Friday, three P.M. Here we go again. We hear, 'The Call of the Middle Grounds!' Will the snapper and grouper be hungry? Only time will tell.
This trip is going to be different. Captain Garett Hubbard will be leading the charge. We remember Captain Garett from the excellent job he did running the Florida Fisherman a couple of years ago. And, in addition, Allison will be in charge of the galley. Allison is the cook on the all day boat. This is going to be different, different but fun.
We are ready! But what about that weather? After all, wind & rain has prevailed all week. Will our trip be a wash out? The call of the Middle Grounds is absolutely overpowering one and all; we are going!
Captain Garett eases the Florida Fisherman under John's Pass Bridge and immediately heads North West, North West on a collision course with the fabulous Florida Middle Grounds. We are all ears as Joe, one of our very knowledgeable mates, shares his 'how too' secrets with us.' On the way out very little trolling is being done, most are playing cards or sleeping. Those AC bunks have a way of calling out to us, and, boy do we listen. The snoozing was sensational. Hold on! What's that I smell? Allison has her grill singing to us. How about a BBQ pork sandwich with all the trimmings? What a way to start a trip! We are stuffed, bed time. Gosh! that bunk is a real sleep machine.
Seems like as soon as we hit the sack, Captain Garett sounds the alarm. We are over fish, hopefully hungry fish. Go get them! It was a little choppy, but far from rough, and no rain. Immediately beautiful, big mangrove snapper hit the deck. Not to be outdone, the ARS also make an appearance. The action, as it would be all night & day, was never fast, but steady. Even, just wait until next month, gags were not to be left out. As we are pulling in the fish, here comes Allison with a tray full of hot off the grill ham & cheese sandwiches. What a life!
Captain, Coach, John takes over the controls of the Florida. Captain Garett has some free time, time to read Woods'nWater magazine. Once he opened it, the good Captain just could not put it down. Who could?
Our mates, Will, Joe, and James, have a great deal of confidence in us. They know we can do it. So many are doing so well. As the night gives way to sun light, we continue to catch fish. One of the Florida's huge fish boxes is almost full; it would have been if we could have kept gags. Mister Tony Baker, Lane, Joe Sterba, Gary, Glenn, and Curtis, just to name a few, were doing very well on both snapper and grouper. Both red & gag grouper were hitting the deck. The gags were immediately vented & sent home, sent home to fight again. Gosh! those gags are beautiful. Come next month-pay back time. Mister Centree just could not get away from the gags. He caught some real beauties. Personally, I love to catch the American red. They have been a little harder to find this year. Never-the-less, we ended up with a very respectful catch of these red fighting machines. We can legally keep a two day possession limit. I was well on the way of filling my limit when, BAM! What the heck have I tied into. This monster is fighting like a runaway locomotive. Immediately I hit the button on my two speed Shimano TLD 20. Those low gears are really something. Finally, we see color. Not the red we hoped for, but brownish. Sure enough a monster gag. Oh well! See you next month.
Captain Garett is so proud of our catch. Look at those grouper he is holding up!
Dinner time, Allison to the rescue. We are hot! That cold, garden fresh, salad really hit the spot, and then, the show stopper...seasoned to perfection pork loin, mashed potatoes, gravy, and green beans. We are stuffed, but not fished out. We still have about an hour left. True to form, sun-down was great! Many more snapper hit the deck. Those American reds sure are impressive. So impressive that I decided to go again Tuesday. This is just too good to pass up. We are going deep, like 200 + feet, again Tuesday. We fished out there just before ARS season opened. Monster land! This is going to be a good one. Well! It's over for now, but not for long! 'The call of the Middle Grounds' is just too strong, too strong to resist. The weather was not all that bad this time around. Hopefully Tuesday will be even better.
Bob Harbison native Florida Sportsman Member Florida Outdoor Writers Association.
Looks like rain:
BBQ Pork with all the trimmings...Friday evening:
Allison serves early morning ham & cheese:
What a breakfast:
Captain Garett checks out Woods'nWater:
We are all ears:
Joe is so proud of us. We followed his advice:
Will, James know we can do it:
Mister Tony Baker:
Mister Joe Sterba
Captain Garett likes to show off our grouper:
Joe, James, Captain Garett:
Check out the ten minute video of our trip. That amber jack fight was really something. Since they are now out of season, Will knocked the hook out with a gaff. That would have been a jack pot winner: