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Jacks or Better!

The Palm Beaches to Key Largo

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Jacks or Better!

Postby The BEAST » Thu Apr 03, 2008 2:14 am

Some of my customers brought me a gift from the frozen north… a chest and sinus cold which has me a bit under the weather still. With that in mind, I’m not going to get into an involved discussion about our crazy weather since everyone reading this is already aware of it or are simply oblivious. The weather is not the only thing out of sync. Fish patterns are out of whack as well. It appears that spring time patterns have arrived 3-4 weeks early in our area. This is not a bad thing because it offers many more opportunities to catch fish, be it for sport or table fare.

Since my last report I’ve been out several times with one of those being one of our beloved “fun” trips. Before Easter we had trips with some really nice guys and all were short ¾ day trips. Most of our short trips can be described as either, time restrictive, possible “chummers”, or people who hold a spinning reel upside down. Many of these trips are people who just want to catch fish, with the only criteria being, BIG!

Jon falls under the first category I mentioned…time constraints. Being one of my favorites, he is an excellent angler who fishes with us all the time. He fishes often by himself, and generally wants to catch only Sails or Swords. He was fishing a short day, unusual for him, but we managed to hook him up to a Sail, 3 Kingfish, and a Bonito.

The next trip was Pete, Jeff, and Fred who also did a short day as did the other trip with Charles, Don, and Johnny. These trips fell under the other categories but I will leave the explanations at that. Pete, Jeff and Fred, managed to have a nice day getting hooked up to a Sailfish, 2 nice Kingfish, and 3 Amberjack to 60 pounds. We also managed to catch 7 fat Mango Snapper while trying to make bait.


Charles, Don, and Johnny weren’t so lucky with the sea conditions as the previous trips. Mother Nature had issued them some huffing winds and standing seas in the morning. They fished for an hour trying for a Sailfish and losing a mystery fish on a blistering run. They opted to go a few rounds of “mano y mano” on the wrecks. They had a blast and were absolutely worn out after wrestling 8 of those large AJ’s. They were so worn out that Don and Johnny each took a nap in the bean bags on the way in. Johnny caught the largest A-Jack that day, a solid 55 pounds. Notice the broken stand up rod visible above my shiny bald head. These fish are tackle busters.


We gave it one last shot for a Sailfish and dropped the down rod almost to the bottom. Don finished the day with a dinner sized Mutton Snapper.


This past Saturday Devon, Amy and I decided to go out for a fun day and try a few new ideas. When we do these “fun” days, nothing is regimented from the time we meet at the dock until the time we say good bye. We all arrived around 7:30 and began loading the boat.

We got underway and as we left the Marina we began collecting our live bait by tossing the net on some small schools of mullet. We also gathered some Hardtails and Ballyhoo on hook and line as we made our way offshore. We were trying everything that came to mind on this day. The 3 of us love to fish these no pressure days and we always seem to have considerable success. Staying busy was the motto for the day. Since we are all decent anglers, we ran a spread that covered it all. We had 3 Ballyhoo on flat lines, a Mullet and a Hardtail flying off the kite, a Ballyhoo mid depth on the down rod, a Mullet on the bottom rod and Devon jigging a hair jig/hoo combo.

First up was a nice little Bull Dorado on a flat lined Ballyhoo. Shortly afterwards a smaller Cow ate the Hardtail flying off the kite. 15 minutes after resetting we had a Sailfish eating the kite riding Mullet. We missed a few Kingfish bites and lost a Cero Mackerel at the boat. As the day progressed and the bite slowed, we ventured offshore to one of the deeper wrecks. Several drops using Hardtails on one rod and Ballyhoo on the other produced us 3 Amberjack in the 30 pound range and 6 Mutton Snapper. WOW! Enough of that! Catching AJ’s is too much like work!

We pulled off the wreck and went back to drifting on the 1-2’ seas. We continued to catch fish all day with the bottom bite being excellent. We did have 2 more Sailfish attempts but never got the hook up. We called it a day with only 2 Hardtails, 1 Mullet, and 2 weak Ballyhoo baits left in the live wells. We tallied the 3 Sailfish bites, 2 Dorado, 3 AJ’s, 15 Mutton Snapper, 3 Sand Tiles, 1 Bonito, and a Queen Trigger. We pointed the bows of The BEAST towards the barn and throttled her up. We arrived at the Marina, with a full fish box, tired and grinning from ear to ear!

Anytime you get to have a day on the water with the family, it is like having cheese cake for desert. When you have a day like we had it is like adding fresh raspberries on top of that cheesecake.

Capt. Jim
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