Thursday, June 18, 2009

IFA Venice, La 6/13/2009

Wednesday 6/10

Captain Dusty left Pensacola at 2300 on Tuesday night headed to Ft Meyers, Fl to pick up our new tournament boat. He arrived around 0900 on Wednesday, took the boat for a test run, loaded it back on the trailer, and headed directly back home. He arrived at my house around 1900 and dropped the boat off so I could take it to Georges Marine Electronics for Jerry to install the new Raymarine A70 on Thursday.

Thursday 6/11

I dropped the boat off at George's at 0700 and headed to continue our prep work. Around 1200 Jerry called to say the boat as ready. Now that's service! Once I got the boat home I finished a few minor details onboard and loaded the equipment I had at the house. I waited for the family to get home, we ate dinner, I hung out with the kids, put them to bed, kissed the wife goodbye and left for Captain DP's house. By 2200 we were west bound on I-10, getting pumped up about the new boat and the pressing tournament.

Friday 6/12 (pre-fishing)

We pulled into Venice an hour or so before daylight, loaded the rods, double checked our equipment, launched the boat, and pulled away from the ramp just after sunrise. We made a bee line to our #1 spot to check on our fish.

This particular place is very shallow, forcing us to stop short and use the trolling motor to take us the remaining 1/8 of a mile. Things were looking up, the dirty water was just beginning to give way to cleaner water and we were starting to see signs of life.

That's about the time the brand new, right out of the box, trolling motor started making a light clicking noise. Dusty tried to turn it off so we could find the noise.....the motor kept right on turning. No matter how you moved the speed control the motor continued to turn at a constant speed, this was not good. We unplugged the trolling motor, opened up the top, and all the wiring looked good. We plugged it back in, same thing.

After our head scratching abated Dusty grabbed the tool bag and commenced opening up the foot of the motor. Upon further inspection we found the source of our problems. The ground wire coming into the foot had somehow been grabbed by the motor itself, destroying the wire and shorting out the control board. Trolling motor officially fried!

This put big damper on our plans. It took us almost an hour to push the boat back into deep enough water to run in. From there we headed for the jetties at one of the passes where we had done well before. There were a few guide boats at the jetty when we showed up, and everyone was catching fish.

We joined right in. Our best two fish added up to 13.5 pounds, probably not enough to place in the tournament, but not bad without a trolling motor, and in just a couple of hours of fishing. But, granted the elite competition, the fact was, that without the trolling motor, our chances of even placing in this tournament were virtually nil.

By 1300 it was time to get back, clean up, rig tackle, eat something, attend the captains meeting, and get some sleep.

Saturday 6/13 Game Day

0400 finds the alarm clock VERY angry, screaming at the top of it's lungs. I couldn't listen to it a second more, and got up. By 0430 we were on our way to the ramp for the 0530 checkout.

We had drawn boat number 14, putting us in the first flight (0530 check-out, 1500 check-in). Once away from the dock we headed straight for the jetties. The new Lake & Bay is FAST! We were the first to arrive at the jetty, beating the guide boats by a half an hour or more.

The bite was way off from yesterday. I broke the ice with a 5 pound Speckled Trout; my biggest Louisiana Trout to date. It was cool and all, but it wasn't a Redfish, and we needed Redfish. Dusty caught a nice Redfish, about 5.5 pounds, and the guides began showing up. Yesterday they stayed at the jetty for hours, today they spent maybe 20 min, caught very few fish, and left. Not a good sign for us, not at all.

We had few choices, pretty much this jetty or the other one, so we continued to plug away with what we had. We caught a few Reds, but upgrading was nearly impossible. By 1130 we had covered every rock at the jetty and decided to move up-river, fishing our way back to the dock.

Diligence is supposed to pay off, right? Maybe, just maybe, if we would have had more time to be diligent, it might have paid off, but there's only so much time in a tournament. We had two fish in the livewell, better than some, but we knew that they weren't going to be big enough to make the board.

Back at the scales, standing in line with teams that had run 40 miles up river and fished in 12" of water, our fish looked even smaller. Our grand total of 11.94 pounds was dwarfed by the leaders 17.7 pound aggregate, but we still felt good doing what we did, under the circumstances. That's tournament fishing. Stuff breaks, boats get stuck in the mud, fuel is mis-managed; you can only push through, try to fix what you can.....and fish real hard.

These things are slippery!

It's been a real busy past couple of weeks...

...and my reports have suffered for it, I must admit.

