Opening day for Red Snapper . There was just three of us this time . Frank Goody and Bruce Fiedler made up the crew. Harry also followed with his boat and we followed each other. We were going out to some spots that Frank had but we had to fall short from reaching our destination due to the wind . But we did try some spots Frank had in about 90 ft. After spending an hour with out catching even a grunt we left. I had a spot about 4 miles away that we headed to. Things changed for the good and the total count in my boat was 10 Grouper 2-27″ 1-25″ and the rest all over 20″. Also A good 18″ Snapper and a bunch of Lane and mostly Vermillion snappers. Jack boat also got some grouper and snappers. They also lost a Cobia that they had hooked.
Even thought we didn’t catch any Red Snapper and I had a collapsed fuel vent line that kept me for going over 3200 rpms for the last 8 miles in it was a great trip and looking forward to doing it again, Bob
Didn’t plan on going out today ( Sat ) it was a last min. thing. I just got the bug to do some trolling and relax. Got out to 53′ and noticed a lot of flying fish. Than some birds diving further on. So I circled the bird activity not seeing any fish and got a hook up with a small Dolphin. . He just made 20in but was released to get a little more weight put on for next time. Got a second hook up but lost it near the boat, about the same size. Trolled in the area some more with no results and started to troll back. Getting in the 40 foot range I switch lures to Bombers for kings with no luck.. I would of gone out further but things started to get a little rocking and rolling. That was it just a couple Dolphin , what a surprise . You never know what you will get, like life I guess
Well, this past Sunday I made another trip out SW to the 80 ft. area with a another club member Frank Goody and also Gary Meeks and friend Bob. There were four of us, and we came back with just under the limit with 15 Grouper and a mixed bag of snapper. Hooked into three sharks, one I snagged on the tip of his dorsal fin. It was like walking a dog. One other I had on until he chopped the tail off a grouper. (See picture ) But I got to keep the best part. We started drifting, but it was too windy, so we anchored from spot to spot catching 5 to 6 grouper at each. Bait of choice was live pins, dead pins, and cut sardines. They were eating anything, hogs as they are. Grouper are all over that area. You just need to drift, and you will get your limit. On the way back we trolled with different lures. Saw some action once with birds diving and a little water chopping but no hook up. It was either small mackerel or blue runners, etc. But later on did see a small king follow my lure while bringing in the line. Give it another month and the kings should be starting to show up and the action should kick in. I’m getting tired of catching grouper and will be looking forward to fast kingfish action.
It was a great day spent fishing with some great guys. Looking forward to doing it again.
Simple, easy day. Grabbed 6 dozen shrimp, 2 frozen blocks of glass minnows, a bottle of Menhadden Milk, a couple containers of cheap Walmart Oatmeal, a buddy and headed out into the Gulf in search of snapper. The plan was simple, find a decent ledge, anchor and set up a heavy chum slick with hopes of getting the mangrove snapper chummed up behind the boat.
Just S/W of the Venice Inlet in 60′ of water, I was able to locate a decent 1-2 ft ledge with the side-scan sonar. After deploying the Sure-Marker right on top of the ledge, we carefully anchored the “Feeding Frenzy” Bay Boat up-current of the marker and began tossing ladles of chum over the side. My fishing buddy for the day “Scotty” dropped a rather small shrimp to the bottom and immediately hooked up with a fat 3 lb mangrove snapper! From there, things only got better…
We managed to rack up a Federal limit of mangrove and yellow tail snapper, a 28″ and 24″ gag grouper, several keeper red grouper, porgies, a couple keeper Scamp Grouper and some of the biggest Spanish Mackerel I’ve seen in a while. All this within sight of land.
Do not over-complicate your next fishing adventure and think outside of the “Red-Grouper” Box. Anchor, chum and go light. There are a lot of snapper out there and they make for better eating than red grouper any day !
