Monday, November 29, 2010

Keys Day Job!

It seems as of late, I can’t stay away from the Florida Keys! Due to a
Mako brochure shoot in Fort Lauderdale, I had to cut last week’s Islamorada
TV shoot short by one day. So, to obtain the “spine takes” we needed
to complete that show, I drove to Islamorada for the day on Tuesday,
November 16, and met up with producer Kevin Tierney.

A “spine take” refers to those tight face images that fly in during a fishing
show, where people reflect back on a catch and other highlights during the
trip. We needed to “spine take” two episodes: our recent Islamorada shoot,
and also our July trip to Ocean City, Maryland. On hand today were Greg
Poland and John Oughton, my guest anglers in both shows, respectively.

First on the hot seat was Poland, followed by me. After the
Islamorada “spine takes” were logged, Oughton did his on Ocean City, and I
followed with my take. While all went smoothly, I have to admit that it was
painful to be landlocked, with such gorgeous weather and light winds!

We began shooting at 9:30 a.m., and wrapped up at 2:00 p.m. Figuring we
needed to reward ourselves for working so hard, Kevin and I enjoyed a late
lunch at World Wide Sportsman’s Islamorada Fish Company. And what did
we eat? Why, blackened dolphin fish sandwiches, of course!

I got back on the road around 3:30 p.m. and pulled into my driveway at
5:30 p.m.

We’ve one more trip to the Florida Keys before 2010 draws to a close.
Friend Carl Grassi and I will fish the MARC VI off Big Pine Key shortly
after Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Mako introduced a new, redesigned and reengineered 284 center console model at
November’s Fort Lauderdale Boat Show, and the company hired Michael Fuller
Photography to shoot stills and videos of a pair of new 284s on November 11 and 12.
Being a long-time Mako owner (since 1977), and having owned their 284s since they
came out with the model in 2005, I am honored to serve as Mako’s spokesperson for this

For this two-day shoot, I found myself behind the wheel of a tricked-out, red-hulled 284,
powered by twin 250hp Mercury Verado outboards. Mako’s John Bower rode shotgun,
and we also had one of Mike Fuller’s crew to fill out the boat. We were based at Ft.
Lauderdale’s Pier 66.

We gathered at the boats at 5:00 a.m. Thursday, and proceeded to the inlet, where we’d
wait for the helicopter carrying the production crew. At the slightest hint of dawn, in
comes the helicopter, and we take off running in four- to six-foot seas, to obtain early
morning offshore stills/video. We had a 15- to 20-knot northeast wind. After running
north and south for what seemed like well over an hour, the helicopter flew back to shoot
the second 284. John Bower and I regrouped for the trolling portion of the shoot, and
soon found ourselves being shot/filmed on the troll. We got back to Pier 66 around 10:30
a.m. We would regroup at 2:00 p.m. for the afternoon boat-to-boat shooting sessions.
The wind that afternoon was out of the northeast at every bit of 20-knots, and seas
were running five- to seven-feet. We spent the rest of afternoon (until the sun dropped)

The next day was spent primarily shooting video footage of John Bower and me talking
about the new improvements and features designed into the boat. Afterwards, it was
some more boat-to-boat photography, until the sun dropped out.

In short, the new Mako 284 now features a “no wood” (cored-foam/fiberglass) structural
system, redesigned 50-gallon live well fed by dual pumps, channeled fish box lids,
larger cockpit drains, redesigned console with a lot of internal room and easy-access to
electronics and other critical rigging components, low-maintenance and electronically
operated trim tabs, LED nav lights, and impeccable fiberglass and finish work. The hull
comes in between 400- and 600-pounds lighter than the previous 284, a difference which
I readily felt when running this boat.

Look for a brand-new MARC VI in February or early March 2011, just in time for our
new fishing season!

At speed off Fort Lauderdale in the newly re-enginered Mako 284.

On the troll of Fort Lauderdale in the new Mako 284.



Trailered the MARC VI back down to the Keys last Monday (Nov. 8), this time to
Islamorada, to fish/shoot an episode with friend Greg Poland. Production crew included
Kevin Tierney, Carl Grassi, and Mr. Miller. We launched my boat and the camera boat
at a private ramp by Poland’s home, and docked them at World Wide Sportsman. We
stayed at Cheeca Lodge, and even got in a dinner at Ziggy’s and Mad Dog’s!

Fishing was good, but not fast. We had to really work at it, but we scored mutton
snapper, grouper, and Cero mackerel. Looking to revisit a kind of fishing I thoroughly
enjoyed in the Keys during my early 20s, we spent one afternoon catching ocean-run
barracuda on tube lures and 8-pound class spin tackle! What a blast! I was always
impressed by the fight a barracuda gives when it is matched on ultra-light tackle, and
these fish – up to 15-pounds – were no exception.

We spent two days on the water, and had to pull the boat after our second day, and
trailer it back to Broward County. I had to be at Ft. Lauderdale’s Pier 66 at 5:00 a.m. the
following morning, for a catalogue/brochure shoot for Mako Marine. I dropped my boat
off at its home in Coral Springs (Garnett Storage) at 8:30 that evening, and then went
home for a well deserved shower, quick dinner and few hours of sleep!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Blazing Snappers!


