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Dry Tortugas w/Capt Yuri 5/10-12 Wow!!

Old 05-14-2019, 03:02 PM
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Default Dry Tortugas w/Capt Yuri 5/10-12 Wow!!

Just got home after my 16th trip to the Dry Tortugas with Capt Yuri aboard his incredible 50 foot power catamaran! It's based at the new Marina at Stock Island just before you cross the bridge into Key West.

Jenn and I decided to come down the night before the Fri-Sun trip and spend the night at the wonderful boutique hotel called The Perry Hotel. The boat is literally in the shade of the resort style hotel! This hotel is very new and it's a fun and very 'Nautical' place to stay. The rooms are fully equipped with WiFi, small fridge, work desk, patio (ours looked over the pool and Marina) and it's just a a fun place to stay. Restaurant on one end of the pool and a waterfront Bar and Restaurant off the other end of the pool. A very nice shuttle bus to take you into downtown Key West if you'd like. Plenty of onsite parking as well.

After a nice night's sleep, I wandered down to the boat and my other 5 crew guys were arriving and the loading of the boat began. With it being a 3-Day, two night trip, there is a lot to load! Besides our own personal gear, rods, tackle, etc, we had the food, waters, we had extra bait, coolers, etc, etc, etc. I has asked Yuri during my Pre-Trip phone call if the AC could be on and running for our loading and it was. Thanks!! While we were doing that, Jenn texted me from our room, "Can you meet me for a quick lunch?" Since the guys all know her it was easy for me to sneak away for half an hour! There's the boat (with her square fly bridge) as seen from our table! Did I mention that The Perry Hotel was right at the boat slip?

Cool looking dining room too!

After a quick lunch, Jenn went back to the room for her work day (working remotely) and I re-joined the guys aboard the boat. Capt Yuri showed up and we were off the dock a few minutes early. We needed a quick stop at the Marina's very nice fuel dock to top off the tanks for the twin 315 Yanmars. Right behind us at the dock was the R/V Weatherbird II and she's an overall Research Vessel based out of St Pete. She's done work for the State of Florida, NASA and other Govt Departments. She's 115 feet long and displaces 194 tons. A crew of 6 and she can handle up to 20 research people as well.

Here's a short video aboard her!

Finally it was time to shove off from the fuel dock and get on down to the Dry Tortugas!

I ended up chatting with Yuri up at the helm area during our run down and I mentioned that those first Friday evenings always seem to start out a bit slow. He explained that he needs to get there and sort out the currents, the wind, etc to continue to narrow down, just what the elements we will have down there as we start the trip. We move fairly often that first evening but we slowly started finding a few nice fish. Here's Ed with a very nice Mutton Snapper. The first of many, we'd learn later!

About 10 or so, Yuri pulled out his grill and got going with some steaks, with the burgers cooking in the iron skillet in the galley. I got the table ready, got the macaroni salad, the potato salad and condiments out, etc. When it was all ready, the guys plopped down into the dinette area for a nice meal. Then, back out on deck! By midnight, some of the guys will peel off to head for the comfortable bunks below. Alex and I stayed up and picked off a few more fish until close to 2am and we were 'done' for the night. The fish box was a little 'light' on fish and color but we'd more than make up for that on Saturday and Sunday!

I set my alarm for 0545 to get up and enjoy what I call "Dawn Patrol". Not only do I love to see the dawn slowly break, but the fishing is usually good then as well. Alex had left the cockpit neat and clean just a few hours before and that is always appreciated! Thanks Alex!

I got up to find that I was not alone on deck! A lone flying fish had crash landed in the middle of the cockpit. If you have never handled one, the dark blue on their backs is just an amazing color! The scene of the crash.........

And that amazing blue color.......... They are a delicacy around the Med! Same goes for down on the bottom near the Tortugas! I pinned him to a circle hook and he quickly was slammed but no hook up..

I picked off a few fish and then saw what I was looking for.........

With the guys awake and the coffee flowing, Yuri moved us to a new spot. And then the Mutton and Red Grouper Fest---> lit off!

First Jeff with his nice Mutton Snapper!

Followed by Ed's fatty Red Grouper! This might have won the Grouper Division in our little informal Calcutta but Ed forgot to measure it!

Alex got tied into another nice Grouper......

My trusty Stowmaster net is ready on the left. That net was the most important 'tool' in the cockpit!

