Monday February 20th, 2023
Finally we got a break in the weather and I had to take full advantage. I immediately called my buddy Captain Anthony Belmonte who runs Figured It Out fishing charters out of Madeira Beach FL, and we put together a solid day of jigging.
Anthony knows along with many others that I have an obsession of chasing large snowy grouper but so far they have gotten the best of me, whether it's just straight up getting worked or from having a tackle failure that causes me to lose the fight. This day wouldn't be much different but not without some success also.
I contacted my friend Josh Hanna and asked him to join me for the day and he agreed which was a great decision for him as you will see. We left the dock at 230am and went for very long but comfortable ride out, thankfully the forecast was correct for once and we were blessed with smooth conditions. We arrived at the first spot at around 6am and got setup.
First drop, I hit the bottom and then jigged up very fast about 15 cranks to get the scope out of the line then dropped it back down to the bottom and before it could touch I was on! The fish was very aggressive on the take and felt like a solid fish, 10 minutes later I had a gorgeous 23lb snowy in the boat. This was my PB best and it felt great to get the 20lb mark surpassed.
Not long after Josh hooks up himself to what looks like a solid fish also, after he casually fights the fish and gets it up we were both shocked at the size. Up came a stud 29lb snowy. Josh earned the nickname (Big Fish Josh) for this reason, always landing some really quality fish. I drop back down after that and instantly im on again but this time with a solid longtail bass. Josh also got his first and a very quality longtail on that spot.
Next drop I hook up but this time something happens, whatever it is has a lot more weight and I break off instantly which was strange. Once I reeled up I noticed I lost about 100' of braid which is very odd. I drop down again and hook up and once more I break off with very little pressure, oh no I have something going on with the braid that is being exposed with larger fish. Two large fish and two break offs due to braid failure which is a very rare occurrence but its not the first time I've seen it. Could've been from a previous trip or just a bad batch. Not long after that we look up and realize we have someone heading our way and they aren't stopping. 130 miles out and someone has to come right up on us! Its amazing to me that people are that disrespectful out there.
We decide to reel up and make the move to some shallower water in search of Yellow Edge grouper. After fishing the rest of the morning we were able to pick off a few more small snowys, vermillions, porgies and a blueline tile. The bite was very slow for most of the day until the late afternoon. We got to our last spot and Josh and I were hooke up back to back on each drop. I was getting the vermillions while josh was landing some huge gags. It was a great way to end the day especially seeing josh land a solid rusty belly Gag Grouper which was safely released. All in all a great day with the mission being accomplished.