So, I look out my slider door and low and behold, look who’s in my back yard.. It’s Jim Cantore! Is that good? If you’re from Florida, or anywhere in the U.S. for that matter, the answer is a resounding “Hell No!!” I’m sure there’s a Desperate Housewife or two that wouldn’t mind seeing ol’ Jim in their back yard, but to the rest of us watermen, he is the reincarnation of Coleridge’s dead albatross slung around our proverbial necks. It’s a cross to bear, if you will, or maybe a recreation tax by Mother Nature. I didn’t shoot the albatross, did you? Or maybe, the last time we shot skeet off the back of the boat, there was that one big bird that flew overhead.. No, couldn’t be.. Nope, definitely not me. The beauty of the tale is that there is still a chance for redemption, so, whoever did it needs to come clean and do it fast!
In case you couldn’t tell, Tropical Storm Debbie has had me cooped up for days now, and those familiar Jimmy Buffet words are ringing in my ears; “I think I got cabin fever. I shot six holes in my freezer”. I’m not kidding, the fridge is shaking like the fronds on the palm tree to which Jim is clinging. Maybe it’s just shaking due to the fact that I’ve opened the door to look in it a hundred times a day and the compressor can’t keep up with the constant influx of warm air. Potato, tomato. I. Think. I. Might. Need. To. Get the hell out of the house!! There is also a strong possibility that Jim Cantore is not in my yard at all, but just an imagined apparition. You’d think that my brain, with all this down time, could come up with something better than that guy.. You’d think it would be more like Jane Lubchenko soaring over my boat dressed like the Grimm Reaper complete with scepter and NMFS hoodie. Surprisingly, Coleridge’s Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner was published in 1798 and Jane was mentioned in it as “The Nightmare Life-in-Death”. Her fate for the mariner was one worse than death, while death claimed the rest of the crew. Now she’s the head of the NMFS and haunts all of us to this day. How did Coleridge know?
Speaking of redemption and albatrosses around the neck, there’s news from the National Marine Fisheries Service and the South Atlantic Marine Fisheries Council. It seems as though their cranial position with regard to their anal cavity has shown some sort of slight abatement. At the recent meeting in Orlando, they agreed to open a very limited season for red snapper later this year. Before you go and get all crazy, keep in mind I said very limited, emphasis on veeeerrry. The recreational season is going to be something in the neighborhood of three, three-day weekends with a one fish per person limit. The commercial season is going to be a one week season with a fifty pound trip limit. Honestly, I think both seasons are a big joke, but you can look at it two ways. 1. Be glad they finally got a portion of their head out of their ass and did something. 2. Why the hell are the seasons so ridiculously restrictive? Either way, the joke is still on us and we still have to wait for real redemption. The kicker of both seasons is the fact that they will likely occur in the fall when the weather sucks and many of the days will probably be unfishable. Keep apprised of the situation at
http://www.safmc.net/ and do us all a favor and submit your comments.
Assuming Debbie gets out of here sometime before July gets here, I would prepare to do some bottom fishing. The grouper and amberjack bite was pretty darn good in June and I would expect that to continue into July as long as the cold water upwelling does not make an early appearance. If that occurs, you can affectively take bottom fishing off the table. The optimist in me is hoping for a continuation of the best bottom bite in years. Large and lively live baits will be the key to success, assuming conditions remain favorable. You may catch some fish on the smaller livies, but you’re going to have to go through a bunch of snapper to catch a scamp or two. Most of the action is going to be found from the 27 fathom ridge on out to the cones and deep wrecks. Once you find a good mark of fish, it is more than likely that you will catch both amberjacks and groupers on the same spot. If the jacks are biting too good, you may not be able to get a live bait down to the grouper, In that case, try a dead bait, smaller livie or possibly a vertical jig.
It’s been a very slow kingfishing summer so far, but there seemed to be a little more action toward the end of the month, before Debbie made an appearance. Another problem with the slow trolling was the birds. It seems that we have been inundated with a large influx of shearwaters once again. These persistent little buggers make it hard to get any bait out behind the boat before they pick it up and fly off. Maybe, when she vacates, Debbie will drag the birds off to where they belong. Once the birds are gone and the storm waters settle, hopefully things will get back to normal. I would expect to see a mixed bag of kings, cobia, dolphin, bonito and barracuda on the inshore reefs and wrecks. Whether it’s live or dead bait, make sure to bring plenty as the birds may continue to be a nuisance.
One bonus to Debbie’s wrath will likely be the amount of debris that makes its way into the Gulf Stream. Don’t get me wrong, I hate to see trash on the ocean, but it can be a troller’s best friend. The key to trolling this month will be finding the clean water and/or current. The Stream was way offshore last month, so you may have to travel a little further to find what you’re looking for. If you can find the clean water and current with an edge, the fishing could be quite good. Most of the dolphin have been on the small side, but the numbers have been decent. There should also be some scattered sails and a wahoo or two around. Ballyhoo, ballyhoo/lure combos and strip baits will all do the trick in the spread. Bring extra bait for trolling too, those shearwaters are persistent.
Don’t let the “The Nightmare Life-in-Death”, Jane Lubchenko get you down. Get out there and get ‘em before she soars overhead again.
See ya on the pond!!