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June 14th, 2008
It isn't often that you lay in bed hoping for the alarm to go off. But when it is programmed to call reveille at 4:00am you know something big is in the air.
Jim and I waited on my front porch and I felt my spirits rise when the big dodge pick-up pulled to a stop in front of the house. Woody Chris and Alan jumped out, we “Howdy-ed” and shook hands then we packed into the truck and headed south, headed back to my house because I had forgotten my wallet then headed south again 20 minutes later.
We arrived at the dock embarrassingly late and loaded the cases of beer onto the 25ft Contender. I asked Capt. Chris Farley what to expect, hoping to be told of Huge Snapper, Long Kingfish, and Drag Pulling Amber Jacks, and he said it was ROUGH out there.
Capt. Chris had three large bean bag chairs that completely mitigated the roughness of the ride and one person could ride in the center console on the foot pad making it a comfortable ride for four fishermen. Even so, the rough seas meant that that ride was a bit slow and meant that running far enough offshore to find amberjacks was out of the question. We took turns being the odd man out and getting the full effect of the 4 to 6 ft seas on the way out to the fishing. It was rough enough that twice the capt. asked if we wanted to keep going out. Obviously, we did not ask to head back to the dock, you don't get a crew like this together often enough turn around before even a single line gets wet. I for one was smiling broadly on the run out, it was great to feel the great outdoors and to be there with great friends. As we rode out we surveyed the fishing gear and were happy to see many of the same reels that we have in our personal collections. After about 2 hours of battering by the Gulf of Mexico we throttled down in the proximity of a rig approx. 30 miles offshore.
We first endeavored to pull some red snapper up from the bottom. We fished "Snapper Jigs". A heavy lead head with a buck tail and standard hook, and a stinger hook attached to the hook with an inch and a half of wire leader. Each Jig was baited with Sardines, double hooking them, once through the eye and once in the body between the dorsal fin and tail.
We fished the bottom third of the 80ft water depth, the fishing was slow but the Snappers landed were good sized. We had several Snappers in the boat when I hooked up with domething that ran out, away from the boat rather than down. After a nice fight I brought a 38 inch Cobia to the side of the boat where the Captain put the Gaff to it and hauled the thrashing sea creature up onto the deck of the boat. After getting the Cobia onto the ice and sharing a slimy, bloody handshake we got back to the Snapper and it didn't take long for Woody to hook up with something that was clearly of a heavier class by the way it bent the rod over. When it was finally in the boat we all remarked that while we had seen pictures of such Snapper (15+ pounds) it was the largest any of us had ever seen in person, head and tail longer than the other legal Snappers.
Fishing at this site slowed but we managed a few more Snapper before moving to a honey hole a few miles away. Fishing over this wreck was fun, we dropped the Snapper rigs at the captains' signal and everyone immediately hooked up. The fish here were smaller, typically on the edge of the 16 inch limit, but in two passes we had filled the 10 Snapper limit for the boat and be gan bump trolling jigs with either Sardines or Ribbon Fish for pelagic fishes. The rig was similar but it was a much lighter jig head, and the rigs for ribbon fish had two stingers to hook the long baits.
We trolled over the wreck a few times quickly putting a legal kingfish in the icebox but subsequent passes yielded no bites so we loaded up and ran again to another spot with structure. We trolled baits but saw zero action at his location and decided to head back inshore where fishing had been better earlier. We worked in, bouncing from rig to rig with little besides the fun of fishing with friends to show but a few trigger fish.
On the run between rigs Alan spotted birds over a tremendous writhing mass of bait. The action was along a rip line and we worked the area in and around the bait, We landed a couple blacktip sharks and were taunted by a boat-wise Cobia that apparently wasn’t in the mood for a late lunch of sardine or ribbon fish. We threw every type of terminal tackle in the boat at that fish as it swam around the boat to no avail. Finally we gave up and trolled away only to have a sardine hit and broke off on a line far behind the boat.