Saturday was another great day on the water. Was able to take one member Gary Meeks and friend for some grouper digging. We started drifting in the 80+ foot area and limited out with 12 grouper . Also did a little trolling and pickup two little Tunney. There was a lot of schools of Little Tunney out e there but the weather was buildering up and we headed in. The fun of the day was I hooked into a fish that took the three of us pulling on the rod to bring to the surface . Thought it was a Goliath but ended up to be the biggest Nurse Shark I ever saw. It was at lease 8 feet and at lest 200lb. Sorry no pic as the line finely gave way to the grinding of it’s jaw. I was using a heavy 7′ rod, 60lb line , #7 circle hook with 60lb. leader. Some info. I snelled the hood (Kevin’s advice ) on the leader and tied a Palmer knot to a swivel. They were put to the test and work.
Also check out the one pic I’m pointing at a Jig used and caught Grouper. Sold at our Mahi Mahi tackle and bait shop.
The next trip I make I will post and hopefully get some more fishing buddies.
As Kevin and Tim fished yesterday , I went out with some of the guys from the fishing club to target lane snapper, RG, Gag’s too. We had frozen grunts , pin fish and squid. We stopped at Stump Pass 3 mile reel for live bait. Caught a lot of pins small grunts too. Off to our spots. We went to 55 ft of water where we were scored last year . I caught one lane snapper with a Carolina rig using two hooks…one with a #1 and the other with #2. One oz sinker on flurocarbon 30lb. Works great. The bait was squid on one with a cut piece of pin fish on the other.
The crew was getting a little grumpy since we did not hook up on anything big yet. Checked my float plan and went off to 70 ft of water. BAM , BAM!! BIG red grouper …. 27in , 24in two more 23, 22. I hooked up on a big nurse shark too and took bufferin all the next day. We were using a combination of cut bait and live pins. I finished the day with two more lane snapper. Water was like glass too.
Day 1 Friday, Aug 2nd
Well, initial preparations are underway for the trip. I have finalized all marina reservations, fuel stops and bait supplies. A trip like this also requires planning for emergency/alternate marinas in the event of a major problem. I refer to them as “Bail Out Points” and are basically the shortest distance to land and services once we are committed out in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico. From Venice to Orange Beach, Alabama is more than 330 nautical miles. Food orders are being completed and we will shop over the weekend to supply the boat with a couple weeks worth of food water and adult beverages.
I just had True North Yacht Service complete another engine service on both Cat C-32 engines, as well as the generator and all operating systems. Today I will be re-spooling several of our high-speed jigging reels that we intend to use for blackfin tuna around the oil rigs. I’m adding a couple Shimano Tiagra 50 wides on stand-up rods to our arsenal as well.
Charting, waypoints, fuel management, calculations, weather and marine forecasts are now at the forefront of my brain. Where the heck is Ann when I need her ?! Stay tuned…..
Yet another prep day. Went through all of the dry goods (food, soap, laundry detergent, paper towels,etc) to see what had to be purchased along with the food and drinks. Turns out we have a few things left over from the Bahamas trip we can still use. Ran up to the West Marine in Sarasota and put fresh 50 lb test Power Pro Line on our Shimano Torsa jigging reels. These are some awesome high speed reels! Picked up an extra 8ft long Aftco gaff in the event we need to put a second gaff in a 200 lb tuna or swordfish, along with a few packs of Mustad Demon 3X circle hooks and 80 lb fluorocarbon leader.
Spent the rest of the afternoon working on the 50W Tiagras and rod butts and going through the copious amounts of tackle we still have on the boat. It’s nearly a full time job just keeping the rods, reels lures and rigs organized. Tomorrow (Sunday) will be a food shopping and interior cleaning day. Getting closer…
Spent the morning at the food store. I don’t like food stores. Thank goodness Steph was there to keep me contained while encountering all of the crazy people. Took all of the supplies to the boat and stowed them and then we did an interior cleaning on the inside. I also do not like scrubbing toilets…. Guess I’m not very domesticated.