I'd like to take the opportunity to thank everyone for fishing with me. If it wasn't for you, I'd have little to report.

And thanks to all of you for continuing to check in on me.

The fishing (and the weather) has been really good lately. The King Mackerel and big Spanish Mackerel are cruising the Gulf just a few miles off the beach. Large Speckled Trout are still hanging out on the grassflats that dominate our inshore waters. Red Snapper season is officially open and bag limits are filling up fast. The Bull Redfish bite has been slow, as usual this time of year, but a few continue to be caught. Ladyfish, Bluefish, and Blue Runners are covering the beach-front and the kids have been having a great time catching them. Now is a great time to get out there and treat yourself with a day on the water or take your family fishing and share a memorable experience.

June 13 will find Captain Dusty and I in Venice, Louisiana for the IFA event held at Venice Marina. Wish us luck! With limited days to pre-fish we'll need all the luck we can muster.

In other news: My son's soccer team finished their final tournament on May 23rd first in their age group. They were 8-0-1 during regular season play; only giving up 4 goals the entire season! And they owned the post season tournament, finishing 3-0. We're real proud of our Rockets! The best U-8 team in the league!

Thanks for stopping by
Capt. Josh

Friday, May 22, 2009

Another piece of art by Breeze Fabricators

Tim Scallan and his crew at Breeze Fabricators have done it again. This is the casting platform/ladder tower I picked up just before the Outcast Inshore Slam. Some of you got a chance to see it at the captains meeting, for those that didn't, here are a few pics.

The view from the new office

If you can think it up, Tim and his guys can build it... give him a call at
(850) 554-6172

Thursday, May 21, 2009

17 May 2009

I met Tom and Chris at Shoreline park at 0730 for a few hours of rod bending action. We were headed for the Pass until the big bad black cloud hanging over us started to leak. I pulled up the radar trying to get an idea where the storm was going. It seemed to be heading east down the beach, leaving just enough room to the north to get around.

We got a little wet on the way, mostly at a sprinkle, but we made it to the Pass none the less. The Catfish immediately began biting. We caught a few of them, Tom relaxing at the easy fight the kitty cats put up, then his rod was nearly ripped out of his half hearted hold! That's what we're looking for!

A few minutes into the fight I knew it was a BIG Redfish. I wondered aloud if Tom had ever caught a fish as long as his leg. Then I asked Tom what his inseam measurement was, his first response was nothing more than a funny look, then he answered, 32". He agreed that a fish over 32" would literally be as long as his leg. This is what he brought to the net.

Toms fish measured 37 1/2", the next time he gets asked if he's ever caught a fish as long as his leg, he can proudly profess, "Yes, I certainly have!"

After releasing Tom's trophy the rain once again began to fall and the skies grew darker. We considered calling it a morning. Chris and Tom said they didn't mind a little rain as long as the lightning stayed away, so we pressed on. Try as we did, we couldn't find a matching Redfish for Chris. The Redfish were abandoned in favor of whatever the birds down the beach were diving on. Once we got close Tom and Chris began firing 1/4 oz. bucktail jigs into the fray. The 10# line on their rods started screaming and Ladyfish erupted into the air. We stayed on the Ladyfish ,mixed with Blue Runners, for the remainder of our time. The guys had a blast!

Dolphins were swimming around the boat, birds diving, fish eating everything thrown their way, if you can't have fun with that, you just can't have fun.

Thanks again Tom and Chris, you guys were great, I look forward to doing it again.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Outcast Inshore Slam; May 16 2009

0400 and the alarm clock is screaming at me! I only hit the snooze button twice before dragging myself out of bed. Capt Dusty, Tim and I were meeting at Day Break Marina at 0500 and I had to get moving. By 0545 we were loaded up and ready for the 0600 shotgun start.Once the go call was made we were off and running, 48 boats fanning out from Bayou Chico, what a sight.

The first order of business was a good Speckled Trout. We made the 10 minute run to our Trout spot, set the anchor, and began tossing out Croakers. The bite was astounding! Within 20 minutes we had upgraded our Trout probably five times and within an hour we had two Trout in the box that tipped the scales at over 6 lbs! As for how many Speckled Trout we caught and released, I wish we would have kept count. I feel confident saying we released 5 fish over 5 lbs, 10 over 4 lbs, and a number of 2 and 3 lb fish. Undoubtedly the best bite of big Speckled Trout that I have ever been blessed to witness and am honored to participate in.

