We started our day with our guide parking the boat in some muddy shallows and cast netting for live bait. He was a truly a master of his craft: netting over 30 mullet in one throw.
We trolled out of the marina against piles of rocks. On our second pass, there was gulping at the surface followed by the signature combs of a rooster fish. The hooks just didn’t find a hold. This would become a fateful pattern.
We moved on to fish different wrecks out from the beach. At our first stop, our guide informed us that the fish were suspended above the wreck. After a strong take, my circle hook failed to set. I promptly changed to a J hook, but that was all the action at this spot. At our next stop, George’s bait was half eaten by something strong that did another excellent job at avoiding the hooks. Our guide said it was likely a grouper. Two empty spots later, we anchored up on a wreck. George struck yet again with a strong fish (likely another grouper) that buried him into the bottom and cut the line.
Our luck with the big fish just didn’t pan out, so we moved over to a shallower reef hoping for some triggerfish. I watched Ken bring up two of them while I toiled with my rig, but I finally got one!
I got a better picture of a starry grouper.
After that, it was triggerfish pandemonium! Everyone was hooking up and our plan was to clean them out and make way for some new species.
It’s hard to describe just how hard these things pull. On a locked drag, my Ugly Stick Tiger had a full bend on this fine specimen.
Our plan to clean out the triggers did eventually work. George raised a nice porcupinefish and then both Jeff (George’s long-time fishing buddy) and George got a double header of eels! George pointed out to me that his dropper loop rig was tied more freely than mine, which allowed his hook to extent past his sinker. I added some line to length my dropper and this produced two fine eels!
Back at the marina, the catfish greeted us in their own special way…
George suggested Ken and I fish the boat ramp for a new mojarra species.
Ken, never ceasing to amaze, also spotted some small goby-like fish. He was able to catch one, but after that one met its fate they simply refused to bite no matter how hard I tried.