I’m watching the weather channel and it looks like winter is here for everybody. I get it. That means you are coming soon or looking to make a plan to escape your version of hell freezing over. I have a plan for you and here are the details.
Like everywhere, things are changing quickly. Our daily reality is out of bounds difficult for anything from getting groceries, getting fuel or making a deposit at the bank or finding something on a shelf that you need that normally is there, but isn’t. My job is to not make that your problem. You are spending your money to get here and forget about that stress. I understand why you are here and certainly, you will have some of these challenges. I have dealt with many local businesses lately and my customer experience was nothing short of a nightmare. It’s a good perspective for me to have because that is not going to be your experience with me. Your vacation is expensive. I own my end of operations and have you covered. I say this only because that is not how it is going anymore across the board. Corners are being cut and what you see online is not reality in the trenches. What I see day to day is people making choices to be on this boat or that one. I see people set up to fail out of the gate and I know what they are paying to be screwed. You have choices. Research it well if you want it to go well.
Fishing in February:
It’s all about what you or we have to work with. February is our coldest month traditionally and we are in the middle of windy season. Looking at what we have now and what is forecasted, yes, we are in it. I can make no plan because it will change from when we talk to when we leave the dock. That’s not bad because we have many potential opportunities. This time of year a hard north wind can put us close to shore on the ocean side comfortably fishing the shallow patch reefs.
We typically catch a dozen species of fish on a 4 hour trip and is perfect for visiting families or seasoned walleye catchers that have never felt the pull of a saltwater fish. On nice days the deep reef has been producing larger than normal yellowtail snapper, mutton snapper, kingfish and catch and release grouper and more. The sharks have been pretty bad and are getting more than 50% of out hook ups on the tough days. Moving out deeper on the wrecks, mutton snapper are present in OK numbers. This isn’t a numbers fishery, but a one or two trophy size fishery if we put some time into it and the conditions are right.
Speaking of conditions, this is important for context. Conditions ALWAYS dictate what we can do and what direction we should go with investing our time and effort. This is something I always verbalize and just kind of narrate out loud as we go. I manage our experience with consideration as to what our original goals were and what we can do successfully. Offshore fishing, I have not been offshore in forever. I just have had a long streak of reef trips that has not offered me an offshore trip. Easy answer is blackfin tuna are the primary target at the Marathon Humps. I have not seen more than a catch or 2 from there in weeks for whatever reason from other captains. The tuna are there. Typically we target tuna until we limit out or hit the 10am wall, then transition into other opportunities and work our way back in. We could do anything from electric deep dropping the bottom in 800′ for queen snapper or fish the wrecks for mutton snapper, kingfish and amberjacks on the way back in. Sometimes there is an opportunity for dolphin or sailfish depending on you and the bait we have. Something to consider, you are my crew. I’m driving the boat. We are a team working together offshore to make our success. I have more than some clients that want to do most everything that is at the top level of fishing and have zero knowledge base of anything involved. That’s not a good match in reality. If you have no knowledge or experience, there is an infinite resource of information on YouTube and the internet. That’s where I go for information. It’s a virtual classroom. Zero percent of my customers that want to do all the most difficult fisheries use that resource to make a more likely successful outcome. Purchasing a plane ticket to come here is not putting you in the cockpit to fly the plane. Best advice, plan for your success if you have big goals. The more you know, the better team we make.
In the Water Activities
Snorkeling has been pretty good, but a less likely option for February for all the reasons. Cold, wind, waves means compromised conditions. It’s about trends. If we have 5 days of reasonable weather, the visibility probably will be there for us. Wetsuits can be rented from Captain Hooks for a minimal cost and are highly recommended to be comfortable. It will be a little chilly, so make sure you have towels and a sweatshirt to warm up with.
Your February trip is all about conditions and being prepared for your trip. Conditions on the water are not the same as on land. If you are under-prepared you are ready to be uncomfortable. Dress in layers. Bring a few towels for any/every trip. Take your meds according to the instructions. Taking them on the boat NEVER works. Too late. Bring some snacks and drinks. Have a camera ready for your big catch. SO often a big fish is landed and out of 4, 5 or 6 people nobody has a camera ready. Be prepared for your trip. Be prepared for your moments.
I have said this for years and it has not made any difference. I’m not giving up. It costs me money to advertise and to remain competitive in the online searchable market. Fact. It costs money for me to be found by you on an internet search. Instead of me raising my prices/charter rates for 2022, I cut my primary advertising nearly 90%. That means more than ever I need some feedback on review sites like google, tripadvisor and yelp. I think I have a dozen Yelp reviews and maybe 40 on google for 13 years in business operating well over 300 trips a year and having approximately 2,000 people on my boat each year. Almost all of my trips are great and nobody has anything to complain about. That’s kinda what those sites have become. Platforms for complaining, nit picking and second guessing. I’m grateful for the few less than ideal reviews I have received, but there is a giant void from all of my guests that have had amazing trips with me and become repeat customers. I’m running a real business in the real world. Please give me a short review to ping the search engines. I could pay to trick new customers. No thanks. Just come aboard, have a good time and remember to tag me or support my business at any minimal level to let others know you were here. I have every reason to raise my rates. I am fighting that and I need your cooperation so much to continue on keeping my business relevant. Invest a few minutes in me after your trip so I can be around next year or next time you or your friends are here. Make your kids do it. They know how. Thanks in advance!
I really have not had a chance to get proper pictures of the new boat upgrades or updated pics on the website. We are coming off of a long windy stretch that has allowed me to get all the waxing, service and maintenance done for my spring break stretch. It is better than ever and I hope you get a chance to find out!
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