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Donkey Kong!

The Palm Beaches to Key Largo

Moderator: admin

Donkey Kong!

Postby The BEAST » Mon May 17, 2010 8:41 am

I had trouble getting on the site when I wrote this report a couple weeks ago, but it is a good one, so I'm posting it now.

We did a fun trip with the usual members, Devon, Amy, “Uncle” Al, and I. We were meat fishing so Amy could take some fresh fish to her Mom while on vacation. We met up at 10 AM and tossed the dock lines. Wreck fishing was about all that Amy wanted to do, no Sailfish, Mackerel, or anything of that nature. Of course, the first stop was for live bait and we hit one of our Hardtail areas and caught enough for the day.

We proceeded out to the first wreck site. Drifting live shrimp pegged on a jig, we had a few bites but most all ended in a cut off. Those dreaded Caribbean Spotted Mackerel (Cuda) will eat anything. We did get a couple of good bites but one wrecked us and we thought we had played out the other when the hook straightened. OK… let’s go get some Jacks.

Many of our local fisherman look down there noses at the Amberjack, but my customers, as well as my fun crew, know what fun they are to catch and when eaten fresh are a great table fare. I headed for a deep wreck and we started dropping live ones as well as speed jigs. The jigs were working better on the Almaco Jacks, and then Uncle Al brought the first “wreck donkey’ aboard.

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The lives baits did there trick also and all of us kept catching fish until we had enough fun for one day, quitting way earlier than normal.

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We did make another stop at the first wreck and tried the jig/shrimp deal one more time. Uncle Al hooked up a monster Blue Runner which attracted a pack of Cuda’s, right to the boat, and 2 big Sandbar sharks could be seen cruising the scene about 40’ down.

OK… we’re done! We caught many AJ’s, keeping only 3 around 30 pounds and 2 nice eating sized Almaco. The fish were very clean and filleted out nicely. Amy’s mom was very pleased, as she rolled it in corn meal (country style), and fried it up to a nice golden brown outside with a firm white meat inside. My mouth is watering right now just thinking about it.

Yesterday, we took out our good customers, Skyler Smith, his dad Scott, and Skyler brought along his brother Ryan. He remembered the wreck fishing from last year and wanted to show his brother what strong fish they are. Skyler said he couldn’t begin to describe an Amberjack fight, in Missouri terms. Ryan had to see it to believe it. So the agenda was set to only wreck fish for AJ’s.

The group showed up a bit late and The BEAST was tugging at the dock lines. We turned her out about 7:30 AM and made our way to our Hardtail area but nothing was going on there. We made the short run to another spot. They were there, like a wolf pack in a feeding frenzy. Oh Lord! The Hardtails were averaging 1 ½ - 2 pounds or better, and were giving them some sport just catching them on the 12# spinners. I told Skyler, that I hoped he was ready for an all day, back breaker outing. Was he sure that he didn’t want to try for some Ballyhoo and do some slow trolling for Sails, Kings, Mahi, Blackfin Tuna, etc.? He was sure! OK Bud… you asked for it.

After we filled both wells with about 4 dozen of these jumbo baits, I throttled up the Suzy 300’s and we made our way out to Wreck # 1 for a warm up. Devon and Al had caught a nice 25# Cobia there a few days ago. We tried to drift some shrimp and crabs while another worked a smaller speed jig. Sklyer caught a small Scamp grouper on the speed jig which was quickly returned to the water. Nothing much doing on the live crusty’s except a suspected bite on one crab and another definite bite on the crab. Definite for sure, as it came back with only a crushed top shell. Several more uneventful drifts and we pulled lines.

Destination #2 was a deep water wreck with a limited relief. This area produces nice fish and you don’t get broken off in the wreck as often. Conditions were good and the drift was right. On the first drop we used one of the smaller, medium sized baits, and speed jigs. Bang! The bait gets whacked and Ryan gets his first try at a “wreck donkey”! The temperature was comfortable, yet sweat was beading up on the top of his bald head. How about that? He grunts to us, “It pulls better than my biggest fish, a 40# grass carp!” Laughter filled the boat! Dang brother, it’s a baby AJ, only weighing about 25 pounds, you might be in trouble when we use the big baits.

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Next drift was using the same set, one live bait and speed jigs. The speed jig scored a small Almaco and the live bait got the nod for Skyler. A more respectable sized donkey. You might be asking why we call them donkeys. They fit the name perfectly because trying to pull these stubborn fish away from the wreck is like trying to make a donkey go somewhere he doesn’t want to go.

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As we use the smaller baits up, the sizes progress into the jumbo category and so does the size of the fish being caught. Scott is next and works a nice averaged sized fish to the boat. So far we are only warming them up on 25-35 pound fish.

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Nothing but jumbo baits left, and one or two small ones, we put the speed jigs down since they were not producing well. Two live baits on each drift and the sizes of the fish caught, increase into the high 30’s to upper 40 pound range. Several drifts and several fish later and these guys are in heaven. I made a call on the squawker to a friend out of Ocean Reef and he was doing well on the Sails, Kingfish, and Blackfin Tuna with some Mahi mixed in. I suggested a break to get some live ‘Hoo and give them a try but nothing doing, not interested. These 3 guys are animals and saying “Uncle” or “I give up“ is not in their vocabulary. They were enjoying the non stop action the AJ’s were offering. We haven’t made one drift without a bite and only lost one fish to the wreck so far. OK… You asked for it!

