man I love fishing in Florida. I live in middle Tennessee and a friend and I planned a 2 day fishing trip in the Cape Coral area. Jokingly I told the Captain that I wanted to limit out on grouper, catch a 6'+ shark and catch a goliath grouper.
He brought along a 1st mate, so there were just 4 of us on the boat. I believe we ended up going about 28 miles off shore.
When we first got there they set up 2 poles on the back of the boat for sharks and we started fishing for grouper. It honestly was like fishing for bream. If we didn't feel a bite in under a minute, chances are they took our bait. Most of the ones we were catching were too small to keep, but they were still going between 17'-19". On the water for about an hour and a half, we had 3 grouper over 20" in the boat and one of the shark poles took off.
No matter how you think it is, you have no idea what it is like catching something like that until you do it. I was warned about needing to loosen the drag a little before I tried to get the pole out of the holder (they would have done it, but I wanted the full experience) and I immediately understood why - it was like trying to get the pole out while it was being pulled on by a car. Finally getting it out, and not looking to pretty doing it, the fight was on. The shark was about 70 yards from the boat by now and the first thing that went thru my mind was "no way I can do this" - took me about 10 minutes to get it to the boat and it turned out to be a 10' Lemon shark. Everyone on the boat was all excited and getting pictures, me - I just wanted it off the hook because my arms felt like they were falling off. They cut the line (I did not want to keep it) and I went down and sat on a chair. The best anology I can think of is if you played high school basketball. The 1st few practices the coaches run you until your legs feel like jelly - for me it was worse than that except it was my whole upper body. My fingers were even twitching. It was so awesome.
Less than 30 minutes later, another shark pole took off. They got it out of the holder and handed it to my friend. He was only on it for a few minutes and decided he wasn't going to kill himself over it, so handed the pole off - ended up being a 9' Lemon Shark.
I could feel my arms again and was back to grouper fishing and we had our limit in about 3 hours total - and caught dozens of smaller ones.
We called it a day and met up with the Captain the next day for day 2 of our trip. Headed out he said that we would catch the goliath grouper today - said he knew a place where they have been hooking a bunch, but many were so big they couldn't get them in.
Hate to admit this, but I passed - my body was a little sore from the previous day and I didn't think I could bring something that big in. So went out out for our grouper limit. While there, a barracuda started circling the boat so Captain Dan threw on a lady fish and tossed it out there. It was like watching a nature special. You could see the cuda turn and it shot off like a bullet. It grabbed the lady fish and shot straight up into the air - the only problem was the pole wasn't really rigged up for that as it did not have a steel leader, so when it jumped you could see the line going one way and the fish going the other - was still really cool and I would not have kept it anyway.
Grouper were not biting quite as good as the previous day, but that just meant we were only catching oine about every 10 minutes at most. Limited out in about 2 1/2 hours.
My friend and I were pretty beat, so we started heading in and once back to shore, we swung over and did some trout fishing. We were now using lighter rods so it was a blast. Pretty much like the grouper fishing - it was like they stocked the Gulf just for our fishing trip.
It was just a great trip. Even stopped off at Sanibel Island for a dip to freshen up a bit and get the squid smell off of me.
I 100% absolutely love fishing in the Gulf.
I booked another trip before I left and told Captain dan that next time we would go for the goliath grouper 1st, then the sharks. From the stories he tells about the grouper tho, probably a good chance i will skip the sharks. My body isn't young any more and just doesn't recover fast enough.
A friend of mine had booked with all fish charter and told me how good the fishing was, but I had no idea. They really don't do charters for tarpon, said it was too crowded and competitive and didn't care for the mess, so I may look around for a charter for that, but next up I want the goliath grouper - of course I probably won;t be able to feel my body for a few days after that.
I love fishing in Florida.