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Yankee Capts Dry Tortugas 1/25-1/26 and 1/27-1/28

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Joined: 09/07/2002
Posts: 1449
Location: Boston, MA
 posted 01/31/2007 07:43 PM  

Hey folks,

Well, the prison of a school in which I am currently enrolled did not give me much of a window between semesters (six days), but I couldn't think of a better way to spend it than down in Key West aboard the Yankee Capts. I had heard a lot about the fishing down there, and was very excited about trying out a relatively new type of fishing for me.

On Wednesday, January 24, I hopped on a plane from Boston to Miami, and then flew from Miami to Key West; Capt. Greg was kind enough to pick me up at the airport and drive me to the boat at Stock Island, where I arrived at about 6:00 P.M. The weather was hot and sticky--perfect for a frigid Boston boy!

I made the rounds, saying hi to everyone and settling in, but as I did so I realized the buzz going around the boat about the one thing that could screw the trip up for me and everyone else: the weather! It seemed as if a cold front accompanied by a strong north wind was making its way toward us. Nevertheless, we left the dock at 10:00PM as scheduled.

After a sleepless (for me; too excited) five-hour journey, Capt. Matt pulled back the throttles and we anchored up in 180 feet of water. Flying fish appeared all over the place, attracted by the lights, and Matt, mate Josh and I took turns netting them with a dipnet for fresh bait. I started fishing with a frozen ballyhoo, and at 3:20 had a solid thump, followed by a solid run. Then nothing. I looked at Matt, who was right next to me, and he told me to go for it, so I reeled up the slack and WHAM, fish on!! Five minutes later I had a nice 10lb mutton on the deck. What strong fighting fish! I was very impressed and could easily see why they are such an addicting fish for many.

Ironically enough, that mutton was to be my only one for that first trip. I caught some other stuff fishing bait on a mutton rig, such as small sharpnose sharks and a few small red grouper, but no more muttons. One gentleman in the bow, Ryan Campbell I believe was his name, showed us all how it was done, icing probably 10 muttons in that first morning on fresh goggle-eyes. Interestingly, the flyers, which are usually a great mutton bait, produced nothing. I probably would have caught more muttons if I had stuck with it, but I had what could only be described as "fishing ADD," hopping from my mutton rod (greg's loomis and my saltist 40 loaded with 30lb momoi) to josh's heavy grouper rod (a 6/0 loaded with 80lb mono on a standup rod) to a heavy spinning rod rigged with a small yozuri metallic sardine, on which I was catching small jacks and mackerel and stuff. However, around noon on that first day Greg announced to us over the intercom that 30 kt winds were on the way and that we'd better head in. Greg gave everyone a voucher for a free trip as compensation.

To make a long story short, we got back to the dock, I slept on the boat, hung out with the mates, etc, and we headed out again the next night (1/26) at 10:00 PM with a light load of 21 people and much better weather conditions. The first drop the next morning quickly produced a big yellowtail and a sharpnose shark, both coming on fresh pinfish. I managed my first mutton of the day right at sunrise, which also came on a pinfish. After sunrise, I tried a couple of different things. First, I flatlined a ballyhoo and managed to get a nice 12lb king, which I donated to the boat for bait. After Josh told me to, I cut a chunk of mack and put it on his grouper rod. As soon as it touched bottom, BOOM, I got a nice hit, and line started tearing off the spool. I engaged the reel and set hard, but I was no match for the beast, which was either a big black grouper or a jewfish (goliath grouper). I was mercilessly dragged into the rocks and busted off. This scenario was to repeat itself throughout the day, although I did manage one decent black. Aside from the kingfish chunks, another bait that got hit almost instantly were small blue runners, which were easily caught on larger sabiki rigs. However, that one blackie would be the only fish I got to the surface on the big rod.

Around noon, I decided to give jigging a shot. There wasn't a lot going on, so I figured that that would be the time to do it. I dropped a yozuri metallic sardine down, and started jigging cod-style. After a few strokes my jig got hammered, and it was on! Not for long, though; I got rocked and broken off in a matter of seconds. "Surely a big black," I thought to myself. Oh well. I would donate another jig what I figured to be another big grouper before the trip was done.

The highlight of the trip for me came a few hours later. I was still jigging, and had caught a bunch of stuff, including a little kingfish, small almaco jacks, blue runners, etc, when the 7 oz sea rock jig I was using got SLAMMED! After a relatively short but intense battle, Josh sunk the gaff into a nice kingfish that we estimated to be about 45lbs. "That's the pool fish," said Josh--but as you will see, it was not to be.

I went back to mutton fishing with bait shortly thereafter, because I knew that it was slightly taboo to fish a jig (although greg insisted that it was fine), and I was garnering some dirty looks. As the sun went down, I managed another mutton on a piece of kingfish. I caught a few mangoes and yellowtails before going to take a quick power nap around 12. I woke up at 1:00 AM, and only a few people were on deck. I figured "what the hell" and threw a jig down. Within 15 minutes I had two muttons flopping on the deck. They fight just a bit better than codfish when they slam a jig! I knew, however, that Capt. Matt had specifically told me earlier in the trip that he would rather I not jig at night, a completely understandable request given the belief that it scares away a lot of the fish--and it is certainly possible that those muttons were only the most aggressive two out of a larger body of fish. As a result, I quit jigging after those two fish.