While I was on the other side of the deck, netting somebody's fish, I saw my light spinner bend in half! This trip would be my initial trip with a pair of new Penn Slammer 3 reels, spooled with 250 yards of top quality, Sufix Tritainium, 12 lb mono line. I knew this was a big fish and I just hoped that the knots and line would hold against the several, long, hard runs by this fish. With my arms starting the cramp up and after a full 10 minutes, I had my fish! It was a nice, 19 lb Amberjack!

Ed had been busy with his own AJ! Get the smokers ready!!

For my extra 'bait' that I bring, it's a 4 lb box of frozen, whole, large shrimp. When fishing for Yellowtail Snapper, I tie on a little naked, yellow jig and half of a shrimp and in this case, a really little jig! My AJ must have liked it as he slammed it like a freight train! Note the size next to my clippers and also how the fish bent the hook! Yet nothing gave way and I caught the fish! That was really, really FUN!

The Slam continued with Alex's next Grouper.....

Followed by Rick's nice Mutton.........

Later in the day, at another spot, I finally got my own Mutton Snapper. I was a bit disappointed in the size but these are the best eating ones!

Yep, we had some of 'this'. On Alex's Red Grouper.......

With the cockpit fish box getting pretty full, it was time for Yuri to get some help taking a few bins of fish up to the huge ice bin on the bow that we call "The Ice Coffin"!

Young Luke was with us for his third trip with his Dad, Rick and Luke slapped a few nice fish in the box that were chilled and then used for some home made Ceviche that the guys made later in the afternoon! Diced peppers, lots of lemon and lime juice and nicely diced up fish chunks. Let it rest for 30 minutes or so and then get out the Solo cups and spoons! This will be a new Tradition for future trips!

I finally used a fresh chunk on a Knocker Rig and it took about 18 seconds for this Grouper to slam the bait! My biggest Red Grouper of the trip.

Here, Luke shows us that he knows to hold the fish out just a bit, to make it look bigger! Still, a very nice fish early on Saturday evening!

Well after sundown, Yuri moved the boat one more time (these 'moves' might be a half a mile, or several miles) using the orange ball and hoop to pop the anchor off the bottom and then the boat drags the anchor and line behind the boat!

We then had a special treat for dinner that we always enjoy on those Saturday nights. A Fresh Fried Fish Dinner! Yellowtail fillets in a light, crusty batter, hot oil in the iron skillet served with freshly made Cole Slaw with pineapple chunks in it. Cookies for dessert! Alex also supplied the guys with some hot Cafe Cubano as well!

By the time that dinner was done, some showers, fresh clothes and maybe a cool drink, the guys were I think, pretty worn out from a super productive day and bed time came early for most of the guys........ including me! Besides, I had the alarm set again for 0545 and my last shot at "Dawn Patrol"!

Got out on deck at 0600 and enjoyed a little of a private, solo charter fishing trip! Rigged up my rods, got a few shrimp out and put a decent Grouper in the box. Alex joined me later and we enjoyed this dawn breaking to the east!

We get a chum slick going and I cast out my little jig with half a shrimp on it, with the 12 lb spinner. As I'm feeding the line out, I tell Alex, "You know, as these things drift back and down, I've had some nice Muttons come up way off the bottom to slam these baits......." And not 30 seconds later, the rod nearly gets yanked out of my hands! I quickly say to Alex, "Uh oh! This is a big fish!" And he bangs out this photo to prove it!

The line is peeling off and all I want is to keep this 'fish' out of the weeds! I gain some line, I lose some line. The new Penn is getting a real workout! After a full 8-9 minutes I tell Alex, "Get the net! I see color!" With the fish in the net and then on the deck, I see how big it really was! Here's the little rod, the naked yellow jig in his lip and the fat Mutton that weighed out at about 13 pounds!!

For the Calcutta, we decided to use length and he measured out (and put me in the lead!) at 29 1/2 half inches!

After a short water break, the jig/shrimp combo was again drifting back in the slick and BAM! I'm off to the races again! This time it was 'just' a 12 pounder! My arms were getting tired from the long but fun, fights! Back-to-back, double digit Muttons! Whew! I needed a beer but it was only 7 am!

And my new 'lead' in the Snapper Category for the Calcutta lasted all of about 17 minutes when Luke slapped this even bigger, 30", 14 pounder in the boat!

With little to no current for most of the trip, the Yellowtail Snappers were hard to come by. Luke and I both caught a 19 incher with mine just beating out Luke's for the Yellowtail Category. For the Grouper Category, we thought Ed's first big one was the largest but since he didn't measure it the Rules Committee for the Calcutta allowed Ed to pass on his award to Rick who also had a really nice Red Grouper in that same 17-18 pound range.

