Amberjack & Tuna Fishing in Key West

The weather forecast was spot on, not a breath of wind and the A team consisting of Lemon Geoff, Chris the Wrasse and Robber were out with Captain Manny.

Capt. Manni - My favourite Key West captain
Capt. Manni – My favourite Key West captain

This time we found the Thread Fin Herrings there were millions in a weed line; my guess is that they were spawning and within 15 minutes we filled the bait well.

Using 6 hook Sabiki rigs it was often 6 fish every cast.

Catching the bait can be as much fun as fishing for the big boys
Catching the bait can be as much fun as fishing for the big boys

Captain Manny who is Cuban decided on a very long run in fact 44 miles to a place where few white men know about, except Keith and Roy because they had been there with Manny a couple of years ago.

Its amazing miles of ocean with hardly any fish then an oasis of fish over a wreck or just a few rocks.

This location was a small sharp drop off where the water went from 220” to 230” along a shelf.

It was just over an hour away and a very pleasant ride in near calm conditions.

The fish finder was showing a few fish and Captain Manny skilfully positioned the boat so we could fish down the drop off.

The plan was a couple of flat lines fished with threadfins on the top and then bottom rigs with a 6 ounce sinker, the current and the colour were perfect and we were optimistic.

Last time Keith and I fished this spot we bagged up on Huge Mutton snappers and some Tuna then we were plagued with sharks.

Robber had a cunning plan quickly hatched, the fish showing on the scanner were off the bottom and big, Amberjacks were first option and in 220” of water could be very painful so he told Chris to have first drop whilst Robber played with setting up the flat lines.

I bet it's an Amberjack - They can really pull, especially when you hook them 200 ft down.
Chris hard at work, I bet it’s an Amberjack – They can really pull, especially when you hook them 200 ft down.

What a good choice, within seconds of the bait hitting 220” Chris was into a powerful fish that Robber told him would be a big Mutton Snapper or Grouper.

15 minutes of grunting later an AJ came to the surface.

Chris giving his AJ a cuddle
Chris giving his AJ a cuddle

A great fish but not target species and now an aching back was mentioned.

Robber during this time had pulled the hook on two Tunas and was not a happy bunny.

Admiral Marlow playing a Tuna - One - nil to the fish
Admiral Marlow playing a Tuna – One – nil to the fish

Lemon Geoff was next on the bottom rig and it was the same story, more pain.

Robbers skilfully landed a Tuna after a hectic fight and guess what he had foul hooked it in the cheek.

Roy decided that hooking them in the cheek would add to the fun
Roy decided that hooking them in the cheek would add to the fun

Sweat was now falling off the crew and it was decided we would time the quickest AJ landed.

Everyone had a go and we got it down to less than 10 minutes per fish, but the pain was showing, even Robber looked like he had been thrown overboard he was that wet with sweat.

Lemon Geoff had sweat falling off his nose and this was cooling the reel.

In between Robber who was concentrating on the flat lines hooked another fish that smoked the reel, after a fierce battle it was a nice King Fish, guess what foul hooked again, he is lucky.

A Kingfish, another of the ocean's best scrappers...and again foul-hooked
A Kingfish, another of the ocean’s best scrappers…and again foul-hooked

Robber being a nice person let Chris and Lemon fish the flat lines and almost immediately they had a double hook up with fish that headed straight down.

Geoff and Chris both playing fish caught just under the surface...surely these will be tuna ?
Geoff and Chris both playing fish caught just under the surface…surely these will be tuna ?

Different fights to a Tuna so it was guess the species time.

We all got it wrong because after 20minutes of sweating and even more grunting two big amberjacks were in sight. These were on 12lbs outfits with 20lb braid and as you can see they really can bend rods.

Cutting to the chase, the shipmates landed 4 Tunas, 1 King Fish and 13 Amberjacks, that meant at least one fish was being fought all the time they were out there.

What a fantastic day as eight of the AJs were taken off the surface.

Lemon Geoff was told that one of his surface fish was an Amberjack his little face dropped a mile after a 20 minute fight,  however Robber had seen that it was a Tuna when it took the bait.

The Admiral told Geoff that this fish was another Amberjack, but he had seen it take the bait and knew that it was a Tuna
The Admiral told Geoff that this fish was another Amberjack, but he had seen it take the bait and knew that it was a Tuna

Eventually big smiles all round as Lemon saw the funny side.

What a great day, the shipmates had a long run home and were very tired, they clocked 96 miles from leaving the dock, this adventure is for men only.

Chris the Wrasse was promoted to Chris the AJ.

Lemon Geoff was promoted to sergeant and Robber is still an Admiral.