It was late at night, as I sat back in my favorite recliner scanning the internet for various forms of metal entertainment, when I heard the first raindrops smash into the sliding glass door on the far side of my living room. Ahh yes, the first sign of the 2013 hurricane season had finally made itself visible to the Eastern seaboard of Florida. My favorite time of year, and my favorite weather had finally arrived as scheduled, so obliviously I could skip a couple of days of work and get down to real business, where to fish for the next few days in the floods and feeder bands..........
Normally I have a procedure and plan in store for weather like this, and most of it pertains to spillway snook fishing and culvert pipe bass fishing in the midst of the hellacious weather and tornado warnings. But as I pondered this around midnight, I called up my buddy Mike who seemed to have already had another plan in store that I felt the need to get in on for a little bit of change of pace. He said he was going to try to do some Permit fishing a little bit North of us. However he only had enough crabs for himself to go. So with the "crab" tide ending in the next hour, we had to mobilize quick to try to secure some bait to try to hook into some tropic thunder's.
We arrived at the bridge around 1:30 a.m. with rain sporadically coming at us side ways, while I was still able to secure a couple dozen sweetheart sized crabs to try to give this a whirl at sun-up. We didn't know at the time if it was going to matter if they were alive or dead, so we decided to take the high road and keep them on life support in Mikes house until our pilgrimage in the morning.
I awoke shortly after sunrise to a full blown hurricane outside, and on only two hours of sleep I was ready to get some of something. However, when I called Mike to make sure he was awake (apparently he didn't even sleep) he seemed very skeptical of embarking North in this weather. But I wasn't going to have ANY of that. My Grundens were ready and I was already sucking down energy drinks, we were going even if we had to drive through a tornado to get there!
We inched our way North through the squalls and finally arrived at our destination, only to find it completely void of human life...........SCORE! It was going to get ugly out there now, uglier than the sideways rain and 8ft surf pounding away at the structure. The tide was slack when we made the trek out there, and the only thing that was present were massive schools of 2-5lbs jacks that were riding the tops of waves as if they were dolphins in their past life. We decide to lay into about 20 or so to pass the time while we waited for the tide to switch, and to also load up my deep freezer with some fresh shark bait that I have been extremely low on as of late.
Unfortunately, during this time, a massive gap in the weather appeared, allowing for some of the locals to make their way out toward our setup and post up their camps as well, our paradise was now temporarily ruined.
The tide had finally begun to switch, and after two hours it was looking pretty grim, and I was getting ready to pass out over the rail, as the rain had stopped, and the locals were tangling every line they could in the 25mph South wind. I was over the dirty looks from them and the crappy fishing, and wanted to leave. But Mike insisted we stay a little while longer and see if it got any better. So I decided to drag 100lbs of jacks on a rope behind me all the way to the parking lot, while getting many more dirty looks along the way. Now I was getting pissed off and getting ready to snap on some of these people, but decided to get a soda and some Slim Jims and take a breather and walk back out.
As I made my way back to the end, I see three rods bent over and all hell breaking loose! I ask Mike "what the hell just happened?!" He said the guys were tripled up on Reds and Permit!" Oh shit! Better get to it now!" I yelled as I tied up a fresh crab onto my rod. Within minutes of deployment, I started reeling some slack out of my line, which brought my crab to the surface for a moment, and I see a fin and a boil. "Hooked up" I yelled, as a permit literally flew out of the water, and the fight was on. But this one was short lived, as it only took about 4 minutes to whoop this cute little guy and for Mike to get him into the drop net. "Cool, we are on the board, its already a success."
A few more minutes passed and Mike yelled he was hooked up! Double permit in a trip? I'll take that anywhere any day! Yet again this fish got whooped in under 5 minutes and on the deck for a few quick pics and another notch on the belt for the cover boy of the June issue of Florida Sportsman Magazine. However, luckily for us, the rain was coming back, and on a collision course right for our location.
Moments later, I hooked up AGAIN! And decided to put the WOOD to this one. I got this fish to the jetty in under 3 minutes, another one around 15lbs, but while I was waiting for the drop net, I wasn't paying attention and let it knick my line with a piling, oh well, Palm Beach release, pretty much a caught fish in my book. But the weather was now coming, and coming fast....
The storm hit in an instant, clearing out the entire structure, minus one friend of ours who rode it out with us. But this storm was so brutal you could hardly see with glasses on, we were getting pummeled for a good while, all while still trying to pick-up another Permit before our window for this closed.
We missed a couple of bites during the blinding rain and wind, and were starting to think we might be out of business, that was until I saw my 40yds of slack Wonder Braid heading against the wind! I reeled as fast as I could to catch-up with it until I was able to put the wood to the fish on the hook-set. This one had some life in it though! He got in the current and dumped half the spool off my 8000 Stradic that was set nearly on lockdown. I had to fight this one for about 15 minutes, back and forth in the current, and fighting to see in the sideways white-out, until Mike was finally able to net this spunky guy and snap a quick shot before release in the monsoon.
Mike had just missed another one while I was re-rigging, it was now going into overdrive as the rain started to fall harder. My very next bait got SLAMMED within 5 minutes of deployment, and this one decide it was going into the current as well. Now lightning was striking all around us, and here I am pumping the fish in, pretty much trying to break my rod, in an attempt to no longer be holding a 9ft graphite rod offshore in a lightning storm. Well luck was on my side for a change, as the Wonder Braid didn't break, and she was at the jetty. The wind was blowing everything right into our faces, making the netting process borderline impossible, but Mike was able to use some skill and get this pretty girl in the net. And again amongst the blinding rain, one more picture before a rainy release.
The bite slowed down along with the tide and the rain, and the mortals were beginning to make their way back out to the end, so it was finally time for us to call it a day, get dry, and go get some SERIOUS sleep. I had the lucky hand today, but it will be a day I will not soon forget. 5 permit landed and 4 more lost in a 3 hour window during a tropical storm, sign me up every time. At the end of the day we took a page from the Team Rebel handbook, and "Beasted Up" and braved the weather only to find another epic bite. Now I have yet another reason to love fishing amongst Tropic Thunder.
Until next time.....
Team Rebel Out