A little bit later, a gentleman fishing next to me, googan-like in all aspects, got his pinfish nailed as it was dropping to the bottom. Josh coached him like a pro for the next half hour, and up pops a beautiful 50lb wahoo! Pretty amazing that the thing never really took a big run or that it never cut the leader; it simply dogged under the boat lackadaisically for most of the fight. This fish beat me out for the pool.

We continued fishing until around 7AM, when greg decided to head in, given that another front was coming through. I ended the second trip with 4 muttons, 1 black, and a handful of kings and 'tails. If I had devoted the whole trip to one species, I'm sure I would have done better, but hey, I went down there to have a good time, and that's exactly what I did! Would have been nice to get one of those big fish up, though--I probably hooked and lost ten fish that I simply could not stop!

We arrived at the dock at noon on sunday, and greg let me stay on the boat before driving me to the airport the next morning, to return to frigid boston.

Many thanks to mates Dave, Sean, and Josh and "galley girl extraordinaire" Renata for putting up with me and for helping me out, and, of course, thanks to Greg and Matt for being such amiable hosts. I am planning on heading back down during spring break, and would advise everyone else to do the same!

Here are some pics:

#1 First Mutton
#2 Second Mutton
#3 small king
#4 Black Grouper
#5 Fighting the kingfish

To be continued...

Willy G.

Joined: 09/07/2002
Posts: 1449
Location: Boston, MA
 posted 01/31/2007 07:55 PM  

More Pics

#1 The king
#2 the king again
#3 Mutton on jig
#4 mutton on jig
#5 king and wahoo

Willy G.
new hampshire

Joined: 09/28/2001
Posts: 6337
Location: USA
 posted 01/31/2007 07:55 PM  

Very nice Willy, see you still have that big smile while fishing Smile
See you some time this year, Dave

Looks like she got beat with an uglystick(((SHAKESPEARE)))
That is.

Joined: 08/18/2004
Posts: 1650
Location: rye brook,ny
 posted 01/31/2007 08:00 PM  

as always willy great read way to go it helped take the chill off the day soon we will be jigging in the gom thanks

Joined: 09/19/2003
Posts: 3799
Location: Revere Mass
 posted 01/31/2007 08:06 PM  


Great Report

Great Pics

Mighty considerate of Captain to pick you up as well !!
KILSONG Club Member

Jigging and Popping

Joined: 08/22/2001
Posts: 11378
 posted 01/31/2007 08:07 PM  

Great report and pictures. Smile
You convince me to go down to Key West, fish on the Yankee Capts and catch big black groupers you lost. Smile
I am going to prove them jigs don't scare off fish, but attract them. Smile

Joined: 09/23/2004
Posts: 206
Location: londonderry nh
 posted 01/31/2007 08:57 PM  

Willy great pics maybe when I head down in March I'll try a little jigging . What did you think of Josh's rod tough little thing hoisted up a 150 lb. nurse shark with no problem .


Joined: 07/10/2003
Posts: 2848
 posted 01/31/2007 09:30 PM  

Nicely done! Great report.

Ling is King and Cusk are Deluxe!

Joined: 03/21/2004
Posts: 671
Location: Levittown, N.Y.
 posted 02/01/2007 07:52 AM  

Very nice. I absolutly love those muttons!

10-62 Fishin'

Joined: 08/01/2006
Posts: 131
 posted 02/01/2007 07:39 PM  

6 days or winter break thats a friggin joke

Joined: 09/07/2002
Posts: 1449
Location: Boston, MA
 posted 02/01/2007 08:09 PM  

Ha you're tellin me!

Glenn, I believe that one of your rods is still on the boat, a jigmaster with a small conventional rod that josh said was your "chicken rig rod." And yes, that rod sure did put the wood to 'em; unfortunately, I suppose, I could not!

When are you going in March? I may be on the 3/24-25 trip.

I attached one more pic: before we headed in on the first trip, the wind puffed up to 30kts and it started absolutely pouring! Renata took this picture of me as I was the "last man standing" on the deckWink. Note the inflated jacket....

Willy G.

Joined: 09/23/2004
Posts: 206
Location: londonderry nh
 posted 02/01/2007 09:11 PM  

My sister Kim and I will be down there Mar. 19-26 not sure whose rod that is mine are in the shed hopefully you can make it down .

Joined: 03/17/2002
Posts: 980
 posted 02/01/2007 09:52 PM  

Great report, Willy. Nicely done.

What's with the bar stool in the last pic?



Joined: 09/07/2002
Posts: 1449
Location: Boston, MA
 posted 02/01/2007 10:37 PM  

Hey Frank,

I'm not sure; I believe a guy with a bad shoulder was using it to lay his rod on?

Willy G.
reelfisher Club Member

Posted Reports
Partyboat Fishing
Fisheries Management

Joined: 07/21/2003
Posts: 11265
Location: Jamesport
 posted 02/02/2007 09:26 AM  

Codfisha15 wrote:

Well, the prison of a school in which I am currently enrolled did not give me much of a window between semesters (six days)

Interesting way to refer to such a fine institution lol!

Glad you had a good time Willy!! Nice report and congrats on taking those fish on the jigup

"If you can read this, thank a teacher....and
since it's in English, thank a soldier."
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