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Say What? Grouper Fishing with Captain Sean Black

This post was written by Steve on May 10, 2010
Posted Under: Charters,Fish Stories

Ah, spring time in Florida. Mid April is the time to be there, the weather is great and the snow birds are on their way up north leaving lots of room on the roads and in the restaurants for those of us looking to relax. And what better way to relax than by heading out on a fishing charter in the Gulf of Mexico? After asking around we decide to give Capt. Sean Black and the Say What a chance to show us a great time on the water.

Unfortunately it seems that our history of doing things the hard way continues to plague David and me.

Sure seems that way. We arrived on Marco Island on Saturday evening. Steve and I had our full day charter with Capt’n Sean on Monday. Gave us chance to unwind, spend the day Sunday shopping for food (and beer) and general site seeing. The full day charter on Monday would work out perfect! We didn’t have solid plans on Tuesday so we could just relax and unwind by the pool at the house if we liked, fish off the dock, and have fish to eat for the upcoming week.

The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.

Steve with a Grey Snapper

Steve with a Grey Snapper

We talked with Capt. Sean on Sunday night and he suggested that we reschedule for Wednesday. It meant juggling our boat rentals a bit, but better weather on the Gulf is worth waiting for. So we took Monday off and puttered around the island and fished from the dock at the house.

Not such a bad thing,  just hanging around the house. Fishing off the dock wasn’t exactly “trophy time” but fun just the same. But not only did we have to juggle boat rentals (the marina we were renting from wasn’t all smiles) but meals as well since we were planning on having fresh fish that we caught during the week.

Tuesday night rolls along and I give Capt. Sean a call to confirm everything for Wed. morning and he says those dreaded words, “I was just about to call you”. Crap. I hate when people say that. Those words are usually followed by a variation of, you’ll never guess what happened, or, you aren’t going to like this.

Capt. Sean broke his boat. Seriously. I think he’s been reading our blog and wanted to screw with us. Unfortunately for him he broke a shaft and lost a prop while in the Gulf on Tuesday with another charter. The good news is that the marina says that they can have him back in the water by 4:30 on Wed. and we can go out on Thursday. Another phone call to the marina we are renting our boat from to change our schedule with them, again, and we are set for fishing on Thursday.

Now the marina is really not happy since they lost another day’s boat rental. But they did end up with 2 out of the 3 days anyway.

Thursday morning rolls around, weather is gorgeous and we were all primed for a day out on the Gulf Fishing. We met Captain Sean, and his deck hand Captain Ron, this morning. Unfortunately, there were still a few things that needed to be done to the boat so we were about an hour late going out. No matter, what’s an hour in the grand scheme of things? Out to the Gulf of Mexico we headed while chatting and getting to each other a bit better on the way.

It turned out that I would have loved to have that hour back.

We traveled about 45 minutes to our first fishing spot and got out the light tackle to fish for some live bait and see what was up with the water. BAM! Right off the bat Dave and I caught a few small groupers and then the sharks showed up. Way too many sharks so we were off again. Switch to heavy gear and start looking for grouper at around 75 feet. We were using frozen bait, squid and pin fish.

None of us had fished with circle hooks before so we were on a sharp learning curve for getting the fish hooked up and to the surface. We all missed fish, but the fishing was very hit or miss. So every hit that we missed was a huge let down. We did have a few big hits. We are leaning toward goliath grouper hitting the line based on how hard they hit and went straight down. This was really hard on Diane, it was all she could do to hold on to the pole and yell for help.

This leads me in to a common complaint with every charter we have ever been on. Not enough training before we try to fish. I’m not saying we need to spend half the day learning to fish, but spending an hour in the morning on light gear learning how fish the local waters would have made the day a lot more enjoyable, especially for the girls. Poor Vicki spent much of the day just wondering why she wasn’t catching any fish. This isn’t a direct complaint at Capt. Sean, but a complaint on the way the industry as a whole treats charters. Especially with vacationers who are fishing the waters for the first time.

Also to add, every Charter has (or better have) fishing belts. You can put the handle end of the rod in the slot of the belt, grab the rod higher up for better leverage and have a free hand for reeling. Now I wished I would have had one later in the day, but at the very least, it should have been automatic for our wives. Why we weren’t set up with these only Capt’n Sean knows.

The View

The view for much of the day

Capt. Sean worked very hard trying to find fish for us. We put a lot of miles on the boat running from spot to spot, so I can’t fault him for not trying. And while Dave and I understand the need to find the fish, I know that Diane and Vicki were both getting tired of hearing, “pull em up we’re moving”.  At some point it would have made more sense to just stay put and fish for whatever was there rather than spend half the day running from spot to spot.

I echo the same sentiments. Captain Sean worked very hard to put us on fish… 5 star hard. I don’t know the waters… he does… and came with high praise from several people. But I tend to agree with Steve, as the day waned, it would have been nice to simply get on some fish, hang around a bit so we all could enjoy “catching” a little bit more. Who knows, perhaps a couple extra for cooler.

Remember when I mentioned I wished I had a fishing belt? Well, on the way back in, we stopped at our last spot for the day… a wreck. Point #1… when fishing a wreck, would be nice for the Captain to tell us and let us know a bit about “how” to fish a wreck.

We weren’t there very long, something grabbed hold of my line, then proceded to go straight down… fast. It was all I could do to hold on to rod with both hands watching as line raced of my reel. The whole time, Captain Sean was hollering “Get it Up! Get it Up!” (This is the part where the belt would have been VERY handly) Sadly, whatever it was, got into the wreck and was gone.

A very short time after that, same thing. Me, clutching my rod with both hands for all I was worth while line raced out. “Get It Up! Get it Up”… then nothing. Upon reeling in, the end of the line had the tell tale signs of a knot that failed. It happens. It wasn’t until after the fact, when I specifically asked Captain Sean if I should have increased the drag, that he told me that I should be using my thumb on the spool to slow the line going out. Point #2… would have been nice to know this before hand, at the very least, before the same thing happened a second time. Now I know.



It sort of sounds like we are beating up on Sean, and we really aren’t. It’s just the nature of charter fishing, a nature I would love to see change a bit. Maybe even start off the day with just asking the client, is your goal a full limit or to just catch fish and have fun? In our case it would be to have more fun even if it meant not hitting our limit. That said, I hit my limit 🙂

I need to chime in here. Not beating up on Captain Sean. I would definitely charter him again. But as Steve pointed out, it’s simply the nature of  charter fishing. I learned a lot about ‘how’ to fish just not quite soon enough. I’m a better fisherman than I was because of our trip.

If you find yourself down in Southwest Florida, and looking to do some Gulf of Mexico fishing, you could certainly do a LOT worse that Capt. Sean Black and the Say What? Charter. I’m pretty sure we are planning to use him next time we are down there, unless someone wants to volunteer to take us out for free in exchange for a little review here on Lunker Links.

I’m just sayin’

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    Reader Comments

    I’m a fishing guide in michigan. As much as I love catching walleye’s. I’m very interested in salt water fishing some day. Thanks for sharing all the details.

    Written By ernest miller on May 12th, 2010 @ 7:53 pm

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