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Cubera Snapper... El Nasty!

The Palm Beaches to Key Largo

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Cubera Snapper... El Nasty!

Postby The BEAST » Wed Aug 13, 2008 1:19 pm

Typical summer weather patterns are on us here in South Dade. The morning winds are non existent, the seas are flat, and the temperature climbs quickly with each hour of sunshine. Afternoons begin building colossal thunder boomers and torrential rains. These traits generally have most anglers frustrated as they are usually not conducive to good fishing. So you have 3 choices, brave the heat and rain cells trying to find the elusive August Dolphin, or stay at home. That’s only 2, you say, well the 3rd is to venture out on the Darkside. The night time brings much cooler temperatures. The rains have cooled the air and clouds have blotted out the sun in the latter part of the day.

During the last hours of daylight the Yellowtail fishing blossoms on the deeper patches with excellent catches being pretty easy. Other species will infiltrate your chum line, keeping it interesting. You can combine this with a venture farther offshore for some Swordfish, as more consistent catches are being reported. This is also the time of year for those big “Nasties”, the largest of all snappers, the Cubera. These very large fish are in the middle of their spawning ritual and can be found frequenting ledges, wrecks, and other bottom structure just off the reef line.

We recently did such a trip. Devon and myself were joined by his Uncle Al, our friend Tom, and my daughter Amy, for a friendly afternoon/evening trip. We met at the dock about 3 PM and shoved off shortly thereafter. Since the summer days last until 8PM we had plenty of time to get various baits needed for the evening. We coursed the Bay and headed for some patches to collect some Lobster. These are the preferred bait for the Cubera Snapper. Devon, Al, and Amy donned their snorkel gear and slid overboard as Tom and I drifted some of the shallow 15’ patches. Al and Devon collected up 14 bugs in short order and we were off to our next portion of the afternoons agenda. The next destination was one of our favorite ’tailing areas.

We dropped the hook on our Yellowtail spot and started a chum line. It was a bit slow at first but as the sun was nearing the horizon the Yellowtails became more active. The evening was progressing as planned. The “fatties” were there and chewing the baits until the sun began setting. We also caught a couple of nice Mangrove (Gray) snapper and added them to the live well although they were not intended to be bait. As darkness fell over us, the smaller ‘Tails infiltrated the chum, so we began preparing the big tackle for the evening. The night is now fully upon us and we pulled anchor and headed out in search of our main targets, the Cubera Snapper.

As we crossed over the reef edge we began our search for El Nasty. I found the fish well away from the wreck that most of the boats usually target. This school was massive. Fish were marking from 100’ deep all the way to the bottom. I pulled the boat into neutral so I could get a drift track and the speed of our drift. The light wind along with a good current, had us drifting at 3 knots, so I motored The BEAST up current a good distance and we dropped some lines. We completely missed the school on the first drift. It took 2 more drifts before I pinpointed my starting point and then it was GAME ON! The first angler to hook up was Tom. He made short work of this fish and it was soon to the leader. Devon flopped a nice 36# fish on the deck and we slid this fish into the fish box.

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A few drifts passed with good bites but no hook ups, and then we were on again. This time it was Devon’s rod and he was in a fight. A minute later and Al was hooked up and we had a double header going. Almost as fast as we had a double, Devon’s line went slack as he lost everything, including all the terminal gear. Al remained solidly hooked and we boated a healthy 40 pounder. We decided we were not grocery shopping so we vented this fish and released it to continue on with the life cycle.

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I got hooked up on the next drift and shortly into my fight I lost my fish. Amy got hooked up a short distance later and her fish was pushing her to the limit. A minute or so into the fight she remarked that she had a shark. No one believed her as the line peeled off. Suddenly there was a release and nothing but dead weight to crank up. Sure enough, she knew what she was talking about. Devon lifted a Cubera head over the side and we immediately noticed the broken hook on the stinger. She not only got sharked, she had the shark hooked up and broke the hook off in it. She is tough as nails, my little Mini Beast!

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Devon got hooked up once again and this time his tackle held fast. He worked this fish mano y mano and several times had his knuckles pulled down to the gunnels. This fish fought its heart out and Devon finally won the battle. He hoisted a big 50 pounder into the boat. We wanted to release her but after venting, she just refused to sound. We tried venting again and once again she refused to sound. We let her float for a few minutes hoping she would get her bearings and go, but it was not to be. We tried our best but sadly, it was not to be. Reluctantly, we had to back down and recapture her, loading her into the fish box.

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We made one more drift and I hooked up. I used low gear on the Tiagra to bring the fish up slower. This process worked out well as I had the fish to boat side in a matter of minutes and a 35 pound fish was aboard. We quickly vented the fish and released it, while watching it dive to the depths.

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Since we had our 2 fish boat limit and everyone on board got to catch a Cubera, we called it a night. Only 2 ½ hours of fishing time and we had caught 5 fish out of 10 bites. All aboard were completely satisfied and smiles shined brightly in the spreader lights. We stowed our gear and I pointed The BEAST toward the barn.

It’s not too late! The Cubera should be around their traditional haunts for another couple of weeks. If they are on your agenda of fish to catch, give your favorite captain a call and book a trip!

Below is a link to a condensed video of our trip!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U5Xa62H--88

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