little skill to catch dinner.

With my boat down for engine repairs I had the opportunity to go out last Monday with Gary using  his boat from the Freedom Boat Club. We fished about only 1/2 mile from shore looking for reefs and ended boating some nice size sheephead. Using a #1,#2 hook on a short leader and light weight together with sand flees, shrimp( peeled and not ) and squid at times. We also boated many bonnet head sharks, whiting, silver trout, grunts and many other reef fish. Also there was Tom, Derick, and Bob to share in on the fun. If anyone knows some good structure close to shore get out there and get some good eating sheephead while they are here.

It was a great day and the best part was I didn’t have to clean a boat when we returned,

Bob

 

 

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A Great Year Fishing

Started taking members out fishing after joining the club in September. Made a lot of friends and had a great time doing it. Made twelve trips in four months and boated 100 red grouper plus many of the other fishes in the sea. This last trip out with members Harry and Mike hit the 100 mark. Mike got the 100th fish with a 24″ grouper. It was rough going out, and it limited us to only going about eleven miles out. But we got two Grouper, 22 and 24 inches, and many lane Snappers with a couple of porgies. Also we were visited by a few sharks (water temp 68?), gray and one fat bull. Harry had a ball with them and lost many rigs. All in all, it was a good trip as they all are. Looking forward to 2014 and sharing it with members and friends. Doing what else, catching fish.

Thanks, Guys.

Bob

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Key West Fishing Trip

We are in the final stages of prepping the Hatteras for the 7 hour trip from Venice to Key West.  For the past week, the boat has been completely detailed and waxed, engines tuned up and filled with supplies.  I am fortunate to have Stephanie and our close friends Pat and Sandy Ryan coming along for a few days.  We will update this blog each day to keep you updated on our progress.

Tuesday (Christmas Eve)

Being Christmas Eve, my hope is to spend only 1/2 the day getting things ready.  Tackle, rods and reels will be the focus as will turning on all the boat’s freezers.  It takes a good day or two to get them cold enough for frozen baits and foods, especially the freezer out in the cockpit.  Between all of the ballyhoo we have for bait, we also have a lot of dredge mullet and dredge ballyhoo that I ordered.  These are used as teasers and are pulled behind the boat from the outriggers.  More on this later.  I will be tying sailfish rigs today and I expect my fingers to be numb by the time I am done.

 

Wednesday (Christmas Day)

I hope nobody read this blog today, but instead spent it with family opening gifts and enjoying the day.  We all had a wonderful Christmas and we are very fortunate to have all that we do in our lives.  After a huge Christmas dinner, it was final packing of clothes, rain gear and toothpaste.  Tomorrow we will stock the freezers with the mullet, ballyhoo and Omaha Steaks!!  So far (dare I say it), the weather forecast is not looking bad.  I cut and pasted it below, just so I can look back after the ride and compare the accuracy:

For Venice:

