I’m writing this early to will our way into September. Anything to get past the heat of July and August. This is also the peak of hurricane season and watching the weather and adjusting accordingly in advance makes or breaks trips. Lots of topics to cover, so let me dive into weather and conditions.
It’s been all over the news for months now. It has been record shattering hot nearly everywhere, especially here. I am shocked that nobody seems to know that the majority of our reef system corals will likely die this year. Yea, that’s real bad. For us, that’s like having the majority of the Amazon Rain Forest die off suddenly. Certainly, this has made fishing difficult this summer, but it has been more water temperature related issues that has hurt fishing. The fish can swim somewhere cooler and the reef can not. We have not experienced the impacts of the coral loss yet, but this will have long reaching affects to be seen. Right now our tropics are becoming more active and blessing us with some wind and rain. This will help chip away at the extreme situation we are in, but it will take quite a bit of windy/wet days or a named storm to get our water temps down. A named storm will likely destroy the corals that are barely hanging on. Just a tough situation for the reef this year. Many customers often ask me what will fishing or snorkeling be like 6 months from now. In normal conditions I can provide a guesstimate. We have not had normal conditions or seasons for about 4 years leading up to now. This Summer set the new bar for extreme and what I have seen recently is fishing patterns and balanced conditions are short lived. The more radical our weather patterns and events are, the more the ocean creatures react. My job is always getting more difficult.
Fishing has been good to ok. The water is really hot, so early has been the key to any fishing trip. Offshore has been the best for tuna and mahi. This is a 6-7 hour trip. I have had a lot of young teens and new anglers on these trips with good success. In these cases, the primary(you) has made an invested effort to step up and assist his guests with the necessary understandings. I say so much to make sure you are all prepared for your trip. I’m insanely realistic. I know a bunch of 14 year old girls are not interested in anything more than going for a boat ride, cranking in a fish and getting a social media picture. That is a common reality.
If I can be on the wheel and chase fish and I have somebody in the deck that can run the deck, set lines, take fish off the hook and make action then I have a realistic scenario. You must evaluate the durability of your guests. I fish beginners often, but there has to be a balance of having some knowledgeable assets on board. If you want to catch fish offshore, I need to be attached to the steering wheel as much as possible.
On the wrecks action should be picking up with snapper and jacks. Weather will move more fish around and make for more opportunities. On the reefs the water has been unusually clear. I expect that to change with the large influxes or rain we will see over the next few weeks. The clearer the water, the tougher the reef bite is. Yellowtail snapper have been around and cooperate early. On the windy days or while lobstering we have spent some time bay fishing for mangrove snapper. We have been catching plenty on the medium small side and filling limits to make a nice dinner. This should only get batter as the water cools.
Snorkeling is still a great option for beating the heat or adding on to a half day reef fishing trip. The water in the shallows has been prone to where the dirty/clear tile line is on any given day. No predicting that. However, the moon jellyfish have shown up on many tides and it should be prepared for. A long sleeve rash guard is the correct solution. Next best thing is a long sleeve quick dry shirt with a buff that can be on your neck or can be pulled up to cover your head and ears. That’s what I do.
Lobstering update: It’s going way better than I expected! This year it looks like the commercial guys set their traps way out in the “cooler” deeper waters. This has left the normal lobstering areas 7-11 miles out open to recreational divers. In the bridge areas and nearshore to 6 miles out there has been a regular pool of dirty water that has been kind of a safe haven for lobsters. A buffer. There have been a ton of recreational divers working the 7-11 mile out zone, but there has been good success for my trips. It involves a solid program of efficiency on my side to process as many holes as possible for the time we have. The more holes you process, the more opportunities we have. Totally makes sense. The lobster have been there. My program is solid.
