One of the keys to being a productive angler is always having a backup plan. We all know that sometimes they just won’t bite, regardless what you throw at them. Whether the mahi have lockjaw, the swordfish aren’t home, the current is just too heavy to yellowtail or the weather is not as predicted, we’ve all been there. When I’m preparing for a charter or fun fishing trip with the family, I like to have plans A through D covered.
If your plan is to run and gun for mahi, I’d highly suggest bringing along a deep drop setup, some leads, rigs and lights as well. You’ve invested a lot of time and money running all over the ocean looking for weed lines or flotsam and can’t find anything. Switch it up and start looking for some groceries. Rosies, blueline or golden tilefish can help add color to your fish box. In most conditions, you might be able to deep drop and keep a surface bait ready for the possibility of a mahi that’s investigating your boat. There’s been several times when bringing the deep drop rig up, that we’ve had a mahi follow it up. It pays to be prepared. Last year one of my customers caught a 28 pound bull off Fort Lauderdale while we were targeting golden tilefish. You just never know!
On a recent run and gun trip with a well full of pilchards, it was forecasted to be 1 to 2 foot seas, but as we all know, the weatherman can be wrong. By the time we got to 500 feet of water off Islamorada, it was a solid 3 to 5 feet. There would be no running, so we switched gears and put out a trolling spread. We had our first mahi in the box within five minutes. We continued our push offshore at a slower pace. We added a couple more fish to the cooler before we decided to look for some groceries. Bouncing some lead off the bottom in 500 to 700 feet produced some quality blueline tilefish and one of the largest rose porgies I’ve ever caught.
As an avid angler, you need to be able and willing to forgo what you planned on happening and adjust to what is happening. Being adaptable will help you fill the box or keep the crew happy when the fish or conditions aren’t as expected. Even then, we sometimes still get skunked, but that’s what keeps us coming back.
Until next time,
Capt. Ryan Palmer
Family Jewell Fishing Charters