After a couple hours of work, we decided to splash the Feeding Frenzy and cruised up to the island for the Sunday cookout. We finished off the day at the Venice Yacht Club with Taylor and Ann. Tomorrow is the last prep day and I have a long final punch list.
Well, it’s a boat so I guess there is always something wrong. In going through a final systems check I found the saltwater wash down pump in the cockpit was not working. The plan is to rig a portable bait tank in the cockpit and use the wash down hose to pump fresh saltwater to the baits. True North Yacht Service was on it lickity-split and had a technician on the boat at 8:00 am. Turns out the check-valve was malfunctioning causing the pump to lose prime. It was fixed and we have a wash down/live well pump!
Scuba Steve was under the boat at 8:30 am cleaning the running gear and scrubbing the bottom of any growth. The cleaner the bottom is the better fuel economy we will get on the trip. All of the frozen ballyhoo and swordfish squids were loaded into the cockpit freezer and the harpoon was assembled and stowed away. Hopefully I get to stick either a big tuna or swordfish with it!
One of Scuba Steve’s Bubbles while he’s under the boat cleaning:
Tomorrow, Mike and I will load our personal things onto the boat and start the move. We will move from Marine Max and take her up to the Venice Yacht Club for re-fueling and then dinner and a nice evening with family and friends before we depart Wednesday morning.
Thunder, lightning and heavy rain were a big part of my day. While they were not in the weatherman’s forecast, they lingered until about 1 o’clock. Mike and I had to get the boat off the dock at Marine Max in between lightning storms and just accept the fact that we were gonna get wet. Mike put on a rain coat and I just threw on a bathing suit and an old t-shirt as we tossed the lines off the Loud Enuff and headed to the Venice Yacht Club.
Check out this high speed video of backing out of the slip: Un-Docking
After stuffing all three tanks with fresh diesel I topped off the fresh water tanks and opened the engine room hatch to let the engine room cool down. we settled in for the afternoon with plans for some guests to stop by later that evening.
We did cocktails and appetizers on the boat as a handful of family and friends joined us for the evening. We don’t have too far of a run tomorrow and hope to make it to the Clearwater Yacht Club by early afternoon. We will re-fuel the boat, get a good meal and a better night’s sleep ahead of a very long day Thursday.
Knock on wood, all is looking well!
The departure. Mike and I left the Venice Yacht Club promptly at 0800 hrs and made our way to the Venice Inlet. The Gulf was flat as a pancake. It took us 2 ½ hours to cruise up to Clearwater Pass and the ride was uneventful. Coming into a new inlet and to a new area is always a little un-nerving, but we just took it slow and followed the chart.
We pulled into the Clearwater City Marina and topped off the fuel tank (240 gallons) and then made our way over to the Clearwater Yacht Club. Dockmaster Dan helped us get tied up and we settled in for the afternoon.
We cleaned up the cockpit a bit and I had some minor caulking and touch up to do. By 3 pm, it was time for a siesta! The typical afternoon thunderstorms grumbled off in the distance but gave us nothing but a light rain shower to clean off the boat.
We had an awesome dinner. Some of the thickest and best tasting Ribeye steaks I have had in a long time and Uncle Ben’s Rice. Went to bed early in anticipation of a loooong day tomorrow!
I think I was up every hour on the hour through the nite. At 3am, I gave up and turned on the lights. Too many fine details on my mind. When I went outside, the wind was blowing way harder than the Weather Dude predicted. Go figure, huh? The boat drafts nearly 6 ft which is a major factor in any inland/shallow water navigation. The channel leading from the Clearwater Yacht Club is only 6 ft (on a good day) and we were half way through a high tide already. Dead low was at 7:00 am. We needed to get out of the pass soon or we may have been stuck there until the next high tide. At 5:00 am, and in the pitch black, we threw the lines off the dock and were underway.
