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Ft. Myers - Offshore

Capt. Rick Featherstone
December 1, 2004
Fort Myers - Saltwater Fishing Report

SKA Nationals 2004

What a trip.

Team Gottim’ On, MJ, Mark, Brittany, Liz and I loaded up and left Ft. Myers at 5:30 AM Sunday with the Venture 34 in tow. Fourteen hours later we unloaded in Biloxi MS at the Imperial Palace. Next morning we launched the rig, found a slip, and promptly stayed in port with thirty-knot winds keeping us at bay. We spent the day working on finding ribbonfish and possible bait locations offshore. We also talked with several charter captains at the marina trying to get a feel for the area and how king fishing had been. Tuesday morning our team left the dock at seven, loaded up on fuel, ice, and chum. With the temp reading fifty-seven we made the twelve-mile run across Biloxi Bay where we discovered solid twelve-foot seas churning it up. Undaunted we ran out into the Gulf to a pair of oil rigs about ten miles distant. Pretty impressive, but no bait at all in the dirty water. Running back inside we tried several markers and bottom spots to no avail. Wednesday MJ and Liz volunteered to stay in the Casino with thoughts of big seas in their heads. Mark, Brittany, and I headed out in search of bait. Again the seas were large, not as big eight to tens, but with a fifty plus mile run in our face and the knowledge that other boats had struggled we decided to try for mullet or pogies inshore. We threw our nets many times and I lost one. We talked with every small boat commercial guy we saw to find the mullet. Our research was worthwhile as we learned where to find the mullet. Thursday brought cold temps again and still 20-knot winds. First thing we bought a dozen mullet from the bait shop. We spent the next six hours throwing the net is just terrible conditions. Nasty bottom, and smelly shrimp industry byproduct made the job less than fun. We managed another dozen or so but it became clear this was not going to work out. We then purchased another ten or eleven mullet from a local guy in a skiff. That gave us about 30 in our bait pens. That and a box of ribbons would have to do. We also discovered our starboard lower unit was out of order. Thanks to team Digestabe, and Yamaha tournament support we were up and running in a couple of hours.

Friday morning we woke to MJ’s happy voice at four AM. After loading up we headed for the start line in heavy fog and darkness. The SKA is crazy. To think that staring these boats in dense fog and darkness is just wishful thinking. Running full out among so many boat wakes, tournament boats, incoming shrimp boats, and barges, Mark did a great job keeping is safe. A local Captain had plotted a short cut for us and this helped get us quickly out of the race for the pass and I felt much safer running alone. Of course it was then we noticed the 23 and under class running straight at our beam! Oops! But our short cut worked great and we lead the pack for a long distance out into the Gulf as it got daylight and the fog lifted. Forty miles later we stopped at our first rig of the day. Lots of boats, and only one bite a big Spanish on a ribbonfish. About and hour later we ran another twenty five more miles out to much better looking water and better water temps. This time it was non-stop king bites. Fish after fish in the low twenty-pound range kept us working hard. As the afternoon passed, we decided to take our twenty-two pound fish to the scale and just work harder Saturday. We could have fished another hour but Mark wisely chose to get us in before dark in unfamiliar waters. The SKA might consider this idea as well. After posting our fish we fueled up, bought thirty-six mullet and two cases of ribbonfish.

Saturday brought even heavier fog and instructions from the SKA over the VHF to back off the throttles to be safe! After another white-knuckle start we ran straight to our twenty-pound spot, and caught a low twenty fish right away. Now we had a fish to weigh, so we threw the hail marry pass and ran to some numbers the local Captains gave us well offshore. It was slow at first and we questioned our move. After a half hour we landed a big fifty-pound cuda, then another. But then, zingggggggggggg the sound of a big king blazing away with our line. That fish weighed forty-one pounds and went in the bag. Next came another low forty fish. Then it happened. Double hookup with very large fish. After a long battle MJ brought her fish in and it was clear it was bigger than the one in the bag so I gaffed it. Forty-Four pounds on the scale! Twenty minutes later Mark had his fish boat side and I could not believe my eyes, it was huge. I gaffed that fish. It went 48 on our scale, later 46 something on the SKA scale! I suggested we head in. My lovely competitive wife pleaded her case to stay and go for a sixty. We did stay a while but the rumble of that lower unit and the long run convinced Mark to head in. A strong front approached us about thirty miles out. Thankfully we had plenty of time. After weighting our fish, were not heading for the weight in party as we thought we were way back in the standings after the many fifty plus fish weighed on Friday. Mark received a cell call that said to get over there so we did. We were shocked to discover we were in the top twenty! We ended up at sixteenth and had the big fish for the second day. Wow. Great time! We started home Sunday and made the last ten hours on Monday. Many thanks to all that helped make this trip possible.

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Light tackle deep sea fishing charters. Backcountry light tackle and fly. Naples, Ft. Myers, Sanibel. Family's, no experience necessary. Tarpon, Shark, Permit, Cuda, Goliath Grouper, Snook Redfish, Trout, and more. Three boats available, Corporate charters available. Fly fishing, plug, spin, and live bait. 4 hours, 6 hours, 8 hours.

Contact Info:

Magic Hook Charters
2210 20th Ave NE
Naples, FL 34120
Phone: 239-455-0006
Alt. Phone: 239-821-6229
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