Most articles on our blog are informative. The goal of such articles is to help our readers gain more understanding about fishing, boating, and the equipment available. This article is a break from that tradition. What you’ll read below is a true story about a recent fishing trip to Stuart, FL; the sailfish capital of the world.
This was not your average fishing trip. In fact, if the entire trip could be reduced into one word, that word would certainly be an antonym for average.
Imagine having more disposable income than you knew what to do with. I don’t have to ask you to imagine enjoying fishing. That’s kind of a given if you’re reading this. You earned your wealth through the sale of a business you’d worked hard to build. One started out of your garage. Here you are now, a bit older and grayer than before, but well before that point in life when your physical state beings to fail you. You’re young enough to enjoy the fruits of your labor.
What follows is a glimpse into what that life would be like.
Many of us dream of being able to go fishing anytime we want, anywhere we want. Well, all that takes are two things: time and money. Some of us dream of having that boat…that expedition Yacht. It would be big and stout enough, with a 4,000 plus nautical mile range, capable of tackling the world’s oceans. We’d surely plot one course after another. Venturing back onto land for quick flights to visit family and friends for holidays or other special events. Yes, we’d be able to keep in touch with everyone. We’d have our own internet and cable just as if we were on land. The only exceptions may come in the form of a temporary lost or weak signal due to our position in relation to the necessary satellites. Besides brief visits to our land loving family and friends, ours would be life involving visits to the most exclusive, highly coveted, tropical locales; known for being the best locations in the world for whatever species we woke up and decided to pursue. Even for those for which money is not an issue, time on their yacht’s engines and the wear and tear of the trip is a concern. In those cases, yacht transport ships become an option. How much does it cost to ship a 60′ Viking from Stuart, FL to…say Costa Rica? As of December 2017, approximately $48,000.00. One way.
Now, back to the trip that actually did happen. This fishing expedition involved flying to Stuart, FL on a privately owned plane, staying at one of the most well appointed marina’s along Florida’s Treasure Coast, and fishing aboard a 60′ foot Viking meticulously maintained by a dedicated captain and crew.
There are a number of truly beautiful things about private air travel. When does your flight leave? When you get there. Baggage check? Nope. Security line? Nada. Flying with a knife? A firearm? Good for you!
I couldn’t tell you what airport we landed at in Stuart, FL. I can tell you the 236 mile trip takes up to 3 and half hours by car. Our flight consumed less than 50 minutes. Truthfully, I could’ve cared less about where we landed. I was on this trip to catch fish. Not learn about Florida’s private airports. That doesn’t mean you can’t be impressed by the logistical improvements. FYI, flying privately… it never gets old. Never.
It was a smooth landing. Thermals aren’t really an issue during a winter evening. The fuselage door opened. Stairs lowered. A gentleman stood smiling. His hand out to assist with luggage. I learned he was the Captain.
Standing a hair over six feet, he had a youthful, gregarious way about him. A crew cut revealed blond hair. A color I’ll wager came about through years under the sun. Clear blue eyes, an honest face, and an affable demeanor. All the qualities you want in a Captain. None you don’t. His actions revealed a truly genuine interest in ensuring every detail of our trip was taken care of. Every contingency planned for. Every system on the Yacht he commanded, electrical or mechanical, running perfectly.
Of course, one never knows how skilled a Captain is until the vessel leaves the dock. On the water, there’s no such thing as perception being reality. You can’t possibly “fake it till you make it.” You make it. If not, the cost is often much higher than mere loss of reputation.
Luggage stowed, we piled into a large extended cab pickup truck. The Captain parked conveniently a few feet from the plane. So much for walking down a cramped airline aisle made for runway models with full blown anorexia, piling into a trolley, managing not fall down an escalator, or feeling like a sardine in an airport. All just so you can navigate your way to either curbside pick up, or baggage claim.
A 10-minute ride took us to Pirate’s Cove Marina. More importantly, we arrived to board the vessel Aluminator. The remarkable 60’ Viking Sportfishing yacht. She sparkled though the sun had set long ago. Even the moon was absent from the night sky.
As if the vessel alone wasn’t impressive enough, a brand new, custom built 16 ft Dragonfly Boatworks, LLC Emerger model flats boat rested on the expansive bow.
Located in Vero Beach, FL, I learned that the iconic recording artist Jimmy Buffett owns a large share of Dragonfly Boatworks. Given the apparent build quality, I’ll comfortably speculate that Buffet’s involvement is more financial than hands on. I’ll also comfortably speculate that Dragonfly Boatworks has a drug free workplace policy. A potential hurdle of sorts for that certain “son of a sailor.”
