Dania and Government Cut
Lizards... Manatees... and Jimbo's Expatriot Hideaway!
FLYC Trip Report 3/22/03
Well, I must apologize for the gap in reports. But I will try to catch you up on the doings since last report.
Dania Beach: 3rd Reef, Kings
In early March Ray and I launched near Dania Pier once again (the last time rising winds and surf drove us in early. We were still determined to bust a king off the third reef. So armed with hefty frozen sardines and king rigs we headed out about two miles into a 10-15 knot headwind.
Brief note about king rigs. These are 80 lb. mono tied to a good 5/0 to 7/0 hook, with an attached trailer or "stinger" hook. Attach a swivel to the other end. Now thread a 1 to 2 oz. egg sinker on your line and attach it to the swivel. You can also use one of the little sliding devices with a sinker clip (so you can change weights as needed). Acts like a fishfinder rig and allows the king to run a bit without dragging the sinker. BTW, I find that most yaks drift quite a bit faster than the fishing boats so personally I'd err toward the heavier weight.
If you've never hooked a soft thawed sardine: lay the hooks next to the "dine" and find where the trailer hook should enter and insert it. Then do the leading hook through the lips. Some hook down from the back (top), some hook up through the belly. No opinion on this.
Kings are usually in deeper water; here the fishing boats go just past the 3rd reef in about 120 ft. and drift back over the reef (bout 90 ft.). The mates I've spoken with suggest fishing at 40 to 60 ft., as the kings apparently cruise at this depth. Adjust your weight, and consider the angle of the line to hit this range (at a 45 deg. angle you'll need about 80 ft. of line out).
With the SE winds we drifted nicely down the reef when finally Ray got hit like a freight train. I'm told this is typical of Kings who usually hook themselves. But I'd suggest reeling up tight and hitting them a couple times as the larger hooks need some good force to set (and you may be setting both hooks). So don't hold back. Ray didn't set, and after a long run he lost the fish.
But it proved the Kings can be had by us yakkers. Talked to another experienced guy who recommends using a hefty live Pilchard (I've heard this several times), if you are equipped with a towable bait bucket or livewell).
Government Cut/Virginia Key
What an interesting trip. Recommended to all, plus found a neat place to launch, thank you Joe.
Little history: historically, Virginia Key was one of the few "black" only beaches around. Later, of course, it was open to all, but currently is out of favor and all the parking areas are closed. For us Yakkers, this is a good thing.
Apparently there is another guy named Jim who has had "squatter's rights", and who has built a ramshackle bar named "Jimbo's" which is frequented by ex-hippies and expatriots who seem smashed at all hours. This all close to a waste treatment plant, and surrounded by thick vegetation. And a perfect little abandoned ramp used by jetskiers, and now by yakkers.
We (Susan, Joe and I) launched into the large secluded bay behind "Jimbo's". Beautiful and quiet, interrupted only by bird calls and raucous laughter. Perfect snook country. Access to the shallows south of Government Cut was easy, and we headed east (south of the channel) to the first set of nav structures (about 20 ft.); then drifted north toward the Cut in 10 knot breezes.
This area is relatively shallow (4 to 7 ft.) until you reach the structures, and is thick with coral. We saw a number of quite large fish breaking water, and there were reports of rolling tarpon (we saw none). Although we were equipped for deep water drifting (the famous "Cuban Hole" is further out probably another mile or so).
One final note: upon returning to "Jimbo's Bay", Susan spotted a manatee. Joe and I paddled over to investigate and discovered a whole "family", including a baby manatee (mebbe 3 ft. long) being closely watched by it's mother. Personally, I didn't want to get too close, but Joe kept very still when the mother nudged the baby out of the water for a breath right next to Joe's yak.
Joe caught a couple great pics, available later. This was truly what yakking is all about!
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