Kal and Anita Blumberg from Ft. Lauderdale hosted their 10 year old daughter, Eileen, on a productive trip to the Blue Bank area. While anchored up and chumming, the trio flicked 1/2 ounce chartreuse jigs tipped with fresh bits of shrimp on 10 pound spin to amass 83 fish and 15 species. They carded 14 Spanish mackerel to over 4 pounds, 18 bluefish up to 5 pounds, and then Anita whipped a 100 pound speedy & sloshing blacktip on 20 pound spin that sucked up a bloody 1/2 of a blue runner.
Eileen & mom Anita Blumberg with macks & blues
Andy Smith from Texas, fought many fish during his 2 day stay in Islamorada. He was fortunate in light southeasterly winds to slip out on to the Gulf edge near Schooner Bank to stake in and chum, landing 119 fish and 9 species on his first day. Smith threw 1/4 ounce bright green pompano jigs tipped with dime-size chunks of shrimp to nail 37 spanny macks to 5 1/2 pounds and a violent dusky shark. His second day in the same vicinity produced 90 fish and 10 species, including a 110 pound aerial spinner shark, trout to 4 1/2 pounds, ladyfish to 3 pounds and a monster, once in a lifetime 7 pound tooth-filled Spanish!
Joe Viglione from Garfield, NJ and son Joe Jr. also scheduled 2 days, the first timed squarely in the center of a frontal passage. They ran long and hid from heavy wind in the comfort of a shoreline near the East
Cape Canal, and banged out 71 fish and 8 species while carefully working the sandy bottom with small 1/2 ounce orange jigs enhanced with sections of live shrimp. They boated reds and big trout. On their second day, Joe and Joe Jr. were able to reach the Gulf edge near Sandy Key to anchor and chum on a strong outgoing tide and pull in 141 fish with an impressive 19 species. Their count included 18 bluefish, 21 span macks, pompano, mangrove and lane snappers. They also took a 7 foot violent hammerhead that pounded down a jack crevalle head on 20 pound spin. Then, at day’s end, Joe Sr. was bringing up a hand-size yellowtail on 10 pound spin, and a 120 pound tarpon inhaled the ‘tail and miraculously stayed hooked, with a mere 30 pound leader of mono. The early season poon greyhound jumped several times before eventually being released!
Joe Viglione Jr with fat mack
During 3 consecutive and rare days of calm and warmth, Monty Montgomerie from Minneapolis, MN and his friend Heath Smith from Austin, TX, started their first in downtown Islamorada in the dark with 17 pound spinners and palm-size blue crabs to have a 2 for 5 morning, landing tarpon of 55 and 80 pounds. They traveled to the Oyster Key area next to catch 2 sharks out of 6 bites, one blacktip and one spinner on freshly butterflied ladyfish on 20 pound spin. Then on to jigging with 3/8 ounce bullet jigs to catch 30 assorted fish which included trout, pompano, and jack crevalle. Their second day was fished in exactly the same areas, as they began 3 for 4 on the local tarpon, again on the helpless live crabs. This round of high-flying silver kings weighed 80, 110, and 115 pounds. They later jigged up 53 fish, including 24 trout, all near Palm Key, and then slugged it out with a 4 foot Dusky shark, and next, a 6 1/2 foot hammerhead, both eating dripping fillets of jack, and subdued on the 20 pound spinners. On their final day, the pair started out strong again, and brought to the boat tarpons of 90, 120, and 125 pounds out of 4 bites on the crunchy crabs. They moved and anchored up near Sprigger Bank for 2 hours of good action on the jig/shrimp combo with 56 fish and 14 species including trout to 4 pounds, spanish to 6 pounds, and pompano to 4 pounds.
Monty Montgomerie & Heath Smith and hammerhead
Ken Litton from CT was joined by his son Trey, and stepson Patrick Ciquera to anchor and chum near Arsenic Bank. They slam dunked 107 fish and 12 species on small jigs, with trout to 4 pounds, and mangrove snapper to 2 1/2 pounds. But, they started their day in grande fashion, (times two) earlier that morning dropping down a full one pound fresh dead silver mullet to the bottom of Indian Key Channel. Ken’s initial bite was bumpy and then swam smoothly away as the line came tight. After over 20 rigorous minutes of virtually no gain, the fish finally swam into 4 feet of water over some clear bottom to reveal a 16 foot plus, 800 pound class massive sawfish! This rare dinosaur was eventually led into even shallower water, and the wire was CAREFULLY cut for the release. Only one hour later, in nearby Race Channel, another one pound bait, this time a ladyfish, was scooped up from the bottom. An identical battle of hopelessness, until this beast moved out of the channel and on top of a grassy flat to reveal an even larger behemoth, a true grander at least, at over 17 feet!!!
Ken Litton’s nasty saw!
Maverick Blogservation: Monster rigging. When dropping downstairs to the bottom with these smelly bricks of happiness, always be prepared to possibly hook into the largest fish of your life. The bait: Sharks and most cartilaginous bottom dwellers have a reputation for being indiscriminate scavengers. There is little doubt that some fish will scarf up nearly anything stinky and laying on the ground. However, to exponentially increase the quality, and quantity of targets, fresh and well cared for bait is, by far, the preferred ammunition. Almost any legal-sized cut bait from a fish will attract attention. Mullet, ladyfish, jack crevalles, and blue runners are mostly used because they are plentiful and collecting them can also help to make a portion of the day’s enjoyable action. A bait weighing in at 1/3 to one pound is usually adequate, hooked deep enough to cast, but lightly enough to break away and easily hook-up. Carve it hydrodynamically if there is strong flowing current, to prevent unnatural spinning. This “steak” should never be moved or jigged. If cut properly, opening up the side, or removing the tail, the bait becomes its own chumline, and center of activity, first attracting smaller pickers, turning up the sensory volume in the form of vibration, scent, and mud. The big bite usually comes not long after the activity begins. On the business end of the tackle, IGFA rules allow 15 feet of double line and 5 feet of leader, or any combination that adds up to 20 feet total, with a maximum of 15 feet of either double line or leader. For fighting giants, the 15 feet of leader is preferred, and can be a composite of 10 feet of 60 or 80 pound mono, for body and tail contact on the fish, and ease while handling the terminal tackle at boatside, and of course some appropriately sized wire at the terminal end for protection.