Tag Archives: Captain Billy

2017 Fall Field Campaign Start

50-LB Grouper

The 2017 Fall Field Campaign kicked off with an intense four days of fishing in Daytona FL for a variety of species. After 10 months of mediocre fishing at best, I was seriously motivated to get back on the water.  I mentioned to some of you that 2017 could be considered the worst angling season I’ve had since I was 4.  I’ve just had bad timing, harsh weather, health issues and uncooperative fish.

40-LB Redfish

Apparently, the single best Rehab to recover from hip replacement surgery (at six weeks post OP) is bobbing in a boat for 4 days and battling monster fish on light tackle. There were… great stress angles, constant balance adjustments, abrupt boat wake waves to anticipate and the challenge of maintaining a death grip on your fishing rod as the fish make unpredictable head-shaking/surging/screaming runs under the boat and against the ripping tide current.  :-0

The weather was unstable with high heat/humidity, swirling winds, intermittent rain, thunderstorms, storm surge tides and the drainage of dirty freshwater runoff left over from the recent hurricanes.  In other words… Just the way we like it because all the Rasta fair weather fisherman stayed home.

Thunderhead

The best fish of the trip included a 12-pound Tripletail, 40-pound Redfish, a 50 pound Goliath Grouper and a 60-pound Tarpon.  All totaled, we managed to land 12 migratory Reds mostly in the 30+ pound range.  Many thanks to Austin Campbell and Billy Rotne for their efforts to find the fish under adverse conditions.

Tarpon-02

A note about Tarpon:

For those of you that have never done so, catching a Tarpon anytime is a special event especially on light tackle. To begin with, their entire head-mouth and gill plate is as hard as bone so achieving a secure hook-set is rare.  When hooked, they immediately go airborne leaping, somersaulting and tail-walking across the water. If at that point they have not managed to throw the hook with their violent head shakes, they make screaming runs both towards and away from the boat so maintaining constant line pressure can be extremely difficult.

In the second phase of the battle, Tarpon typically go deep and try to use their “broom sized” tail to propel them with maximum leverage against the tidal current.  The hardest thing to do at this point is to avoid breaking the rod on the boat gunnel as the fish dives back and forth under the boat and tries to wrap the line around the motor, hydraulic power poles and/or the anchor rope. 

In the third phase (once under control – NOT), the angler is trying to break the fish’s will by wearing it out. The only problem is that Tarpon are anatomically equipped with a prehistoric air bladder (lung) that actually allows them to take a gulp of fresh air when on the surface and rid their muscles of the accumulated lactic acid build up (thus reviving them to keep fighting).

Eventually (if all goes as planned – NEVER), you can maneuver the fish alongside the boat (after about 6 attempts) to have your guide grab the beast with both hands by the lower jaw and hold on for dear life as the fish makes one more attempt to violently shake it’s head to get free.  Now the fun starts because getting quality pictures of a Tarpon is next to impossible.  Not only are they notoriously uncooperative but their huge armor-like scales reflect light similar to a mirror which wreaks havoc on the camera’s aperture settings. You have to take dozens of shots quickly to get just the right angle, focus and clear water film covering the length of the body.

This time, however, it all went perfectly for Billy and I as we managed to get great photos reviving the fish in the water before releasing it unharmed (discounting a sore lip and a lasting memory).  In fact, the close-up photos we captured were the best I’ve ever managed to get from a perfect sized fish that was approximately 60 pounds.

 

Enjoy the photos and be sure to plan your trips.  The Fall Field Campaign continues next week hunting the migratory Brown and Rainbow trout in Yellowstone National Park.

T.O.

Making Lemonade

You’ve heard the saying… What do you do when life hands you a pile of lemons? Make lemonade.

Making Lemonade

That’s exactly what Billy Rotne, Rod Mergardt and I did when fishing in FL last week. In 4 days of fishing (hard), in perfect weather, we managed just three Redfish, two small Tarpon (in the 20 Lb range) and a handful of other “non-targeted” fish (shark, sea trout, catfish etc.). The lone highlight of the trip was a double hook-up by Rod and I with a 17.5 Lb. and 33 Lb. Redfish across from T.O.’s bar on Mosquito Lagoon. Rod also had a close encounter of the 4th kind with a baby manatee that was approximately 60 pounds.

Rod’s 17 lb Redfish also had an attached tag that revealed it’s growth and migration over the past several years. A very interesting report is attached. Continue reading »

The Official 2016 Fall Field Campaign Begins

20160908-2016-fall-field-campaign-9

The official 2016 Fall Field Campaign launched today with a first class outing in the Ponce Inlet hunting for Redzilla.

20160908-2016-fall-field-campaign-10Captain Billy Rotne, James Jiloty and I endured intense tropical storms, wind and “washing machine” chop as we fished deep for spawn – staging Redfish. We owned the water all day because no one else (in the State of Florida) was brave enough to go out in these conditions. In fact, the local Coast Guard Fleet conducted rescue tests (man overboard) all day long in the stormy conditions.

Billy relented to “giving it a go” at 8:00 AM after I informed him that if I didn’t catch a big fish TODAY, I was probably going to kill someone before I returned home to MT. For the record, I haven’t caught a big fish in over 90 Days! Yes, I’ve been fishing but mostly for trout and none of the many we put in the net were really very BIG.

20160908-2016-fall-field-campaign-1The Score: We landed 4 monster Redfish today between 30 and 36 pounds, some smaller juveniles and a Bonner head shark. The fish of the day for me was a real stud of a Redfish that taped out at 43.5” x 25.0” and weighed around 36 pounds. James hooked and landed another huge fish that immediately peeled off 200 yards of line as it sprinted towards Jacksonville. He was barely able to turn the fish back toward the boat as the line came dangerously close to the last remaining reel wraps at the end of the spool.

The campaign rolls on to the “inner banks” of NC (Bath September 9-11), to fish with Captain Richard Andrews, Rob and Hunter Brinkerhoff. Once again, we will hunt for the elusive Redzilla.

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More pictures to follow over the next 120 days AND make sure to book your trips.

T.O.

Final Day Three in the Bayou

Final Day Three in the BayouThe final day of the 2015 Fall Field Campaign ended well with 6 impressive fish from the Bayou Marshes of LA.  We started out the day with 40 degree temps and 20 MPH winds which made the wind chill be in the high 20’s. We were each wearing 7 layers of clothing and we couldn’t help but notice that we were the only game fisherman in the entire Marsh.  Bunch of whimps! Continue reading »

Day Two In The Bayou

It was a fast and furious day in the Bayou with Captain Marty as we dodged multiple showers and thunderstorms.  All things considered, we had a great day before being driven off the water by lightning strikes just after noon.  We landed 7 fish between 10 and 30 Lbs. with the fish of the day being a monster Black Drum that actually chased down Billy’s Purple raider fly – TWICE before being hooked.

The Ambush Red

The Ambush Red

We caught multiple fish on every technique today (Fly, Jig, and Crab).  What we’ve been able to conclude thus far about the redfish in LA is that their behavior is radically different than those landed in Mosquito Lagoon.  The fish between 15 and 30 pounds here are as aggressive as Continue reading »

The Hunt for Redzilla in LA

The first day of the LA Fall Field Campaign was challenging but still rewarding for Captain Billy and I as we landed 7 very respectable fish with Captain Marty.

T.O. with 28 Lb Redfish

T.O. with 28 Lb Redfish

The weather was in the mid 60’s with Cobalt Blue Skies and light winds out of the Northeast.  The highlight of the day for me Continue reading »