I told Devon to pick out one of the biggest baits in the well and send it down. He picked out a jumbo 2 ½ pounder and let it go. BAM! Fish on! The rods bent over and Skyler can do little with this fish. The line begins to run out and a minute later it is over. The fish made it to the wreck. That was a big one! Devon reties a new leader as I reposition on the same drift line. OK… let her rip! He sends down the biggest bait as I send the other line down. We pass over the wreck and on the backside of it, the jumbo bait gets nervous. BOOM! The rod is bent over almost to the waterline and Skyler fights to remove it from the rod holder. It’s on like donkey kong! This is a good ‘un boys! Skyler manages to keep the fish from reaching the wreck with short pumps and 25 pounds of drag. Knuckle buster! Several times, the fish pins his hands to the gunwales. 600 ft from the wreck and we breath a bit easier. 10, 20, 30, minutes into the fight and we are razzing him that this fish doesn’t even know it’s hooked yet. The line on the reel appears like he is still only 20’ off the bottom. Keep the pressure on him! Devon and I are watching the rod tip and it appears to be heavy, no tip action or throbbing. Now we’re not so sure we have an AJ but are hedging our bets that it could be a big shark. Possibly a Sandbar, or big Hammerhead? 40 minutes and he is gaining some line. Oops! The fish just took it back. 50 minutes and the fish is beginning to tire from the relentless pressure Skyler is putting on him. We’re beginning to think shark more with each passing minute. 60 minutes and over a mile from the hook site. we can make out color about 100’ down. It’s BIG! As the fish gets closer to the surface with each pump of the rod, we are seeing more color. It’s not a shark! 25 feet and we see it is definitely a big fish. OMG! As it rolls over we see that it’s DONKEY KONG! Devon drops the smaller gaff and in 2 seconds has the big meat hook. I leader the fish to him, and he sticks it. It takes both of us to pull this monster over the gunwale. The fish falls to the deck with a resounding THUD! We high five each other as we stare at this fish and estimate her to be 100 pounds. Look! There, hanging in the fishes mouth, is the hook and the other half of the leader we just lost on the last drift! After we calmed down from all of this, we realized that we had over estimated the weight. The fish ONLY weighed 96 pounds!!!!!! Skyler’s fish had dramatically broken The BEAST’s boat record of 80 pounds.

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Now, I asked once more if they wanted to try for something else as it would be tough to top that fish! NOPE! These guys were having way too much fun! I motored toward our drift line when I saw another boat ahead. He was on a “floater”. We approached slowly and there was a 40’ telephone pole adrift in the water. We began pitching some small speed jigs and nothing was happening. There were only 2 or 3 “micro” Dolphin, hanging around. It wasn’t fresh because it was encrusted with barnacles, yet there were no Bar Jacks, Tripletail, or other fish. We quickly dropped a live bait down on a stinger rig in hopes of a Wahoo. No one home! Devon remarked to me. “Imagine finding that pole, with the boat hull or motors, as we are running around in the dark, Sword fishing!” That is not something I want to think about

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We made a few more drifts on the wreck but business was slowing down. We actually made a drift that didn’t get a bite so I suggested spending the last 2 hours on the Grunt & Sweat wreck to see if they were hungry. The group agreed as Ryan has yet to catch a fish over 30 pounds. So off we went!

This wreck has a bit more structure and we tend to get wrecked more often. The fish weren’t marking well but we gave it a shot. Once again we get bit on each drift and Scott gets wrecked by a good fish. Next pass and he hooks up again. This time he posts up a 55 pounder. WOW! You got to be kidding me! There is the hook, leader, and several feet of our Power Pro that we just lost on the last drift! What are the chances of that happening, not once, but twice in the same day?

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Ryan is still catching baby fish by this days standard and we have enough time to get a few more drifts in. The rod bends over, Ryan is on a nice fish. By now he had a lot of practice, so he finesses the fish up. That is a polite way to say he is muscle tired and has slowed down a bit. We have color and Ryan, finally, has a respectable 38 pound fish.

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Having lost count, I know we used about 3 dozen baits, got wrecked by about half a dozen, and caught about 10-15 big fish. All were vented and released except one. We called it a day and I turned the bow toward home. The cruise is short as we are still hammered and chattering about the “Big’un” in the box. We get The BEAST leashed up to the dock and it takes Skyler and Devon to get the big fish up on the *beep* One more photo for posterity before the fish goes to the cleaning table.

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We really enjoyed fishing with the Smith’s as they are very good people with a great sense of humor. We joked all day, with Ryan being the main focus of it. The easy going attitude of this group helped make it a very memorable trip. Of course a good fish bite, never hurts!

By the way… to those who talk down the Amberjack. That 96 was cleaner than most of the Red Grouper I’ve seen and it produced some large, quality filets! If you don’t believe me, that’s cool, leave them for us!

Capt. Jim
The BEAST
305-233-9996
beastcharters@aol.com
http://www.beastcharters.com
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The BEAST
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Location: Miami/upper Keys

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