Friday, August 31, 2012

Punta Gorda Tarpon

Day 2, filming at Burnt Store Marina in Punta Gorda, FL. Man, am I looking forward to getting out on the water today! We are fishing with Capt Bo Johnson for big tarpon. I met Bo years ago while fishing tournaments, talk about a salty guy, Bo's done it all... Redfish tournaments, tarpon tournaments, madfin shark tournaments...
By the way, in each arena- he won. 
Everyone knows about the tarpon fishing in nearby Boca Grande Pass, and the daylight beach fishery, but tarpon fishing can be just as good, if not better- deep in the sound. We meet up with Bo & today's anglers Hunter & Kylie and get set up on the spot. We are using chunks of huge mullet on a 10/0 eagle claw Trokar circle hook, soaked on the bottom. What a beautiful morning! The only ripples on the water, are from the dozens of tarpon gulping around us. Kylie & Hunter are Bo's kids, and we are looking forward to sharing a special day on the water. Within minutes, a 150lb class tarpon goes airborn. The sound of his explosive landing turned the silence on the boat to excitement in an instant. Game on! Everyone scurries into position- as Hunter sets in to battle the fish of his life.

If you've never been tarpon fishing, it is no easy task to land a silver king of this size. We are in for a marathon. The fish tries everything to come unbuttoned- he jumps, he sounds, he screams drag, but with each maneuver Hunter counters like a pro. Thirty minutes into the fight, the fish is showing no signs of tiring. Bo is constantly giving Hunter experienced advice, which Hunter is following word for word.

When fighting any fish, specially tarpon, you can do everything right, and still lose the fish. The next half hour, Hunter started to feel the pain, but to his credit, he hung tight. 
The boat fills with nervous anticipation, as the fish was rolling so close, but just far enough from the boat to avoid being landed. Finally, after over an hour long fight, Hunter lands the monster tarpon of his dreams. 

Kylie's turn!
We jump fish number two
Number three
Number four....
But just couldn't stay connected.
Then BAM, an 100lb class fish grabs Kylie's bait and peels off the drag.
Kylie's no stranger to tarpon, she's done it many times before. After multiple jumps and a 45 minute fight, we gently leader Kylie's fish. Another nice tarpon!

Listening to my salty friend Bo, get a little choked up with pride, talking about the memories of the
day with his kids.....It just doesn't get much better! 
Another great Hook The Future episode in the can. This is what the Salt Life is all about!

Slimy 5's

Capt Don

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Burnt Store Snookin'

It's always hard to leave the Keys, but knowing you have good friends, on fish, with excited kids, and another small slice of Paradise- sure makes it a lot easier.
It's 7:30am, we launch the Carolina Skiff at Burnt Store Marina, in Punta Gorda, FL. It's time for another Hook The Future episode. The crew is hoping for a good day, and I know it's about to happen. We are on the way to meet my good friends, Capt Matt Haag and Capt Danny Latham. When I talked to Matt last night, he said, "take it easy, have breakfast at the marina- we will have the kids and catch bait, and we will be catching fish by the time you pull out of the marina." 
 Before we even get out of the marina channel- I hear Matt yell "Get over here, we're on them!"

We make our way over to find Matt and Danny chumming a huge school of snook with white bait. Fish were busting everywhere, there must have been hundreds of them. We quickly grab our anglers, Lexie & Kaden, get the mics on them, bait up the rods, and get to fishing.  
 First cast, BAM, snook on!

And again, BAM, double header! 

Lexie & Kaden were ready, these guys know how to fish!
 And so it continued for the next hour and a half, as fast as we could get the baits in the water, fish on! I asked Kaden, "How many fish do you think we've caught?"
He said, "I have NO idea!"
You know it's a good day when you lose count in the first hour of fishing...
Lets get your bait back out there and catch another one.



Again, as soon as it hit the water- bobber down! This time, there was no snook leaping in the air.... Kaden's drag starts peeling, and in short order, he has the first redfish of the day boat side.

