2009-02-22 - Florida Keys Fishing - Sailfish, Snapper, and Grouper on a half day

I had the opportunitey to fill in for Capt. John yesterday and hosted a group of eight guys in the Keys for a Bachelor party. We got a bit of a late start on our morning half day outting (think there were a few folks hurting from the night before..). With the sailfish bite being slow, and bait a bit of a struggle as of late, we had planned to go anchor up on the reef and do some bottom fishing. The guys said they really wanted to catch a sailfish though, so we switched gears and headed to the bait patch. We were the last ones there and the word was that bait was again tough. We found a little spot and had ballyhoo behind the boat right away, but they just didnt' want to come quite close enough for our 12 fooot Cast Net. Both Andrew and I took a few throws at them and managed about a dozen. Not wanting to spend too much of our half day catching bait, we decided to go use the baits we had, trying for a sailfish, then go hit the reef to finish up the morning.

We started out just below the Eagle Wreck, and put out a spread of 3 Ballyhoo on Penn Spinning Outfits for sailfish, and one Penn 30 GLD down deep for a King Fish or Mutton Snapper. After a little over an hour of slow trolling around the Eagle Wreck, and hearing of only 1 sailfish caught by the fleet, I was about to suggest heading into the reef, when I saw the right long rigger snap. Andrew was right there and everything was text-book, perfect. Fish came tight on the cirlce hook, and after a couple minutes of hoping, we finally saw the sail as he grey hounded away from the boat. We settled in for what ended up being a rather long 30 mintue fight, as we chased that fish all over the place. He decided to go down deep on us, and we just took our time and eventually he came up and we got the clean release. The guys were stoked and decided to go catch dinner after that. We headed into a shallow patch reef, and caught plenty of decent sized snapper for the dinner plate and released about half a dozen (1 inch short) red grouper.

Captain Trey Rhyne - Thats Right