Trailered the MARC VI down to Marathon in the Florida Keys last Monday, to fish the
offshore reefs for yellowtail snapper and the patch reefs for mangrove snapper. We were
shooting an episode for my 2011 TV season, with local captain Jimmy Gagliardini as my

We (myself and production team members Rob “Swede” Greene and Carl Grassi) stayed
at the new Holiday Inn Express in Marathon, whereas Kevin Tierney stayed at his
Ramrod Key home (he was always the unsociable type!). The MARC VI was tied up to
the new docks behind the hotel.

On Tuesday, our first fishing day, the wind was blowing 15- to 20-knots from the East.
We picked up Jimmy and headed offshore. We dropped anchor in 80-feet of water, only
to discover the wind was opposing the current. To compensate - so our baits would drift
back within the chum slick - we re-secured the anchor line to the boat’s mid-ship cleat.
All was well. We dispatched four blocks of Captain Mark’s Pure Sardine chum in a large
mesh hoop, and hung it overboard. The yellowtails came up, in large, golden/yellow
balls. Just how many ‘tails were here was revealed on the Lowrance Structure Scan,
which showed literally hundreds and hundreds of them 20- to 35-feet off to starboard of
the MARC VI, and running the length of the boat!

Using No. 6 hooks baited with pieces of shrimp, 12-pound test fluorocarbon leaders
and Penn Conquer and Battle spinning reels spooled with 15-pound test Sufix Superior
monofilament, we free-lined our baits - along with a handful of a chum supplement made
from oats, thawed chum and sea water. This supplement creates a “cloud” around the
baits, exciting the ‘tails while making our leaders less noticeable.

The bite was off the charts, as Jimmy and I bailed large yellowtail – several cracking five
pounds. After catching many more fish the traditional way, we began live-chumming
with pilchards, to get the big ones feeding at the surface with the intensity of jack
Crevalles. And we did exactly that! Seizing a fabulous opportunity to catch these fish on
artificials, we’d toss out a serving of live pilchards and proceeded to cast Rattlin’ Rapalas
at the feeding blitzes. And catch them we did! The lures yielded our five heaviest
yellowtail, two of which were over five-pounds!

The next day (Wednesday), with an East wind at 20-knots, we anchored over a patch
reef in 25-feet of water, and put out one block of Captain Mark’s Pure Sardine Chum.

Here, we used spinning outfits rigged with 30-pound test fluorocarbon leaders and boxing
glove-style jigs. We’d impale a live pilchard onto the jig (under the lower jaw and out
the upper) and cast into the chum slick. As soon as the jig hit bottom, we’d hook up with
a fat mangrove snapper. After we bailed several big mangroves on the jig/pilchard rig,
I wanted to try live-chumming these fish and catching them on lures. Talk about wild
action! We had the big mangroves busting at the surface, where they eagerly ate the
Rapala lures! In fact, our biggest mangrove snapper – one in the seven pound class, was
caught on a lure!

Later that afternoon, after an incredible snapper bite and with a big thunderstorm
closing in on us, we headed back to shore and put the MARC VI on its Float-On trailer.
Thursday morning, in between rain showers, we shot our conversation pieces. We ate
lunch shortly after noon, and headed back for home in northern Broward County.

Being far down on the island-chain, Marathon doesn’t have the fishing pressure like the
upper Keys, and the reefs here are alive with big snapper. Just wait until you see this

Production team members “Swede” Greene (left) and Carl Grassi share a light
moment alongside the MARC VI, the afternoon before the shoot.

The long boat dock behind the new Holiday Inn Express in Marathon, and the close-
to-being-finished Tiki Bar. This place will be a fisherman’s paradise!

Jimmy Gagliardini with a lure-caught yellowtail.

What they were eating – Rattlin’ Rapalas.

Some of the big fellas!

Jimmy and I show off the four largest, lure-caught yellowtails.

My monster mangrove snapper, caught on a lure!

Jimmy removing the hooks from a mangrove. Look at how thick this fish is.

Jimmy with a mangrove taken on a live pilchard.

Our four largest, lure-caught mangroves.

Fort Lauderdale Boat Show

Friday was my first day at the Ft. Lauderdale Boat Show. I parked near the Bahia Mar, since I had to pick up my credentials, but really needed to be at the Convention Center that morning. Would you believe $ 30.00 to park?! I’m in the wrong business.

After I got my exhibitor’s badge, I took a cab to the Convention Center, and got inside an hour before the show opened. I met up with John Bower at the Mako booth, and we chatted on the rigging and layout of my new 284 Mako, which should be ready to go in February. John is a long-time Mako guy, who has been very instrumental in the quality control, layout and rigging of my boats for more years than we both care to remember. He’s an integral part of Mako’s success, and a heck of a nice guy too.

Between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., I signed and gave out Mako hats at the Mako booth,
which I did again on Saturday and Sunday. Met plenty of neat people and a lot of old
friends, and the three days basically blew by! Took a couple quick strolls through the Bahia Mar side, after leaving the Mako booth. Mako had their newly redesigned 284 center console on display.

Did Halloween Sunday night, by just keeping an eye on my 14-year old daughter and her friends.

Set to trailer the MARC VI down to Marathon in the Keys on Monday morning, where
we’ll fish and shoot an episode Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.