The water has been really clear so I have been hovering close to my divers and I am seeing everything going on below the water. We are only going to have so many opportunities. When you do it wrong, the technique, you are wasting that opportunity. A lobster is fast, strong and smart. A lobster is easily capturable with my technique. Like 98% success rate. When done wrong you have about a 15% chance of catching your target. Your choice. I have minimum requirements for this trip that are fairly basic. I’m seeing the majority of my lobstering guests averaging 12 second breath holds. 4 seconds down, 5 seconds on bottom, 3 seconds up. Every dive and hole is unique, but you need about 20 seconds minimum on the bottom each dive to do this in a proper calm manner that will catch every lobster. Panic swiping is your program. That’s you banking on luck and cheating reality. It works sometimes. It has been working a little. I think we have been really lucky on many of my trips. I want this to be relatively easy for all members of your group. I have a ton of Lobster Info to make certain there is not a mis-match of skills needed to catch a lobster. My reality is I have had a member of a lobster trip quit within 2-5 minutes of being in the water, first spot. That happened on 3 trips in a row this year in perfect conditions. I take payment in full before we leave the dock for exactly this. I’m ok with finishing the trip early. I don’t know how, but I get groups of people that don’t know how to snorkel or have the ability to dive or hold their breath. That’s all how lobstering works
In summary, for July and August I believe I have turned away more potential customers, blocked more phone numbers and worked my way through a disproportionately high amount of difficult trips for every kind of customer issue. Essentially, we are speed blind dating on the ocean. You found me on a dating app and you picked the date. You know everything about me if you care to read my info. I have 3 hours to figure out the ocean, figure out your group, create success and do it in a fun environment that you and I would want to repeat in the future. I have a fun and challenging job. With the right guests my challenging trips are still fun. I have a system that always works if you can hold up with some basic instructions, understand the concept of what we are doing and execute a few minimal coordinated movements that are common sense. It always works!!!!!! I have fished every kind of group and scenario hundreds of times. I know how to teach, adjust for situations, modify my approach for different people and so on……When you choose to not prepare your group for your charter, have no investment in your own success, lack ability to progress, bring people out that don’t want to be on a boat…….you are derailing my program. You are my crew. We are a team. I am the race car and your group are my tires. 4 flat tires makes a race car ineffective. 2023 I have watched a ton of races we should have won slip out of my hands for tire issues. I have a “notes” section for you to tell me all about your group, what you want to do and whatever unique issues you may have. That’s really important for my plan for your trip. Your check in phone call 48 hours before your trip allows us to verbally work out the fine details and make sure we are on the same page. The ocean is reality. Many customers have been fooling me. Don’t worry about fooling me. I don’t take it personally. You will not fool the ocean, the sun, the waves, the fish, the current or any element of reality. I try to prepare you for that. I don’t control it. I help you work with it. How do you win a race with 4 flat tires? You don’t. I’m here to win.
A couple of recent updates on the boat. I finally got my rear cooler seat replaced. Sourcing boat parts and having work done locally is nearly impossible down here. A soft cooler top is nearly the same as your nice leather couch or seats in your car. I’m not sure why, but many guests want to set angry spiny lobster on it or use the seat as a means to pin a fish to to get control of it. That’s $300 and a year to replace. Think about what you are doing. The rest of my cushions show what fins/teeth/gill plates and hooks does if your fish and lobster are out of control. I replaced my 16 year old boarding/dive ladder with a new one. Absolutely nothing wrong with the old one, but things wear and I try to replace my equipment before it fails. A ladder failure could create a serious injury. I have noticed the size of some of my in the water guests has exceeded the weight rating of the ladder, so the official number is 270lbs. Let’s not go over that number. Same story with my windless and anchor line. All new equipment so your trip is not impacted by a failure. Just a friendly reminder, gratuity is a monetary compliment to doing an above and beyond job vs. a standard service. That money goes right back into the operation/maintenance and improvement of my boat. There are some shitty ratty ass charter boats out there that charge more than I do for similar trips. Everything has value. I’m an owner/operator and take pride in my business and what I offer. Be a good guest. Be a well informed customer. Prepare for your trip. Learn and earn a great day on the water. Tip your captain. Those 5 things would create a healthy business environment I could sustain for many years to come. That’s my goal.
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