It took about 45 minutes for us to slowly navigate through all of the channel markers and the main bridge. Mike worked the remote spot light while I steered and counted off each channel marker. Finally we were out in the Gulf and in safer waters.
The first hour and a half was uneventful, except for the two of us peering into the darkness and studying both radar units for anything in our path. I was able to comfortably do 25 knots in the dark, as a massive lightning storm went crazy about 40 miles west of us.
This leg of the trip put 283 nm in front of us. The seas were bigger than expected (3 ft) but nothing we couldn’t handle. Daylight was a welcome sight as it helps judge the wave intervals and lessens the stress of hitting something you can’t see. One thing I found interesting was that when we were about 125 nm offshore, the water depth was only 90 ft deep. When we hit about 185 out, it dropped off a bit to about 300 ft.
We ended up having to deal with a huge lightning/rain storm 200 miles into the trip. Storms were all around us and it was only a matter of time before we had to deal with one. It swallowed us up pretty darn quick. The rain was heavy and the wind increased. It completely screwed up the seas and there was no rhyme or reason as to which way they were going. I was able to alter course 15 degress and cut off the south corner of the storm after an hour. Ugh!
One of the greatest things I love about this gig is networking with others in the industry and making friends. I was able to hook up with a local mate through a mutual friend. Having never been through the Paradido Pass before, I was told it can get tricky and shallow. About 10 miles off the Pass, I called the mate (Devon). He agreed to put his personal boat in the water, meet us about a mile from the pass and guide us through it and to the Orange Beach Marina. That’s hospitality!!
We had to wait about an hour before we could pull into the fuel dock, then it took over an hour to re-fuel the boat. In two days (today being much longer) we logged 353 nm and burned 1240 gallons of fuel.
Mike and I pulled the Loud Enuff into her slip for the week, and then took another 2 hours just to clean and dry the boat. It was 10:00 pm before we put dinner on the grill. Sirloin tip kabobs with fresh onion and peppers. Of course the Hot Dogs are for Mike!
Sleeping in is NOT over rated!!! Sleeping in for me though is 7:30. Spent today finalizing all of the rods, reels, swivels and other miscellaneous tackle. My local mate Devon showed up at the boat at 10:30 and took us to the tackle store. Here we got a LOT more fluorocarbon leader and the right circle hooks. Each leader for our live bait rigs is at least 15 ft long because the tuna have such great eyesight.
Blake got in later than expected and we had a late dinner. Cocktails on the boat and 2:30 am will come much too quickly. I may not post tomorrow night, so be patient. We are running out more than 100 miles to an oil rig tomorrow, so it will be a long day.
Will update asap.
I’m tired, but safe and most of all, Happy!
Day 9 and 10
Sorry for the delay in posting. The past couple of days have been crazy long, hard and fatiguing. The fishing is horrible. We have been getting off the dock at 3 am each day and running 125 nautical miles out to the rigs and right back in the evening to re-fuel. Misfortune with fishing has found us.
Apparently the torrential rains in parts north of here have caused massive amounts of run-off to flow down through the Mississippi River and out into the Gulf. The water temp is 87 and the water is extremely dirty. Guess what; tuna and Marlin do NOT like dirty water.
Despite our mate Devon bringing the best live bait we could have, the tuna have bolted from the area. We have been fishing the massive and impressive oil rigs far offshore in the canyons of the Gulf of Mexico. Nobody, not even the locals have been able to find fish.
After two days of fishing so far, we have a rainbow runner, triggerfish 2 barracuda and 2 bonito. No Bueno!! I can tell you that 3 20 hour days of driving a boat in the pitch black in and out wear on you. I’m tired.
Blake and his guests are flying out early tomorrow and I have my second crew coming in. We will settle in tomorrow, have a good dinner and rig some ballyhoo baits and get to bed early. The plan is to leave Orange Beach and fish our way across the Gulf back to Venice. The trip will take 2 full days. We will troll during the days and drift for swordfish in 1,200 ft of water through the night.