As we pushed into Texas waters the color changed to green, we pulled up in the shadow of a rig and commenced to catch one blacktip shark after another, Jim and Woody especially had a knack for hooking the ocean predators, at least a dozen sharks were brought boatside and released but the number may have been 16 or possibly 143 it was tough to keep track. There were several times where there were doubles hooked up. If there weren’t a limit of 1 shark per boat we would likely still be filleting. The shark fishing around this rig really made the trip a memorable experience. It was gratifying to hear the radio fall silent indicating that the other boats working the Gulf that afternoon had given while we were happily fighting 4 foot sharks. I think that when we finally loaded up and headed for Freeport that everyone was very satisfied.
Capt. Chris urged us to come again when the water conditions promised to be more condusive to kingfish and amberjack and I intend to take him up on the offer because Capt. Chris obviously has a customer first attitude. Capt. Chris Farley did everything I hope and expect a fishing guide to do: He ran the boat quick so we could spend more time fishing than boating without beating us to death. He managed the drifts well and kept us on fish whenever there were fish, he was willing to fish the way we wanted to such as working the birds and bait, he ran the gaff well, was pleasant to chat with, and it obviously bothered him when the fishing was slow.
Saturday Aug. 23, 2008 The weather was all rain and lightning early in the week and it made me nervous that the plans might get scrubbed but low and behold, I found myself looking at the sky friday and thinking how nice it must be for Woody, eric, and Chris down on the coast.
I shagged down to Surfside Friday night. when I arrived I found that the afternoon's whiskey fueled fires had subsided and the boys were enjoying the amenities at the Anchor Inn.
This place in Surfside is far from a five star resort, in fact I found it impossible to find any single thing about the hotel that was even as good as 'unacceptable' Most notably the odor. Anyway, We woke up well before the sun and after a stop to gather a couple cups of coffee we were soon loading Capt. Chris Farley's boat. This is the same captain we ran offshore with earlier when the seas were rough. We had none of the same type of issues this time out. The ride was smooth enough that we could enjoy our beverages easily while Sitting in a bean bag skipping across the nearly smooth surface of the Gulf of mexico. In fact, Capt. Chris would later remark that we didn't see a wave over 2 ft. all day.
The upshot of the smooth water was that we were able to run fast out to the hot spots the captain had in mind. Less than two hours later we cut the engines and started trolling for kingfish and it didn't take long for the fish to play along.
This early morning fishing was one of the multitude of highlights of the day. I greatly enjoyed the opportunity to run a trolling jig with a sardine behind the boat but it got even better when Eric fought in his first kingfish ever. The good times and good fishing had everyone in high spirits especially myself. Everyone in the boat was cleaning up at this fishin' hole, except me. Woody was lucky enough to get hooked up with a nice amber jack was gaffed into the boat very early in the day.
Eric caught an extremely large kingfish, the largest I've ever personally seen caught. All good things must come to an end and the excellent fishing at this spot stopped. We hit a couple other honey holes where we trolled for kings. Even if I was the butt of the joke, it was fun to be ribbed constantly about being unable to catch a kingfish, Luckily I finally put a kingfish in the boat about this time.Woody proved that he had some sort of Zen connection with the Red Snapper, hooking them up constantly.
Chris Z. and myself adapted the “do exactly what woody does” fishing method to hook a couple red snapper also, unfortunately Red Snapper in federal waters are off limits now so some very large delicious fish got sent back into the dark blue water. We had a limit of kingfish when we started headed back inshore.
During the ride in Alan demonstrated his offshore skills, spotting weed mats for us to fish around. Trolling around a weed line approx. 25miles offshore we were surprised to hook up with a wahoo.
We tried to troll up some Dorado but they proved to be much more catchable with a small treble hook and a hunk of squid. We fished several weed lines with the small treble hook rigs. The fishing was hot and heavy since the school of fish would stay active and near the boat so long as one of the hooked Dorado was kept in the water until his colleague could be hooked.