Now, back to the Viking. I challenge the most jaded yachtsman to pass by this vessel without stealing a glance; if not a prolonged, jaw dropped, stare. You enter the main saloon is possible by passing through an automatic, push button, sliding door. The door closes automatically about 10 seconds after you pass through. Once through, the interior provides no shortage of eye candy.
In Pirate movies, there’s almost always a scene involving a pile of gold, precious gems, and assorted treasures. Usually revealed in some deep dark cave, after much bloodshed and hardship. I didn’t see a pile of gold doubloons, but I doubt my reaction would have been the least bit different. My eyes absorbed what was both an exceptional feat of marine engineering and a true-life representation of the finest in interior yacht design. Counter tops. Granite. Couches and furniture – where do you find leather that soft? Precious hardwoods gleamed throughout. I wondered how many coats of varnish it takes to create such a glamorous sparkle? Nevermind. I don’t want to know.
My first impression of the Captain proved true. A walk through the Aluminator’s spacious kitchen, well-appointed stateroom, spacious master cabin, and twin guest bedroom, revealed food and drink stocked in an over abundance of supply and variety. You couldn’t have found a speck of dust or dirt if you crawled on your hands and knees with an ultra bright headlamp and magnifying glass. The same could be said for how well kept the engine room was.
The trip to the area where trolling for sailfish consumed about 20 to 30 minutes. Cruising speed was in excess of 30 mph. Trolling speed varied between 6 and 7 knots. We came prepared; trolling 4 hooks, 2 teasers, and two dredges. The hooks were attached to rods equipped with the to hell and back reliable Shimano TLD 25s and 30s. (LThe teasers were controlled by massive electric reels. A control box for the electronic reels could also be found on the second level helm station. Located in the ceiling above the Captain provided him with quick, uncluttered access.
In addition to the Captain was a first mate. This guy ran the show in the stern. He watched every line, every rod, and every school of baitfish; simultaneously. It was as if he had a fish eye lens for vision. The first mate had a powerful build, dark hair cut short, and a full-grown beard. His attire, from head to toe, spoke volumes. A well-worn trucker’s hat, quintessential Costa Del Mar sunglasses with blue 580G lenses, and the ever popular white rubber boots. Despite a heavy Scandinavian type build, his reflexes were on par with an Olympic ping pong player. I’d put him up against the best the Chinese have, any day.
As soon as one of the rods showed the tell tale bend of a sailfish, the first mate yanked the rod from the rocket launcher, yell to the Captain, and jerk back on the rod to keep the sailfish interested. Those of us aboard to fish took turns in an organized rotation whenever a fish was caught. Despite being in the sailfish capital of the world, a bent rod wasn’t a guarantee of catching a sailfish.
Each rod had 200 yards of 40 lb test monofilament on. At http://www.livetofish.com, we sell 104 different kinds of 40 lb test line alone. Overall, we offer 1,789 options for fishing line and leader material.
Reeling in the 200 yards of line was no easy task. Though the Captain would back down on the fish, the drag was set to no more than 8 pounds. This light drag was necessary to avoid a break off. 200 yards of line out, with a game fish on the end, creates a significant amount of stress on the line. What ensued was an extended period of fast paced reeling to recover all the line and prevent slack in the line. You wouldn’t know whether you had a sailfish, or a Bonito, until the fish was close enough to the boat.
There were a fair number of Bonito caught. They’re a smaller relative of the tuna. When caught, these fish quickly found their way down into one of the ice filled coffin boxes. They would be used as bait or perhaps to feed a hungry crew member.
We were after sailfish. To this end, the Captain did not disappoint. We fished for two days with sailfish being caught each day. The second day saw three sailfish caught. Hence, three sailfish flags were raised before returned to our slip.
The sailfish is indeed an impressive species. It’s known as the fastest fish in the Ocean; exceeding speeds of 68 MPH. They are carnivores. Hence, our bait selection of mullet and rigged ballyhoo. At Live to Fish, we sell both artificial and frozen ballyhoo.
We’d fish until about 3:00 PM. With the days starting at 6:00 AM, there were no objections to heading in at this time. When fishing for the entire day, the question of lunch usually presents itself. What to bring is most often determined by what’s easiest to transport. Ready made sandwiches top the list due to the fact that they don’t require any preparation. Lunch on this trip consisted of sandwiches, but they were far from the ready made versions. Fresh deli meats of more types and varieties I can recall filled one of the numerous refrigerated food drawers in the beautiful galley. Fresh deli breads, different types of mustard, and other toppings were all available.
With the setup as it was, all you had to do was sit back on one of the overly comfortable seating areas, waiting for the first mate to shout, “fish on!” Though everyone agreed that this type of fishing in ultimate luxury is something anyone could get used to, there’s something about inshore fishing that will always be more appealing to me.