We got some nice Grunts for Jenn and I to enjoy a Fried Grunt dinner some night and the big packs of the Amberjacks (3 total) will head for the grill and the smokers. Very nice, clean meat on these fish.

Back at the dock, the real 'work' began! Cleaning out our gear, getting the trucks over near the boat, pulling the fish out of the Ice Coffin as well as the nearly full cockpit fish box and then we set up our Production/Cleaning line right there at the nice cleaning station that's about 12 feet long. And it's in the shade of The Perry Hotel!

Jenn came by with a cold beer for me and to say Hi to Yuri and the guys, and then nicely brought me another one later! Thanks Jenn! Then she went back to the really nice pool area and enjoyed a nice rum drink (or two!) of her own!!

Just a small sample of the Groupers....

And the cleaning station right behind the boat. Guys will take on various jobs like filleting, vacuum bagging, getting more fish off the boat, setting up coolers with ice to hold the bagged and labeled fish, etc, etc. Not our first time doing this! Local legend, Stevie Wander came down to give us a hand and he's always appreciated.

In the mean time, Yuri snuck out for 30 minutes to top off the tanks because his nephew Capt Chris was taking out a 3 1/2 day charter that evening and they were running to the Pulley Ridge area which is about 40 miles past the Tortugas and about 110 miles west of Key West. Here, Jeff's going to help him dock back up. Four cases of Menhaden Chum ready to load.

A good look at the starboard hull of the 50 footer.....

Finally all packed up, we said our good byes and the guys headed home and I headed for another cold beer and to hop in the pool with Jenn! After a quick shower, we were soon at The Salty Oyster Bar where Zak took great care of us! Some oysters too of course!

Then it was on to Matt's Stock Island for dinner. Both are at opposite ends of the pool at The Perry Hotel. Wow, did I ever sleep well that night! The next day, I saw that Rick had texted me at 11:59pm with "Luke and I just got home. Wish we had stayed at The Perry Hotel!"

Many thanks to the great Staff at The Perry Hotel! We will be back again for the July trip!

As always, Yuri took extra good care of us and we all came home with a LOT of fillets, from pristine waters. These trips nearly pay for themselves! Book a trip and don't forget to invite ME!

And without my buddies, I don't get to go! So big thanks to Alex, Jeff, Ed, Rick and Luke!! I have 7-8 more trips booked in the coming summers so we will do it over and over! And don't forget the fresh Ceviche!
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Last edited by Gary M; 05-21-2019 at 09:30 AM.
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Old 05-14-2019, 03:52 PM
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Looks like a great trip! Thanks for taking the time to post all the pictures.
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Old 05-14-2019, 05:20 PM
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Top of line fishing report right there.
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Old 05-14-2019, 05:33 PM
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Another successful Tortugas trip right there. Two months and we’ll be bringing more of those monsters over the rail.
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Old 05-14-2019, 05:47 PM
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What a fantastic report.

I feel like I can live vicariously through you, since I have just spent 2 days working on catching muttons and have nothing to show for it.
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Old 05-14-2019, 06:15 PM
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Fantastic trip and report as usual GMON!
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Old 05-14-2019, 06:59 PM
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Great report Gary. Wish I could have benn there. Wonderful pictures and narration transmit the great trip
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Old 05-14-2019, 07:32 PM
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Awesome trip and awesome report! Looks like a must do. How were the sleeping accommodations onboard?
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Old 05-14-2019, 08:05 PM
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Awesome report!
I learned a long time ago to not plan on driving home after a day “or in yalls case a few days” of fishing! I would rather drive in the morning before a trip than to drive home after the trip is over. A few cold beers, a cool shower, a cool A/C and a clean bed to crash in will change your life!! 😂
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Old 05-14-2019, 08:50 PM
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Looks like another outstanding trip! I was bummed to miss it for sure. By next spring/summer I should be good to go, God willing.
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Old 05-15-2019, 03:36 AM
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Great report and awesome pics of the fish and the sky! I'm due for a trip like that!
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Old 05-15-2019, 05:14 AM
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Originally Posted by skedaddle View Post
What a fantastic report. I feel like I can live vicariously through you
Thanks........ I kind of write these up to sort of take some other guys along. Go back in this Section to last August and read my two Reports from my two awesome trips last summer.
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Last edited by Gary M; 05-17-2019 at 02:30 PM.
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Old 05-15-2019, 05:28 AM
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Originally Posted by Tuna Colada View Post
Awesome trip and awesome report! Looks like a must do. How were the sleeping accommodations on board?


