Let’s mix things up a bit, instead of writing this week’s fishing report why don’t we go out and shoot a feature film (based on a true story) about the past week of fishing in the Florida Keys. We could call it “The Perfect Bite”, a seafaring action movie about ideal weather and water conditions converging on a small island chain, which triggers fish into a feeding frenzy of astronomical proportions.
It’d star myself of course, as Captain Jason Long of the Best Bet, renowned for reeling in trophy species of the deep and well-liked around town for my wit and unquestionable good looks. A supporting role would be played by the gritty Captain Bobby Manski; his harrowing battle with a great white shark sure to keep you on the edge of your seat. The romantic lead would no doubt feature Captain Josh Gilmartin, who journeys out to sea under the glistening moonlight to catch spawning mangrove snappers with his new wife, Krista.
We start filming in the backcountry on location in the fishy waters of Everglades National Park. Captain Pablo Rodriguez of Slamtime Charters makes a cameo as himself reeling in snook, redfish, tarpon and speckled trout – just a few of the species being caught “out back.”
Then we pan over to Florida Bay for one of the film’s two scenes that could be straight from the blockbuster “Jaws”. The Best Bet comes into view, and we zoom in on a heavy conventional reel. Slowly, the sea starts taking line from the spool. All of a sudden, the drag screams, and an angler grabs the rod. An intense battle unfolds as the shark is fought to the boat. It’s one of three dozen sharks hooked aboard the Best Bet this trip alone!
Our next shot takes us inshore amidst a beautiful backdrop of the Bahia Honda Bridge. A fisherman bows to a 100-pound silver king as the fish soars high from the turquoise water. A voice-over announces that tarpon fishing is still red hot and should remain that way over the next few weeks. “Book your tarpon trip now,” the convincing voice says.
We move out to the reef for an underwater shot of 18 to 22-inch yellowtail snapper stacked up in a chum line. It’s a feel good shot – no dialogue or action here. Just a picturesque reminder of how great the yellowtail snapper fishing has been.
As the sun begins to set, we stay at the reef. The young lovers Josh and Krista are enjoying the start of an excellent nighttime mangrove snapper bite. Josh reaches down to bait Krista’s hook with a small pinfish. She pulls away. “Stop, I can bait it myself,” she demands. The lovers laugh and share a kiss as the sun disappears behind the Seven-Mile Bridge. We fade into the final scene, the climax.
It’s morning and we’re out on the blue water aboard the Best Bet II. Captain Bobby Manski and his anglers have a box full of schoolie-sized dolphin with a few gaffers mixed in. Despite heading several miles offshore they haven’t been able to locate the big slammers, they’re just not around.
The anglers decide they’d like to venture further out for some tuna action at the Marathon Hump. Immediately they begin catching big blackfins on live baits. We can see other boats in the background catching tunas in the 10 to12-pound class on vertical jigs and smaller fish while trolling.
One of the anglers dares his friend to drop a vertical jig down to the bottom. The friend takes the dare. We time lapse ahead one hour and see the exhausted angler posing for a photo with a 60-pound amberjack. His arms ache, but his proud smile says it all.
It’s time to head home and Manksi spins the Cabo and sets course for Key Colony Beach Marina. It’s been a phenomenal day of deep-sea fishing in the Florida Keys and the veteran captain is pleased. Suddenly, he sees a disturbance in the water. “Swordfish,” someone yells! “Shark,” screams another!
Manksi steers the vessel towards the commotion and is amazed by what he sees. A massive great white shark is chomping on the tail of a swordfish. The swordfish, still alive, thrashes on the surface. Manski free-gaffs what’s left of the tasty sword and the crew slides it through the tuna door. Blood trickles from the deck and stains the water.
The scent is too much for the white shark to resist and he swims towards the boat. Manksi grabs a tuna from the fish box and rigs it on a heavy wire. He pitches it at the big fish and, the big fish eats. An intense, Oscar-worthy scene unfolds, and for the next five minutes, the men battle the shark on hook and line. Finally, the great white’s sharp teeth pierce the wire and the line goes slack. The fish is gone, but the memories will last a lifetime.
Your Best Bet for the Week ahead: Enjoy the phenomenal fishing! We can’t scrip it any better!
Best Bet II Capt. Bobby Manske with an unforgettable birthday present for Pennsylvania angler, Lewis Feris.
Part time resident J.W. Drott boated a nice permit last week aboard the Best Best.
Best Bet Captain Josh Gilmartin was recently married in the Bahamas. While on break, he and fellow BB Captain Bobby Manske boated a bonefish.