Homosassa Cobia Tournament – 2013
Wow, what a weekend! First let me start with talking about my Young Boat, “Red Eddie or Knot”, I’m more impressed with my new boat after the weekend than ever before. Not only can this 24 foot boat run at 30 MPH in a foot of water it handled the less than ideal water conditions during the tournament better than any of us could have expected. It really is a Bentley! Team Young Boats was comprised of me, Captain Charlie Ives from Homosassa, Captain Ben Dyal from Spring Hill and my Offshore Consultant, Buzz Lersch from Homosassa.
The sunrise staging area both days at Mac Rae’s was filled with excitement and anticipation as the 200 boats waited for the shotgun start at 7 AM. It’s quite the spectacle seeing 200 boats, all different shapes, sizes and manufactures, running out the narrow Homosassa River at the same time. Being the first time that I’ve fished in this tournament, I have to admit it was one of the wildest and craziest things I’ve ever done, carefully and safely trying to maneuver around all the other boats. We were real glad when we got to the Gulf and were able to leave all the other boats behind. As I mentioned earlier the conditions were less than ideal as it was overcast, windy, and sloppy with 3 foot waves. We first ran to a local wreck about 9 miles out that we expected to be just covered with boats and we were pleasantly surprised when we arrived that there was only one other boat on the wreck. It didn’t take long before we had a dink Cobia swim right up to our boat and that only fed our excitement. Charlie did manage to catch two short Cobias, (the first Cobias caught on my new Young), but not liking the churned and murky water conditions we decided to run to deeper water. After a rough ride into the waves we arrived at the Citrus County Artificial Reef and it was like a parking lot, more boats than you could count. Considering the conditions we were all very surprised to see a couple of tournament fisherman there in a 19 foot Carolina Skiff, not a very smart thing to do in those choppy conditions. After a short while on the reef without any action we decided to make another move to deeper water looking for cleaner water and that decision paid off in spades.
Fishing in about 40 foot of clean blue water we just absolutely slammed the Grouper’s both Gags and Reds. We had to catch at least 30 Groupers, with four keeper Red Groupers, three that were big enough to bring back to the scales at Mac Rae’s. The largest Red Fire Truck, over 9 pounds, which I caught, missed first place by ½ pound! We were using live Grunts, spot-tails, pinfish and frozen threadfins for bait and the big Red ate a big Grunt. Big bait big fish! We also hooked a Spinner Shark on our flat line and he came three to four foot spinning out of the water after feeling the hook. I also hooked a Sand Shark that at first we thought was a Cobia because it ran away from the rocks and not to them like the Grouper was doing. I loosen the drag and hoped we had our Cobia for the scales but was disappointed when we saw it was a Shark. Though it was a great battle, it wasn’t a Cobia, and I needed to take a break and drink a bottle of water after that fight.
Day Two started with the same excitement and enthusiasm and we were better positioned in the Young to be one of the first boats to head out and to avoid all of the craziness. Our plan worked as we were the first boat to reach the Gulf and we immediately headed for deeper water looking for a money Red Grouper. After the tournament record that stood for 15 years was broken with a 72 pound Cobia on Saturday, we knew our best chance was to try and win the Grouper division and hope for maybe second place in the Cobia division. After a rough ride out in sloppy water and 15 MPH winds, we stopped half way to our 40 foot destination to catch bait and filled the live wells with Grunts and Spot-tails. We were hoping the wind would lie down but weren’t that lucky and continued bouncing our way to the clean blue water at 40 foot. Again our effort paid off as we caught between 30 to 40 Groupers both Gags and Reds! We did have two keeper Red Groupers, one that weighed between 8 to 10 pounds on the Boga Grip but knew that wasn’t our money fish. The biggest Gag we caught weighed between 18 to 20 pounds on the Boga and it was torturous to have to release all those great eating Gags.
Who said there was a shortage of Gags? My Offshore Consultant, Buzz, fishing with his “Big Gun” Rod & Reel hooked and brought to the boat a 100 pound Sand Shark that immediately took his rod to the gunnel, and again raised the hopes in the Young that we had our tournament Cobia only to be disappointed when the big shark came boat side. Please check the Photo Gallery and our newly added Video Page, for some other awesome pictures from the tournament weekend. After two hard days of fishing we were glad both days that the water and wind laid down making the ride back home more relaxing and enjoyable. We can’t wait for July 1st, when both Gag Grouper and Scallop Season opens! Let’s go Grouper CATCHING, Captain Red ED