The Florida Fisherman ll fishes the Continental Shelf
Florida is blessed with great inshore fishing as well as magnificent offshore challenges that defy the imagination. The Florida Fisherman ll, out of Hubbard's Marina, Madeira Beach Florida, has been fishing the Florida Middle Grounds and Elbow for more years than most of us like to count. Is there really life beyond these natural wonderlands? Let's go see!
Three P.M. Thursday afternoon the eighteenth day of April, fifteen adventurous anglers board the Florida Fisherman ll in search of that elusive dream, the dream of knowing what lies beyond.
Tammy, our chef, our nurse, our friend, welcomes each and every dreamer, "How are you? It's an honor to have you on the Florida."
John's Pass bridge open your jaws, we are out of here. We are on a mission.
Captain Mark Hubbard shares with us the tools of the trade:
First things first, we haven't even cleared the channel before seeing the first king jump. Hurry! put out some feathery jigs. Wow! That was quick. Is it a king or a mackerel? David Zinn, that's a beautiful school king:
This is fun. Captain Mark decides to troll along the beach:
After a dozen kings and well over a dozen mackerel, it's time to hit our cozy AC bunks. Hold on! All that excitement has made us hungry. Tammy to the rescue with an incredible hot off the grill Italian sausage sub with all the trimmings. What a way to start our adventure. Nap time! The gentle purr of those two huge diesels are singing us to sleep. On no! Captain Hubbard have a heart. You mean it's time to get up? It's time, lets go! It's relatively calm, but oh so dark and early. The mango bite is much slower than we would have liked. Mister David Zinn that's a real beauty:
I put down my camera long enough to get into the action. I must admit I am proud of my six pound mango. Then the big one. Instantly I hit the button on my Shimano TLD 20 two speed. There is no stopping this run away freight train. If it's a monster grouper he is headed for his rocky home. Immediately I give this over-grown brute everything I have. Off he goes to wherever it is fish that size go. My forty pound test snapper leader snaps like a thread.
The mango bit continues to be slow. Captain Hubbard decides it's time to go deeper. Look at that structure in 260 feet. Let's give it a try. Gary, that's a beautiful American red:
Brian Sachs, way to go sir:
Mister Charles Andrews you are a real winner:
Mister Ashley, sir you can be proud of that one:
Mister Andrews that's a beauty:
What a fight!
what a mutton snapper. Sir, you have made Captain Mark Hubbard very proud:
Ever see outriggers on a head boat? Captain Anthony prepares for the Continental Shelf. Let's get ready for some really deep water:
Captain Mark puts out the 'teasers' at 2,000 feet. We are on the edge of the Continental Shelf:
A hit, a hit on top. It looks like a marlin. Oh no! he is gone.
Mister David Zinn, sir you can be proud of that tuna:
Jesse, what a fighter. Man! look at the size of those waves:
Mister Manuel Castillo, sir you can be proud of that bonito:
Tammy time, beef stroganoff time:
Night time on the Continental Shelf. I want to catch a sword fish, but it's really getting rough, and here comes the rain. bed time!
Saturday morning brings more of the same, the fish are on the move and very hard to find. It's so rough that Captain Mark is having a difficult time reading the fish scope, and the fish are really on the move. Fishing is slow but, giving the circumstances, we have nothing to complain about. That low pressure front that hit us was a bad one. The Florida Fisherman ll took it in stride. I saw no one fall or even sea sick the entire trip. Let's head back in for the evening mango bite. Once again, the fishing remains very slow, never-the-less, some beautiful mangrove snapper hit the deck of the Florida Fisherman ll. Mister Brian Sachs, you can really be proud of that one:
Mister Donald Knox, sir you know how to catch really big Vermillion snapper:
Let's go home. Hopefully on the Florida Fisherman ll 's next trip to the continental shelf, May 16, the weather will be on our side. I still have a date with mister sword fish.
Now that was a quick trip home. Captain Mark are you sure it's time to get up? It's time!
Ever see a flying fish up close? Tennessee Dave found this on the deck. Bet that was a hard landing:
Not bad considering we were fighting a strong front. Hopefully the weather in May will give us a much better shot at the 'dream of knowing what lies beyond.'
We are going to need a bigger cooler:
Tennessee Dave, sir that's one heck of a tuna. Dave is really proud of his very first tuna:
Talk about coughing up cold hard cash. These happy jack pot winners earned their reward. Mother nature tried, but could not stop us.
Bet it would be hard bottom fishing in 2,000 feet of water. Oh well! Maybe next time. Is May here yet? Is there really 'life beyond?' Talk about a challenge to 'defy the imagination!'
Check out the short action packed video of our trip. Turn the volume down, that wind was really strong. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3JfKcXLvV9Q
Bob Harbison Native Florida Sportsman and a proud member of the Florida Outdoor Writers Association