Well this trip was really my first of the season…yeah late, tell me about it. With all that has been happening, the work travel and weather it seems the fish gods are conspiring to keep me from fishing my own boat this year. But, we had a great trip to Travis before, and some good tourney fishing on other boats. So, I really needed to get going on my fishing season aboard Jefe’s Revenge.

My crew this morning was Scot Van Alstine and Ray Yarborough. Scot and I met Ray at 288 and Hwy 6 as usual and trucked our way down to Freeport. As we approach Buc-ees store, it looks like today is the day everyone has chosen to get things really cranked up on the fishing season. The place is packed. There are trucks, boats and fishermen everywhere. So we expedite our stop, I send Scot and Ray to get bait and Ice and food and whatever else they can think we need. I started prepping the boat, loading rods, and coolers, and the ice and bait. We get though the crowd at Buc-ees in record time and boogie to the ramp about 30 minutes ahead of my normal schedule. As we pull up to the ramp, the situation gets worse. Even at 0500 there is an 8-boat wait. Great, but all we can do is wait and watch as several of these idiots decide it is a good idea to prep their boats at the ramp, “oh hell Bubba we forgot to load everything up, so let’s stay in everybody’s way trying to pull our heads out of our asses.” OK, so maybe I have a little pet peeve about the boat ramp . Finally about 0600 we get to the ramp, launch and head for the open waters of the GOM.

As we motor out past the Jetties, there are some rollers close to the beach, but no chop and Jefe’s Revenge easily motors out at 40 MPH. Everything is going great; the sunrise is spectacular, with reds, oranges, purples and blues. The water is cappuccino colored, so we’ll need to run far for clear water (I like running far ). Finally, life is looking good. Then we hit a snag ; remember those fish gods I talked about, well they decided to mess with ole Jefe. As I top one roller, Scot spies a cluster of debris dead ahead, I reacted pretty fast, but still caught the stern on the debris and go right over it. I’ll refrain from mentioning all the expletives I said at the time . With the luck I have been having lately, I feared the worst. Great, my first real trip with the new motors and this Shi….Stuff, happens . We stopped and checked the lower units, and thankfully all was OK, but my fish finder was no longer working….we had torn off the transducer. Transducers are not cheap to replace, but we are still seaworthy. Plus I know these waters and where we are going, so I point her south and try to push the throttles through the dash panel.

We got to the Seneca Rig about 8 miles out and started our drifts, but the water was pea green and we had no luck. So we moved out further looking for better water, we tried the Anadarko Rig; no luck and Wacker Rig; no luck. Water at all these spots was not very good and it is not a resounding beginning of the season. Spool ‘em up boys; time for a big run so we motored out to GA 393 still looking for good water. When we get out there the water looks much better and we start or drifts with the free lines looking for Kings. All the time we are fishing for Kings, Ray and Scot both had a deep rig set for Red Snapper and were hauling in one to two on every cast. Unfortunately, all the ones we caught were slightly too small for the Federal & Texas game laws. This is when we noticed the dive boat. I had not noticed it before, due to all the other boats tied up around it …fishing. Madre Adios, these divers were right in the middle of about 20 lines. I’m not sure who was the bigger idiots, the divers, or the guys fishing right around them. SO, I decided to change tactics. We brought in the deep lines, and decided to run out further to GA-A50 to look for Amberjack. We saw some hardtails moving around the rig and tried in vain to catch some for bait. We had little luck, until a Good Samaritan, who had been catching them every cast, gave use a couple of new lures. We finally got a few hardtails on board and, once again headed south.

Once at A50, we set up the AJ rig and ran a hardtail down with Ray on the rod. Scot kept up the Snapper vigilance and actually caught a few Keepers. Our first hardtail, yielded nothing, and was dead when we checked him, so we re-baited and went down again. After about a minute, Ray said he felt a little bump in the line, we waited a little longer, then checked it and I was amazed. The hardtail was gone, except for a section about 3 inches square right around the hook that looked as though it had been cut out with a knife …..Had to have been a cuda, but I have never seen such precision before. I thought it might be a diver still mad about the situation at 393, but no dive boats were in the area.

Ray and Scot finally caught a juvenile AJ each, both about 2 inches too short…..Story of my life….by then it was 1400 and we were 50 miles from the beach. So, I put them each in a beanbag on the floor, pointed the Big Dog north, wound her up, and started for home. We were making 55 MPH…..50 minutes to the Freeport Jetty. I love this Donzi .

As is now custom, Scot and Ray promptly fell asleep and I was hunkered down at the helm until we were about ½ mile from the jetty. Things started getting rough so I backed off the throttles. That woke up my crew, and Scot noticed a Boat dead astern about 500 yards back with blue lights going. He yelled at me to stop and we waited for Johnny Law and his 27ft Boston Whaler to catch up. He was not real happy at first, he thought we were running from him. He had been chasing us from the nine-mile Texas state waters line, and was getting his butt kicked while not being able to catch us. He was really curious about the beanbags, and I explained how my Cajun buddies had shown me that trick. I also told him that, at 55 MPH, I could care less what was behind me. So he calmed down very fast and we had a good laugh about the situation. He had a 20-something female “intern” aboard, who seemed to like the lines of Jefe’s Revenge (or maybe she was looking at me), so I told him I had the number to Donzi Marine if he wanted to get a boat that wouldn’t be left in the wake. Then on second thought, having a boat that can outrun the law is not really a bad thing .

We loaded up, cleaned the boat and headed for home. Nothing for the freezer, but still a good shakedown, and it looks like the new motors are doing OK (so far….knock on fiberglass). Good crew, welcomed anytime. Thanks gents for dealing with me getting back into the swing of things.

Tight Lines