Friday
Northeast winds 10 to 15 knots. Seas 2 to 3 feet. Bay and inland waters a moderate chop. A slight chance of showers.
For Key West:
Thursday Through Friday
Northeast to east winds 10 to 15 knots. Seas 2 to 3 feet. Isolated showers.
   As you all know from our previous trips, I have very bad luck with the weather.  We shall see…  Tomorrow is the last trip to the food store and loading clothes and bait.  Thankfully Steph and Sandy are taking care of the food shopping and I can focus on the boat.
Thursday
   Got to the boat around 10 am and immediately got to work.  It took a while to load all of the ballyhoo and mullet baits from the cooler into the cockpit freezer.  Throw into that all of the frozen vegetables, breakfast sandwiches and steaks and it doesn’t leave a lot of room.  Steph went to the food store and brought all of the stuff I wasn’t smart enough to think of.
   At around 1:00 pm I went through the engine room one last time and locked down everything on the inside of the boat.  Promptly at 2pm, the generator and main engines were brought to life and we untied from the docks at Marine Max.  After navigating through the ICW and the two bridges to the Island of Venice I was able to hail the Venice Yacht Club Dock Master on the radio.  After waiting for a few minutes for another boat to fuel, we were able to come in and tie up for the night.
   We detailed a few things in the cockpit and salon and then Steph met us.  We had a quick dinner at the Yacht Club, then returned to the boat to enjoy a cocktail and watch the snook play and feed behind the boat in the underwater lights.
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   Pat and Sandy will be at the boat at 6am, and hopefully we are off the dock no later than 7am (depending on the girls, obviously).
   Oh, yeah, Guess what ??!!  The marine forecast from last night changed.  For the better you may ask??   Uhhhh, no…
For Key West:
Small craft should exercise caution
Northeast to east winds 15 to 20 knots. Seas 3 to 5 feet. Scattered showers.
They can “predict” a hurricane coming off the coast of Africa 3 weeks out, but cannot tell me how hard the wind will blow more than 12 hours out in my own back yard…
Go figure!
Friday (Departure)
   I knew when I was woken up by waves slapping against the hull the day was going to be interesting.  Cool air temperatures and winds blowing out of the east at a steady 20 knots.  Yeah!  After coffee and topping off the fresh water tanks, we pulled the Loud Enuff out from the Yacht Club and headed towards the Venice Inlet.  The Gulf was absolutely flat calm (for now) and looked beautiful.  The girls, Pat and I settled in for the 6 hour boat ride after I set the GPS and auto-pilot on a heading towards the main Key West approach from the Gulf of Mexico.
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The sunrise as we left the Venice Inlet
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Sandy is already anxious for a nap
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Pat is hoping to do some fishing along the way (not gonna happen)
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Steph just wants to stay warm
   The ride from Venice to Key west is about 150 nautical miles and takes about 6 hours.  For the first couple of hours we pretty much hug the coast and that luckily kept us out of the wind.  When we got on the south side of Captiva however, our 172 degree compass course took us out over more open waters.  With the strong east wind, things got a little sloppy.  By the time we were offshore of the Everglades, we were steady taking heavy spray over the top of the bridge.  The waves were 3-4 feet (not too rough, but sloppy at best).
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   Typical with me, the weather is always a topic of discussion.  The sky for the entire way was bright and sunny.  About an hour away from Key West, my Sirius Weather Alarm went off telling me there was a “Hazardous Marine Warning”.  Of course there was!!  I panned out the radar and saw this beautiful picture of Key West awaiting our arrival.
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I wish there was something exciting to say about the ride as we anticipated hitting the storm, but aside from coming down off plane so the girls could do their thing, we just bobbed along.
   We hit the Key West Channel at 1:30 in the afternoon and I adjusted our course to keep it within the marked channel.  Off the port bow you could already see giant cruise ships tied up by Mallory Square.  We made our way through the busy channels leading to Key West Bight and our slip at A&B Marina.  Christmas and New Year’s in Key West is a very busy time and I was actually on a waiting list for a boat slip since October in six different marinas for our time frame.  Just in the past 2 weeks, I got the call from the Dockmaster that they had a slip for me.
   By 2pm we were tied up in the slip and hanging fenders off the side.  Due to the storm, we couldn’t wash the boat because of the lightning and heavy rain.  At least it got somewhat rinsed off.
boat arrival key west
   The girls made us a quick snack and after we got cleaned up I took a look around the engine room.  Everything looked good until I saw the fuel/water separators.  All six of them (3 per engine) had a large amount of water in the fuel.  I’m hoping this is just from all of the spray that may have been blowing back into the fuel overflow vents and not actually in a bad tank of fuel.  The engine room was about 130 degrees, so this repair would have to wait until tomorrow.
water in fuel
   Of course we all then headed into town to do the “Duvall Crawl”.  Irish Kevin’s is always our first stop when visiting Key West and this trip was no different.  Here are some random pics we took before the fun started.  Tomorrow, I tackle the fuel separators…
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2 chickens
Somebody, Please Caption this !!
Saturday and Sunday
   I spent the first half of Saturday in the engine room draining the water from the separators.  The first three on the port engine were rather easy, but the starboard side gave me a little trouble.  One of the drain plugs was completely plugged up and I had to drain the entire filter and ream out the drain with a drill bit.  Despite shutting off all of the fuel lines to all filters, I lost a lot of fuel from the lines when the clog cleared and poured from the bottom of the assembly housing.  Luckily I was smart enough to place several diapers under the filters before I started.  I was able to get the water out and the plug back in, but I knew I had another problem ahead of me as a result of all this.
   When the fuel bled from the lines, I lost the prime to the starboard engine.  An 1,800 H.P. engine is not very forgiving when it is starved of fuel and getting the lines re-primed took me several hours.  The primer pump was not getting the job done and so I had to manually work the hand pump to get the engine re-primed.  Several hours later, a lot of cuts, bruises and blisters from working the manual primer at least a thousand times and she fired up and stayed running.  Ugh !
   At least with all of these distractions with the engine and fuel, I really did not notice that it was raining all day.  Steph, Pat and Sandy got a cab to the Key West airport where they had a rental car.  They left around 11:00 and made it home by 5:00 pm.  The rain made it a bit difficult to polish the metal and detail the better part of the cockpit, but we got it done in between rain showers.
   I cooked cheeseburgers on the grille and did some laundry along with making a couple dozen sailfish rigs.  Tomorrow (Monday) I will clean the interior of the boat and get the rods out of storage.
  Keeping with tradition, our first day of real fishing will be Tuesday.  Here is Tuesday’s marine forecast:
 
