It's been 4 months since Irma tore her way through the Florida Keys. My travels took me down US1 through to Key West where I was able to witness first hand, the recovery in progress before settling back in Islamorada to rest.
I was fortunate enough to have met Capt. Nick previously through George Poveromo in 2016. I can tell you one thing about him, there's not a person I've seen that can run a business day after day, manange his social channels and pump out fishing stories most of the time, the same day like this man. He's typically one of the first accounts I see as wake up and check my social platforms and it's consistently one epic pelagic after another. Just a machine.
Faculty staff for the 2016 Saltwater Sportsman National Seminar Series in Savannah Georgia.
The famous Bud n' Mary's Marina established in 1944 is home to the largest fleet in the Florida Keys with over 40 Captains and guide, and more world records than any location in the world. If there is one place on your fishing bucket list, it's gotta be a trip out of Bud n' Mary's.
This was a spontaneous trip. The best ones always seem to start this way. I was in the Dominican for the Mustad holiday celebrations when I was invited to join the crew for a daytime swordfish with the legendary Capt. Nick Stanczyk so I did what any reasonable person would do. Cancelled my flight back to Houston, stuck it out couple days in Miami and headed to Islamorda for the opportnity of a lifetime. I was stoked just to be invited aboard the "Broad Minded".
We set out hoping for the best. I always prepare myself for hard day of fishing. If you fish enough, there will be plenty of tough days to haunt you. Capt. Nick had boated a 400lb. whopper the day before and warned me that his luck may be up... boy was he wrong!
We were filming how to's for Mustad Hooks. Pressure is always heightened when there's a camera rolling. As much as I wanted to hand crank my first sword, we needed to get a fish to the boat for a fillet video and at 1800 ft., it's just much easier to wind up on electric.
Capt. Nick set the LP and stitched up our first bait. We made our first drop down about 1600'. We stayed concentrated on the rod tip Captain Nick showed us the signs to look for. A subtle tip of the rod, interesting enough you never know the size of the fish until you see it.
I was prepared for a long waiting game, but minutes from bottom, we got our first hook up and I got my first sword. We tagged it for Grays Fish Tag Research and continued on to the next drop.
Next drop, our friend Ross Gallagher hooked up with the first pomfret I've ever witnessed in the flesh. This one made for a few beautiful fillets later that evening.
Our third drop Capt. Nick called a "cheap bite". A little grab but we still had our bait.
We made another drop and watched the rod tip closely. Capt. Nick catches the slightest movement and we got a fish on. It's funny because on electric you never know how big of a fish you've got until it gets closer. This one was statting to "slack us off" the line and he knew it was a nice one. I was on the button as we brought the fish from the depths. Even though it is electric, there is still a skill involved with knowing when to push or "reel" Same as fighting a fish, you let them run when they run and you keep the heat on when they rest.
After about ten minutes, the fish was on top, he made a jump but all we caught was the splash. Another ten minutes go by and my fish was peeling accross the surface. TJ Zinklnd shot a dart into my 231 lb. fish and we had a successful catch. All that was left to do was to hoist her over the gunnel. Capt. Nick and TJ brought her on board as Sam Root droned over the action and Ross Gallagher was on the stills.
We got a few shots with her and it was time to head back.
Though areas such as Big Pine and Little Torch showed signs of ongoing rebuilding, I was thankful to see lodging and stores back in business and many of our friends hitting the water and running their businesses again. Sam Root and I even got to visit the freshly polished landmark, the Southern Most Point of the Continental U.S.A.