Steffen and Silmara, our favorite husband/wife team from Munich Germany, booked 3 days with us. Steffen wanted to do 2-day trips and a night trip for Swordfish on the 3rd day. On Day 1 they arrived at the dock fashionably late. We were ready and waiting, so after a few “How have you been?” moments, we turn The BEAST out to begin this trilogy. The day was eerily flat, not a breath of wind, virtually a dead sea. We did the Hardtail bait thing first, as usual. After collecting about 15 baits, we ran out for some Ballyhoo. As mentioned above, the ocean and reefs looked like a mirror. We could actually see small reef fish milling around in the corals, 35 feet down. This was going to be tough. Let me rephrase that. This was going to be almost impossible, and it was. We hit 4 different spots and after gathering about a dozen ‘hoo, we pulled out to go fishing.
Devon put out our normal spread and we worked the area for some time. It became evident that the surface bite was not going to happen on this dead calm sea. A short discussion resulted in us jerking in the lines and heading for the wrecks to get some action going. The current was slow, very slow, moving at a minimal ½ knot, but thankfully it was moving to the north. Devon dropped a live bait and then began working a speed jig. We dropped again and then again. Bam! We finally we got the bite and Steffen was hooked up to a nice little bruiser. 12 minutes later a decent 35 Amberjack breaches the surface.
Devon and I continued to drift and drop but the AJ’s just wouldn’t wake up. OK… on to Plan B. Plan B was to troll south and try to collect some Bonito for bait and then work another wreck for some Mutton Snapper. We put out a 4-line spread and caught 3 football sized Bonito. Coming up on the next wreck, we find others anchored on it. I wasn’t going to try squeezing in on them so it was off to Plan C. We made the run to try our luck at some Permit. Steffen has tried for a Permit each spring for the last 2 years, hooking them up but never landing one. I just happened to have a half dozen crabs with us. We made a drift or two and nothing doing. As I was setting up for the next drift, Devon spotted the fish down below and I moved up current. Drop… feed line… chomp, chomp! Lock the bail down, reel, and Steffen is into a Permit. The drag is screaming and Steffen is straining! Will the 3rd trip be the charm? About 15 minutes pass with a give and take battle of strength and will. It looks like he won’t lose this one to the wreck. Yes sir! Steffen is on the board with his first Permit as Devon lifts the 16-pounder aboard.
Congrats were passed around as I repositioned the boat and Devon baited the hook. Round 2. The next drift resulted in another bite and this fish was a bit more taxing. Steffen worked the fish with abandon and doing his best to keep it out of the wreck. Good job! When the fish reached the boat we all realized that this one was a “nugget”. This fish tipped the scale at 26 pounds.
The next drift had a taker but it was a bait thief, stealing the crab and missing the hook point. While that was going on Devon had given Silmara a quick lesson in speed jigging. The following go round showed a hook up for Steffen and he was working hard to keep this one out of the wreck. Suddenly we heard a sharp, girly like yelp from the front of the boat. Silmara obviously paid complete attention to the jigging lesson because she was squarely hooked up to a fish. We had a double working and within minutes Steffen’s fish wrecks him. Silmara worked her fish from bite to boat and earned the smile and photos of her Jack Crevalle.
Often the local fishermen here in S. Florida turn their nose up at Jack fishing, even when using speed jigs. I’m not sure why that is. It’s hard to beat that moment when your fast moving jig suddenly stops dead, and a micro second later the fish is trying to pull you into the water. They ‘re tough gamesters that fight you all the way to the end, testing every fiber of your being. WE love it! To us, it beats catching Bonito off a kite. Enough said about that. Well, we worked the wreck until our bait ran out. Steffen managed to catch another Permit of 24 pounds. He ended up going 3 for 4, so the Permits are now off of his bucket list.
We moved into another area to finish up the day, trying to catch something on the live baits again. The winds have picked up a little and the seas were a ferocious 9 inches now. We got a bite on the down rod and it turned out to be a 4’ shark. Right before quitting time we had another bite on the down rod and this fish was giving Steffen a true workout. He fought the fish for almost 30 minutes, never seeing it, and the leader finally parted. Oh well, we have tomorrow to do it again.
The forecast for the next day was increasing winds, a 5-6 foot sea, and cloudy skies with 50% chance of rain. At 5:45 AM Steffen called and said he had twisted his bad knee the night before and wanted to cancel the trip so he could rest his leg. He asked if we could leave around 3 the next afternoon to do some fishing before we headed out for the evening Sword trip. The next day was “supposed” to be better weather too. Yeah right! Weather forecasters… what other line of work can you have where you can be wrong 50% of the time and still keep your job? Just sayin’!
We all met up at 3 PM and the winds were blowing. We caught a few Hardtails to take along for Sword bait and then made our way offshore. The sea was running about 3-4’ and it was cloudy but no rain. We decided to try to troll up some Dolphin or Wahoo on the way out to the Sword grounds. Devon put out 2 top baits and a down rod. 30 minutes into the troll and our down rod trips. There was no fish on the line but when they cranked the bait in we see that it was cut in half, just missing the hook. Another 30 minutes pass and we get a strike on one of the top lines but this time the entire bait is gone. The sea was a solid 5-6 feet and the wind was cranking now. Another 30 minutes pass by and the down rod goes off again. Hook up! This time we’re hooked solid and Steffen horses the fish in. Nice! A 22-pound Wahoo comes to the boat and meets the steel.
It seemed like we were on a schedule. Every 30 minutes we got a bite and every hour the sea and winds increased. Yup! 30 minutes after the last fish and the down rod starts screaming. This is a good one! A couple of good runs and Devon and I are thinking it’s a better Wahoo than the last. No Wahoo, but it was a very respectable 31-pound “smoker” Kingfish.
The winds were blowing around 30 knots and the seas were now standing 7-8 footers. Steffen looked at me and I could see the question in his eyes. “No we’re not going Sword fishing tonight.” With a sigh of relief, he told me to wrap it up. We battened down the hatches; I throttled up the Zuke 300’s, and headed for the barn. When we got to the dock, we talked about our trips and the Yin/Yang weather. Steffen was very happy just to catch those Permit that had eluded him for the last 2 years. Not getting out for a Swordfish simply gave him another reason to come back again… as if he needed one. Anytime Steffen. You and Silmara are always welcomed guests on The BEAST.
Cubera season is about a month away and the calls and reservations are coming in. Don’t delay, your day away! Give me a call if having a fun evening catching “El Nasty”, the largest of all snappers, is on your list.