Northeast winds near 15 knots and gusty…increasing to near 20 knots and gusty. Seas 4 to 6 feet building to 5 to 7 feet in the afternoon. Scattered showers.
   But of course …………………………
Monday through Wednesday

   Sorry for taking a couple days off, but not much has been happening-at least fishing wise.  Blake and the boys got in on Monday and we just walked the docks and had dinner at the A&B Lobster house.  After dinner I rigged 36 ballyhoo and got the dredges ready for an early departure for the fishing grounds Tuesday morning.

   About 3am on Tuesday, I woke up to the constant slapping of water against the hull of the boat up by my room.  This sound only means one thing – WIND!  At 6am I couldn’t take it anymore and fired up the computer.    I logged onto several weather websites and they all confirmed what was now happening outside.  High winds with gusts to 30+ by noon.  Blake and I spent some time over coffee discussing our options and we decided to bag it for the day.  The boat could obviously handle 6-8 ft seas, but we weren’t sure the boys could.  When I made the statement to Blake that not much on the boat has the potential to break at the dock, as opposed to pushing through 6-8 ft seas all day, the icing was put on the cake. If we were fishing a tournament, it’s a no brainer-we’re going.  Simply on vacation and “fun” fishing, I don’t think so.

   Being it was New Year’s Eve, and we are in Key West, the practical thing to do was go to Irish Kevin’s.  None of them have ever been there and Blake didn’t make it 10 minutes before the guy on stage called him out about being on his cell phone…

   The night was spent on the docks and at the boat.  The boys went downtown to experience the madness, while Blake and I welcomed in the New Year in the cockpit watching the freaks walk by. 

   Wednesday was spent watching everyone else nurse hangovers and praying we could fish on Thursday.  Regardless of the weather, the boat is coming off the dock.  I rigged yet another 3 dozen ballyhoo baits and got the dredge teasers ready. 

   Hopefully Thursday is our day !

Thursday

   Well, we managed to get out and fish today, but it wasn’t all that great.  The amount of grass and sea-weed in the water was unbelievable.  The lines and dredges were constantly covered up with weeds and after a few hours of that it gets frustrating.  For the guys in the cockpit it was a perpetual circus.  No matter how hard or fast they worked all the lines managed to get covered up.

   After about two hours of trolling we did manage to run over a school of dolphin.  We had 5 fish on all at the same time, lost two immediately and boated three.  At least we had dinner. 

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The rest of the day was spent cleaning lines and trying to find clean water.  We couldn’t do it.

   We got back to the dock around 3:30 and I cleaned the fish while Blake and the boys washed the boat.  We had the whole family on board and I made them a fresh fish dinner like they’ve never had before.  Bed came early. 

   Tomorrow’s Marine Forecast:

North winds around 25 knots with gusts to 35 knots becoming northeast around 20 knots in the afternoon. Seas 6 to 10 feet.   Carry on……….

