After having dinner at Bryan's house for his birthday we drove to the other side of Florida for a Middle Grounds trip. We threw our gear on his brand new 2018 Toyota Tacoma, my dream truck, I hate him. This would be my first Slow Pitch jigging trip since November 2017. This will also be Bryan's first trip since he became part of the Jigskinz / NLO family. I know he was excited to test the NLO jigs as I was excited to be back on the water again to test some Sea Falcon prototypes.
We got to Tampa around 2:30am and had an early breakfast at the Waffle House by Gulf Boulevard before we went to the dock parking lot and slept for an hour. Dan Swanson woke us up just before 5am and we loaded our gear on Fintastic Charter's 34ft SeaVee manned by Capt. Steve Papen.
The forecast was exceptionally good.
The ride out was about 2.5 hrs, a drawback to fishing the middle grounds especially if you want deeper water to effectively work a slow pitch jig.
The first drop was at around 190ft. We all hooked up and landed fish. Dan brought in a nice size scamp grouper, Bryan got a mangrove snapper, I managed to bring in a peanut ARS while Josh got a red grouper. We made a couple of passes on the first spot and then moved to a new location. We all hooked up on the 2nd spot.
Josh with a red grouper caught on a shimano flatside butterfly jig
Bryan with a red grouper that hit an NLO jig using a custom Sea Falcon Slow Pitch Rod
Dan with a decent size gag grouper, caught on a Sea Falcon Slow Pitch Rod and a Sea Falcon 200g S Impact.
We did a few passes on each spot and when the bite dies we move on to a different spot, this has been the theme the whole day. Only 1 fish was noteworthy and that was a 25# gag grouper caught by Josh speed jigging on his custom dogfish bait and tackle rod and shimano flatfall jig, everything else was around 10-15#.
we saw these intelligent creatures doing some aerial stunts on one of our moves.
Everyone caught fish and had fun, the bite was constant and consistent throughout the trip.
We limited on red grouper, red snapper and missed the limit on gag and scamp groupers by 1 fish. We threw back a bunch of trigger fish, red snappers and red groupers.
We headed back around 2:30 pm even though the fish were still biting due to the 2.5hr travel time. We got back at the dock around 5pm.
The view of John's Pass coming in.
the haul back at the dock