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Dry Tortugas Trip with Capt Yuri on May 20 - 24, 2015

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#1 Kilsong

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Posted 28 May 2015 - 07:26 PM

John and I left NJ for Key West around 9 am on May 19. I was thinking about driving 12 hours and sleep in a model. But John said he saw lots of tarpon under a bridge on his tarpon charter out of Marathon, FL three 
weeks ago. So we decided to go tarpon fishing on May 20 before heading for Capt Yuri's boat which leaves at 9:00 pm on May 20. It was 24 hours non-stop drive and we arrived just in time when the rental boat marina in Marathon, Key opened at 8:00 am.  They said the choice of bait for tarpon is small live crab and we bought a dozen of live crab at a nearby tackle shop. It cost $3.50 per crab !!
It was about 12 miles from the marina to the bridge. We saw lots of tarpon on the surface and under our boat, but they just ignored our bait. 
Even though we didn't catch a tarpon, I got valuable info about tarpon fishing which I have been looking 
for for years.  I am going to spend a few days for tarpon on a rental boat there next April or May and bring one bushel of green crab from NJ. The cost of 21' Grate White rental boat is $215 including tax and the fuel spent was about $45.
We left Marathon and head for Key West.

#2 Kilsong

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Posted 28 May 2015 - 10:04 PM

Ray/Bryan/Doug are one of the pioneers of slow pitch jigging in Florida ( probably in the US).
I am in love of light tackle for big game fish and I love to see their tackle. 
The heaviest rod we used on this trip was probably BH Cape Cod Special 150g rod.
I have been slow jigging over 30 years and this was an excellent opportunity compare our style of slow 
jigging and new slow pitch jigging developed by Japanese anglers. 
I thought most grouper are close to the bottom and we get more bites when jigging close to the bottom. 
But I was pretty impressed they got groupers off the bottom by working jigs slowly off the bottom. 
Another observation was to see what kind of jigs worked best. 
I like to say jigs I sell worked best, but it was not. They used Japanese slow pitch jigs and they worked great as well.  We used 4-5 different type hammered diamond jigs and all worked as well. 
There were many big red snappers along with kitty mitchell groupers in deep water. Red snappers had to be released because of closed season. 
Funny thing was AJ was not welcomed on this trip as we were concentrating on snapper and grouper, and AJ was nuisance like shark.   It was a curse to say " You got a AJ".:)
Nontheless, we enjoyed fine AJ fishing on this trip. 

#3 Toddquek

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Posted 28 May 2015 - 10:08 PM

Wow..! lovely catch。。。

Live to Fish

#4 Kilsong

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Posted 29 May 2015 - 09:41 AM

Whenever I fish Dry Tortugas, I have only two species in mind. Grouper and Mutton.
Capt Yuri ran to the boat to the West for mutton on the second night.  Gilbert fished Dry Tortugas for 20 years regularly and he said the mutton fishing on the second night was his best ever.  From 7:00 pm to 11:00 pm we had steady bites.  It was amazing we didn't have single shark. 
It was an excellent opportunity for me to test new Black Hole Cape Cod Special Tai rod (3.8 oz). 
I think I had about 10 mutton with the rod without any issue. 
I can say that the ultra light rod can handle any size of mutton. 
It was funny that Gilbert spent more time to unhook than fishing. :) He used circle hooks and almost everytime mutton swallowed his circle hooks. It is a pain to unhook swallowed circle hooks.  I also used circle hooks for mutton, but I lost many fish while fighting. 
It was the finest moment of mutton fishing. When mutton bites slowed down by 11:00 pm, Capt Yuri headed for Port Jefferson area for popping in shallow water next day.
We tried for mutton on the third night, but we had to go to protected area because of expected high wind. 
part of our mutton catches
John was happy. It was his first ever mutton fishing and he is hooked. :)

#5 Kilsong

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Posted 29 May 2015 - 10:11 AM

When I fished Dry Tortugas for the first time, I brought BH Cape Cod Special 450g jigging rod for grouper and the heaviest rod I brought for grouper was BH Cape Cod Special 150g jigging rod and new BH Cape Cod Special Slow Pitch jigging rods. 
As long as you know light rods can handle for species you target, it is much enjoyable. 
Slow Pitch jigging rods are light like inshore rods.  It is fun and joy to watch them to catch nice fish with such light rods on this trip.

#6 Kilsong

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Posted 29 May 2015 - 11:57 AM

My main purpose of this trip is to test new Black Hole Cape Cod Special Slow Pitch rods and BH Cape Cod Special Tai rods.
I tested the new BH Cape Cod Special 581H3R (5.5 oz weight) for yellowfin tuna on the recent Okinawa trip and I wanted to test this rod for grouper on this trip.
 I got the confidence this rod can handle grouper after this trip as well as grouper fishing in NC. I am going to try tuna over 100 lb with this rod soon. 

#7 Kilsong

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Posted 29 May 2015 - 01:10 PM

BH Cape Cod Special Tai Rod
This rod never cease to amaze me. 
When I touched this ultra light rod, I thought about crappie or trout rod.
I really doubted this 3.8 oz rod (1.4 oz blank weight) can handle 10 - 20 lb snapper thought the rod is designed for slow jigging for red snapper.
I decided to test the rod by lifting one gallon of water and the rod didn't break. 
I tested to pull line with 8 - 10 lb drag and it didn't break. I gave more drag up to 15 lb and the rod didn't break. Then I start to think the rod might handle mutton. 
I fished on the Yankee Capt just to test the rod for mutton recently.  I had several mutton, but I lost them due to shark.  Instead, I could fight shark with the rod.  Finally I landed about 15 lb African Pompano which fought much harder than mutton. 
So I knew the rod is no problem for mutton. 
On this trip, I fought about 10 mutton, a few AJ as well as shark with the rod.
But the highlight has to be a 120 - 150 lb goliath grouper with it. I thought it was another shark and I tried to break line using lock-down drag. But I had to fight to the end as I couldn't break my Black Hole 50 lb braid even using lock-down drag !
To my surprise, a nice goliath grouper came up to the surface. 
I have a video of fighing AJ with the rod and I'll post it soon when it is ready.
horse eye jack which fought very hard.
grouper in NC after the Dry Tortugas trip
120 - 150 lb goliath grouper

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