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TOPIC: The Florida Middle Grounds at its best

The Florida Middle Grounds at its best 2 years 3 months ago #26686

  • harbison
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The Florida Middle Grounds at its very best:
It's a full moon weekend, the weather forecast is outstanding, The Florida Fisherman, Hubbard's Marina, is loaded to the brim with the best food imaginable. We are ready to tackle the monsters of the Fabulous Florida Middle Grounds. The Middle Grounds, one hundred miles North West of Madeira Beach Florida. Departure time for our 39 hour assault is three P.M. Friday afternoon.
Many of us arrive early to take in the sights of the famous John's Pass Board Walk, and to watch the 1/2 day boat, the Friendly fisherman, return from their morning adventure. What a sight, happy anglers and large strings of fish, mostly grunts, grunts are outstanding eating. Even saw a big king fish. They had a good catch.
Mister Craig Scott, a 'Regular' on the Florida, likes tom catch live, really active, pin fish before we leave. He did extremely well on them. Craig had a field day with snapper and grouper. Joey, one of our professional mates, give a 'how too' seminar. This man really knows his stuff.
We are very fortunate to have, as second Captain, Captain (Coach) John McGettrick. Coach is a Florida native. Finally, I have found someone with whom I can discuss local fishing even before 1960. He, as I, were fishing long before the sixties.
While most sleep, some troll on the long way out. Both kings & bonito were caught Friday afternoon. Terry & Joe did very well. They had good catches even before most of us started.
The ride out was beautiful. Early Friday evening, appearing in the Western sky, we could see that big, inspiring, full moon. As if we needed any more inspiration; excitement was already completely off the chart. Forty-eight anglers, and a friendly crew of six, were more than ready for the 4 F's of Sportsmanship, of our great sport: Food (just had to put that first), Fellowship, Fun, and fishing. And, speaking of food, here comes Tammy, our on board chef, with the best grilled steak, onions, and peppers sandwich on the face of the earth. what a way to start a trip.
OK! twelve midnight! Time to teach those snapper a lesson in manors, if you want to eat, you must pay for your meal. Mangrove snapper seem to often forget, eat, and run. Many did skip out, however, from the looks of all those beautiful mangos on the deck, many paid for their meal.
Three A.M. Saturday, we are hungry, Tammy to the rescue. Hot off the grill ham and cheese sandwiches, plenty of fish, calm seas, and a bright full moon. This must be heaven on earth. Actually, the morning snapper bite was constant, but never fast. We caught snapper, mango, vermilion, yellow tail, and even the near extinct American red snapper all day long. Looks like Lady Jane neglected to tell the ARS that they are in such bad shape. Even the vermilion snapper (B Liners) were running huge.
We were fishing in 125 feet of water. Captain Hubbard decided to run deep for some really big fish. Destination, the far Western edge of the Florida Middle Grounds, We moved out to 195 feet, and, as predicted, the fish were over-sized and hungry. Those monsters of the deep put a good old Southern hurting on even the youngest, strongest, anglers. Fights were both won and lost, mostly lost. At last, the fish were really on fire. What fighters! I saw Kitty Mitchell grouper, scamp, red grouper, and B Liners the size of mangrove snapper. The AJ's were approaching ridiculous size. Only one little problem, the gags and American reds, really big ones, were devouring everything we threw at them. It soon became almost impossible to catch anything else. We left them in a hitting frenzy. See you later!
Time to head back to mango waters. The evening bite should be outstanding. But first, a Chef Tammy new creation. Our own Tammy decided to go Mexican. I can't begin to pronounce the dish she served. In fact, I was too busy eating to care. And then that big cake, WOW! This must be haven on earth. Time for a short nap, then more fishing. Eight P.M. Saturday evening, our last chance, and what a chance it was. In between American reds and gags, we were catching mangrove snapper. We had three mates on board; boy did we keep them busy. Will, Joey, and Tyson like to make sure our fish are iced down ASAP. However, the gags and American reds had to be immediately vented and sent home, sent home to fight again. The deck of the Florida was covered with mangos, they had to wait their turn. For a solid forty five minutes, it was next to impossible to keep a bait of the bottom for more than a few seconds.
8:45 Saturday evening, time to head home. We left with the fish still in a hitting frenzy. Next weekend it's hog hunting at Tiger Island Outfitters, And then, May 18, time to visit the Florida Middle Grounds, The Middle Grounds at its very best!
Bob Harbison Native Florida Sportsman...member Florida Outdoor Writers Association
Friendly Fisherman 1/2 day boat:




The Florida Fisherman prepares for a 39 hour trip to the Florida Middle Grounds:

Mister Scott catches live pins. He did very well on them:

Joey, one of our professional mates, tells us how to do it:

Second Captain, Captain (Coach) John McGettrick, leads the way:

Many troll on the way out:


That big
full moon is something else:

3 A.M. Tammy serves hot off the grill, grilled ham & cheese sandwiches:

The early morning, late evening snapper bite was HOT!






