Hooking Up with James Wesley

James Wesley Hooked UpI became a James Wesley fan when he sang “Thank a Farmer.” Now he’s got a song about saltwater fishing so he’s adding to the list of songs I like – Hooked Up. This came to my attention via Keep America Fishing:

Country music star James Wesley has a new song and it celebrates the thrill of the catch – and the big one that got away! “Hooked Up” tells the story of fishermen chasing a blue marlin at the Big Rock, a legendary fishing spot off the coast of Morehead City, NC.

Wesley is no stranger to fishing. “When I’m not busy touring, I enjoy being outdoors and spending time fishing with my family,” he said. “I’ve never actually landed a blue marlin at the Big Rock, but it is a long-time dream of mine.”

But this song will do more than get you in the mood to get out on the water – it helps you give back to the resource.

Wesley and his partners at Calcutta are donating a portion of proceeds from every iTunes download of “Hooked Up” to KeepAmericaFishing and the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament Charities. Just by listening, you’re helping to unite American anglers under one voice and protect our right to fish.

So download James Wesley’s newest hit and support KeepAmericaFishing today.

Slaying Spanish Mackerel

Mackerel FishingIt’s salt water fishing season in the Gulf of Mexico!

I took Paul and his daughter, Mary, and her boyfriend Gatlin out on a trip to catch king and spanish mackerel. We did good on the spanish with almost 4 limits. We lost two large kings though. They were biting early before turning off.

We mainly fished over a wrecked ship only a mile or so from the mouth of Pensacola Bay. These fish were schooling and we fished them with artificial lures on light tackle. Talk about fun.

Mackerel is an excellent and really healthy fish to eat. I smoked some and made some awesome dip using: cream cheese, chopped leeks and green onions, pepper, worcestershire sauce and lemon juice. As Gary would say, Dayumm Good.

May 23 opens red snapper season in Gulf state waters with a new 70 day season. Can’t wait to get out on top of them.

Next week the whole club team will be at the Pig for work days in preparation of hunting this year. See you from there next.

Fish, Fish, Fishing

SheepsheadI’m in one of my busy road travel seasons for the ag industry. Every once in a while a cool opportunity comes up that beats the crap out of sitting in a conference room watching powerpoint presentations!

That happened this week in Bonita Springs, FL. The convention had two inshore guided boats set up with room for one more person to go and I got asked! Took half a second to say YES.

We fished Estero Bay with live shrimp mostly on a popping cork. Unfortunately, we had a storm front move through the night before so the water wasn’t real clear, etc. However, we caught fish. Our boat brought in several short redfish. I had one that was 17 1/2 inches. We caught one small mangrove snapper. This was fishing along mangrove walls. Then we ended up fishing a boat dock. We caught a bunch of sheepshead like the one I’m holding. They are not easy to catch. We call them bait stealers. You are either fast on the trigger or you’re hungry.

The best luck I had all day was when the other boat caught a 27 inch red and they didn’t want to fly home with it. They gave it to me and I double zip locked it with some ice and brought it home. It’s going on my grill tonight skin side down. Redfish on the half shell. One of my favorites.

Battle of the Fish Grills

Chuck GrillThis is a follow-up to my last post on fall Gulf fishing. In this photo you’ll see my grill last night.

On it are filets from my mingo snapper along with some broccoli (grilled broccoli is the best way to eat it IMO). This light and flaky fish is about as good as it gets. We also had boiled corn and brown rice to go with it.

Gary FishNow let’s contract that with Gary’s grill from last night. Gary had left Pensacola to go fish with his cousin down the Gulf coast from Tallahassee a ways.

On their trip on the flats they had a good afternoon. So on the grill you’ll see some of their sea trout, spanish mackerel, a whole flounder and one of my favorites, redfish on the half shell.

Along with that he added roasted peppers and squash.

Sometimes you have a good day on the water and some days not so good. But as long as there’s fish on the grill it turns out just right!

Fall Gulf Fishing

Gulf FishingHello from Pensacola Beach, FL, where it has been windy and unsettled weather all week. This week Gary and I put together an overnight fishing trip out to the oil rigs to fish for tuna. That did not happen. It would have been our first such trip and is still on our bucket list.

We learned a number of things from the trip. First of which is how difficult getting a dozen guys to fill a trip on a pre-reserved date it. Secondly, how hard it is to get good weather on the date you want. Another opportunity will present itself though.

Yesterday the boat decided to do a half day trip because the weather forecast was showing declining wind and seas. So I tried it and wish I hadn’t. We wound up with strong wind and 4-5 ft. seas. That is just too rough in my opinion to comfortably bottom fish in. In the picture the boat mate is giving a lesson in how to use the reels.

Vermillion SnapperIt was not a fun day of fishing but we did catch a mess of mingos. Vermillion snapper don’t get very big but the taste just like a red snapper which is out of season. We did catch some other out of season fish like triggerfish and hard tails. So, it was not a loss but I’ll keep a closer eye on the forecast before I go out again.

