Sunday, January 27, 2013


Home in Port Charlotte
Low 53, High 82

Yesterday the fishing fleet returned to the Gulf of Mexico for the last weekend of Grouper season, until it re-opens April 1.  This time I joined Jerry on his Sailfish 1900, along with his friend John, for John's first fishing trip into the Gulf.  Subaru Jim was joined by a new guy named Bob, on Bob's 22 Robalo, and Al brought a boatload of 5 on his Bayliner 23 Trophy.

Al is selling his Bayliner, as it is a cuddy cabin, walk around style hull and he wants a center console.  The CC is a better hull configuration for the type of fishing we do around here.  I helped him out by creating a craigslist ad that generated a prospective buyer, who joined us on this outing.

We launched from Gasparilla boat ramp at 8 AM.  It was a chilly start, at 50* but it warmed to the upper 70's while we fished.  The seas were a little rough going out to the fishing grounds, 25 miles off shore, banging the hull against the water and even getting airborne on a few rouge waves.  Once we stopped it was quite comfy.  We had a highly productive day, catching more keeper size Red Grouper than I ever had before.  Between Jerry, John and I we boxed 11 Grouper, ranging in size from the minimum 20" to a big pig of a 26" fish Jerry hauled in.  There's a 4 fish per angler limit on Grouper, so we were just 1 shy of limiting out.  I also kept a really nice Lane Snapper and a big ol' Grunt, all good eating.  We fished as far out as 29 miles, in depths ranging from 80-100 feet.

We released quite a few short Grouper, as well.  Subaru Jim and Bob landed 2 keepers and I'm not sure what Al's tally was.  The ride back in was about 90 minutes and it was rough early but settled down as we got closer to shore.  We rode in the Robalo's wake for a while and that helped.  I was riding up front in Jerry's boat and took some sea sprays to the face but was able to shoot this little video (below), along with some still shots.

We arrived back at the ramp just before 5PM.  I'm sad to see the Grouper season end for a few months, but for went out with a bang.

Video clip, running the Gulf

Where we fished:

Sunday, January 13, 2013


I took my friend Joe out fishing for the first time. He lives part time in his native New England and he spends his winters, along with his wife and her parents, in their home in Port Charlotte. (See our trip to their home last September) Joe told me that he has never caught a Florida fish. He changed that 30 seconds after we started fishing.

I have the boat on the trailer so we could get easy access to the intracoastal waterway and Gulf of Mexico. Remember from my house is quite a long ride to get out to the Gulf. We were joined by two other boats, piloted by Jerry and Al. Subaru Jim rode on Jerry's boat and Al had two other guests on his boat.

We launched out of Gasparilla Park at 8:30 AM. The ride out was a little bumpy with 2 to 3 foot seas and winds of 10 to 15 mph but each time we stopped to fish, it was very comfortable.

Immediately upon dropping his first live shrimp to the bottom of the 70' deep water, Joe hooked up and landed a nice Lane Snapper. Within an hour we caught and released a dozen or more and put six snapper in the cooler. I told Joe he just might go home and tell his wife "we need to get a different boat." (They have a very nice deck boat but it's not for off-shore action)

We made four more stops at different locations in the Gulf and pulled up fish at three of the four spots. We caught and kept grouper, snapper and porgie, and we released lesser amberjack, short grouper and many more small baitfish that attacked our shrimp. We fished in depths from 70 feet to 85 feet and were as far as 25 miles offshore. (See our check-in points on the map below)

Of course I carry my satellite positioning transmitter or SPOT, and am able to check in hourly or as needed. If the need ever arose, all I have to do is push a button and the Coast Guard would be on their way. Traveling in a fleet of three boats also improves our safety. The new Garmin GPS that my wife got me for Christmas is able to communicate with my marine radio, using NMEA technology, giving us another avenue of emergency communication. The fact that I am a certified Red Cross CPR instructor put Joe's wife a little more at ease at the thought of me taking him so far out to Sea.

At 4 PM I knew we would have at least an hour ride back to shore, so we pulled up our lines stowed our gear and put some Scott Kirby music on the radio for the ride home. The sea gods were more than cooperative as the wind laid down to less than 5 mph, making for nearly smooth seas the whole trip home.

Joe caught so many fish we stopped counting the individual number of fish but we knew he landed at least six different species on the day. It was another great trip and a fabulous way to start out the new fishing year. Below are a few photos from our day.

Saturday, January 12, 2013


I bought a parking pass from Charlotte County for $53.50 that gives me unlimited parking for 2013 at the County's many boat ramps and the beaches of Port Charlotte and Englewood. That's a much better deal than paying 75 cents an hour.

I hauled the boat out of the canal and onto the trailer for an off shore trip, out of Gasparilla Park.
Using the trailer will save me about 20 gallons of fuel vs traveling from my backyard canal boat lift. The reason is because of the Cape Haze Peninsula. I either have to boat around it or drive my truck across it. I have previously posted on this subject.

Today I will be joined by my New England buddy, Joe, on my boat. Subaru Jim is back from PA and he will be with his neighbor, Jerry, on Jerry's boat. Our friend Al completes the fleet with 3 on his boat. We will burn more fuel but have much more room on deck of each boat and will cover three times of the reef area when looking for the fish. Should be a great time. Check back for the story and photos later tomorrow.