Sometimes you just have to wonder if a 40 mile offshore trip is worth a mere 1 hour of fishing. It's sort of like the old days of paying $50 to watch Tyson KO his opponent in 28 seconds. Well let me tell you, a 1 hour explosion of Amberjack, Cobia and a varity of sharks and many broken lines from species unknown is enough to not only fulfill your best dreams of a great day on the water, but is also enough to turn your muscles into mush.
That's exactly what we encountered this past Saturday (June 26th) at daybreak around the 40 mile mark off Sarasota. Thanks to Ej Weaks, aka "The Fish Whisperer," his numbers produced well beyond expectations. Within two minutes of wetting a bait the first rod tip slammed the water, followed by another and another, that's right, a triple set within two minutes! I don't think any of us were ready for that kind of instant action, as it was apparent by the mass scrambling about the boat. With six people on board, 3 lines sizzling and the other three still gearing up, I'm amazed no one came out bleeding! It didn't take long however for someone to grab the gaff and the rest of us to clear our gear from the walk areas.
The first fish came over the gunnel about 15 minutes later and was a very nice 39 pound AJ (amberjack), while the two still being fought looked to be even bigger but unfortunately were too much for the line. This seemed to be the case over the next few battles as well, so we stripped the lighter tackle and moved up to 80 pound leader and that did the trick for the most part, as we still lost a few over the next hour.
With a few drags being worked hard and the sweat pouring, one particular battle sparked up that we instantly knew was different. Reggie Canezo, aka "FLNative75," found himself playing tug-o-war with a beautiful and very irritated Cobia looking to make his way to the bottom structure. Applying the heat with a medium action 7 foot rod and a 4/0 Sealine, this cob kicked in some major propulsion and tested every inch of the rod and drag.
In the meantime, as I watched the battle taking place I hooked up with the same unmistakable strike and pull of a cobia. I wasn't surprised, as this is a pretty common occurrence when one cobia is hooked. I played the cob for about 10 minutes or so and to a surface depth of about 8 feet before the dreaded happened...my line when slack. Man did I cuss like a drunken sailor! Nothing is more disappointing after an exhausting battle in the summer Florida heat. My best guess on the size would be between 40-60 pounds. My anger was short lived when I saw Reggie's cob being pulled over the gunnel. Can't win them all, but we sure did put a nice 40 pounder in the boat.
Mixed in the bag were a bunch of reef sharks that produced some nice runs and plenty of action. There were a few hits that felt like hoos (wahoo), but it was really hard to tell with all the sharks in the area and the short time the leader held up. We hit our limit on AJ's in about an hour, the cobia disappeared and the sharks were out to play in full force so we took our fare and headed back to shore.
The smallest AJ in the boat was 23 pounds, the largest 39 pounds, and the rest were between 32 and 36 pounds. The cobia was near 40 pounds. If anyone reading this finds a gear drive marker ball in the area...it's ours!
From Left to Right
EJ Weaks "The Fish Whisperer"
Allen Applegarth "Florida Inshore Angler"
Reggie Canezo " FLNative75"