We are going to do a little flashback for this post. So for the past 18mo. or so I have been trailering down to Biscayne Bay in a little move I call the Magic City Hustle.
Alarm is set for 12am and departure from Oviedo is typically 1-130am, which puts us in Miami somewhere around 545a to 615a depending on time of year and sunrise. We typically fish 8-10hr day unless storms cut us a little short and head for home around 4pm with an approx. 9pm arrival home. It is not for the faint of heart or those that value a good nights sleep but I always enjoy a good adventure, so The Magic City Hustle was born.
Our first run down about 18mo. ago with with Foss. He has traveled to Mexico and Belize with me to chase bonefish and permit so he was a natural choice for the inaugural run. Jason is my choice when I need to explore new fishing areas. Our friendship goes back years and born through tournament fishing, so he possesses two of the best qualities in a fishing partner. He is an excellent angler and he keeps his mouth shut!
Our research was done via google earth and drawing on past experiences from times spent in Mexico, Belize and The Bahamas. We had a game plan and were just going to go for it. Weather looked good, winds appeared to be light(the Bay can get nasty quick)and Foss was armed with the famous Jig. #nochum #nobait
Upon our arrival is was about a 2 out of 10 at the ramp, thankfully we were there early as we know this ramp is famously featured on the Qualified Captain quite often and we wanted no part of that.
We idled out and hopped on plane and made our way to the first stop. It was what we had hoped for, the look and feel of a beautiful flat in Mexico. Honestly, I was good, I did not even need a fish at that point, to be able to be in that moment, the 12am wakeup call was worth it.
Being our first time in the Bay we surveyed the flat and the way the current moved across it from a distance before making an approach. Too many times people be anxious in a new fishery and run right up to a spot and hop up on the platform and start poling. This usually ends up with spooked fish and missed opportunities because of being too impatient to survey the location. Or, some just rely on others to show or give them spots and exactly how to fish it so they can look like a hero on Instagram. Such a shame.
After we had a quick look I noticed we were going to have to circle around and approach from a different angle due to the sun and current. This gave Foss a few minutes to get situated, check the drag and tie a fresh knot.
We had not been on the flat 15 minutes and here they come, a group of those black tailed devils that so many have nightmares about. The best part about them showing up virtually out of thin air is you have less of a chance at making a mistake. We have all been there, seen a group or single approach and as you are trying to get into position, they change direction, put you in a pinch and poof, they are gone.
Admittedly, I froze for a split second as almost in awe of seeing them plus, I had no where to go. We were in position, I called them to Foss and he seemed to seem them right when I did and his cast was on its way. Jason, who is excellent with the spinning rod was right on target.
He hopped it twice, the permit moved on it to take a better look and he reeled it in feverishly thinking we was off target. The part of the school he was looking at was slightly more to the right and didn’t see exactly how many fish were there. As the jig was on its way back to the boat I began to holler as there were five fish chasing it, and he was late to see them. Thankfully, his second cast was on target and those fish that had chased the jig to the boat, shot back towards the school just as Jason’s second cast landed and a permit ate it immediately.
It was 8am and we already had a permit on, life was good. His first run was impressive and although I probably did not need to get off the platform I hopped down and fired the motor just to be sure. We slowly worked closer as Foss fought his first “domestic” Permit, he caught one in Mexico on a trip we had the previous summer, coincidentally one year ago to the day. The fight was a nervous ten minutes and each blistering run is a shot to the heart and shortens your breath. The last 20 feet seemed to be the longest as they can use that wide body and just not budge. I typically 12 pound Fluorocarbon as a leader so we can pull pretty good but popping one off at the boat would just be heart breaking.
Finally, we ease her into the net and it is high fives all around! The long morning trip and early wake up call was all worth it. We took a few quick photos sent the beautiful fish back on her way and had a celebratory “nip” of bourbon! With the strong current we had drifted a pretty good way but we needed that idle back to catch our breath before moving getting back up on the platforms.
We made another pass but to no avail. Honestly, the next target was one of the other two slam fish, Bonefish and Tarpon. I had a few other flats to stop at that I had marked but tarpon really were not on the target list when we were planning this trip so that was going to be found on a whim. We certainly we not prepared for any tarpon over just a 8-15lb fish due to our equipment but Jason and I are only luke warm on tarpon anyway so we elected to worry about the bonefish first.
Our next stop was not too far but turned out to be a bust, the flat looked good but I believe we were just there at the wrong time. The next flat was the same, the tide had backed off and was about ready to change so we covered some water in anticipation of that switch. Our fourth stop paid off and found a few bonefish that were eager to eat. It was decision time, do we go look for baby tarpon or keep after bonefish. It was a quick decision and we kept looking for bonefish and wanted to look back at the first flat we caught the permit to see it on the opposite tide.
One more bonefish for Foss and the day was getting late. We had a bit of a bumpy ride in and as we were idling in the channel back to the ramp Foss says, “You know if you just want to drive home on this day’s high and not stay tonight and fish a 1/2 day tomorrow, it would be fine with me”. I hadn’t made any reservations as the place we were planning on staying had plenty of rooms. Thought to myself, today was great, if we strike out tomorrow, man it would be a long drive home.
We put it on the trailer and reminisced on the fish from the day the entire way home. It was a long day down and back but it was worth it. Truthfully it means even more that we did it ourselves with no outside help.
The Magic City Hustle was born.
There have been quite a few more runs since this one. Successful and not so successful but those that know me know, if I had to chase only one fish for the rest of my life, it would be Bonefish. Still maintaining my dream to expand into South Florida one day.