Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Dry Tortugas - 04/05-07/08

I apologize for the late post, i know its out of order...only by two months though...

Ahhh the Tortugas... Me and my fiance left Hollywood around 7pm on thursday, took our time down to Key West with a stop for dinner along the way, got there around 12:30am...drank till the bars closed and then passed out in the truck till boarding time @ 7am. The ride out was a bit rough, seas were 6-8ft and there were plenty of people losing their lunches around me which was not at all enjoyable but after two and a half hours we arrived at garden key and set-up shop for the next three nights.

Day 1 After setting up camp we made lunch and then Gina took a nap and i, hopped up like a 5 year old, went to scout for fish with the lightest tackle i brought (calcutta 150 - 7ft plugstick - 12lb mono) and some DOA shrimp, glow of course. I found plenty of fiesty mangrove snapper ready to smack the arties and a 15'' mangrove will rip drag and rock you up in a second. The wind was a bit much for kayak fishing so we opted for exploring the fort and when the boats left settled in for some early afternoon dock fishing.

I spotted tarpon cruising in the channel between bush and garden key so i broke out the big stick (Fin-nor 16 - 7ft beating stick - 30lb mono) and started chucking stuff at them...no luck, tried topwaters, jigs, plugs, everything...then i broke out a single ballyhoo and butterflied it, tossed it with no weight and sure enough BAM right after hitting the water. I got the thing up to shore and saw that i hooked him right in the corner of the mouth and so i picked him up and he smacked me right in the face with his tail and i dropped him in the sand, i popped out the hook and after a quick revive he swam off to look for more ballyhoo.

We ate dinner, skirt steak, and of course...went night fishing after watching the sunset on the spot where i proposed last year. Between the nice-sized mangroves there were massive goliaths! we went 2-3, losing the monster around around a piling. The smallest one we got near the beach for pics, he was around 100-150lbs, the 250-300lb fella we brought up to the dock for a shot, and the monster...well they always get away. We never took the goliaths out of the water, and from speaking with rangers there, who watched me me toy with them all weekend long, there was no problem with that...they stopped biting on ballyhoo after that night anyway!

Day 2 I woke up early to take pictures of the sunrise. We had a nice breakfast of potatoes and bacon while watching the seaplanes fly in and out again. Spent the day relaxing, fishing, taking pictures...it was still blowing 20-25 and the fishing was fine from shore, where did i have to be anyway? no rush, had a few nice ales and took long nap while the boats and the day-trippers were there, and when they left we went fishing. The muttons started biting, I was catching all shorts (squid) and then Gina has to come show me up by getting one at 16'' 1/4, he was dinner that night.

Day 3 Awoke to early morning fishing...there were some massive mangroves i'd been seeing under the dock but i couldn't get them to touch anything...so i hatched a plan: i went to the dock with a few chunks of ballyhoo and a 6ft 20lb leader, i crawled near the edge making sure not to make any heavy movements and i pitched the bait over the side...wham! After that the wind died finally and i grabbed the long-haired bovine and went exploring. I didn't do to well though, a few cudas, and then my yo-zuri got rocked by a big dark shadow that ran for deep water and when i clamped down on the drag SNAP there goes my St. Croix. I paddled out to the reefs and then made my way back, defeated by the ocean and its deziens...Gina got some cool shots though. And of course and the last night it rained...alot, i had limited fishing time but i did manged to make a nice catch: 6 1/2 - 7ft nurse shark.

Day 4 Hate leaving...but you got to do it, we explored and ate, i fished and lost another big goliath. We set sail @ 3pm and saw the last of the Tortugas with Hospital Key on the way out. We got home around 10pm, the fish were set-out (9 snapper - minus one for that mutton we ate) and we passed out, dead-tired, but content, we'll be back again soon.

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