Friday

   Didn’t sleep all night.  Howling winds racing through the rigging of the Blow-Boat docked next to me and the constant slapping of the waves against the hull made it impossible to sleep.  Was out of bed at 5am to get my first look at gale force winds causing havoc on all of the boats in the marina.  My trash can was blown off the dock, portable grill blown off the table, shoes and flip-flops everywhere and a lot of debris floating in the water.  Guess what?  We’re not fishing today either.

   The temperatures dropped into the mid to upper 60’s which made it nice for a walk around Key West.  I had a pretty awesome cheeseburger at the Hard-Rock Café on Duvall Street as I watched the freaks walk by.  You can always tell when a new cruise ship docks or a plane lands…

   The only thing you can do when a fishing trip is ruined by the weather is to laugh.  So I guess I’ll tell a joke.  “A Priest walks into a bar (Irish Kevin’s, of course!)…”

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No, it actually wasn’t a joke, but a real priest walked into the bar and enjoyed a couple of pints of Guiness.  Felt bad for him because the guy up on the stage really capitalized on this- starting off with a “Christian Mingle” website joke.  Later, I told Stephanie that I went and saw a priest today.  When I told her where, and that I thought it was a good idea to visit bars more often because of the good company they keep, she failed to see my sense of humor.  Oh well…

 

Saturday

   In case you haven’t figured it out yet, the weather has been really bad for us.  Blake and the family left for the airport early, just as a massive storm swallowed Key West. 

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I hope their flights get out on time.  They are flying back to Indiana where they will be getting another massive snow storm tomorrow.  I guess I can’t bitch too much.

   Despite torrential rain all day, I had to pack up the boat and organize the cockpit.  At some point I have to put fuel in the boat, but do not want to do it while it’s pouring.  I had enough issues with water in fuel on the way down here.  Hopefully it will let up by the end of the day.

   The weather has not only been horrible, but it is getting worse on Monday with a very strong cold front hitting our region.  35 knot winds and gale force gusts are expected with seas to double digits.  It is supposed to be very bad for about 5 days after the front passes through which only leaves me a very small window to get home.  The plan is to leave early Sunday morning and head for Venice before anything bad happens.  The Marine Forecast forMonday:

Northwest winds 13 to 18 knots becoming north northwest 25 to 30 knots. Seas 2 to 3 feet building to 8 to 10 feet with occasional seas to 13 feet.

Fingers crossed……….

Sunday (the ride home)

   I awoke to bright, sunny skies with a slight southeast breeze.  A perfect day to be in Key West, but as my luck would have it, it was time to leave and head back north to Venice.  My buddies Mike and Steve arrived Saturday afternoon to help me get the boat back home.  We weren’t able to do anything but watch massive amounts of rain fall once they arrived at the boat, but we did enjoy some great steaks I grilled on the dock in a full rain suit.

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   We were all packed up and off the dock by 9am and we watched the cruise ships become smaller and smaller as we motored north through the Key West approach channel.  The seas were flat calm, with a slight groundswell and following sea on our stern.  While I was not glad to be leaving the Keys, I was grateful I was finally given a break with the weather for the ride home.  The forecast for Monday is really bad.

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   Once out over Florida Bay, in the middle of nowhere, we came across a small center console dead in the water.  The boat had a make-shift sail stretched between the antennas on the T-Top and they were waving an international distress flag feverishly.  There were seven people on board and they did not look happy.  We approached them with caution because we did not know what we were getting into 50 miles from nowhere.  Turns out, they were out of gas and asked me to relay a radio message to the Captain’s friend who operates the Sea-Tow boat in Fort Myers.  I tried calling them, but because we were so far out, I did not get a response.  I ended up calling the captain’s wife and another friend of his on the Satellite phone and gave them the boat’s position.  The captain did NOT want me to call the Coast Guard (ask me in person my opinion as to why).  Once the messages were delivered, I asked if they needed any food, water or anything else.  They declined all other assistance and stated they would just wait for their friend to come get them.  I told the captain the only way I would agree was if he committed to calling me once they were safe and within cell phone range.  I gave him my personal number and told him that if I didn’t hear from him by 9 pm, I was calling the Coast Guard and launching an all out search.  I took a bunch of pictures of the boat so the search crews would know exactly what they were looking for before we continued on.  Just at 9:00 pm that night, he called and said they were all home safe.  Never a dull moment……  

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This situation and “Safety and Survival at Sea” will be discussed in detail at our Course next Tuesday (Jan 14th).  We will discuss the good and bad decisions the captain made and how things could have turned out differently.  See our home page for the course details.

