This time of year is one of my favorite times of year to fish. When conditions are normal, we usually stop on the reef and net some live ballyhoo, (baitfish) and then slow troll them along the reef looking for mackerel, Snapper, Grouper and barracuda or we go out deeper and slow troll them for, Kingfish, Tuna, Bonito and hopefully Sailfish. It is usually good action, fun fishing and very “hands-on ” fishing for my customers.
Again, I said when conditions are normal. So far this year, conditions have not been “normal”. It’s been unusually warm and there have been only occasional schools of ballyhoo on the reef. Most days there have not been enough to make it worth stopping and throwing the net for. Also, when the bait is not thick on the reef, the fish are not thick either. They follow the food and if you go to a restaurant and they tell you they are out of food, you go somewhere else. In that sense, Fish are like people. it can make fishing the reef, either at anchor or trolling very difficult.
We were not booked today, but we got a phone call from a family wanting to go for an afternoon trip. The wind was blowing a bit, but still very “fishable” conditions. As they just wanted action for their two sons and just enough fish for one meal, I decided to anchor up on one reef and let the reef next to it block some of the wind and waves. The fishing was easy and the action was good. After about a half-hour of fishing, we had some ballyhoo come up in the chum slick. The rare and elusive ballyhoo right behind the boat! I could not get my cast net out fast enough. I only threw once, but we got enough to fish with for a half day.
We didn’t have a lot of time, to fish, but we got a couple of nice Cero mackerel and a Big barracuda on the live ballyhoo. It’s amazing how just a couple of bites from bigger fish can make a big difference in the day. I probably could have pulled the anchor and slow trolled along the front of the reef, but it would have been considerably rougher and one of the boys was kind of on the “edge” of feeling ill. The action was good where we were and we had plenty of fish for dinner. We were throwing most of the fish back, so we stayed where we were. It was just good to see the bait there. I have a full day tomorrow and unless my group has a completely different plan in mind, I will be back looking for some live ballyhoo in the morning.