It’s that time of year on the Panhandle. Cobia are migrating west along the beaches and the tournaments are in full swing. If you have never done this, it’s a unique fishery. It’s all sight fishing for big fish.
Boats move down the beaches with two, three, six, eight people in the tower looking for cruising fish. Towers range from thirty foot tall welded works of art costing tens of thousands of dollars to step ladders lashed to the bow of a jon boat. You do what you need to to participate in this adventure.
Once a fish is spotted an angler in the tower casts a bait to the fish. The bait of choice is a live eel. Failing that, a grunt, or pinfish, or other medium size bait fish. If that does not work, a jig, or a shrimp, or whatever works.
The captain may maneuver the boat following the fish for feet, yards, maybe miles while all the offerings are made until the fish eats or disappears under the waves. Once hooked up the rod is lowered down from the tower on a pulley system and retrieved by the angler in the cockpit and the fight engaged.
This week I was able to get out with the boys on InstiGator, a proven Cobia killing machine with a tournament winning and hardened crew. The trip did not disappoint, yielding this 61.7 pound beast for angler Big Rick.
While this was an awesome fish, the current first place fish is an astounding 98.8 pounds.
There was plenty to go around so I decided to pull together a little creole cobia treat for dinner.
Yum, that is some good fish. The recipe:
Garlic, onions, chives, chopped fresh tomatoes, bell pepper, chili pepper, celery, shrimp shells (remove after the sauce simmers for a while) a cup of wine and a cup and a half of water all sauteed and then simmered for about thirty minutes. Seasoned with salt, pepper and thyme. Fish is just dredged in flour and pepper and cooked for about four minutes with a bit of oil in a hot skillet and then put in the sauce to finish. Saute a few shrimp in the same pan and add to the mix. Garnish with green onion.
Hope you get out there and catch ’em up!
Sorry its been a while since I posted, but lots going on, most of which unfortunately has not involved fishing. I was prepping to get back on the water this spring and thought some folks might like a little primer on how to properly crimp a leader, so I made this little video. There are few things more frustrating than hooking up a nice fish only to have the crimp connection fail. I had it happen once on a nice tuna and have not allowed a repeat. Hope you find this video helpful.
In the video I eyeballed the right slot in the crimping tool to match the sleeve I was using. I have done a bunch so was pretty comfortable I had the right size. I highly recommend that you follow the recommendations on the packaging until you get the feel for the correct pairings of leaders to sleeves and sleeves to crimp tool slots. Its important to use the right sizes to assure a proper connection that is not so tight that it damages the leader, but tight enough to assure the connection will not slip under pressure.
Good luck out there, and catch ’em up!
P.S. Please enter your email in the box on the right margin to subscribe to my blog.
If you have been following the blog you know that I ran a little give away for followers. It was a choice of Yeti cups custom powder coated and etched to the winner’s specifications from Precision Powder Coating. Click on that link and you can see all the cool stuff they do. Josh was really nice to offer up the custom powder coating and etching at no extra charge. The winner was Adam Owens of Pensacola and here is what he designed and Josh produced for him:
Arrr, a pirate’s life for Adam! Very cool.
You can sign up to follow (who knows I may do another give away) by putting your email address in the window over there —>.
It will send you an email asking you to confirm you want to follow. Make sure that does not end up in your spam. You need to click on the link in that email to activate notifications of future posts.
Until next time: Catch ’em up!
Frenchy called me and asked if I wanted to put that deep drop rig I blogged about to work. I jumped at the chance. We loaded up the Blue Spirit and headed south out of Pensacola Pass on a crisp cool morning. The wind was still and the seas smooth making for a nice run out. Crew was Scott (aka FN Yankee), Mike, Bill, Me and Frenchy.
We stopped and took a quick shot at some bonito for bait, but they were elusive and we did not have time to waste. So we were reduced to utilizing our stash of assorted frozen ilk including this turducken like cigar minnow stuffed squid.
Yes, squid do eat fish nearly as big as they are.
Here is a little video of the action.
And a few stills:
Turned the grouper into Baked Grouper Parm.
Simple to make. Just dipped the fish in a mix of egg and milk then dropped in a baggie containing Parmesan cheese, flour, salt and pepper. Baked for 25 minutes at 350 degrees. Pairs well with Magic Hat #9 (but then, what doesn’t?).
Until next time, get out there and catch ’em up.
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!
FREE YETI GIVEAWAY!!!
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.
Sign up to follow this blog and click to get email notifications each time a new blog is posted. You won’t get advertising or anything it’s just once a week or so when the blog goes up it will email you that a new blog has been posted. I will pick one winner from everyone signed up on January 30, 2017. You can unsubscribe after that if you want, that is fine, but it’s the only way I have to notify the winner.
To sign up to follow (and to make sure you have elected email notification even if you are already a follower), just put your email address in the box over on the right margin where it says “SUBSCRIBE TO BLOG VIA EMAIL.” Its over there —->
You will get an email asking you to confirm you want email notices. You have to click the link in the email to activate. There was a glitch in the software that runs this website that resulted in many of existing followers not getting that email or being de-listed from notifications and so, while you may be a registered follower, you may not have authorized the email notices. You can fix that by re-entering your email and then clicking on the link you are sent. You should check your preferences on the page you go to when you click the link to make sure it shows you have authorized email notice of blog posts.
If you have any trouble or are not sure if it worked, send me a comment on the blog and I can check for you or help you out. I’ll announce the winner with a blog post that will notify all the followers that register for email notification.
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.