Monday, December 22, 2014

Return to FL part 2 - FUNYET charter

On our first full day in the Keys, Ryan, Meghan, Ruoxi and I met up with Captain John Sahagian of FUNYET Charters.  This was the first time Ruoxi and I had done a fishing charter, so we were looking forward to the new experience!

We picked up ice and made the rounds to the traps that Captain John put out for pinfish to use as bait.  We originally wanted to fish very deep water (700+ feet deep) for tilefish, but the waves were too high that day.

Instead, we trolled for pelagic species while we traveled between several wrecks to jig for fish near the bottom.  Trolling was slow.  We only got one hit and didn't hook up with the fish.  We didn't mark any fish at the first wreck, so we continued on to the second.  Fish showed up on the depth finder, so we set up there.  We jigged with a chicken rig baited with squid, and everyone caught several vermilion snapper.

Vermilion Snapper (Rhomboplites aurorubens) - new hook & line species #246

We took turns catching fish, and on Meghan's turn the rod really bent over.  She fought something big, making steady progress, and brought up the biggest fish of our trip, a greater amberjack!

Greater Amberjack (Seriola dumerili)

Late in the afternoon, we began to see sharks circling the boat.  We were pretty excited!  I wasn't targeting them specifically, but as I was reeling my bait up I felt a hit, and when the fish came into view, it turned out to be one of the sharks.  We took it out of the water just long enough to get the hook out and then released it back into the water.

Silky Shark (Carcharhinus falciformis) - new hook & line species #247

Pretty soon Ruoxi hooked up with a shark as well.  Like the one I caught it was too small to remove the hook with it in the water, so we brought it in the boat in order to remove the hook before releasing it.

Ryan hooked up with the biggest shark of the day.  He brought it up to the boat, but before we could remove the hook, it bit through the line.  He was bummed that his only photo of the shark is the one below, but I could still tell he was happy to have caught a shark.

At this point we were out of time and had to head back to shore.  As we were motoring back, we saw a cluster of bait fish jumping out of the water, so Captain John quickly put out a line.  It got a hit, and I reeled in the last fish of the day, a yellowtail snapper.  It was not a species we were expecting to catch while trolling!

Yellowtail Snapper (Ocyurus chrysurus)

We arrived back at Captain John's dock, and while he cleaned our catches (one greater amberjack, one yellowtail, and six or seven vermilion snapper), we enjoyed saying hello to his friend Puffy.  John's wife fed Puffy several blue crabs, which he happily crunched up.

Spotted Burrfish (Chilomycterus reticulatus)

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