For some, a personal goal might be a 2,000-pound black marlin on the Great Barrier Reef. Local anglers have dreams of a delicious dinner-plate-sized grouper cheeks from near shore 90-pound black grouper.
For ankle deep type anglers a 10-pound bonefish would fulfill their fishing fantasies.
I've done the big bonefish thing in Islamorada smack dab in front of Bud and Mary's, home of the world's biggest bones. My black marlin goal won't be happening in this lifetime or the grouper trip, not because I wouldn't want to catch these great fish. Even if I had the extra 20 grand lying around for that trip you still won't find me onboard that 60-footer down under.
Capt. George Tunison
Actually, you couldn't pay me 20 large to board a big time sportfisherman for a three-day outing as I'm positive at some point in the trip I would fling my poor dehydrated, dry heaving, body into the sea just to make the seasickness stop. Anything, to make it stop. That's why I'm an inshore/nearshore guide only.
My personal goal this year was a 40-pound redfish without having to travel to Louisiana, which apparently is infested with the things, or the Carolinas, the home of surf fishing for world record sized 90+ pounders. I wanted to stay in state and as close to home as possible.
We do have that class fish in our local waters. Offshore anglers witness huge patches of copper colored water as vast schools of jumbo reds surface. I've caught mini bulls to 20 pounds in Matlacha Pass and have seen bigger fish inshore many times over the years. Put in your time at any of the passes and you might bag a 40-pounder.
If you could show up at just the right time in a spot that's "going off" that would save time. I call other guides and ask them to give me a heads up when things get cooking. Last week I got the call: "I'm catching bulls that are bottoming out my 35-pound class Boga-Grip with ease!"
Sebastian Inlet is on fire with jumbo flounder, giant jacks, pompano, and especially bull redfish.
A four-hour jaunt through the middle of orange country Florida and by dark I was checked in. Always restless before a trip sleeping this night was bad with maybe three full hours.
By 6 a.m. we were leaving the dock and heading across a calm bay stopping to load the wells with hook and squid baited, hand sized pigfish. Once filled, we headed to the inlet which doglegs right before entering the ocean. The smell of the ocean, much different from the Gulf, filled my nose as we slowly passed bottom bouncing flounder fanatics. I was pumped!
Our goal was to fish the jetty ends on the outgoing and drift in when the tide changed, free lining the big piggies in the 20-foot deep channel. No problem.
We cleared the corner and there it was, Sebastian Inlet, a thrashing, bucking, heaving wall of water with an intense six-foot crazy chop. To say that I was not prepared for this would be an understatement.
Barley able to stand I launched pig after pig to their doom as most times the poor pigfish had less than 30 seconds before a jolting strike ran to my shoulders as 25-pound jacks slammed them mixed in with 10- to 15-pound ocean reds the exact color of ladyfish.
I felt the first signs, clammy then sweaty. It creeps up slowly then goes into high gear.
"If you want a tip get me outta here," I yelled. "But it's almost dark, you're going to get your giant," the guide protested.
I cashed in, so sick it was unbearable. I'm going back next week with ear patches to get my bull red. Get there as Sebastian Inlet is "going off" big time!