South Florida is often referred to as The Sport Fishing Capitol of the World; As a host to hundreds of tournaments every year, this area attracts anglers of all levels from across the globe. This week, we’re fishing the Fish for Hope KDW Fishing Tournament. The tournament is designed to benefit children who are victims of abuse and neglect. The Organization has homed nearly two hundred kids and raised over three million dollars since their inception. As happy as we are to be a part of a contest that benefits kids, we’re even more excited to take on an epic day of fishing with Phil Caputo and the Angler Management crew!
Some tournament regulations include a 25 nautical mile boundary, no mutilated fish may be weighed, lines in at 6:30AM, lines out at 2:30, the weigh stations open at 12:00, and close at 3:30PM. There are no regulations on tackle, line class, or fishing methods. Only one fish may be entered per species, and the Anglers must Accompany their fish to the scales. There is a 10lb minimum to weigh in, and state regulations must be observed while fishing. The rules are pretty standard for this tournament, however there’s an all expenses paid trip to Costa Rica on the line for the single heaviest fish, along with tons of other prizes for the first, second, and third place for heaviest Kingfish, Dolphin, and Wahoo categories, as well as a top fundraiser category!
We started the day before to do some pre-fishing. Pre-Fishing is the best way to get an idea of where these migratory fish have been spending their time on this portion of their journey. Boca, Palm Beach, Jupiter, and Juno are famous fisheries for being the closer to the Gulf Stream than any other body of land on Earth. This area is a host to tons of ship wrecks, reefs, rocks, and other underwater masses that attract fish. We couldn’t ask for better boating weather; seas were calm, air and water temperatures were just right, and we’re getting into the peak of this year’s mullet run. The only condition working against us was the wind. Captain Phil Caputo has become fond of kite fishing over the years, but the wind was not in our favor. We probably spent an hour or so trying to manipulate the kite into the air, but it just wasn’t in the cards for us, so we made a change into some bump-trolling.
Bump trolling is a method of fishing that combines live baiting and trolling. Pilchards and Goggle Eye are the live baits of choice; They’re hardy baits and have no problem being dragged around, they attract a variety of fish, and they’re irresistible to our target species. Bump trolling is were you attach a bank sinker to where the leader meets the main line via rubber band to two rods on each back corner of the boat. This weight will sink the live baits between 30-60 ft down. When the captain bumps the throttle, the baits rise and sink slowly. Between two free swimming baits on top water, and the two in the middle column, you are effectively fishing every water column; Thus maximizing your catching potential.
Upon prospecting with this method, we were able to pick off a 15 pound kingfish. However, we were’t alone out there before tournament day. It was actually very crowded for a Friday Morning, so we wanted to take some pressure off these fish. Fortunately, we had Captain Austin from the original Angler Management vessel on board, so he took us to one of his secret snapper spots so we could load up on meat- hoping the wind picks up and that some of the other boats out there went in. We picked off a few Vermilion Snapper, Lane Snapper, Yellowtail Snapper, Blackfin Snapper, Mahogany Snapper, and mangrove snapper! One might say the plan worked! By the time we had reeled in lunch and dinner, many of the boats headed back in and we started to feel a bit of a breeze. Providing the perfect opportunity for us to try to put the kites back up.
We made a move back to the ledges, hooked up our live baits, and launched the kites. There was barely enough wind to keep the kites up, but we managed to land an 11lb Kingfish before we decided to head in and rest up for tournament day.
Before we knew it, it was 5:00AM and tournament day was upon us. We all arrived bright and early to prep the boat and our tackle for an epic afternoon of fishing! We began our short journey to the kite fishing grounds, we lowered the outriggers and opened up the live well only to find that all of our bait had died! We pulled out the killbox, Phil climbed below deck, and found that a bad fuse had shut off the live well pump thus killing every live bait we had. Phil called Scott with Hard Target Baits who met us back at the inlet. Thanks to them, we were back on the ledge within half an hour.
Even though we missed the lines in cannon, it didn’t stop us from having a productive day on the water! We wasted no time, and immediately started bump trolling. There wasn’t enough wind for us to want to launch the kites, and time was slowly becoming the enemy. The bite was steady, yet somehow sporadic. Our reels would be quiet for half an hour at a time, and then all of a sudden we would be hooked up! Sometimes even on a double! Kingfish are famous for their teeth, and despite a wire leader, several fish bit through and worked themselves free. Despite toothy fish, we still brought fish after fish over the rail. We picked off a total of four Kingfish and two very large Atlantic Bonita in just Eight Hours. The radio was quiet all day, which lead us to believe that fishing was slow for many other boats. We felt the fish we had might put us on the leader board if we were lucky.
It was a short boat ride back to the weigh station where we discovered that our predictions were only partially correct. It was definitely a slow day of fishing all around, but there were a handful of slightly larger fish caught that day. Unfortunately, we didn’t make the leader board, but we were still proud to have put up productive numbers. It was an overall great experience; not only did we have a gorgeous day on the water, we had a steady yet exciting bite, we supported a wonderful organization that benefits a cause we all believe in, and we learned that the Angler Management team is true tournament contender. We look forward to joining them for the highly anticipated Blue Water Babes tournament this October.