Keep fingers crossed, we need some luck. I will have lots of pics and more details when I’m not so tired…
It felt great to sleep in. We had a big breakfast at a place called “Tacky Jacks”. Interesting place. I’m finding a lot of places in Alabama are “interesting.” Mike and I moved the boat over to the fuel dock and put another 1,200 gallons of diesel in her in preparation for the trip home. My second crew (Tony and Todd, aka “Cowboy and D-dot”) arrived at around 5:00 and we settled in with cheeseburgers on the grill. The plan is to leave the dock at 5 am and run hard for about 60 miles to 1,3000 ft of water and start fishing.
We will troll all day on a heading that will steer us towards the Venice Inlet. When it gets dark, we will shut down the engines and drift for swordfish through the night. In the morning will again troll towards the hill. Hopefully the water gets cleaner and we can find a pelagic.
It’s the 9th inning and I have the heart of my line-up coming to bat. Keep your fingers crossed for us !
The return trip will be about 382 nautical miles and at these speeds will take a full two days.
Days 12 and 13
We left the dock at 0500 and began or long journey home. I put the boat on a course that would take us to an area called “The Spur”. It sits about 85 nm off Alabama and would take us nearly three hours to get to.
Just after 0800 we put the lines in and began trolling towards home. We had a blue marlin whack two of our lures three separate times, but luck was on his side and he managed to get away. We lost two 25 lb class dolphin that jumped off and I was beginning to worry if we were gonna completely strike out on this trip.
About three hours later, the right rigger pops and we are tight on a wahoo. Not a big one, but finally a fish in the boat!
We trolled until 2000 hrs without another bite and got set up for swordfish in 1,500 ft of water.
About 2230 hrs the rod on the right side starts screaming and we are hooked up to a nice swordfish. Tony was on the rod as Mike, Todd and I readied the harpoon and gaffs. After a thirty minute fight we had the fish in the boat. Tony can now cross another billfish off his bucket list!
About two in the morning, we threw in the towel on swords and I decided to 10 knot our way to our next spot. We were still 152 nm from home and I was trying to conserve as much fuel as possible. At first light we slowed down and put five lines in the water. Shortly after, Todd is fighting a Sailfish that ate a Black Bart Warrior positioned on the right flat. We got some awesome pics and video, tagged the fish and set it free.
I motored us the whole time towards some awesome bottom spots I haven’t fished in years and it paid off. One of the first fish up was a nice scamp grouper that hit a butterfly jig down deep. We put some giant red grouper in the boat as well. Mike decided to give the butterfly jig another try and soon he too was hooked up to a nice fish. This time though, it was a fat true black grouper. We do not get many of these around here unless you go deep.
At 1300 hrs, we decided to pull the plug and steam towards the inlet. With a three hour-plus ride in front of us, we cleaned up the boat and a couple of the guys grabbed naps. I guess I’ll sleep for a couple days straight once we hit the dock.
Don’t ask me how, but we pulled it off with two outs in the bottom of the 9th inning!
Tim and I had a rare opportunity to “Fun Fish” yesterday and decided to take the Feeding Frenzy Bay Boat out into the Gulf to see what we could find. We loaded the livewell with a few dozen shrimp and struck gold as the bait shop at the Crow’s Nest also had a bait tank full of fresh caught greenbacks. For those unfamiliar, a greenback is a small white bait fish that is like candy to most predator fish. Although they were a bit small and difficult to keep alive in the livewell, we were confident they would produce.
On our way out, we saw a strong reading on the side-scan sonar, indicating an area of hard bottom. We dropped down a couple sabiki’s and added a couple dozen squirrel fish to the shrimp and greenies. Now, we officially had all the bases covered.
