Home in Port Charlotte
High of 92, light winds on the water
I arrived at the boat ramp just after 7AM for a day of fishing alone. I launched the boat without incident, taking the second to last parking spot in the park. I pulled away from the ramp area and then pinned the boat down in 2' of water so that I could rig up my lines. While parked there my GPS kept shutting off on it's own. After 30 minutes of this nonsense I tried to use my handheld back up GPS but couldn't find it.
I'd apparently left it at home. There are a few things you can do without on your boat in these waters but not having electronic navigation to keep you off the sandbars is not a good idea. Besides, I wanted to head off-shore and not having GPS would be like being blind out there.
I decided to return to the ramp, tied up the boat, disconnected my trailer to save my parking spot and I headed for home. I was home in 20 minutes, found the handheld Garmin and was back on the boat after a 45 minute false start.
I launched out of Gasparilla boat ramp at 9AM and headed west, into the Gulf. At about the 50' mark I began trolling a rigged ballyhoo at 7 knots. In 70' of water there were targets all over the bottom. At 72' the trolling line went off. Love that clicker sound, don't you? I was hoping against all odds to find a lost dolphin fish but this ended up being my first ever Bonito/False Albacore/Little Tunny. He had some some size and when he got close to the boat he spooked and went on another long run. I finally landed him and dropped him in the live well. After he stopped jumping around I measured him at 24". I hooked into another one, almost immediately upon getting back to 7 knots. This one jumped off the hook and lived to see another day.
I anchored down in 80' and used both Gulp shrimp and cut Bonito. I caught a white Grunt on the Gulp and used it as bottom bait. The fish finder showed a lot of fish on the rocky bottom. The Grunt was swallowed by something that put up the biggest fight I've ever had. I don't know what it was, how big it was or what it was hiding under but I tried to work him up for 45 minutes without success. Every time I suspected I could have my lead weight snagged on a rock, the big fish would tug, tug, tug...reaffirming I was hooked up. Being alone on the boat made it tough because I seriously needed a drink of water. After well over an hour I decided I'd had enough. I was thinking that perhaps he'd stuck my lead in a rock and was using it to his advantage. I had 40 pound braided power pro with an 80 pound floro leader and I couldn't break it off easily.
Remora were feasting on my chum bag throughout the day. I snapped a couple of photos of them.
I stuck my rod in a holder and grabbed a couple of Gatorades out of the cooler. I pulled up anchor and then used the power of the boat to break the braided line free. I re-rigged a ballyhoo on my trolling rod and slowly headed back to civilization. I had another quick blast to my trolled line but it was gone just like that.
The weather and the wind were cooperative all day. When I returned through Gasparilla Pass the wave action had picked up from all the boats on the intercoastal. I got the boat on the trailer by 430 and was home by 5.
Not a great day fishing but it was a very enjoyable day on the water. Photos are below. Click on pics for full size image.