Is February a good time to, 'Battle the Giants' of the Florida Middle Grounds? Only one way to find out, let's go see!
Twenty anglers and a crew of five board the Florida Fisherman ll, Hubbard's Marina for an overnight adventure to the fabulous Florida Middle Grounds. It's going to be a very long trip. We will be fishing the Northern edges of the Grounds. One thing is for sure, we absolutely will not go hungry. Tammy, our onboard chef, loves to cook, and, guess what? We love to eat! What a combination. Tammy has packed enough food and drinks for a small, make that a large, army. Hope you like to eat, I mean really eat. We do not want to disappoint Ms. Tammy. Tammy, we will do our share!
First things first. Let's visit Tom the bait man. Tom, we need real lively big pin fish. Bob, I have them. Good! We will be after huge AJ's.
Winter Florida stile, Madeira Beach stile:
Joe, give us some pointers on how to 'Battle the Giants' and win:
Man, let's dig into those Philly-cheese-steak subs. Tammy, you are our girl:
Time to hit the bunks. The great battle ahead will require us to be at our very best.
Gosh, Captain Mark, is it time to get up already? Go get them.
Mister Jason Burke, Nashville, scores first. What a mangrove snapper:
Rich, that's bigger than any mango. What a fighter:
Way to go Rich, way to go partner:
Here comes Tammy with hot off the grill ham & cheese sandwiches. Wow!
Mister Burke is putting a good old Southern hurting on those pesky mangos:
Mister Mitrovic do you really believe that gag grouper are few & far between? Looks to me like someone is feeding us a line:
Joe, now that's a nice red grouper:
We found a huge school of bar jacks. They are hungry and there for the taking:
We have caught some quality fish, but the early morning bite has been a little on the slow side. Finally, here comes Mister Sun, here comes the fight of our lives. Don't think so? Just ask Mister Milos Mitrovic. Be sure to watch the video of Milos' great fights:
Mister Larry Miller joins in on 'Battling the Giants'!
Now this is really looking good. Many battles are lost, but many are won:
Ian, Joe, Milos, Captain Mark Hubbard:
Rich, what's all the excitement? I have hooked something much bigger than a mango. It's pulling like a freight train, but I have him headed in the right direction. Oh no! He is taking off like a bat out of, well you get the picture. Finally, nothing but dead weight. Shark attack! Captain Mark is simply amazed at the size of those two bite marks. Now that was a real, 'giant'!
Milos just won't stop. He is helping our side win the battle of the giants:
Ralph, thank you sir for helping us to win the great battle. This man knows how to fish:
Gosh, we are starved. Tammy to the rescue. I'll have one of your famous bacon, sausage, cheese omelettes. Good in no way adequately describes this masterpiece:
Joe, show us who is winning the battle of the giants:
Captain Mark Hubbard can't believe how well Mister Mitrovic is doing. He has caught ten keeper size gags, six American reds, and four scamp grouper, and it's not even noon yet:
Joe, hold up one of those American reds:
Mister Jason Burke, What do you think about the American red snapper being in such bad shape that the fishery can only stand at best a 28 day season?
Milos, as you throw that beauty back, what are your thoughts on the 'shortage' of the American red snapper?
Ralph, what's your thoughts on the status of the American red?
As hard as we try, we simply can't get away from them:
Those darn gags wont leave us alone either. Go away!
We are 'Battling the Giants' and actually winning...sometimes!
Tammy, what's for lunch? We are starved. How does hot off the grill beer batter twice dipped fish & red potato salad sound? Say no more, you have our attention:
Those darn American reds are determined not to leave us alone. We may only have 28 days, but we are going to make them pay for all the free meals:
Mister Matt Horn is visiting us from Minneapolis, Minnesota. Matt just had to see what our great state has to offer. Matt's conclusion, why would anyone possibly want to live anywhere else? Hey Matt, what will the weather be like when you get back home. Well Bob, if we are lucky it won't be too much colder that twenty degrees. Now, tell me more. What the heck is a Cuban sandwich? Where can I find one? They sound awesome. And your fish, gosh! The fish down here fight so hard. Hole on, this fish is really battling. (Be sure to catch the great battle on video). He keeps making a wide circle. Must be a black fin tuna. At least we can hope:
It's a tuna, a real tuna. I will never forget this:
Now there is something we seldom see on the Grounds, a big Key West Grunt:
Rich, now that's a nice mango:
Boy! If we could only keep grouper & Amereican reds:
Proper venting really helps. Catch you later:
Both grouper & American reds are very abundant on the Grounds. Don't let anyone tell you differently:
Winter mango snapper fishing is slow compared to hot weather fishing. However, many are still hungry:
And, speaking of hungry, Tammy, what's for dinner? Boy! Do I ever have something special for you. Start off with a green salad followed by bacon wrapped pork tinder-loin, green beans, and Texas toast. Tammy, you are too much!
Oh! I forgot this:
Well, finally the sun has had enough. See you in the morning:
We catch a few more mangrove snapper. But basically the fish decide it's time to hit the sack. Sounds like a great idea. We are give out from, 'Battling the Giants' of the Florida Middle Grounds. Already, most of us are planning our next trip, our next great adventure. February 22, is a full moon trip. The full of the moon is February 25, at 3:28 P.M. We will be fishing a couple of days before the full moon. It just does not get any better than that. Ralph, you had better join us. We need your help.
The FWC did not travel with us this time. However, these dedicated biologist were waiting for us at the dock. Now this is real data:
We had the Grounds to ourselves. As a matter of fact, we have not seen another boat during our last three trips.
Nice catch, with American reds & grouper, it would have been a great catch.
Will & Joe are very proud of our total team effort:
Look at the size of that AJ. Surely it will win the jack pot:
Or maybe that monster:
Man! This is going to be close:
Captain Mark Hubbard congratulates the jack pot winners. (R)
Amber Jack: Mister Larry Miller (L)
Snapper: Mister Jason Burke (Middle)
Is February a good time to, 'Battle the Giants' of the Florida Middle Grounds? Looks like anytime is a good time.
Bob Harbison Florida Outdoor Writers Association