Tom LaGrassa from Indiana, who is a long-time repeat customer, chartered the “Happy Day Today” in Ft. Lauderdale for a fishing trip for his business clients and family. Tom and his family have caught Mahi Mahi, Black Fin Tuna, King Mackerel, Bonita, Barracuda, Amberjack, Wahoo, Shark, and Sailfish on their previous charters.
We started the day trolling in 200 ft. out to 300 feet of water in search of Black Fin Tuna. The Tunas were biting the day before, and I was hoping to get back on the bite. The current water color and bait have been ideal for the Tunas to feed, and we had similar conditions the day of the fishing charter. We fished with four surface rigger lines all scaled down in size for the Tuna, along with two deep planner lines. We were heading offshore, then back over the reef searching the depth sounder and looking for evidence of the Tunas. After no sign of life and not looking promising, we decided to change gears and fish a live bait on a sunken shipwreck. The first mate rigged a circle hook with a live bait bridle and a 20-foot leader to a lead. We sent the bait down to the wreck and made a drift over the structure. We had a knot of north current, which is a good amount of current for these fish to feed. After we passed the wreck on the first drift with no bites, I decided to fish on the deeper side of the wreck - slight adjustments make the biggest difference. On the second drop, the bait hit bottom, and shortly after reeling the bait off the bottom, the rod bent over, and we had one on. Bella, my angler, started reeling on the line, set the hook then started fighting the fish. She did great fighting the fish, and after a 15-minute fight, she brought up an Amberjack. We brought the Amberjack into the boat, removed the circle hook, and after a picture, released the AJ.
Next, we decided to use fishing kites. When charter fishing in Fort Lauderdale we use two kites, one fished and weighted to the right, and the other one weighted to the left. They are very effective and are widely used in South Florida. Many fishermen will use kites in 100 to 200 feet of water with 150 feet of water being a good depth to fish. The drop off is like a highway the fish travel along. These fish will migrate down the coast heading to the South. We have a lot of success live bait fishing along the drop off. The mate deployed two kites and fished two baits per kite. There is constant maintenance of the baits to keep them just below the water line and not to come out of the water. The first strike was a King Mackerel. The fish skyrocketed out of the water. The bait was slashed but still moving around. We kept the bait in the water, and the King Mackerel exploded on the injured bait and this time ate the bait. Bella hooked and fought the King. After a great fight, the mate reached out with the gaff and brought it in the boat.
We continued to kite fish, and it didn’t take long before we had another King Mackerel in the spread. Same as before - we had a big explosion on the water, and this time the King ate the bait on the first attempt. Luke was the angler, and he set the hook and fought the King Mackerel. After an exciting fight on light tackle, the fish was alongside the boat - the mate reached out and gaffed it.
We set back up with the two kites and 4 live baits. I moved out a little deeper as I could see a rip forming in 165 feet of water. These fish will move along color changes, rip currents and edges where reading the water will help you find the trophy fish. After we set up with the spread of baits on the rip, it didn’t take long until I could see a Sailfish circling under one of the live baits. The Sail was almost swimming back and forth under the Goggle-eye. Sometimes when Sailfish hit, they crash the bait; other times like this, they investigate the bait with caution. The Sailfish ate the bait and started swimming off into the current and slowly sounding. Tom was the angler. As the fish swam off, Tom slowly engaged the drag and reeled tight, hooking the Sailfish. The fish gave us a long run stripping off drag, heading the opposite direction until he came jumping out of the water. This Sailfish gave us a full-on air show with more time spent jumping out of the water than digging deep and sounding. Tom wore down the Sailfish, and with every time he lifted the fish and retrieved line, the fish got that much closer. After an epic battle the fish was alongside the boat. The first mate reached down, removed the hook, got a quick picture and released the Sailfish.
Contact Capt. Dave Zsak to book your deep-sea fishing charter out of Fort Lauderdale aboard the "Happy Day Today", a 52' Hatteras Sport Fish.