Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Return to Spectacular Dry Tortugas December 2015

After having a great top water trip in Dry Tortugas with Captain Yuri two years ago and missing last year’s trip with the gang from NY and Florida, I decided to plan a trip with my Asian gang this year. The crew consisted of George Lai, John Cheng, John Viet, Jimmy Gee, Sherman Kong and I.
The day finally arrived after a year of preparations, we set off in our Saltywater Tackle van on boxing day.
Traffic was crazy and we ended up being stuck in Virginia for 4 hours because of the traffic, lucky for us for setting off early and still ended up well within our schedule!
Captain Yuri and first mate Tommy greeted us at the boat upon our arrival and we started to unload our tackle and got ready for the evening departure. We left the dock around 9.00 pm and got to Fort Jefferson around 2am and Captain Yuri quickly set the anchor for the night. Morning came fast and the boys woke me up with their excitement and the morning scenery of Fort Jefferson, we took the opportunity to hop off the boat and onto the island for a few photos as Captain Yuri had to stop by the National Park to fill up some paperwork.
We started popping in shallow water but the bite was slow in the morning, until a massive splash on my lucky Native Works Napalm Diving Popper 140 with El Maestro 82M(prototype) rod and the game was on, the very first decent size Black Grouper in the box, the rest of the day was a little sluggish. Although the bites were a little slow, everyone was happy catching mutton snappers, groupers, yellow tail snappers, mackerels and of cause barracudas. The day was not over yet, after dinner, the boys were keen on catching a Goliath Grouper so Jimmy baited up his Fisherman rod paired with his Daiwa Expedition 6500 and George baited up his OBX400 paired with Stella 20000. Not long after, something stole George’s bait and he immediately came tight; unfortunately, it went straight into the propeller and broke him off. On the other end Jimmy’s Daiwa was screaming and it was game on, Jimmy fought it like a champion and brought it to the boat side under 10 mins, after a couple of quick photos by the boat side we removed the hook and set it free. Jimmy baited up again for Sherman this time to experience the power of the Goliath, and just like before, it didn’t take long before the Daiwa reel started screaming again, but this time it wasn’t the same, the line was unstoppable and started peeling out form the reel and I immediately screamed “Pour water onto the reel! Get water to the reel!” but it was too late, the drag melted and we ended the night with a smoking reel LOL L 
Second morning, we again started with popping but it was different from yesterday, the bite was way better this time and we could see more activities on the water, fishing turned into mayhem when everyone started catching fish after fish in all directions. George was the high hooker this morning followed by John Viet while bringing in his bigger Black Grouper, everyone had big smiles on their faces as we keep getting more and more varieties and the coolers were almost getting filled. We ended the day with jigging and the highlight was Jimmy again. He initially hooked up a small fish on his lighter jigging setup when not long after a bigger fish ate the smaller fish and started bolting away, everyone onboard had his chance on the rod including myself, everyone was also keen to see what was at the end of the line but unfortunately the main line broke off after over 45 mins of fight and left us with full of thoughts, the guys said it felt like a Goliath, Shark or Big Amberjack… Who knows?
We ended the day with Chinese Hot Pot for our dinner and it was the best hot pot ever with fresh fish.
The third day and the final day of the trip, as usual we went popping on the shallows; the bite was on fire with schools of small yellowtail snappers, you can catch them every time and on any lures, although they were small but they were really fun to catch with light tackle. Every trip will have to come to an end and we left the hot bite and started heading back for land. 
We have already booked for the 2016 and I’m really happy to be on this trip with great company full of joy and laughter, I’m sure those jokes and smiling faces and the stories from the trip will stay in our memories for a long time, I would like to thank Captain Yuri for his hard work and looking forward to see you again next year.    
Tackle used,
Popping Rod: Stealth(Smile), Zenaq, Shimano, El Maestro 710 and 82M(prototype)
Jigging Rod: Saltywater Tackle OBX 400 and OBX300, Fisherman, Valleyhill, Smith and Synit
Light Jigging Rod: Ajiking and Senses
Slow Fall Rod: Senses Ocean Luna
Lure: Shimano, Smith Tobiika, Ozma, Rodeo, Shout Entice, Siren, Native Works Napalm and more…
Jig: Shimano, Williamson, Shout Shab Shab, Shiver, Lighten, CB One F1, Hots Chibitan and more…

Tight lines