Well if you know me at all you know I love to fish. Any type will do. Saltwater, freshwater, big or small as long as I can get out fishing all is good in the world. Now I tried some Fly Fishing in Colorado this past summer without much luck. I am still learning that one, so when I am near saltwater I need to go. Now Karen wrote about the half day trip that I, my sister Ginny and friend Patty went on but I need a bigger fix. So I found a trip that lasted 40 hours with the potential to catch some large fish. So I booked myself on the Florida Fisherman II out of Madeira Beach. Now before I could go I needed some fishing gear. The boat will provide the necessary equipment if you need it but there is nothing like having your own stuff. So a call to my brother in law, Bill, and a few days later all of the rods and reels, hooks, swivels and anything else I would need shows up at the house. Now this trip is almost 2 days long, so I need to bring clothes, sleeping bag, pillow, meds, and anything else you would need on a trip this long. What about food you say, well for $35.00 they will feed you the entire trip, not bad. So I think that I have everything ready, just need the day to arrive.
Tuesday April 2 has arrived, departure day. I need to be at the dock by 2:00 pm for a departure of 3:00 pm. I arrive a Hubbard's Marina at 1:30 pm and unload all my gear into the waiting area and park the car. I check in, pay my fare, and wait for the call to board. While I am waiting I go take a look at the boat that will be home for the next 2 days.
Florida Fisherman II
At 2:30 pm we are allowed to start boarding, but first, I need to get my live bait and put it in the provided live well on the boat. After loading my bait and gear I check out my spot along the rail, lucky number 13, and then find my bunk.
My bunk area on the top deck
3:00 pm and we are on our way. First we pass through the John's Pass Draw Bridge.
Then out into the Gulf of Mexico. On the way out I check out some of the many activities happening around the beaches here. I think we will have to come back here and check out the area on land.
John's Pass Boardwalk
We have a long ride ahead of us. We are traveling to an area known as the Middle Grounds which is approximately 100 miles northwest of our starting point. The trip will take about 9-10 hours, so first I get my gear ready then prepare some bait then kick back and enjoy the ride. I could not have hoped for a better afternoon.
This is Bob Harbison preparing Sardines for bait. Bob also provided me with many of the pictures.
The ride out.
On the way out we had some Dolphins do a little bow riding. Here's a video.
It was now time for dinner. The food was pretty good and there was plenty of it.
Sausage, peppers and onions hero.
After dinner it was time to get some sleep. We will be arriving at the grounds around midnight and then we will fish until 8:00 pm with a few breaks for food and to move to other spots.
The captain comes on the loud speakers, we have arrived at our first spot, it is 11:45 pm, we made pretty good time. Our first quarry will be Mangrove Snapper and possibly some grouper. On this trip we can keep up to 20 "Mango's", 8 Red Grouper, 2 Amber jack and others. Now this is my first time fishing for these fish and they are proving a challenge. The Mangrove Snapper are great bait stealer's and I am having a difficult time but I do manage a few.
This is Mieko and one of the mates with some Mangrove Snapper. Sorry I never got any pictures with me in them. To busy fishing.
We fished until dawn and then it was time to move to another spot to try for Amber jack. It was going to be an hour move so it was time to get some breakfast.
We arrive and it was time to fish again. This time it is for Amber jack. Time to bring out the big guns. Amber jack average 25-30 lbs but can get as high as 100 lbs. They also fight very hard. I break out the rod with 60 lbs test line. It is also time for the live bait. You drop down to the bottom, reel up about 20 turns and hold on. I wait about 3 minutes when what feels like I hooked into a freight train takes off. It takes about 20 minutes but I get the fish. Amber jack about 25 lbs. I send down another bait, and wait. 3 minutes later we are off again. 20 minutes later anther Amber jack hits the deck. I have filled my limit. With that my new buddy Bob Harbison asks if I wouldn't mind catching one for him as he is to busy taking pictures. No problem Bob, I will have one for you in a few minutes. Wow, talk about cocky, and I paid for it. Don't you know I couldn't get another bite the rest of our time there. As a matter of fact, I was only one of the few that caught our limit. They just stopped biting for some reason. That's why it's called fishing, not catching.
Some of the Amber jack caught.
After a while it was time to move to another spot. The ride would be about 1 1/2 hours, so a good time to catch a nap. We arrive and it is time for more fishing. Here we would catch Grouper, Mangrove snapper, Porgies, and others. I fished for an hour or so and then my stomach was telling me it was time for lunch. The crew did some fishing also and they turned some of the snappers they caught into beer battered fish sandwiches. the best ever. I asked about the beer batter and the cook told me she used McCormick's Beer batter and adds lots of pepper and some salt. I did try it when I got home and is was really good. After lunch, back to the rail. I managed more snapper, some Red Groupers that were not of legal size, a Scamp Grouper and a bunch of porgies. The were many American Red Snapper caught but all had to be released as the season was closed. Also, a Goliath Grouper about 200 lbs was caught but also released.
American Red Snapper
Around 5:00 pm a thunder storm with some heavy rain came through so it was a good time to get dinner. On the menu, chicken fajitas and rice. Another excellent meal. By 6:30 the lightening had stopped but the rain continued. I went back to the rail and caught a few more fish before it was time to head home. We started back around 8:30 pm and had about a 9 hour ride home. After sitting with my fellow fisherman and talking about the day, it was time to hit the bunk. I believe I was asleep before my head hit the pillow. Before I knew it, the captain was announcing that we were almost back to the dock, so it was time to get up, get dressed, and get ready to collect our fish and head home. I got my fish and waited around for the mates to fillet my catch.
Some of the catches
\All I have to say is that I had a great time. Caught plenty of fish and made a few new friends. I will be going again next year. Hopefully my brother in law Bill will be able to make it. Maybe I will try the 4 day trip?
Here is a video that was taken on the trip. You get to see me in action.
Well that's it for my post. Hope you liked it.