Our first stop in 42′ was somewhat slow, with only a couple grunts coming up. We relocated to another hard bottom area that had good marks on it. I’ve said it a hundred times; if you can get the side scan sonar, get it. Within minutes we were pulling mang’s, flounder, gags, reds and scamp grouper off the bottom. We were using very light spinning tackle with 20 lb fluoro leaders, size 1 circle hooks and 1/8th ounce egg sinkers. We caught as many short grouper on these rigs as snapper.
After putting about 8 mangs on ice, we decided to target a keeper grouper or two. The Gulf was an absolute mirror, without so much as a ripple. This was awesome, but it also meant it was hot. Very hot ! We headed offshore about 20 miles to yet another hard bottom spot that sits in 72′ of water. Here we dropped down the squirrel fish and immediately started hooking up with red grouper. Tim put a fat grouper in the box within a couple minutes and decided to switch over to the light tackle again. Tim started pulling in one Lane snapper after another, along with a few nice porgies. I added another nice keeper grouper to the box and we were all set for the day.
At days end, we caught red grouper, gag grouper, scamp grouper, mangrove snapper, Lane snapper, flounder, porgies, remora, jack crevalles and a few weird reef fish. We had an awesome fish fry that night and the next night. We beer battered the smaller fillets and Steph made an awesome home made fish chowder along with her awesome fresh corn bread.
The fish don’t always have to be huge to enjoy a great day on the water followed by an awesome fish dinner !
AL, MY FISHING BUDDY, CALLED ME SAT AM TO SEE IF I WANTED TO GO ARS FISHING ON HIS BOAT WITH ANOTHER BOAT @35<45NM WHERE HE HAS DAYTIME FISHED BEFORE. I SAID I WOULD HAVE TO LET HIM KNOW. I CHECKED THE WEATHER ON 4 SITES, LISTED ABOUT 25 GPS #s IN THE AREA AND CALLED HIM TO SEE IF HE WAS READY. FUEL, SPARE BATTERY, JUMP START UNIT, LED DROP LIGHT, FLASHLIGHT, HEAD LAMP,BAIT, BLANKETS, BEAN BAGS, YEP. CHECKED RADAR BEFORE I LEFT FOR HIS HOUSE, LOOKS GOOD!
WE LEFT PLACIDA RAMP @ 7:30 AND HEADED OUT. THE OTHER BOAT WAS RUNNING LATE AND EVENTUALLY BACKED OUT. THE WIND WAS MORE THAN FORCAST, AS USUAL, BUT THERE WERE T/STORMS OVER FT MYERS AND N OF SARASOTA. WELL THE TS OVER FM MOVED NW BEHINDE US AND KICKED THINGS UP. WE HEARD THE CG SAY A 34′ SAILBOAT WAS SINKING SOMEWHERE AND WARNING OF HIGH WINDS. THE TS MOVED BETWENE US AND SHORE AND OVERTOOK US @ 19 NM. WE CHANGED OUR PLAN AND FISHED NEARBY.
OH, I DID SEE THE MOON FOR A SECOND BEFORE THE STORM CONSEALED IT. WE HAD CROSSED SEAS, SOME LIGHTNING, AND DRUG ANCHOR SEVERAL TIMES, AND FISHED! DRUMROLL, THE SCORE:
20LANE SNAPPER<14″ THREW BACK SOME 8<9″
1 MANGROVE SNAPPER 13″
2 BIG & 1 AVG. VERMILLION SNAPPER
3 KW GRUNTS <14″ PLUS THROW BACKS
3 & 1/3 KEEPER RED GROUPER ~^>
OH THE FULL MOON, YEAH IT BROKE THROUGH THE RAIN CLOUDS AT ABOUT 3:30am TO PAINT A SILVER LAKE ON PART OF THE GULF!!
ABOUT 7am @ ALMOST 30NM WE HEADEDIN FOR A BUMPY 2HR. RIDE, THANK GOODNESS FOR BEAN BAGS, AND AL @ THE HELM! LONG NIGHT OF FUN! SEE ~ PICS.
GOOD FISHING, FRANK / AKA SPINNER