Another tournament boat was fishing within 100 yards of us; when they found out the quality of fish we'd caught they couldn't believe we had not moved on in search of a Redfish or Flounder. We were going to sit right there until the bite was over, not willing to give up that spot until it ended. Big Trout had been caught with fair regularity lately, fish up to 8.5 lbs, that was the wildcard in this situation. We weren't sure that 6 lbs would be enough. They did, however, have a valid point. The Trout alone was not going to win the tournament no matter how big it was; we needed two other fish to go with it. The bite had begun to slow, it was almost time to leave. Tim kept fishing for Trout as Dusty and I got everything ready for Redfish. Once our prep work was complete we let most of our Croakers go on the Trout hole, consider it an offering of thanks to the fish, then pointed the bow at the Redfish hole and punched the throttle.

Ten minutes later we arrive at our Redfish spot. On my second cast I hook up with a brute. This fish put up an enormous fight, putting that Shimano combo through it's paces. Dusty's first look at the fish produces my favorite of his phrases. It goes something like, "Damn! He's over, definitely over, probably 27 1/2, 28. Man! If he makes, he's a winner." Upon completion of his phrase he nets the fish, pulls it in the boat, lays the net down, and goes back to fishing, leaving me to tend to my fish.

I got the hook out and put my fish on the measuring stick, 27 on the nose, I was shocked! This fish looked big, to big to fit in the slot. I flipped him over, measured him again, and called to Dusty. He peeked over the leaning post at my huge smile and said, "You're kidding." Nope, not kidding. On the hand scale he weighed 8lbs 2oz. WOW! At that moment we erupted with excitement! This was surreal. We immediately headed to our Flounder spot.

Five minutes later we arrive. Dusty was posted on the bow with his favorite Shimano Sustain and a Gulp! 4" Shrimp on a 1/4 oz jighead. His only job was to fish, our job was to keep him fishing. His first two casts went untouched, his third cast got eaten by a 16" Flounder. We couldn't believe it! We had a solid weight and the reports we were getting told of only one really big Trout. We felt good but still wanted to improve our Flounder so we kept right on fishing. Less than an hour later I put the net under another of Dusty's fish, one that measured 21" and weighed a little over 3.5 lbs. We unanimously agreed to leave our spot and head for another of the Flounder holes on our list. It's not worth letting someone find our Flounder spot to try to upgrade a fish like that.

Five minutes later we eased into our next stop. We caught 3 more 2+lb fish in 15 minutes or so. At one point we all looked at each other and decided it might be best to regain our composure. We pulled away and took a breather. Again all the fish were measured and weighed. Our calculations came out to 17.5 lbs, WHAT?!?!?! We weighed them all again. Then the scale was questioned. I pulled out 15 oz of leads and hung it from the scale, it read 15 oz. The scale was right on. We really had 17.5 lbs. That's a new tournament record! It was 0845. Unbelievable!

What to do now? No matter what, we wanted to get closer to the dock, just in case we had problems. We began idling toward Day Break Marina. Capt. Corey Maxwell saw us and called. His brother, Ryan, asked what we were doing, "It's 9 o'clock, what ya'll already won the tournament and just messing around?". He didn't believe us when we told him.

We decided to head for a place in north Pensacola Bay that historically holds Trout, Flounder, and Redfish but had not been productive for us during pre-fishing. That held true, we never caught another Flounder or Redfish the rest of the day. We did, however, stumble onto a hot bite of big Speckled Trout a little after noon. We caught around 2 dozen more Trout before we ran out of bait. We released 6 fish over 5 lbs, 8-10 in the 4 lb range, the rest of the Trout were in the 2-4 lb range, our smallest fish was 19 1/2". The only thing that kept this from being the best bite of Big Trout I have ever seen was the bite we were on first thing in the morning! What a day!!!

Our bait supply ran out around 1330. We pointed the bow towards the scales and started idling again. We couldn't stop smiling and reminiscing about the Trout bite we had just left 10 minutes ago. Again we weighed and measured all of our big fish, put our two big Trout on the balance beam, and rechecked our math. Then we began honestly spreading the word.

At 1440 we were tied up at Day Break Marina, waiting for the scales to open at 1500. Once the tournament guys were ready we brought our fish out. The Redfish got weighed first, 7.9 lbs. The Trout came next, 6.15 lbs, bringing our tally to 14.05. Then the Flounder, 3.65. For a grand total and new tournament record of 17.7 lbs. WOW! Now to wait for the next three hours for the scales to close.

