June 6 th – 52hour golden ground trip.
There was a misunderstanding about this trip. This trip was about the deeper (than normal) depth in the Golden ground. It was not specifically targeted for American Red Snapper (ARS). Yes, it was true that ARS season was open. So if one happened to get ARS, he/she could keep it. Some were confused. On top of that, we were given a choice whether to bag all 4 ARSs or combine it with GAGs (Great Atlantic Grouper). So, one could have 2 ARS and 2 GAG, 1 ARS and 3 GAGs, or 3 ARSs and 1 GAG. Moreover, we needed to make a decision within minutes. Fishing in the Gulf of Mexico got as technical as it could be. Who said fishing was easy and relaxing? Other than this slight misunderstanding, I think the trip went very well.
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Weather was perfect. Wind was 5 knots ish. Just enough for us not feeling the heat of June sun in Florida. Wave was 1-2 feet at most. Part of it probably because we were in the quarter moon cycle. Yet, there was somebody who got seasick. No names here but you know who you are. What was the bad part of a perfect weather? Current was at minimum; slow current meant that fish bit weaker than normal. That was the theory.
First stop was in shallow water and it was at 2 pm (2 hours after we left dock). We saw Double Eagle of Clearwater Beach. We were looking for fulfill our GAGs. We had plenty of actions and I believe they were acting for a real action in the Golden ground on Saturday. Some were very good actions that we suggested they moved to Holywood for career in film industry. But after 3 stops, the boat could only bagged 2 good size GAGs and 2 red-groupers. Personally I think these near shore holes had been fished out.
We left for Middle ground at 4 pm and arrived at destination at 8 pm ish. This gave us some rest. Fishing on quarter moon was very different; I caught some of big mangos using squid and chicken rig. I usually picked a trip when it was new moon. Plenty of actions in the mangrove side. I got 2 good size yellow tail snappers. Porgies? Ugh, they were all over place and gave us some good jolts because we thought they were ARS. I believe the boat got some ARSs. Did you guys worry that we might be hungry in the middle of the night? Worry no more. Dena, our chef, made a bunch of peanut butter and jelly for our midnight snack. Ugh…. what was the phrase? “It hit the spot”.
At 4:30am on Saturday morning we sailed toward Golden ground. It took about 4 hours. Another good planning because we could use some sleeps.
Fish did not bite hard in the Golden ground but steady. There seemed to be two strategies: use big hooks and fish for big fish but they came pretty far apart, or use smaller hooks and fish for “smaller” fish and they came in more frequently. Some got really big ARSs and groupers. Joe caught a huge warsaw grouper ( 80-90 lbs). I got 2 tile fish, a bunch of scamps, a kitty Mitchel, and a good size 10-15 lbs of yellow edge. Fish were steady thought the day. And again …. not to mention the porgies… I meant huge porgies all over the place.
At 6:30 pm we called it enough of Golden ground and moved to the Elbow to get some more mangoes action at night. The bites were much stronger than in the previous night ( in the Middle ground). Every drop, I could feel “tap.. tap…”, reeled it and rod bent. Bang…. huge mangoes ( some of them were in 9-10 lbs). Very good fight. This went on till early morning when suddenly as if fish god said…. “enough is enough”, it slowed down in the morning. By early morning on Sunday, my cooler was filled up with fish.
Captain Mitch made another effort to pick up some ARS’s on the way home. But again, it was as if fish god said….”Enough guys, go home and see you family.”
Overall the trip was as good as expected: great and plenty of food ( big thanks to chef Dena), good fishing ( thanks to Capt Mitch and Capt James for picking up the spots and drift in the Golden ground), great service ( thanks to da best crews in the world, no tangle was too difficult for Ryan and Shane), and great companies ( thanks to all of my fellow fishermen and fisherwoman, old and new ones. Please find me in Facebook under “Rubin Bahar”, let’s get connected so that we could tell fish stories 24/7).