We caught snapper all day long: No one told the ARS that they are extinct:
Even the Vermilion snapper were running huge:












We were in the near extinct gags all night & day. We could not get away from them:
We tore them apart here. Left because we could not get away from the gags and ARS:








nice scamp:



The AJ's were huge:

The food was great:



Captain Mark Hubbard (R) and Joey are proud of our catch:


Check out the short video of our trip:
Bob Harbison
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Re: The Florida Middle Grounds at its best 2 years 3 months ago #26723

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You should be a professional writer
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Re: The Florida Middle Grounds at its best 2 years 3 months ago #26741

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"You should be a professional writer"
What a compliment! I just do the best I can. I love sharing my works. When people tell me they enjoy what I do, that is all the pay-backs I need.
I do belong to the Florida Outdoor Writers Association (FOWA), a professional writers organization. Bob H.
Bob Harbison
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Re: The Florida Middle Grounds at its best 2 years 3 months ago #26750

  • FishingBigGuy
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Yes, I always enjoy your posts, too! I really need to get on the Florida Fisherman the first chance I get. It is always an incredible time, as I witness from your photos Bob. Nice work as usual!
"Best wishes for big fishes!"

Christopher Giblin
Tampa, FL
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Re: The Florida Middle Grounds at its best 2 years 3 months ago #26759

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:thumbsup: Thank you sir. You make me feel like the many hours, days, involved with that detailed of a report are worth every minute it takes.
Be sure to check out my report on next Saturday's hog hunting trip.
May 18, we will be visiting the Grounds again. Then, come June 1, we will be sailing to the Grounds every weekend. I am already booked for every trip through December. It is really that good! I will probably cancel July 6. I want to join all of our forum friends on our private charter. I really hate to miss that 39 hour trip. It's one of only two weekends of the entire year that we can keep both gags & ARS. We should do really well on our 12 hour charter.
Sir, we do indeed always have an incredible time. The only thing that would make our trips even better would be if you would join us. I always fish spot # 23. Fish next to me & I will help you any way I can. This gentleman fished my spot last weekend. He tore them apart.
It would be a good idea to book ASAP. These 39 hour trips are in real demand. Bob H.

Bob Harbison
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Re: The Florida Middle Grounds at its best 2 years 3 months ago #26883

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Check out the second part of the video from our Middle Grounds trip 5/4/12:

So much to see and do before leaving Madeira Beach. John's Pass is a virtual hub of activity.
Joe, our mate, goes over every little detail of how to catch Middle Grounds fish.
That big old full moon was big and bright in the Eastern sky even at 4:30 P.M.
Captain Hubbard guides the Florida Fisherman close to a weed line. We check out everything.
What a beautiful ARS
Those AJ's may be hard to hold, but they sure taste great. Chef Tammy takes full advantage of donated fish, they do count towards our limit. She dips them in beer batter, and griddle fries them to perfection. What a lunch!
Check out the amount of ice used to make sure our fish are the very best they can be.
This was a very good trip. We are looking forward to a tremendous Summer season. First, June 1 - July 10, American red snapper; and then July, August, September, October, gag grouper. Throw in mangrove, vermilion, & yellow tail snapper, AJ's, and red grouper, and we have a great deal to look forward to. The only thing that would make our trips even better would be to have fellow forum fishermen/women join us. Bob H.

Bob Harbison
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Re: The Florida Middle Grounds at its best 2 years 3 months ago #26913

  • poyssick
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You are a real winner, Bob. And a blessed resource for our community. Bless you for being here. Your support for Mark Hubbard, our site, and anglers in general is a real gift to us all. Excellent work :)
JOIN CCA if you take our sport and our environment seriously...
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Re: The Florida Middle Grounds at its best 2 years 3 months ago #26914

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Gary, you will never know how much your kind words mean to me. I am just doing what I love to do best.
Hope to get to know you & many forum members come July 6.
Take care, and thanks for everything. Bob
Bob Harbison
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