   They Gulf was like a pond and we made good time, clearing the Venice Inlet at 3:00 pm (right at 6 hours).  By 4 pm, she was docked and put to bed until our next trip in February.

   It might not have been an exciting fishing trip but as always,  it was an adventure!

K

Rough Ride in AM but worth It!

We decided to make a trip yesterday before the cold front came in and knew that the sea’s would be rough in the morning and calming down by noon. I had checked marine weather n Venice surf report . Well Harry, Pat, Rich and myself headed out to catch some live bait out of Stump Pass.  Off we go to our spots! One problem …we lost our weight for our Sure Marker!!!!  Sea’s were bad with 5 ft swells, but Harry got us to our first spot with expert boat handling.   I used some skills  Frank (another fishing club member) told me about to get on the spot without the Sure Marker. . We caught several keeper RG’s n two on  a free line!! Next spot the rest of the keepers of RG’s with Harry catching all of the Lane Snappers!!!! Rich and Pat hooked up too . We caught a total of 7 RG keepers and about 12 LS. Good day, good friends, good eats too!!Pat was unavailable for pic due to his Top Secret Security clearance.

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Rock the Dock

Thanks again Kevin for having the get to gather at the dock.

Sorry we didn’t get back in time to get some fish on the grill .Can’t blame it on the weather, it was great. But the urge to catch just one more was strong. This trip was made with Bruce , Gary, Frank and Tom. The grouper action was good as always and with many snappers . But this trip produced more Porgies than normal with a couple trigger fish throne in. Also a lot of Ramore’s hanging around which was a pain. Saw some Little Tuna action out there and trolled for a little bit but with no hook up’s. Another great day on the water, Thank Guys.

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Limited out with Grouper N More

Took an offshore trip Monday with Frank, Gary , Mike. This was Mike’s first time out offshore in the Gulf. Great day with great fishing friends too. We could do no wrong. Fish were biting great. Here are some of the hero pics!!!

Turkey day

Happy Thanksgiving to all club members I know , fished with, our still to meet.

I’m thankful for all the fish , good weather and safe returns we had this year.

Looking forward to many more ,

Bob ( flabob1)

 

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Fish of the day

Made another trip out this Saturday with two club members Harry and Frank. Started trolling for a while with no luck. Started fishing in about 70 feet of water,  drifting and hunting around with not much luck. But we did picked up two grouper. Came back to a spot about 55 feet and things turned around for the best. A lot of shorts and 3 good Groupers and  large Porgies. The big surprise was two lane snapper .One 16″ and the other 18″. The biggest I ever saw .You never know what you will bring up next. Made it back safe, caught some nice fish and spent time with some great guys. What more could one ask for.

 

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Good Weather ,Good Fishing

Today was like fishing in the summer without the heat. The seas were calm with afternoon clouds building up . I ran out to the water in the 80′s ft. area with a crew of three. Tom, Gary and his friend Ken. Ken never was off shore and it was all new to him. Gary was showing him how to work the reel and while lowering just a hook in the water came up with a blue runner. I new from that point that this was going to be a great trip. After tying a couple spots we hit on the number one and boated 10 Grouper,                     8Gary phone  11-19-13 fish disney 039 Gary phone  11-19-13 fish disney 043 Gary phone  11-19-13 fish disney 052 Gary phone  11-19-13 fish disney 057 Gary phone  11-19-13 fish disney 062 DSCN0850    8 Porgies, 6 lane snappers ,10 vermillion snappers, large grunts  and one kingfish. Also had a visit from a large Nurse Shark that Tom had to work at to bring him to the boat. That’s a 7 ft. rod I’m holding alongside . Coming back we make it sooner than normal with the seas being as calm as it could get. Weather like this you really appreciate and with great guys to fish with and catch fish as we do only makes it better. Thanks again guys for a great day on the water.