The day before Christmas I received quite a shock, when Santa and his reindeer showed up at the dock. Rudolph and Prancer, Dancer and Blitzen, looking for a captain to take them deep sea fishin’.

“Come aboard!” I told Santa, “The Best Bet she is steady. I’ve a well full of livies and the crew they are ready. We’ll start at the reef, for groupers and tails’, then catch ballyhoo and go chase down some sails. We’ll drop on the wrecks, troll for tunas offshore— a great day of fishing indeed lies in store.”

“Ho ho ho,” said Saint Nick, “that sounds like a plan,” and with that we shoved off and waved goodbye to dry land. We began on the patch reefs, in twenty-five feet; a good lively bottom can be tough to beat. Fishing pilchards on jig heads the bite was red hot, for mangroves and mackerel, even muttons we caught. A black grouper here, a red grouper there, rods bent like candy canes, Santa declared.

With plenty of hoos feeding back in the chum, Rudolph tossed the cast net and netted us some. Up and down the reef we searched for frigate birds; bait sprays and free jumpers pushed us onwards. Spinning rod in hand Santa was at his best, catching sail after sail on fifteen-pound test. All the reindeer took turns, catching two sailfish each*.

*No sailfish were harmed, they were caught and released.

Next we headed offshore, way out to the Humps, for big blackfin tunas so round and so plump. Up on the surface bright feathers we trolled, but the sharks they were thick, and the sharks they were bold. “That’s enough,” shouted Santa and he locked down the drag, and cane poled the tunas right into his bag!

After breaking for eggnog and a sushi dish, Santa decided to go catch a swordfish. A large bait we dropped, rigged with bright Christmas lights, and in a matter of seconds we had our first bite. No electric was used, Santa’s old school, inch after inch he cranked line on the spool. Blitzen grabbed the harpoon, and with the perfect shot, a three-hundred-pounder on the deck we had caught.

As the sun started setting we turned back towards the shore, but Santa and the reindeer they wanted one more. A tailing blue marlin swimming out in the Stream, a hookup, a release, this must be a dream! A billfish grand slam, for Santa and the crew, a cooler full of tunas, snapper and grouper too. The perfect day of fishing here in the Florida Keys, may 2013 bring us more trips like these!


Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Best Bet Sportfishing!

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