We took the opportunity to take pictures with our fish and all of our Shimano equipment, then pulled the boat, flushed the motor and cleaned everything up. Other teams began showing up to weigh in and reports kept coming from the rest of the field. One of those reports was that J.R.'s team had added a nice Redfish to his big Speckled Trout, but he still needed a Flounder to complete the slam. There was time left for him to connect with that much needed Flounder and reports of his progress stopped coming in. As the sun was drifting low on the horizon J.R.'s boat rounded the corner and the tension built. They tied up to the dock, Trout hanging out of the cooler, and told us that no matter what they tried they couldn't come up with the Flounder.

It was official, we had won! A full 4 lbs separating us from the second place team. Our final tally was 1st Place Aggregate, 1st Place Redfish, 1st Place Flounder, and 2 nd Place Speckled Trout, an awesome finish! The tournament committee convened to figure out all of the pay-outs before announcing the winning totals. When they were done awards were handed out and prize moneys were announced. We pocketed $15,375.50 in cash and a brand new 2009 Blazer Bay 1960 rigged with a 115 Yamaha outboard, valued at $27,495, bringing our grand total to just under $43,000. What a day! Unbelievable!

A big thanks to my teammates, you guys kick major a**! Thanks to our sponsors: Georges Marine Electronics, Breeze Fabricators, Johnson Castnets, and; for helping us chase our dreams. Thanks to Outcast Hunting and Fishing, Day Break Marina, and Blazer Boats for putting on a great event. And of course to you, the readers, for taking the time to read this really long post.

Last years tournament report can be seen here Outcast Inshore Slam 2008

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Mothers Day 2009

Sunday marked our annual Mothers Day fishing trip. My parents, my wife, and I met up this morning for a few quality hours of fishing. We started today in the same spot our slot sized Redfish came from yesterday. Boy what a difference a day makes! Yesterday it was a fish every cast, today we couldn't buy a bite. After an hour or so of trying we decided to move on to the Pass in search of Bull Reds. With the family on board the fish didn't stand a chance. Everyone on board boated a Redfish, the largest one pushing 40".

We caught the Redfish, a Sheepshead and a Soapfish before heading into the Gulf for Pompano. The beach was loaded with Cow-nose Rays, we must have seen 100 or more, but the Pompano were proving elusive. We found school after school of Ladyfish chasing baits just inside the second sandbar and we had a field day with them. In the midst of all this a school of Jack Crevalle, 200+ fish, came roaring by. A quick flip into them with a jig produced an immediate hook up. We fought the Jack all he way to the boat before another burst of speed parted our line. The morning was wearing on and our bellies began rumbling. We scheduled a Mothers Day lunch at the Oar House and headed there to meet my sister and my kids.

My parents decided to go for a round of golf after lunch, so my wife and kids rode the boat back to the ramp. As soon as my son was inboard he opened the livewell, found the 4 shrimp remaining, and asked if we could stop and use them on the way home. How could I refuse such a request?

A quick stop in the Pass produced fish for both Cameron and I (his fish was twice the size of mine). We got our picture made, released our fish and continued on to the house for naps and relaxation.

Thanks to my Mom, just for being my Mom, and thanks to my wife for bearing me children and putting up with all of my crap. I love you guys. It was awesome to spend the day fishing together.

Fishin' Chix Orange Beach 2009

Kelly, Katie, Frankie, and Erin met me this morning at 0600. We were sitting on our grass flat when the official tournament start time of 0630 rolled around. The morning started off slow for us. The Trout didn't want to cooperate and after about an hour of diligent effort we decided to move on in search of a Redfish.

It didn't take us long to find success, even if all of our fish were over the slot limit. Frankie and Erin were even able to complete a double; making for a real Mother/Daughter moment.

Another move produced slot sized Redfish for everyone. All together we caught around a dozen Redfish. Once they were caught we moved on in search of Ladyfish, Bluefish, and Spanish Mackerel. We trolled the deep edges of the grass flats for a mile or more with just one bite from a nice Speckled Trout. He went into the box along side our Redfish. The trolling continued for the remainder of our allotted time (all anglers had to be in line at Lulu's by 1400) without success.

The fishing was slow for us today, but the company could not have been better. My ladies went to the scales with three Redfish and a Trout. None of our fish were big enough to stay on the leader board, but if the winners were based on total amount of fun had during the fishing day we would have had a great shot at winning.

Thanks again Kelly, Katie, Frankie and Erin for another great Fishin' Chix event, I had a blast! See you guys in Destin!