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Mahi Mahi Mania

Capt. Alex Crawford
September 7, 2009
Carrabelle - Saltwater Fishing Report

It all began innocently enough for the Skelton boys, Dad and two sons, from North Georgia. It was a routine customer request. The day's primary objective was to run way, way afar and far, far away into the cobalt- blue of the Gulf of Mexico where the giants swim. You pull and they pull back. Little did we all know that this day would be unbelievably special.

Angler expectations are a heavy burden, so I double-iced the boat and gimbaled the 30s into the rod holders. I was prepared to sooth their rapacious mentality. Call it catch and fillet or simply wide-open fun.

By 8 am we arrived at our first numbers thirteen miles south. At 9 we pulled anchor with a limit of snappers to run 33 miles south in search of Cuban gunships and AJs. For once, the weather man was right, as we ran at WOT(wide open throttle) out to a broken bottom for live baits. Sabikis would produce quality baits including hardtails, grunts, squirrelfish, lizardfish and beeliners. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Get carried away reliving this day in words.

Since these accomplished anglers expressed a taste for mahis, I gave them the watch detail. At around 20 miles they saw it. A floating tree surrounded by sargassum weed, a classic dolphinfish attractor. Always the prepared opportunist fishermen, we had squid and bonito chunk baits at the ready. The weapons were in the gunwale holders, 12 pound class Spheros 4000 spinners loaded with new Ande and fluorocarbon leaders tied directly to the running line. Live bait 1/0 hooks were buried into the chunk baits. Mahis can be shy, particularly with barrel swivels and heavy leaders and line. And larger specimens hang under the schoolie fish. My Cocoons sunglasses are perfect for seeing down in the water, as well as reading my electronics in the bright sunlight.

We positioned the boat up wind and turned the motor off. The first cast was nothing short of perfection, as we watched the take. At once, the ocean was lit up with turquoise/ yellow mahis everywhere. Every cast resulted in a drag-screaming, tail-walking water rocket. These brilliantly colored fish are the most beautiful thing that swims, next to Kim Basinger. After about half an hour and 20 some fish, the bite ended and I attempted to return the cockpit to white gelcoat from blood red.

Now that all muscles were well-limbered, it was jack time. So, we pointed Topknots south and turned on the AC. When we arrived on the huge shrimp boat wreck, there was an explosion of life. Six hundred pound porpoises were playing tag. Spade fish were cruising the surface looking for free eats. And a 6 foot 'cuda swam a couple laps around the vessel, as if to say, "Hello gentlemen, glad you're here, I'm hungry."

We marked the wreck on the color bottom machine and started the first drift with our biggest hardtail 80 feet down. Looking at the scope, I counted to five and wham, amberjack bliss. The huge circle hook set in and the trusty Shimano TLD whined her wonderful string music. The big jack was headed for the wreck superstructure, but the angler knew the drill. Crank down, pump up the best you can. He was able to get the fish coming his way and, finally, the gaff found its mark and over the gunwale and into the 150 quart box he went, tail flopping out. After a brief blow, I asked who's next. After some thoughtful silence, the next victim stepped to the plate. Gotta dress up for every game.

After everyone had a chance to exhibit his machismo, we settled back into our grouper and snapper mode. Red snappers, gag groupers and some huge beeliners made it to the surface before our barracuda could chomp them. By 3pm we said no mas and set sail for the Northern hill. With the light and variable south wind on our transom, I leaned heavy on the throttle, as we ran at 40 mph to the dock. There were lots of fish to be carved and the dancin' girls were waiting with brewskies on ice.

But we were'nt done yet. Sometimes, when you are out there tide dancin' on the deep blue, spectacular things happen. Out of nowhere, we ran up on a 20 foot whale, sun bathing on top. This is a rare thing on the Gulf coast. My anglers were awestruck and I refused to charge them any more for the experience. And then we sighted another floating piece of timber and guess what? You got it! MAHI MAHI city again! This day gave a whole new meaning to world-class angling experience, an absolutely special day. Who wants to try for another?

Till next tide, tight lines and solid hookups,
Captain Alex Crawford
Proud Member Florida Outdoor Writers Association
Proud Member Florida Guides Association
Proud Member CCA

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Captain Alex Crawford is a full time guide who has fished the Florida Panhandle offshore for 26 years. He specializes in grouper and snapper trips with light tackle on live bait. Custom trips for companies with multiple boats will be arranged. Inshore trips targeting specific species and custom eco trips are available for birding, gator watching, shelling, picnics and barrier islands. Contact Captain Alex for a fun and productive trip on Florida's Forgotten Coast.

Contact Info:

Topknots Charters
P. O. Box 1029
Carrabelle, FL 32322
Phone: 850-697-8946
Alt. Phone: same
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