A group of friends from Jacksonville, Florida chartered the Topshot Sportfishing Charter Boat Team for a morning deep-sea adventure. We left Bahia Mar, where the boat is docked, and started heading out of the inlet with calm seas and light easterly winds. We started the trip trolling in 200 ft. of water with two deep planner lines about 50 feet down, along with four surface lines out of the outriggers.

There was a light north current, and I started heading into the current facing south. First, we started marking fish on the depth sounder. I made offshore and inshore turns trying to raise the fish into the spread of baits; this area was over a color change. The first line to get a strike was the long planner line. One of the guys fought the fish until the planner reached the rod. The first mate reached down, removed the planner, got the fish alongside the boat and gaffed it. Once we got the fish in the fish box, we resumed trolling. Working that same area, I was fishing from deep to shallow, and just as we were making a turn offshore, the rod bent over, and we got another strike. One of the guys started reeling in the fish and, same as before, we removed the planner, gaffed the King Mackerel and into the box. We continued to catch Kings and Bonita in this area with the guys racking up a total of 8 fish.

We brought in the trolling spread and moved to an area where we catch live Ballyhoo. We use ground up chum, and after 10 minutes, we had a big school of Ballyhoo behind the boat. The first mate loaded up a cast net, and with one good throw, we had enough live bait.

I started fishing the Fort Lauderdale reef in 125 feet of water. In this area, we have drop offs and reef structures that is productive for pelagic species. The first mate grabbed 5 spinners and sent out a spread of live Ballyhoo. Ballyhoos are one of my favorite baits when charter fishing since everything feeds on these live baits. We had the right conditions - calm seas with light wind and no seaweed. I started working down the reef slowly trolling the live Ballyhoo. We fish the baits with on open bail, and when a fish strikes the line, it freely come off the spool until it’s time to set the hook. I was watching the spread when the high line bridge bait started swimming fast in the opposite direction. Quickly moving to the rod, we were ready for him. I saw a Sailfish starting to feed on the bait. I fed the fish until it was ready to set the hook, started reeling the line tight then a Sailfish started jumping, and we had him on. This fish made some big runs, sounding then coming back to the surface and jumping high in the air. John, our angler, did a great job with the standup spinning tackle. He was properly lifting the fish and retrieving the line. After the Sailfish made multiple runs and acrobatic jumps, John brought the Sailfish alongside the boat. The first mate reached down and removed the hook, pictures were taken and then we safely released the fish back into the water to fight another day.

It was now time to head back to the dock after a great day of fishing. If interested in booking a fishing charter, contact Capt. Dave Zsak with Top Shot Sportfishing Charters aboard the 52' Hatteras "Happy Day Today" at (954) 439-8106

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Owner/ Captain Tom Zsak