The Dog Days of Winter

  • Got out last week and hit the rigs in search of Wahoo and Tuna. ¬†This was the first time I have ever had a dog along for an overnighter, but it turns out he is an avid angler.

That is Milo, he is Frenchy’s pup, and he was full on fishing the entire trip. Every time he heard a reel clicker he was on it. In this video he shows his technique for subduing uncooperative tuna!

I especially like the way he takes a bite and spits it out on the deck ūüôā Reminded me of Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield.

We did not tear ’em up, but we found some fish and turned a bit of success into a new recipe we dubbed¬†At√ļn del Mediterr√°neo. ¬†It was good!

The tuna is just seared in a bit of olive oil with a dash of salt, pepper and cardamon.  Served over brown rice with a cold sauce of fresh diced tomatoes, lemon, olive oil, salt, parsley, green onions, capers, and olives. On the side, big juicy grapes and fresh steamed broccoli.  Yum!

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Weather looked good last week and when Frenchy proposed we head for the rigs, I jumped at the chance. ¬†It’s not often you get a forecast like this in February.

The crew was me, Frenchy, Allen, Manfred, Chris and, of course, Milo.

We headed to the fixed platforms on the shelf looking for wahoo.  We had one nice strike on the large Yo Zuri, but all we had to show for it was some missing paint and a nice impression of some very sharp wahoo teeth.

We bounced south by Marlin and Ram Powell checking there for Tuna and Wahoo, but no love.  Water was ugly and had river weeds floating in it.  67 degrees.  We moved south to Horn and picked up a decent blackfin bite, but no yellowfin activity and the water was cold and green.  We moved south to Ensco DS 8505 and the water there was a balmy 74 and we picked up several smaller yellowfin in short order.

Manfred is a lean mean jiggin’ machine. ¬†Like the Energizer Bunny he just keeps on going. ¬†I don’t know how he does it, but he supplied us with a bunch of blackfin that we converted into chunk bait trying to trade up to yellowfin. ¬†He also jigged up at least one yellowfin, maybe more. Chris took first shift at the chunk duty.

While we were finding some fish, the size was not what we were hoping for.  Our friend Nick was in another boat working Nakika and some of the other ships and rigs in the area and they were having the same challenge.

We tried Q5000, a rig I had never seen before.  Milo was on duty inspecting operations.

We had lots of fun and it was great to have a chance to do an overnighter this time of year, but with fuel low we decided to head for the hill.

Hope you enjoyed the report. ¬†Until next time, Catch ’em Up!

Deep Drop Rig

The other day I blogged about a recent trip we took to do deep drop.  You can read that here and check out the grouper, tile fish and bass we caught:

I was asked about the rigs we were using to catch those fish so I created a short video to show you how to make them up. ¬†They are pretty simple and while you can buy them already made up, it’s a lot cheaper to do yourself.

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Here is the video of building the deep drop rig. ¬†I had a little help from my K9 buddy. ¬†He didn’t seem very impressed.

For deep drop, you really need an electric reel.  Cranking up five to eight pounds of weight 800 feet to check your bait would get old really fast. These used to be particularly expensive, but they have come down in price significantly in the last couple of years.  You can get some really nice ones, but you can also go budget.  I have a Diawa Tanacum Bull 1000 that is really nice but relatively lower priced.  I also have a Fish Winch that is at the low end of the price spectrum, but that I have found to be like the turtle, slow and steady.

The rod on the Fish Winch is just a trolling rod with roller guides. ¬†Works fine and I switch it back and forth between trolling and deep drop so I don’t need two separate rods. ¬†The one on the Tanacum is a really nice dedicated deep drop rod my wife bought me and you can also see in the picture a kite rod (also a gift from my wife. She keeps me well outfitted!). This allows me to switch the Tanacum over for kite fishing duty rather than having two separate reels.

Hope that all helps you to get out there and catch ’em up.

P.S. Please enter your email address over on the right margin to subscribe and register for a chance to win your free custom powder coated and etched Yeti cup on January 30.  Good luck!

Swordfish Sword Work of Art

This summer I had the good fortune of catching my first swordfish.  I blogged all about it in FN PAIR-A-DICE Wins Sword Fight.   Click through on that link to see the full story and all the pics, but this is her:

Well, I decided that as a memento of that occasion I wanted to save the bill and do something cool with it.  After a bit of research, I found an artist named RJ Boyle who does really great work painting swordfish bills.   He is also an avid fisherman.  My lovely bride then offered to pay to have him paint mine (she is awesome).

Pictures don’t really do it justice, but you get a much better sense from this short video I did. ¬†I had a blast finding the music to go with it!

