Out on the water this week, we took advantage of the calm conditions and did a lot of deep water fishing. We found the Jacks have moved in to spawn, because every wreck we dropped at had either Greater Amberjacks or the better eating Almaco Jacks on it. One thing you can count on with Jacks is that they will put up a great fight from the moment they are hooked up till they hit the deck of the boat. This is what has earned them the nickname of ‘donkeys’, because that’s exactly what it feels like you are hauling up from the bottom every time you hook one of these big guys.
We were using live baits, either pilchards or cigar minnows; however butterfly jigs seemed to be working as well. If you were able to keep your bait away from the Jacks for a moment, there were definitely a couple of Mutton Snappers to be had. There was also some good action on the chicken rigs; we were catching some really nice Yellow eye Snappers out in 300 to 500 feet of water. What’s a chicken rig you ask? It is a way of fishing multiple hooks on one line without getting tangled up. We use them mainly in shallow water, but in the deep it gives you a better opportunity to catch a couple of fish at a time with less work.
Out at the Islamorada Hump they were catching some nice Tuna’s in the 8-25 lb range. There were also some big Amber Jacks caught, when you could get them up through the sharks that is. We had a cool opportunity last week to get up close and personal with a very large Hammerhead. He ate our Amberjack in half and then followed the head up to the transom of the boat where my deck technician, Daniel, reached down to pet him. It was a pretty cool sight.
On the reef there was a pick of Yellowtail and Mangrove Snappers. If you put your time in you could put together a good catch. Lots of Grouper were caught as well, and even though they have to be released, they are still fun to catch.