We made one final stop in Texas Waters to pull some legal Red Snapper in before heading for the fish cleaning table where we got lots of helpful fish cleaning tips from the old guy who runs the Fish Cleaning Service that we declined.
All in All I feel like Saturday we may well have had the type of fishing that that lead to Capt. Chris telling his clients on Sunday " You Should have been here yesterday..."
Off Shore Fishing Aug 6th 2010
Jeff, Matt, Santos, Brian, and Steven boarded Capt. Chris Farley's new boat and headed into the gulf of Mexico. The plan was to run 55 miles out to a known piece of submerged structure. Water was smooth and the spirits high.
Surprisingly we found a few shrimp boats tied together 25 miles out with the crews out on the deck working through the cull. Fishing around the back of these shrimp boats yielded 2 bonita, a few king fish and some atlantic sharpnose sharks.
When the fishing slowed after a couple drifts we saddled up and headed the rest of the way to our original destination. This proved to be a great spot this morning as we were constantly hooked up with good kingfish. In what seemed like no time flat we had the boat limit of 2 each in the icebox. We headed to yet another shrimp boat on the horizon where hooked a few more sharks and watched a nice ling eat a drifting bait then all rejoiced when Jeff hauled it on-board.
I sure am glad that Capt. Chris had a special Ling leader loaded up and ready to cast. Enroute to our next destination we spotted some floating weed lines so the trolling baits came out. It took several tries to find them but we eventually started hooking up Dorado.
The fish were as always brilliant in their green blue and yellow but this was the most I had ever seen them Jump. One must have gotten 12ft into the air. I guess seeing the water spout was indeed a good omen.
Total Body Count: 4 Dorado, 1 Ling, 1o Kingfish, 2 Bonito, 5 sharks
We hit one more shrimp boat to little effect (other than a refreshing swim) and loaded up for the 64mile ride back into Surfside Marina. When we got back onto land we let Moon Dog entertain us and fillet the fish while we had a few more beers. This is my third trip with Capt Chris and each one has been better than the last, He will have his hands full to top this one.
I no longer have to shop around for a fishing charter. I just call Reel Satisfaction and you should too. Capt Chris Farley has proven to be a great guide due to his flexibility, customer focus and skills. I have been out with Capt Chris with both experienced and novice fishermen and his flexibility was evident. With experienced anglers who wanted the challenge he allowed us to fish when and where we wanted. Allowing us to choose between available options, choosing to run out further or stay near shore, and hooking our own fish. With novice anglers Capt Chris and his deckhand proved to be good at teaching the skills necessary and if the customer preferred, hooking up the fish solidly. Capt. Chris has always made certain everyone on his boat is comfortable and having a good time, even in rough seas. Capt. Chris’ customer focus was evident on the rare occasion that the fishing was slow it evidently bothered him, I like to know that my captain is just as interested in catching fish as I am. Last but not least Capt Chris has repeatedly demonstrated the skills I expect from a captain in terms of boatmanship and the Gaff. The runs in and out have always been as quick and comfortable as the conditions allowed, drifts around structure and trolling around weed lines has always been well conducted to maximize fishing time and minimize waste. Last but not least we have never lost a fish to poor work on the gaff, if a fish gets boat side it has always come aboard.
My 7 year old daughter Paiten and I would like to thank Captain Chris for the outstanding outing. Reel Satisfaction Charters is a first class operation run by nice people that go out of their way to ensure a quality time is had by all no matter their age.
I highly recommend Reel Satisfaction Charters to anyone wanting to have a positive offshore experience. Capt. Chris knows his business and will put you on the fish.
Going offshore on the Hit-N-Run with Captain Chris has become a yearly ritual for me and my 2 sons, now aged 11 and 13. I wouldn’t consider anyone else in the Brazosport area.