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The second week of March and another cold front has pushed through Miami Beach. I headed up to the boat at 6:30 AM like usual - cup of coffee in hand and on my way to the dock. Once I arrived at Haulover Park, we started rigging up the boat filling up the fish box and coolers with ice. Once me and Sheldon filled up the bait box with fresh cut Bonita strips and fresh rig ballyhoo, we rigged the baits with 9/0 hooks. We make pin rigs on them - it’s really easy to rig these baits using this method. Simply pass the hook through the gills make sure that the pin passes just between the lower part of the eyes and wrap with a rubber band - it's as simple as that. Once we had all the baits rigged and all the fishing tackle out we were ready to go.
I met Michael - a really nice guy from Arizona. He told me, "Ralph, I’ve never gone deep sea fishing in Miami before and I am really excited." Fortunately for Mike, the weather was beautiful that day we were able to do a few different types of fishing. We started out heading out of Haulover Cut. The wind was blowing out of the southeast at 10 knots - it was just a beautiful springtime day.
As we headed over the first reef, we hooked up a couple of mackerel. We quickly reeled those in and they were on ice before they even knew it. As we finally got into 120 feet of water there was a smoking north current which usually means that the fish should be biting. There was a lot of movement in the water and a lot of bait passing through. I noticed showers of ballyhoo as I passed by the Stink Hole.
Before I knew it, I had the planer rod go off. Mike soon was on with another nice Kingfish in the 20 pound class. The strike did not catch me by surprise as I knew the fish we’re going to be showing up soon. We've had a lot of bait showing up on the beach it’s just a matter of time before the current the wind and the conditions are perfect to produce these quality fish. I turned around on the reef and I started to head south against the current. We picked up a few more fish as I guided the boat and Michael over the many deep wrecks and rock piles that Miami Beach has to offer.
Man it was such a great action packed start for a three-quarter day trip. I knew the day was going to be good. As I headed south, the ocean was calm due to the southeast wind and the north current. It actually flattened everything out even more once I got out in front of downtown Miami and started heading towards Key Biscayne. I decided to start looking for deeper water so we headed east. Once I got to 450 feet, I noticed a couple birds about a mile further east of us so I headed offshore. It wasn’t too long, as soon as I was close to the birds, I got my first strike. It was a beautiful mahi-mahi in the 6 to 8 pound range. Soon after that we got another hit on the planer but this time it was a blackfin tuna. A really nice fish - it ate a bonita strip with a Billy Bait. Red and black is my favorite color.
I catch a lot of wahoos and blackfin tunas as these fish like to swim below the surface. Using a number eight planer carries my bait at least 40 feet under the surface. A lot of times when I find floating debris I bring out the planer rod if I’m not trolling it at the time. It’s very effective. I say more than 50% of the time I find something floating offshore and I run my planer next to it, I always pick up a wahoo or two. I use a double hook 9/0 rig with an 80 foot, 80 pound test mono leader - no wire. I will catch eight fish out of ten and maybe lose two on cut offs. If you put wire, it just doesn’t swim right and I think it spooks the fish. So I always fish straight mono. It's just the way to go here in Miami Beach.
So don’t forget, on your next charter fishing adventure, take a deep sea fishing trip aboard the Sea Cross with Capt. Ralph - you will have a great time. Deep sea fishing in Miami changes every day. You just never know what you’re going to catch. It could be mahi-mahi, tuna, barracuda, shark, wahoo, marlin, cobia, golden tilefish, grouper, snapper, mackerel and never forget the blackfin tuna.
So now it’s around 12 noon and we’ve had an action packed three-quarter day so far we must’ve been at least 10 miles offshore. I decided to start heading towards the reef. After about 30 minutes of nothing happening, we got close to 700 feet of water and I looked at Sheldon he looked at me. We already knew what we wanted to do. He went inside and he rigged up the downrod and he made a golden tilefish rig. These fish are really good eating. They burrow in the mud between 600 and 900 feet. They are super clean as they are in the Gulfstream their whole life. That water is super clean and constantly flowing through right off the coast of Florida. That’s what makes our water is here full of fish. And you definitely don’t have to go out too far to get them. Once I settled the boat down, we were in 720 feet of water. I told Sheldon go ahead and drop the line. We like using a chicken rig with 3 pounds of lead. Any fresh bait will do - the key here is fresh. It wasn’t more than 10 minutes that we had the bait down before we got our first strike. It was a beautiful golden tilefish in the 10 pound range. Michael was reeling like crazy. Even Sheldon had to jump in and give him a hand. That’s over 800 feet of braided line. After about five minutes of reeling, this beautiful fish is on our deck, but the action did not stop there. As he was reeling in this tilefish, I look back and I see a beautiful mahi-mahi. I scream to Sheldon to throw a bait back. Before you know it, Sheldon had a beautiful 15 pound bull dolphin. Just another action packed three-quarter day deep-sea fishing aboard the Sea Cross.
“Only on the Sea Cross”