Here are some pics as well. (OH, and over there —————> ¬† ¬† ¬† you sign up for free Yeti cup!


In order to do this I first had to prepare the bill.  To do that I wrapped it in some chicken wire, tied a rope to it and threw it off my dock.  There it stayed for a couple of months with all the creatures of the sea enjoying a wee feast.  Occasionally, I pulled it out to see how it was getting along and to pull away pieces of loose flesh.  The nieces and nephews loved these check-ins.  The kids generally fall into two categories, the scientifically intrigued, and the squealers.  I can tell you, it smells pretty nasty for a while.

After all the flesh was off it and it had spent plenty of time in the water I pulled it out and scrubbed it with soapy water with a dash of bleach.  I then put it in the yard to bake in the sun for a couple of weeks.  Washed it again and packed it in borax.  Left it in the borax for a couple of weeks and it was good to go and lemony fresh.

I mailed it off to RJ and he called me when it was ready to paint to ask me generally what I wanted on it.  I sent him a picture of the FN PAIR-A-DICE and he actually painted her on the bill.  That made it extra special to me.  He also painted on the weight and date of the catch.  To see other bills by RJ Boyle, go here.

My next project is to build a proper mount for it.  I started on that task, but have not been happy with what I put together so far.  I really want to make sure I do it justice.

Before you go, please sign up to subscribe by entering your email over there —> in the box on the margin and then make sure you click the email in the link that will send you. ¬†If you are registered as an email follower on January 30, 2017 your name will be in the hat for the FREE custom powder coated and etched Yeti cup from Precision Powder Coating. You can read all the details here.

Good luck, and until next time, Catch ‘Em Up!

Snowy Winter

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Man, we had some ugly weather last week.  It felt like we had lightening hitting in the yard for hours.  80 MPH winds in Gulf Shores.  8 inches of rain at home.  It was no fun.  Then this crazy cold front blew in last night with snow in Mobile and 28 degree low temp here this AM.  But, in between, there was Thursday. Oh, Glorious Thursday!  Man, she was begging for us to head offshore, so we did.

With the Pair-A-Dice down for maintenance I was fortunate to get an invite from Frenchy and we headed out of Pensacola on The Blue Spirit. Joining us for the trip: Noah, Andrew and Nick “the Lure Guy,” a solid crew.

We had a smooth ride out and set up the deep drop rigs in search of some denizens of the deep.

Nick scored a nice Yellow Edge early. ¬†(Subscribe over there ——->)

We also got on some Long Tail Sea Bass. ¬†These are some really cool looking fish. Reminds me of a quote from film director David Lynch (DUNE, Wild at Heart, Blue Velvet…): ¬†“If you want to catch little fish, you can stay in the shallow water. ¬†But if you want to catch the big fish, you’ve got to go deeper. ¬†Down deep, the fish are more powerful and more pure. They’re huge and abstract. And they’re very beautiful.” ¬†Well, he wasn’t really talking about fish, but, regardless, the words had some credibility in the world of deep drop this week.

We moved to some deeper water and got on some Tile Fish as well.  Both Blueline Tiles and Golden Tiles.

The Man-O-War were out in force.  Lots of tentacles coming up on the deep drop lines.

Stumbled on this Snowy Grouper while looking for tiles.

Before he ate my bait, he ate this little guy that I found in his mouth.

We also had this Oil Fish fall in our laps.

He has cool eyes.

We also tried for some swords to no effect.  Had two separate hits, but nobody ate the bait.  All good, we packed up and headed for the barn.

Make sure you sign up to be an email follower so you can get a chance at the free Yeti cup. ¬†Good luck, and until next time, catch ’em up!

How to Rig a Spanish Mackerel as a Trolled Bait


That is right, a freebie for my registered email followers! ¬†I am going to give away a custom powder coated and engraved Yeti cup from Precision Powder Coating. ¬†Your choice of a 20oz Rambler, a Colster, or a Low Ball powder coated and engraved to your specs by Josh at Precision Powder Coating.¬† ¬†These guys are based in Texas and do cool work. ¬†They are not sponsors of this blog or advertisers (this is not a commercial blog), but I bought some custom Ramblers from them a few months ago and thought they were great, so I decided to give one away to my loyal followers (that’s you!). ¬†Click their link above to look at lots of examples, but here is a pic of one they did for me before:


Here is how it will work.

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Now, Back to Business.  Lets Talk About How to Rig A Spanish Mackerel as a Trolled Bait.

