The game plan for my final fishing of 2017 was to have a blast, catch big fish and to feed about 60 people. My wife and I are going north for a couple weeks for kiddo and grand kiddo time and being planners, it was obvious that there wasn't enough frozen fish for the Jolly Roger January fish fry.
Well, who am I to argue with a glaring fishing opportunity? After all, I didn't really get a birthday present this year, (Or did I?) and the Yankee Capts had a light load and a decent weather outlook was on windfinder. So, off I trekked, Thursday, for a 10 PM departure, to take the final YC trip of the year. Lots of family type patrons on this trip. Several kids, teens, a mom, a young couple and the usual guys from far and near, plus five or six regulars.
I had a basic game plan, knowing that there is no such thing as three days of perfect weather this time of year. I would try hard to catch muttons in the shallower water, rest as needed, then slam the big fish hard if we got to deeper water. The wind was too strong Friday to expect Capt Greg to go deep and at the first stop, I nailed a very decent mutton and a porgie. Great start! But the yellow tails came in droves, some major sized flags in the mix and almost convinced me to join the frenzy that swept over the boat like a sand storm, producing a majority of happy, feverish, fisher-people, gladly bailing bait over the side, till midnight, yanking fish up so quickly that their swim bladders expanded, shoving stomachs out of mouths and spewing freshly gnawed bait all over every thing and everybody. What I call, Yankee Capts chumming and I slept through most of it.
Dawn broke and it seemed the wind had calmed a bit. Saturday might just be my turn to shine. Breakfast was a totally ridiculous bagel sandwich, I would call the "Show Stopper" if it were up to me. A massive, thick bagel, stuffed with three or four sausage patties, a couple eggs, with slightly runny yolks simply drooling out the edges, melted cheddar cheese somewhere in the mix. YUMMY! And as I was in no rush, I nibbled in delight and identified the unmistakable taste of honey and just to be certain, I checked with Chef Chad and, yes, he confirmed that there was a cinnamon donut of some kind crushed in there. The best part is that he has it wrapped in such a way, so it remains sanitary and not one ounce, drip or drool of goodness escapes. Whew!!! Don't even ask about his meat ball sandwich! I watched him assemble and cook those puppies!
We cruised a while and my ears could not be more pleased than when Greg said 200', put some lead on. I was rigged and ready, #7 circle hook, 8' leader of 60#line, 50# top shot line and 65 # braid mainline, 12 ounces of lead and a delectable goggle eye hanging from the hook. My two back up rods were rigged exactly the same, not a fray, or poorly tied knot to be found.
My preparedness paid off immediately with a healthy, deep water mutton, then not one or two, but THREE scamp groupers and then another mutton. I was on my third rig before we moved, rocked up once by a sea monster and hooked on bottom a couple time. I knew there was big flesh coming over the rails elsewhere, but focus was the mission and rather than check out the fish box, I re-rigged the damage.
I scored three big muttons at the next spot, Hilton, nearby, caught a bloated beast of a red grouper, making up for all of the lost line and tangles he had suffered through, with a smile. There were many red snappers released, I had two at the first deep spot.
Hooking a plump mutton at the start of the final deep water playground was a treat, but the real fun was tying into a beast, just before Capt Greg announced a move. He saw the battle in progress but was turned away for the gaffing. He announce on the forward speakers that in the long run it was only a fish, but a really nice fish, not knowing I had just caught a beast mutton and not an out of season red snapper he thought I had on. Might have been the biggest mutton on the boat, for the trip.
I realized that I already had enough meat to feed the needy and the greedy at the camp ground and try as I might, nothing of note would bite but sharks and bait robbers. Hilton and Aedel both turned things up a notch and came out with 9 muttons each. The yellow tail hunters scored totes of their quarry and many small to medium muttons too.
Between sleeping, lackluster attempts to magnetize muttons toward my hook and watching Chad work his magic in the galley, the trip dwindled away. My last few bags of bait were donated to the stern people, still pumping lead over the rail and I was pleased to see that it actually created a mini mutton storm in the final moments.
Bob looked pleased, with a full cooler, topped off with a big red grouper and as you can see from the pictures, we will all be eating well. Scamp grouper is our choice for supper tonight and for many others, judging by the number of scamps I saw being passed out.
Thanks Capt Greg, crew and chef Chad, see you in the new year for halfway ledge!