(December 6) in Big Pine Key! And we did it in style, catching Cero and king mackerel,
dolphin and a sailfish. We even live-chummed up a bunch of big bonitos, which gave us
some fun on light spin tackle.
Carl Grassi, a friend who also owns Carl’s Sunoco in Coral Springs – where I gas
up the MARC VI with his “non-Ethanol” fuel, was my guest angler. We timed the shoot
and trailed down to Big Pine on Friday afternoon, as the winds from a passing cold front
were beginning to subside. As luck would have it, an Artic Clipper (real strong cold
front!) was on the preceding front’s heels, and projected to pass through the lower Florida
Keys on Sunday evening, bringing 25-knot winds and low temperatures into the 40s.
Talk about a tiny window to squeeze this shoot through!
We were based at Parmer’s Resort, at mile marker 28.5 on Little Torch Key
(www.ParmersResort.com). We kept the MARC VI, and Carl’s boat – which we used as
our camera boat, at one of Parmer’s lagoon docks. This was a very convenient, trailer-
boater friendly place. Best of all, we were just a few minutes from open water.
Bundled up in layers, long pants and jackets, Carl and I set forth to find fish. We
had a nice, ten- to 15-knot northwest wind, with its energy scrubbed off by the land, flats
and patch reefs (we were on the lee of the breeze). Our plan was to troll natural baits,
or drift live baits and also deep jig, based on what we found in the way of any bait, rips,
color changes, temperature breaks, etc.
When we opted to troll, we ran about 16 miles to some good looking structure
which fluctuated between 550 and 600 feet. Once there, the surface water temperature
had risen to 78 degrees (it was 76 degrees on the reefs). We put out a spread of baits
on 30-pound class Penn tackle, and went hunting for fish, or signs that would lead us to
them. We eventually turned the bow toward shore, looking to troll into 200 feet of water.
In 300-feet, we caught a dolphin. There were no followers and we proceeded shallower
after trolling that zone produced nothing additional. In 110 feet of water, we came upon a
significant color change and rip, complete with weeds. We trolled tight up to the rip and
then paralleled it, moving in and off it some 100 feet.
After boating two more dolphin, Carl hooks up with a sail – which ate a small,
plain ballyhoo trolled off the starboard outrigger. A beautiful, acrobatic and lit-up fish, I
billed the sailfish, removed the hook and – after admiring it a few seconds – set it free!
The live-baiting portion brought us our kingfish, Cero mackerel, bonito and a
few sharks. Deep jigging was a bit on the quiet side, as the tactic registered just a single
I won’t describe how the action went or get too much into the technical aspects,
simply because I don’t want to spoil the episode! Look for it in early 2011.
A huge tip of the white visor and “Thank You” goes out to my entire production
team for another great season. They’re the best. On our final shoot was Kevin Tierney,
Rob “Swede” Greene, and “Dynamite” Dave Nyitray. Carl Grassi and I had the easy job:
catching the fish!
Fish-Eye view of Carl Grassi and me trolling off Big Pine Key. Kevin Tierney captured the moment.
Kevin Tierney took this neat underwater shot of a dolphin, during our Big Pine Key shoot.