Surf Fishing

LadyfishIt’s the infamous Ladyfish. All bones but fun to catch.

On a recent beautiful sunny day at Pensacola Beach I tried my luck fishing in the surf. I had shrimp and sand fleas for bait. My hope was for a mess of whiting, pompano and/or whatever else I might hook. Apparently all I had in my area were ladyfish. They fight hard and will jump out of the water. But at the end all you do with them is throw them back!

I’m going to try out our fishing pier right at the public beach. Haven’t been on it yet. It’s a very long pier along which people catch all kinds of fish. Maybe this weekend.

Red Snapper Fishing in Gulf of Mexico

Red Snapper FishingIt’s time to hunt some red snapper in Florida. And that’s just what Gary and I did over the Memorial Day weekend. We started out on Sunday, the second day of the Florida red snapper season with Captain Travis on the Bamboo Vic II. I was wearing my Google Glass to capture some footage of our trip.

After starting out catching some live bait we went about 8 miles offshore to a few different spots. At our first stop, Gary caught a huge snapper. That broke the tension and from there we proceeded to get three limits: Red Snapper, Amberjack and Mingo Snapper. I also added a big Triggerfish to the cooler.

Although we had great live bait we caught most of the snapper on dead bait. In fact, at our last stop we chummed up some big ones and could actually see the fish take our bait and hooks. I’ve never seen anything like it. That stop also yielded some nice Amberjack like the ones you see in the photo.

Then on Monday we did a walk on with the Entertainer from the same dock and caught a big mess of Mingo snapper. Let’s just say it was two of the best days fishing we’ve had out on the Gulf. The weather has finally settled down and the water was as smooth as I can remember seeing it.

So, if you have a few minutes take a look at the video and see what you were missing.

Out on the Salt Water Flats

Gary TroutSpringtime! That means flats fishing for trout and reds. And that’s exactly what camp partner Gary has been doing. When I first saw this pic I did a double take. Those are some big trout!

So I asked and got the whole story to share with you. BTW. The photo below of his “take home” is what we call a nice mess!

Gary Fish BoardHere’s Gary’s story:

Springtime is a special time for our flats fishing on the GuUlf of Mexico in Florida’s ‘Big Bend” region! Some call it “Florida’s Nature Coast” these days, and others call it “Florida’s Forgotten Coast” too, but to some of us it’s simply the “Big Bend” region. It got that nickname since it is the area of Florida’s Gulf of Mexico coastline where it curves from a north/south coastline toward the west, where it borders the state’s panhandle region all the way out to Pensacola.

Cuzin LeeFishing the flats can be special at times, and each spring seems to be among the best each year. These trout and redfish were caught in about two feet of water, very close to the shoreline. Speckled Sea Trout is a favorite target, as are redfish (also called “red drum”) this time of year on the flats. The flats primarily have sea grasses growing on the bottom, and those grasses grow up to about ten feet in depth, which means in this area of the state, where there are no beaches by the way, the flats extend several miles off shore in shallow water throughout the entire region pretty much.

The full catch picture has a trout limit and one nice red in the center. Trout have to be at least 15 inches to keep, with only one per person allowed over 20 inches, so this catch is a very good one for the two of us who fished that day recently. My cousin Lee from Lookout Mountain, Georgia caught the red, and we each caught a 24-inch trout to round out our trout limit. In the photo I’m holding both 24-inch trout for a closer look.

Redfish on the Half ShellOne of our favorite ways to eat redfish is what we call “redfish on the halfshell”, where we filet the fish but leave the skin and scales on it. To cook, we simply apply a little olive oil and our favorite spices, then place over a hot charcoal fire skin/scales down and leave closed in the grill until the shoulder meat on the filet just starts to divide and the filet begins to ooze white bubbles throughout. This is indication it is done, and it is important not to overcook since it will dry the fish out. Then to eat you simply scrape or spoon the meat from the skin, which is very easy to remove, and enjoy.

Big Redfish

RedfishWhen we’re not in hunting season we love to go fishing.

Yesterday I went out to the Pensacola Bay pass to try my luck and caught this monster of a redfish. They have to be between 18-27 inches to keep but this one measured 43″! Biggest one I’ve ever caught. But he got to live to see another day. Man, that was a fight. We were actually fishing on light tackle for sheepshead during their annual run but the bite turned off just about the time we got on location.

paul-cphcI thought I’d add a little contrast here since Paul texted me this photo of the first bass he caught in his pond.

At least Paul could keep and eat his. I took my wife Cindy to supper after our outing with Capt. John Rivers, Mega-Bite Inshore Charters, to supper and ordered some very good OssoBuco. That filled me up good.

Spring is finally here and that means the fishing is going to heat up. Gary and I are taking a group on a party boat out of Jacksonville, FL in a couple weeks. Hoping the weather is good and the fishing is fine. But even a bad day on the water beats . . .