Capt. Tris Fishing Report
Inshore Offshore Fort Pierce, Florida
Sails, mahi 'and' wahoo!
The winter bite is off to a fabulous start with sailfish, dolphin .and 'wahoo' keeping the action flowing on a regular basis for those Treasure Coast anglers able to pick and chose their days.
Yes, as is the case in December and on into February, those cold fronts come marching down from the north and have their way with the calm seas that prevail through our summer months.
The good news is that we have some absolutely great fishing days and excellent sea conditions 'in between' the fronts and, .....and for those of us with larger boats, the fish don't seem to care how rough it is when it's time for them to feed, so brave the conditions and get on out there if you dare!
Yesterday was a great example of sail and dolphin feeding habits in gnarly seas. We set out from the Ft. Pierce City Marina on the Last Mango with our charter of six adventurous fisher people (4 men & 2 women) and with a marginal forecast for decent weather/sea conditions. The potential for the benefits of Dramamine was discussed and heeded by those in doubt and off we went. With a 15 kt NW breeze the seas were somewhat calm all the way to the offshore bar where stronger winds and a contrary current had things 'kicked up' to another level. The crew was still game and we eased off into110 feet before setting out our lines. As we trolled offshore from there looking for a temperature break and perhaps a 'rip or weedline' the wind continued to shift ever so slightly to the north and the seas continued to build.
We found the temperature break and an almost imperceptible weed line in 135 feet and worked it to the north catching a few dolphin along the way. These fish, perhaps do to sea conditions, were ferocious eaters and could be seen racing thru the wave tops and into our spread. There did however come a point where our comfort level while trolling to the north was marginalized by the sea conditions and a southerly course seemed a good idea. As we backtracked with the breeze behind us, we experienced a much more pleasant ride and continued to pick at the dolphin and revel in the glory of our circumstance. Except for a few 50' to 60 '' custom sportfish from the Pirates Cove Sailfish Tournament, we had the ocean to ourselves and an exhilarating morning of fishing already under our belts.
Moments later a serious flurry of dolphin bites ensued. The result was six or eight more mahi in the box and a move eastward in an effort to locate and capture a sail or two. Our southerly track was to our advantage for as you may know, sails seem to prefer the down-sea presentation of a trolled ballyhoo. As luck would have it, the dark shape of a large sailfish soon appeared just above our dredge and behind our left squid chain. As a ballyhoo was fed back to him he eased off of our teaser and took the proffered bait. The appropriate 'short drop back' was made and he was 'hooked up'.
Did I mention that the sea conditions were 'marginal'? Well, yes, the down-sea troll 'was' relatively comfortable, but what about..... fighting the fish? What about.... maneuvering the boat in order to fight the fish properly and efficiently in an effort to minimize the stress on the sailfish and release him in good health. "OK, hang on, we'll be 'side to' (the seas) as we come around on this fish" I shouted over the 20kt north wind whistling through my precarious perch in the tower. As the fish jumped and danced thru the 6'-8' short sea, my anglers and I balanced for each wave. the fight was reasonably short under the circumstances and we had a clean release. The excitement below me was palpable as the anglers hooted and hollered over their victory and an errant sea crashed through the cockpit.
The afternoon was busy with several more sails in our spread and two more hookups that eventually jumped off. As the day wound down, we found ourselves quite a bit south of Ft. Pierce Inlet. Although we could have been facing an uncomfortable ride home into the wind and high seas, those less than favorable conditions subsided quickly and our return trip to the dock was a piece of cake. I'd like to think that the attitude and determination of our whole crew throughout the day contributed to our good fortune and smooth ride home.
The December sailfish bite has been extraordinary. Look for them in120 to 180 feet and on deeper if water temps change. And don't forget that the wahoo bite is on in both December and January. Fish up to 50#s plus are take off of the Treasure Coast every winter around this time. Look for the best bite over structure in 150 to 250 feet of water and remember that 'early morning' is the time to be there with your lines in the water! Those of you who care to venture over to the other side of the Gulf Stream should be encouraged by recent reports of good wahoo catches at White Sands and 'around the corner to the east"!
There has been good king fishing in 50 to 85 feet, spanish from the beach out to 40 or 50' and excellent snapper/grouper fishing on the offshore bar in approx 85 feet on both live bait and squid. This fishing should continue in January but please stay posted on pending Federal Regulation that may require the release of all grouper & snapper from Jan 1st thru the end of April.........Ouch !!!!!!!
Congratulations to Glen Cameron and the crew of the "Floridian" for their 33 sailfish releases and1st place in the Pirate's Cove Sailfish Classic.
Happy New Year and great winter fishing,