Making lifetime memories with old friends on a hot bite in a great destination....
Livin the Salt Life in Punta Gorda.

Slimy 5's

Capt Don

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Making the Most Of It

Our plan today was to leave the Keys for Ft Myers and hit the road early, as we've had three shoots scheduled there for weeks. To make a long story short, due to circumstances beyond our control, we were forced to push back the scheduled shoots for two days.

I guess there are worse things than being stuck in Key Largo for an extra day with a gassed up boat and gear for whatever the Keys has to offer.

I've been looking forward to getting underwater with my girlfriend for a while- so we decide to dive something new. After a short drive, we launch from John Pennekamp State Park, set a course for 172°.... 7 miles later, we tie up to the mooring buoy on Molasses reef. 

 What a gorgeous day! Flat calm ocean, 80 ft vis, can't wait to get in. We quickly gear up, and jump in. Molasses reef- stretches for about a mile, about 25-30 feet down. As soon as we hit the water, we see the reef is teeming with life.

Chubs all around the boat, hundreds of snapper hiding under the ledges, parrot fish of all sizes, it's hard to decide where to look next. Taking it easy, cruising along the edge, just trying to soak it all in. Man, if there is one place I can go to get away from it all, it's underwater.

We soon spot a nurse shark scurrying off, a few barracudas, and dozens of colorful reef fish that I really should know the names of.... But I don't.

After a couple of great dives and some lunch, we decide to change the game plan, and head over to the Gulf side in hopes of securing another lobster dinner. We arrive at the first spot, plop in, to find it had already been picked over. Still a cool area to dive, with lots of prime lobster habitat covering the bottom. Oh well, next...

We run a couple of miles to a number from days gone by. I hop over the side to see what's there, and immediately notice a respectable red grouper hanging out over the honeycomb bottom. I quickly swim back to the boat and grab my pole spear. There is something about hunting underwater, I just love it. When I arrive back down, he had already popped in one of the holes. Making the shot was the easy part, getting him out of the hole was a whole other story...
With my right had in one crevice, trying to guide the fish, to my left hand in another crevice.
 Finally, he's free...

Dinner at last! One more trip to the bottom for three keeper bugs, and it's time to go.

A fresh caught dinner combined with the perfect sunset at JJ's Big Chill,
 ends our perfect day in the Keys,

Livin' the Salt Life, Keys-style...

Slimy 5's

Capt Don

Monday, August 27, 2012

A Break In The Keys

It's time to hit the road and shoot some new Hook The Future episodes. Our new Mercury powered Carolina Skiff is loaded for every kind of nearshore fish you can think of, first stop- Marathon. Some friends of ours have been there for a week, catching lobster and grouper every day. With an open invite to come down and tickle some lobsters with their kids, how could we say no? We arrive on the last day of their stay, load the dive gear, and hit it. High southeast winds made the Atlantic off limits, so we decide to run a few miles in the gulf to areas the crew had bugged before.

 We arrived to the first spot, Max says he wants to show me how it's done. Flag up, gear on, and over the side we go. As we approach the rock, we see three sets of tentacles poking from under the ledge.  

Working as a team, we try to put the two nets over the lobster's escape routes as Max begins to work the tickle stick. The first lobster slips past the net, desperately reach for him, grabbing a tentacle, which the lobster quickly breaks off, shooting backwards, straight into Donny's hands, which were waiting like a catcher's mitt.


But he's a short. Now Max is determined, he reaches behind a nice lobster, gently tapping his tail, causing him to spring straight into the net. perfect! Now that is the way you do it...

 Over the next few hours, Max, Layne, &Chad all got their chances. Wading through many shorts, we called the trip due to approaching storms, with five keepers on board.  

What an awesome day! How many grown men get a chance to feel like a kid underwater, playing around in the Keys?

Time to go catch the sunset-

 Livin the Salt Life, Keys-style

Slimy 5's

Capt Don