The boat is two hulls and in the starboard hull, you go down three steps, turn left and go forward in a narrow passageway. Immediately on your left are two long Upper/Lower bunks, both with AC outlets. Forward of that is a double berth with a heavy curtain running down the middle. Forward of that, is open storage.

In the port hull, you go down then make a right turn and the toilet room is to the right, followed by the shower to the right and then the sink. Past that are two more double berths, with another heavy privacy curtain running down the middle. My 'payment' for setting these trips up and organizing them all, getting the cases of waters and groceries, etc, is that I get first dibs on a bunk and I take the first of the two in the port hull. The Genset is in that hull so there is a bit of a buzz in the air but it's sort of like 'white noise' so it does not bother me.

Walking in the salon, the galley is to the left and the chest freezer (bait and chum) is to your right. Straight ahead is the square, U-shaped dinette booth for eating. This was my first Report that I posted here last summer and it has more details on the boat, etc.

Dry Tortugas w/Capt Yuri Trip Report!

It is super well laid out and comfortable. Is it a cruise ship? No. It's a hard core fishing machine that provides us with great facilities and the basic comforts.
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Old 05-15-2019, 05:30 AM
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Originally Posted by firemedc1560 View Post
Looks like another outstanding trip! I was bummed to miss it for sure. By next spring/summer I should be good to go, God willing.
Yeah Mon! We missed not having you aboard on this one!

So far, for next May's Trip, the Crew starts with you, then me......
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Old 05-15-2019, 05:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Motorboater1983 View Post
Awesome report!
I learned a long time ago to not plan on driving home after a day “or in yalls case a few days” of fishing! I would rather drive in the morning before a trip than to drive home after the trip is over. A few cold beers, a cool shower, a cool A/C and a clean bed to crash in will change your life!! 😂

I used to have a big house in Key Largo so after a trip, we'd hit a place for dinner on the way to KL, then we could crash on that Sunday night at the house to break up the trip. Those were very fun days the 5+ years we had that place!

This was my first time overnighting right after a trip and let me tell you, having a cold beer in the pool and letting all the muscles just 'relax', that was some real therapy there! We/I always get home tired, sore, some bruises show up that we have no clue what caused them, lots of very sore nicks and small cuts in your fingers and hands but here it is on Weds and I'm chomping at the bit to load up and go again!
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Old 05-15-2019, 05:52 AM
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Great report and thanks again.
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Old 05-15-2019, 05:59 AM
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Originally Posted by make it happen View Post
Great report and thanks again.
Thank you! You really contribute a LOT to our trips and we'll get you back on another one next summer!

Next time we get a shark cutoff, lets trim what's left to add to the Ceviche!!
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Old 05-15-2019, 06:15 AM
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With no rush to get back to Lauderdale, Jenn and I checked out of The Perry Hotel at the crack of 11 and took our time coming home. We love to eat at the Square Grouper in Cudjoe Key but I saw that they had a brand new one in Islamorada! There's our Lunch Stop! Wow, what an awesome place! Right at the top of the water at the busy Marina, they designed a really nice place with a bar, inside dining and outside dining. I chose inside dining but right at a window!

There are boat racks on either side as you drive in and I did not notice that Van & SUV parking is actually under the the boats and in the shade! I'll be parking there in July!!

It only opened in March and the decor is just what every guy here would love. Nautical and Fishing! I want my next house to look like this!

"Do you mind if I order us an Appetizer first?", Jenn asked. Great idea! It's some sort of a Tuna wrap with a Soy/Ponsu sauce in the middle and some Wasabi drizzled on the side. W-O-W!

Jenn ordered the Special which was a baked Panko crusted Yellowtail and I ordered their classic, "The Square Grouper Sandwich" that comes with skinny fries, skinny onion rings on top and a really good Cole Slaw. We nearly licked our plates!

Mine came with a Lime Tartar Sauce and I'm no fan of Tartar Sauce but after I squeezed that fat lemon into it, it made a fantastic dipping sauce for my sandwich!!

Yep, there's another lunch coming there next July!! And for the guys that do drive home that night after a trip, that might be a great place to stop for dinner!!
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Old 05-15-2019, 07:40 AM
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Great report.

Man, some of those Muttons are so red, I wonder if they might have been hybrids of Mutton and ARS?
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Old 05-15-2019, 08:38 AM
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I have stayed at the Perry Hotel for my Honeymoon and I thought it was an awesome place. The marina there is pretty darn nice as well.
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