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January 09, 2009

Ring in the New Year!

If the first 3 trips of this New Year are an indicator...

Friday, Jan 2 we met James, his wife, and 2 small children at the dock. They wanted to do a half day to introduce his little kids to fishing. The children were 2 and 4. I have to tell you, I was not that excited about it because the kids are required to wear their life jackets at all times and usually get a bit whiny. This was not the case. The kids were the most well mannered children I've seen in many a year. The day was a bit on the blustery side but we decided to sneak a peek outside to see if it was doable. We ran to our bait patch and the seas were about 2-3 feet so we decided to let the kids enjoy catching some bait. While catching some of the bait Devon pinned a bait on a hook and free lined it into the chum. Several minutes passed by and then the bait got eaten. James cranked in a nice Mutton Snapper. Shortly thereafter he announced that we needed to head for the calmer backwaters as he was getting that queasy feeling. We spent the rest of the morning on a grass flat letting the kids catch Pinfish. All in all, James was very happy because the kids enjoyed themselves and the day was a success in his book.

Saturday, the 3rd, Devon and I met Brad Waugh and his son James at the dock. I've fished Brad before and we had a good trip. We had no problems making bait except that the tide was running into the wind and throwing the cast net was a mission. We had more than enough "hookers" and put the "netters" in with the Blue Runners, then headed offshore.

As we reached the edge we met about 100 boats that were fishing a Key Largo Sailfish tournament. Kites flying and boats slow trolling, Oh boy! We started off in an area that was the least congested, somewhat south of the pack. It didn't take long and the d/rigger sounded off and we were into a nice Kingfish.

http://i200.photobucket.com/albums/aa56/beastcharters/1-3-2009-1.jpg

As the day progressed we continued to catch a few more Kings all of which were decent sized. Suddenly we had a taker on the left rigger. A sailfish took to the air, spitting the bait, before anyone could get on the rod. 0 for 1! We reset our line and continued on. The day fell into a lull on the surface and I decided to take them to a patch of bottom that has produced well for me. On arrival, Devon dropped a Ballyhoo to the bottom and a Blue Runner down on the other rod. About 100 feet into the drift and the Ballyhoo gets eaten. James fights the fish and it is digging for the bottom. He gains the upper hand and then we see color. Nice Black! We stuck the fish and after a few pics, we loaded it into the fish box with the Kingfish.

http://i200.photobucket.com/albums/aa56/beastcharters/1-3-2009-2.jpg

Next drift and once again we get bit. This time the Hardtail gets the nod and Brad fights the fish. We are thinking it is possibly another Grouper but it turns out to be a respectable Amberjack, aka "reef donkey". We made a few more uneventful drifts and then departed to get back into Sailfish mode for the afternoon bite.

http://i200.photobucket.com/albums/aa56/beastcharters/1-3-2009-3.jpg

About an hour after we set up we saw one of the baits getting nervous and then a bill pops through the water. Sailfish! No? 2 Sailfish! Brad and James each grab the respective rods and Brad gets hooked up but James' fish comes unpinned before he could get tight on it. Down to 1 and the fish is definitely working Brad. As this fish is dragging Brad and us all over the ocean, I realize once again why I like to fish down south. 3 or 4 of the other boats were courteous and got out of our way so we could fight our fish. Thanks guys! Brad worked on this fish for 35 minutes before we finally got a release on it.

We set lines out again and a Booby bird decided to come in and dive on a bait. Hook up! CRAP! Devon reeled him in and grabbed him. I held the wings while we unhooked him. Guess what?!? Circle hooks work good on Booby birds too! Devon chucked the bird out of the boat and it got up and flew into the flat line and tangled up. UGH! Once again we reeled in the bird and set it free. Brad took this as an omen and since he had a 1½ hour drive home, he called it a day. The days tally in the fish box was 3 Kings, 1 AJ, 1 Black Grouper and we released 1 for 3 on Sails.

Sunday January 4th was my daughter's birthday. By now, most everyone is aware that she is also Devon's wife. So, being a fishing family, can you figure out what we decided to do to celebrate? Correctomundo my friends? We went fishing! Since the Sailfish have been so good this year we also took along Devon's Dad and Mom, Nino and Michelle. Nino has never caught a Sailfish and Devo was bent on getting Dad his first fish. We unleashed The BEAST and headed on our quest to let Amy enjoy her B'day on the water and get Nino's Sailfish.

We put about a dozen Hardtails in the well quickly at the first bait stop and then loaded the wells with live Bally's at the next bait patch. We ran the short distance offshore and yes, the tournament was still going on. We set up our normal spread and began searching. Pop, goes the d/rigger and we are into a Kingfish. Amy masters the fish to the boat and we drop it into the fish box. We stayed busy on the Kings for a while and they were all nice fish well over the 10# mark.

http://i200.photobucket.com/albums/aa56/beastcharters/1-4-2009-1.jpg

Meanwhile, Amy and Devon were working speed jigs and jig bally combo's throughout the water column, producing a Red Grouper which, was a bit short so we vented and released it, a Sand Tilefish (released), and a nice Mutton Snapper which we tossed into the box.

http://i200.photobucket.com/albums/aa56/beastcharters/1-4-2009-2.jpg

The d/rigger kept time moving by dredging up a Kingfish every now and again to pass the time and fill the fish box with good fish for the smoker.

http://i200.photobucket.com/albums/aa56/beastcharters/1-4-2009-3.jpg

We sidled in, out, and around the pack of boats with not one rise to our baits. Hmmm! As the day was getting late, Amy was ready to call it a day. We reminded her that we were just entering the witching hour. At 4 PM, they called lines out, wrapping up the tournament. All the boats began dumping their live wells and we had also begun to chum out some of ours. About 15-20 minutes goes by as the ocean begins to settle down from the parade of Battlewagons heading in. Birds are working like crazy on the "freebies" that are scattered everywhere. Suddenly I noticed a Sailfish chasing a ballyhoo, about 100 yards away. I turned over to get in position to head it off. 2, 4, 5 minutes go by and nothing. Must've missed him! Another minute or two passes and suddenly we see a Sail up on the right rigger? wait there's one on the right flat, there's one on the left flat too? left rigger bait is dancing? OMG! There is a huge pod of Sailfish behind the boat and they are all fighting for our baits. One of the biggest groups of Sailfish I've seen. Right rigger hooked up and Nino is on the rod. We missed the left flat line and left rigger? baits gone. Right flat is on for a second and spit's the bait. WOW, talk about a fire drill! Nino is still hooked up so we clear the cockpit to optimize his chances of landing this first Sailfish. Suddenly the fish charges the boat, greyhound toward us! The line is slack with a huge belly in it and Devon is screaming for his Dad to keep reeling? fast. He's still hooked up although Nino thought he had lost the fish. The fish comes tight and takes Nino down and dirty! The fish had worn himself out with that surface display and within 10 minutes it was boatside for the tag. We had to pull this one out of the water for a "Nino's first Sailfish" picture. We dropped the fish into the water and spent the next 5 minutes pulling the fish through the water, letting it regain itself. When the fish began fighting against Devon we turned it loose and with a few quick kicks of its tail, it was gone.

http://i200.photobucket.com/albums/aa56/beastcharters/1-4-2009-4.jpg

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U0MGOxbh3u4&feature=channel_page

Mission accomplished! With 5 nice Kingfish, and a Mutton in the box, and 1 for a bunch on Sailfish, we turned The BEAST west, and headed for the barn. I really can't think of a better way to ring in our New Year and Amester's B'day! Everyone had a great time on all 3 days, and The BEAST and crew, got some good exercise.

Wishing a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year to all, from the crew of The BEAST!

Capt. Jim
The BEAST
305-233-9996
beastcharters@aol.com
www.beastcharters.com