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The Group Proudly Displays Their Highly Anticipated Black Grouper after their all day charter.

2018 Grouper Season Opener Aboard The Blue Heaven!

With a vast array of ever changing regulations, few season openers are as highly anticipated as Grouper season in Florida. This particular species of notorious bottom feeders are known for the size, power, and value on the dinner table. Some species of the grouper have even been fished near the edge of extinction; Such as the Goliath Grouper. Despite the Goliaths being off limits to any forms of harvesting since 1990, other breeds still have specified seasons to maintain the population.

Captain Skye drops a bag of chum to the wreck beneath us to fire up the fish. What a gorgeous sunrise!
Marcie just before she set the hook on her season opener Black Grouper!
On the lightest rod, Eric fights a monster Black Grouper off the wreck deep below!
Marcie holding one of her prize Black Grouper caught morning-of the 2018 Season Opener!
Just look at the size of this black grouper. One of the two landed on the first double of the morning!

Nearly five years ago, The FWC (Florida Wildlife Conservation) implemented catch and release only policies in Florida Waters. While regulations vary Atlantic side to Gulf Coast, marine biologists believe they have identified the best ways to conserve the species while still satisfying the needs of commercial and recreational anglers alike. “We believe in conserving every bit we can”, Says Blue Heaven Captain Skye Stanley. Captain Stanley goes on to tell us that “despite (grouper) being known as a large fish, grouper are a very slow growing fish. Many sub species may only grow up to a pound per year regardless of diet”. Captain Stanley elaborated by informing us that grouper often alter gender between adolescence and adulthood, and that they are not a migratory species.

Skye Stanley is the proud owner and captain of the Blue Heaven, a 32 Regulator.
Jesse is the first mate of the Blue Heaven, a 32 Regulator.
Marcie and Eric were kind enough to let SA Company join them for their annual grouper opener charter in Islamorada, Florida!

SA Company was lucky enough to hop on board the Blue Heaven on May 1st; Opening day of the 2018 Grouper Season. The crew departed Robbie’s Marina at 5:00AM with intentions of chumming the floor of the reef, dropping live grunts to the bottom, and bagging their limit prior to venturing offshore to chase down the Mahi. Opening week was a success for Skye, Jessie, and the Blue Heaven. Once the reef was fully chummed and lines were in the water, it didn’t take but a few moments for the crew to hook up on a double. One of the two broke off, but we were able to land a very healthy 25lb Black Grouper. Often times when a grouper is broken off, the other grouper nearby tend to become more docile, and less likely to bite. Captain Skye and Jessie tell us not to let this discourage you from working the same spot; they go on to discuss that it doesn’t take but a few minutes and some more chum to fire them back up.

Robbie’s Marina and Fishing Village is home to world famous tarpon feeding, local shopping, food, and dozens of notable charter vessels including the Blue Heaven.
Measuring at 32′, The Blue Heaven powered by her Twin 300 Yamaha Fourstrokes.
Blue Heaven, the 32′ Regulator is powered by twin 300 Yamaha Four Strokes.

The Blue Heaven’s first mate, Jessie describes these fish as “highly intelligent considering what they are”… “These fish don’t grow upwards of 100lb because they’re dumb”. With such a considerable life expectancy, many of these fish even know when they may be harvested and when they must be released; which significantly influences the behavior throughout the year. However, sometimes it is their confidence in size that drives these fearless bottom hunters from rocks, to hook, to ice box, to table. Even countless divers and spear-fishermen have had some not-so-friendly experiences on reefs and wrecks down deep and are often referred to as “bullies”.

Captain Skye in his custom tower getting a birds eye view. Looking out for birds, derbies, turtles, or any activity on the surface. Not much gets past Captain Skye in his Custom Tower. Watch as he notices a bird working the surface.
Birds such as the Frigate and Seagulls will watch the surface for bait being chased to the top; usually an indicator of pelagic species below.
In the Summer, the wind and tide pushes weeds into a pack-like formation, hosting a variety of life on the surface. Small Jacks, Triple Tails, Sea Horses, Juvenile Turtles, and many others can be found just under this vegetation.
A live bait is pitched to the Mahi that the Frigate is following. Notice the bait is bridled through the shoulders on a size 4 J hook.
One of the First Mahi We Picked Off.
An Underwater View of Our First Mahi of the Day!

The Blue Heaven crew went on to take their charters Marcie and Eric deep offshore to chase down the Mahi Mahi (Dorado, Dolphin). This was Marcie’s first time catching and landing a Mahi. Skye and Jessie are notorious for their “run and gun” tactics; basically site fishing for birds, weed patches, derbies, turtles, or any sign of activity on the surface.  Not only was it opening day for grouper, but we had a hard blowing South East Wind; which blew the derbies, the bait, the weeds, the birds, and the fish right to Atlantic side of South Florida. Typically when you hook into one mahi, the rest of the school tends to follow (provided enough time). The group was able to pick off six mahi, dozens of yellowtail snapper, and of course their prize grouper. Marcie and Eeric go on to tell us that this is an annual tradition they’ve been upholding for the past three years. We hope to join them next year aboard the Blue Heaven next year!

Marcie and Eric Holding Their Two Largest Mahi
The Group Proudly Displays Their Highly Anticipated Black Grouper after their all day charter.

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