Well, I have not been able to get offshore recently, but I have been using my time wisely. ¬†I have been catching all sorts of bait and getting ready for future trips. ¬†There have been lots of LY in the bays and bayous and they are filling up the freezer. ¬†I also have been getting big mullet and I’ll rig one of those up in a future post. ¬†I also caught some Spanish Mackerel and made up a video of how ¬†to rig that up with a J-Hook and a mono leader. ¬†It comes out like this:


These are not as tough to rig as mullet, but for sure more of a chore than ballyhoo.  You need a deboning tool to get the backbone out.  This makes the fish limber so it swims nicely in the water.  Its a two piece tool that looks like this:


You debone with the larger tube and then insert the smaller dowel inside to clear the bone out of the tube.


You also need a rigging needle. I have done a few of these before, but not a lot so one thing I learned is that the open eye (bottom one in below image) needle I used was a bad choice.  I should have used one with a closed eye like the one on top in the below photo.


Generally I prefer the open eye as it is easier to thread the floss on, but here I was using the floss to sew the belly of the Spanish closed and as I went over prior threads, I was catching them with the needle.  You will see in the video.

The day before I rigged up the bait, I put it in a saltwater brine to toughen it up. ¬†It’s just ice water and a commercial brine mix (Bionic, Baitmasters etc…). ¬†I have also just used kosher salt before and that works fine. ¬†What is really good is to mix saltwater brine in your ice box on the boat and put the fish in there immediately when you catch them. ¬†It really locks in their natural colors. Here is the mullet in the brine solution:


OK, so here is the video of the whole process.  Hope you enjoy.

Now you know how to rig a Spanish for trolling so no excuse not to get out there to catch ’em up!

Don’t forget to register as an email follower and get your chance at a custom powder coated and etched Yeti cup.

Tough as Nails

I was recently going through old pictures and found mixed in with the pics a little piece I had written about a flats fishing trip I had taken with an old friend nearly two decades ago.  The pics that went with the story were there, too.  Since I had never published it I figured now would be a good time.  I have also included some other old pics from fishing around St. Marks at the time.  They are not digital because they are from back in the day.


I recently got up early and stole a day away from work.  My buddy, Ricky Redfish, joined me for the outing.  It was a cool, still morning as we slipped the boat into the St. Marks River, just south of Tallahassee.  The only sounds were the birds in the marsh pursuing insects, shrimp, crabs and small fish and the occasional splash of a mullet jumping.  We eased the boat down the river toward the Gulf of Mexico, as the sun climbed over the horizon.


We were a few hours ahead of high tide, but passing the lighthouse we had enough water to cruise over the flats and up into the bayous where we liked to hunt early morning redfish.


We made stops at several of our “can’t miss” spots, but the fish just weren’t there. ¬†I guess you can miss. ¬†But we pushed deeper into the bayou and found a small cove with baitfish being pushed hard by some unseen predator.


We staked out the boat in a good position to start working the area.  The light was still low, but we were able to make out a school of nice redfish rolling along the edge of the sawgrass, their heavy armor glinting copper in the early morning sun.  Over my shoulder, a porpoise was teaching its pup to fish.  Surely it was having more success than us as these redfish were turning up their noses at everything we offered.

Finally, after about thirty minutes of working this school, a single fish came charging out and nailed a gold spoon offered by Ricky Redfish. There is a reason he got that nickname! ¬†Ricky deftly worked against the strain on his six pound ultra-light outfit. ¬†The fish dragged him around the boat several times, including one pass under the staked out push pole. ¬†But Rick’s an old pro and he gently worked the fish to the boat, taking care not to over stress the light tackle.

Eventually Ricky subdued this volunteer and brought it aboard the boat.


To our amazement, this redfish had a large wound wrapped around his back.  Just behind his head the wound was so deep you could see exposed bone.


On closer examination, it was clear the wound was in the shape of a large toothy smile.  It appears a shark had grabbed this redfish across the back, but apparently he had used the same energy and determination displayed in the struggle with Ricky to break free of the shark and make his escape.


The wound had begun to heal, but this twenty-seven inch redfish only weighed six pounds.  He had clearly suffered, but was tough as nails.  He is living proof that nature can be brutal, and strong.


A few other pics from back in the St.Marks days. The wife getting in on the action.


Note the absence of grey in that beard! And the fly in that fish’s mouth.



Tag and release.


Cleaning up a bit with the boys from CCA.


Moose or Sheepshead, not sure which.


Two fisted





I am a lucky man.


Spanish. ¬†Note ol’ yella in the background. ¬†Now, that was a boat!




Frankie, queen of the flats, chillin’ out.


Thanks for indulging me a trip down memory lane. ¬†Until next time, catch ’em up!