Monster landed on the Florida Middle Grounds
Friday, 3 P.M. under very cloudy conditions the Florida Fisherman says good-by to Madeira Beach. Our destination, the Florida Middle Grounds, home of the monsters.This is a very special occasion for us. We welcomed back Mister Larry Miller, and the 'Jersey Boys,' Mister Kile Stevens, & Mister Brandon Caldwell. Larry has been a regular on the Florida for years; he has been away. It was a real honor to welcome him back. That big chocolate cake sure was a surprise; good too! Kile & Brandon are from the Garden state. Kile heads back to NJ on Monday. Brandon now lives in Riverview. They were with us last Fall. It was an honor to welcome these gentlemen back. Sure hope one and all does well.
On the long way out, Dave, a Florida Fisherman regular, tried trolling with the new 'CUDA KILLA' lure. Dave wanted so badly to catch a barracuda. Not this time around. Dave will try again. Actually we have not seen a cuda this year.
1 A.M., time to challenge the monsters of the Florida Middle Grounds. As we began our assault, solid white caps welcomed us. Thank goodness for that big old 72' cat; it was appreciated. We need some quick energy, Chef Tammy to the rescue. The Florida Middle Grounds, great sportsmen/women, hot off the grill ham & cheese sandwiches, who could possibly ask for anything more. Well! How about some fish. We want a challenge. Mangrove snapper begin to hit the deck. Not fast, but steady. Mister Phil Salvia landed a beautiful yellow tail snapper. We do not see too many of them. Then, out of nowhere, we hear a loud scream, the sounds of excitement, of disbelief. Mister Josh Crawfis is fishing for mango snapper. Josh is using forty pound test equipment and a hole Spanish sardine. What is going on? This is much more than a mangrove snapper. The monster leads Josh from the middle of the port side to the middle of the starboard side of the Florida Fisherman. Is it a goliath grouper? Or maybe a huge shark? Josh is in the fight of his life. It's nip & tuck as to who will win. Is josh down for the count? Is the monster ready to surrender? Not yet! The fight goes on. Then we see color, it's a monster cubera snapper. Is the battle over? Not quite! Josh & the monster are both finished. Hold on! here comes our first mate, Will, with a long, strong, gaff. Get him Will! Will sinks the gaff deep into the monster. With the strength of the mighty Hulk, Will lifts the huge snapper over the rail. Job well done! Congratulations to Josh, Will, and this fighting machine. Monster landed on the Florida Middle Grounds. Gosh! Look at the teeth on that over-grown mangrove snapper. Well! back to the business at hand, catching mango snapper. The bite was slower than what we had preferred. Never-the-less, many of the little bait stealers were caught.
As the sun makes it's appearance in the Eastern sky, the slow, but steady, mangrove snapper bite continues. Our first mate, Will, loves to show off our snapper. Mister Tony Baker, Ritchie, and Brandon, just to name a few, did well on these little critters.
Breakfast time, Tammy time! How about bacon, eggs, and the best banana pancakes on the planet? Surely! We must be in heaven.
Mister Dustin Bales, and Ray, specialized in red grouper. Even our Captain, Captain Mark Hubbard, is ever so proud of the red grouper we are catching. Joe, one of our professional mates, never misses an opportunity to show off these red beauties.
Lunch time. Wow! Beer batter dipped fish. We are absolutely stuffed. Thanks Tammy!
In addition to many snapper, the 'Jersey boys' also caught porgies, B liners, and even an amber jack. These guys can fish!
Not to be outdone, gag grouper were also hitting the deck. Many were caught. Mister Bob Hummell did very well. The gags were immediately vented and sent home. See you next month.
Dinner time: I'll take ranch dressing on my salad. And then the show stopper, the most tender beef stroganoff imaginable. I'll take seconds!
And now let's talk about 'Red beauties.' Let's talk about the American red snapper. We did well on ARS last week. However, only a few were actually landed Saturday. Late in the evening Mister Michael Bowden landed a real prize. Talk about excitement! This young man was absolutely speechless. He just landed the 'prize' of his young life. What a beauty. Job well done!
As the sun sinks into the Western horizon, snapper are still being caught. We are a very long way from home, from Madeira Beach. Time to go. Our fine catch is well iced for the long ride. A big piece of chocolate cake, a nice cold drink, and it's bunks here we come.
What an adventure! New friends, great food, and two boxes full of fish. is next Friday here yet? I can't wait! Next weekend, time for another, 'monster landed on the Florida Middle Grounds.'
Bob Harbison Native Florida Sportsman
Active member Florida Outdoor Writers Association
Cloudy conditions, as seen from the cabin of the Florida Fisherman:
Welcome back Larry:
Larry & Kile enjoy cake while Joe gives seminar:
Dave is going to try the 'CUDA KILLA':
Dave and his mackerel:
Tammy's hot off the grill ham & cheese:
Mister Phil Salvia & his early morning yellow tail snapper:
Mister Josh Crawfis & a real monster cubera snapper:
Josh, Will, Joe:
The teeth of a monster:
The sun comes up over the Florida Middle Grounds:
Ritchie (R), Joe
Mister Dustin Bales:
Captain Mark Hubbard is very proud of our red grouper:
Joe loves to show our red grouper:
Ray loves to catch them:
Mister Kile Stevens, Mister Brandon Caldwell
Mister Bob Hummell (R), & Joe
Mister Michael Bowden
Sun set over the Florida Middle Grounds:
All fish boxes are well iced for the long ride home:
Captain Mark Hubbard weighs in cubera snapper @ 74.3 pounds: