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December 20, 2007

Wahooooo!

tough conditions and tough fishing

Brrrrrrr! Chilly weather has finally invaded our space. At last! A major front has passed through our area and dropped the temperatures. Unfortunately, the winds that were generated by this front were brutal, to say the least, on Sunday and Monday. With that being said I will relay the details of my last trips.

Sunday began the "Adventures of The BEAST". I should have had a film crew to do an infomercial on how to fish a WorldCat 330TE under extreme conditions.

Devon and I met at the dock decked out in rain gear as the approaching front was determined to try and make us wet. The wind was howling at 25+ knots from the SW. This is doable. As long as the winds are anywhere from the west we would be fairly protected on the reef edge. The weather was anything but pleasant, but we knew that once the front pushed through it would get better, at least in the rain storm category. Our customers, Stefan and Silmara, arrived at the boat early. Silmara was not so energetic but Stefan was determined and anxious. They had come all the way from Germany to fish with us and fish we will. They boarded The BEAST, we stowed their gear and shoved off.

We had no trouble getting our Blue Runners and Goggle Eyes but the Ballyhoo patches were all murky. We hung on the hook for about 30 minutes at the first spot and caught only 1 Ballyhoo. We endured a brief but intense rain squall while I was contemplating a move. I made the decision to try another patch reef because I doubted seriously if a kite would fly in these strong winds. Ballyhoo are my preferred baits for slow trolling. As we approached the next patch the water was considerably cleaner and the ballyhoo came up with a little coaxing. We caught several dozen of them and fired up the Zuke's, heading offshore on a mission, and a mission it was.

For the better part of the day the weather was miserable one hour, and seemed to be clearing out with the next hour. The wind actually got worse at one point and were steady at 28-30 knots with gusts of 33 knots. With all this wind, believe it or not, the seas were only 4' with an infrequent 6' swell. Totally fishable but the intermittent rain was annoying.

We started fishing to the north of our usual spot and as I said earlier, putting out a kite was totally out of the question. We put out 4 up lines and another line down 50 feet. I worked the helm while Devon worked the pit. First fish to eat our offering came on the down line. Stefan grabbed the rod and began doing battle. As the fish rose to the surface we saw it was the dreaded "Caribbean Spotted Mackerel", aka Barracuda. Fishing was slow and we worked the north area a while longer and again got a hit on the down line. Again Stefan fights the fish an we see a brown color as it nears the boat. Cobia? Not this time. A small Sharpnose shark breaks the water. About the mid day mark, we got caught, in a very nasty rain storm, complete with lightning. Devon and I were uneasy and pulled lines and started running out of the storm. We were ready to pull the plug on this trip for safety sake when we broke out and saw the scattered clouds ahead. We ran down south and set up again. We managed to hook up to a decent Blackfin Tuna and a small Kingfish that afternoon. For some reason we were having trouble getting hooked up on the down line and missed about a half dozen bites. We finished the day by missing a Sailfish bite just before lines out.

Silmara never touched a rod, allowing Stefan to enjoy himself by catching all the fish. She kept repeating we were "crazy men" to brave those elements. We fished all day and only saw one other boat which fished for about 45 minutes and left. Arriving at the dock we were reviewing the day and planning on tomorrows trip. All were damp and chilled from this tough day of fishing but Stefan was happy with his limited success. Silmara with a huge smile, made it clear she was going shopping tomorrow, instead.

We arrived Monday morning to 50 degree weather, clear beautiful skies, but the wind was still blowing hard. What's this? 7:00... 7:30... 8:00 and no Stefan. 8:15 and Stefan is at the gate. What the heck? Silmara? Here she comes, a gamester at heart. I asked her what happened that took her away from her shopping and she told me that Stefan promised to take her Tuesday and was going to fund the whole shopping spree. So she came along and was once again invaluable at catching bait. All the bait came very easy and tossing the Calusa cast net twice, simply sealed the deal.

Winds out of the NW at 20-25 knots yet the seas were a mere 2-3 feet on the edge. We put out our normal setup as yesterday. This time we started south and stayed there most of the day. Frigates everywhere and I catch a glimpse of one working on the deck. There is a Sailfish rolling on its prey. I grabbed the flat line, cranked it in, and pitched it over there as the fish was sounding away content. Not happening this time. 30 minutes later I was marking fish at 90' and we dropped the downrigger to that depth. 2 missed strikes and then a hookup. We see color and the color is brown. A Cobia. Obviously less than the 33" minimum so it was released. Another drop and another bite. Up comes a nice little Silky shark. Devon remarked about an old hook in his jaw as it fell out revealing only a rusty spot on his right side jaw. We released him, of course. Next drop to the 90' level produces a Slippery Dick. Let's try that 90' drop once again shall we. BAM! The line starts screaming off the reel and Devon looks at me. We smiled at each other as I told Stefan, there's your fish. 10 minutes and we are seeing color. Man, that is a long fish. Big Kingfish? Barracuda? Sail? Oh no! As we see the blue coloration begin to appear Devon yells "Monster Wahoo". In a few minutes it's boatside and Devon sticks it with the gaff. The gaff almost straightens out completely as the fish slides off. Devon strikes the fish again and this time he horses the fish over the gunnel and it thuds to the deck. This Wahoo will be Stefan's biggest Wahoo for a long time to come. Mr. Wahoo was 63" long and weighed approximately 55 pounds. We couldn't be exact because my boat scale broke when we tried to weigh it An incredibly nice fish.

[IMG]http://i200.photobucket.com/albums/aa56/beastcharters/55Wahoo.jpg[/img]

Unlikely to top that Wahoo, we kept fishing anyway. We went through about a 2-3 hour lull, when finally we get struck on the top line. This fish is brown. Another Cobia? Legal length this time! No, another Silky shark. NO! Not another Silky, the same Silky we caught 4 hours before. Yeah right, you say! There was the proof, the rust stain in the right side jaw that we observed on the previous Silky. This has happened once before to me on a Barracuda.

We rounded out the day with an Ocean Tally, a peanut Dolphin attack, and then the down line, set at 60 feet this time, goes off again. Screaming away once, twice, three times and we are thinking Kingfish or another Wahoo. We see it is a "smoker" King and about 10 feet below the boat, the struggle stops. Stefan brings up the fish and the tail end in gone. Sharked! The "guard dog" allowed us to keep 18-20 pounds of the best part of the fish anyway.

About 30 minutes later we packed it in and called it a day. Devon remarked that this was the roughest 2 days he had ever fished to date. He has a new found respect for catamaran style hulls, especially The BEAST.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot to tell you about the Bald Eagle sitting on the Marina jetty. It was an awesome sight. Speaking of birds. We had a Royal Tern literally come sit in the boat. In the boat, means IN the boat, below the gunnels and on deck. It wore a band on its right leg and was not apprehensive of humans, obviously. It rode up front for the most part, but a few hours later it was walking right by everyone with no regard. Too cool, huh?!? After a considerable while, it tried to take off but couldn't get any lift under its wings, inside and below the gunnels. Devon reached down and gently scooped the bird under the belly and raised it up into the wind and it took off. Psychics say that loved ones who have passed on will often send birds as their symbols to you. Coincidence? This day happened to be the 3rd anniversary of my Mother's passing! I miss you too, Mom!

Until next time; Happy Holidays to all, from the crew of The BEAST.

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