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If you think about it, “Fishing” is a broad term.

It can mean many things. I’ve had people book my boat having no idea of how an “offshore” boat works. Trolling with rigged baits and lures is definitely different than using bobbers and worms for bluegills in the pond. Both qualify as “fishing” but that is the only similarity. So, after 27 yrs in business, I usually ask my customers “What they want to fish for?” when they arrive in the morning. Some people want to fish for dinner. Some people want steady action regardless of the type of fish or it’s edibility. I have people that just want a particular game fish such as a Sailfish.

My customer on Friday and Saturday was only looking for Sailfish.

In the over 10 yrs he has fished with me, he has never taken any fish to eat. I’ve tried for years to try to talk him into eating some of the fish he catches, but that’s not what fishing is to him. He is a sport fisherman and he’s good at it.

When I do ask people what they want,

it is not uncommon to get the reply: ” I want a big fish”. Over the years, I’ve learned to ask people to show me with their hands what their definition of a big fish is. More often than not, they hold their hands about 2 ft apart. You have to remember, most people are used to those bluegills at the pond. By comparison, a 2 ft fish is big. In this realm, it is not. That’s a modest barracuda or a nice cero mackerel. Usually easy to accomplish, (it’s fishing so I never say anything is a “given”). Today’s people wanted a big fish and hopefully some fish for dinner. Reasonable goals and the way the fishing has been, I thought our chances were good.

We started off inshore in about 150 ft of water.

We’ve been catching some Wahoo and Sailfish around that depth. There have been some late season dolphin around. A few have been inshore, but most have been out deeper. I usually leave at 7 am for my trips while most of the other boats leave at 8. This means I have about an hour to fish before the other boat get their lines in the water. That’s enough time to see if it’s worth staying inshore or heading out deeper looking for the late-season dolphin.

 

We hooked a “big” fish on the deep troll

relatively quickly. It turned out to be a Wahoo about 25lbs. Unfortunately, something else in the ocean likes wahoo too. The fish came in with the back 3rd if it all chewed up. From the tooth marks, I think it was a big barracuda. A hooked fish puts out distress signals and every other predator will try to take advantage if they can. This one tried, but, while the back part of the Wahoo was chewed up. it was all there. Wahoo #1 – big fish in the boat and still enough good meat for a great couple of dinners.

I decided to stay inshore

and keep looking for more Wahoo. As I mentioned, we have caught some sailfish in that depth. As far as big fish, a sailfish would probably be our biggest inshore fish so it was worth a try. I trolled west working in and out from about 180ft to 110 ft of water. It was not red hot, but we did pick up a few other fish. A couple of barracudas, and a couple of keeper dolphin. The boats offshore were not catching dolphin as well as they had been so I figured there was no rush to head out there. This was working, might as well stick with it.

We got down to the west,

to an area known as the end of Boca Grande Bar. It is where a section of the outer reef,(called the Bar), ends. It can be an excellent place for many kinds of fish. Sailfish, Wahoo, Tuna, Dolphin, Barracuda and King Mackerel are not uncommon there. This was supposed to be a 6 hr trip, and it was getting time to start heading back toward Key West and get ready to run home. I asked my customers if they wanted to extend to a full day and they said yes. I was glad they did and so were they!

We were trolling just past the end of the bar

when we hooked up on the deep troll again. The way it ran, I was pretty confident it was another Wahoo, but I’ve been fooled before. A barracuda will make a powerful run, but Barracudas have no stamina and will burn out fairly quickly, especially on 50lb tackle. A wahoo is much faster and makes a much longer run. Many times it will make more than one. This fish absolutely screamed line off the reel. It took a little while to bring it in, but when we did it was another Wahoo. Wahoo #2 in the boat!

 

I trolled the area for a while.

We released a couple more barracudas and a small dolphin. We caught a medium-sized Black Fin Tuna but there were not a lot of bites to be had. I started to work back east along the Bar. Again zig-zagging in and out from about 110 ft to 180 ft of water. About 1/3 of the way back, near the end of the Southwest Channel, we hooked another big fish on the deep troll. We were close to the Bar, only in about 120 ft of water so while it ran too fast and far for a barracuda, I thought it might be a big King Mackerel.  It wasn’t! Wahoo # 3 in the boat! This one was a really “Big fish”: 43lbs on the scale. I could catch 25lb Wahoo all day and be happy, but this one was “Icing on the cake”. We headed home a short time later with some quality fish in the boat and some very happy customers.

 

43lb Wahoo!