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Fun Fishing In Naples
By Allen Walburn

When heading out fishing in the Gulf of Mexico keep your eyes open for opportunities as you go. Recently as we were traveling southwest from Naples, Florida to go grouper fishing aboard the charter boat A&B we happened upon a large flock of seagulls. They working the surface over a school of balled up bait. The ball of bait was a huge school of Spanish sardines and they were bunched up because several species of predator fish had decided to have breakfast.

As soon as we saw the birds working I immediately slowed the boat down and steered towards the school of thrashing baits. As we moved up to the bait ball our first mate rigged two Newell bait casting reels with 1-ounce cripple herring lures. As we came into casting range our fishermen cast the Cripple Herrings beyond the bait and fast retrieved the lures through the school of fish in attempt to induce a strike. Both rods immediately hooked up and the fight was on. We landed two 15 pound bonitos are about a 10 minute fight.

As the fish were being fought, the bait and feeding frenzy moved so close to our boat that we could actually seeing the marauding fish gorging on the sardines. I took my 12 foot cast net and hurled it as far as I could to catch a few of the baits. To my chagrin the few baits turned into over a 100 pounds of fresh sardines. This took a while to clear the net and by the time we were finished the schools of fish had moved on but not very far.

I cranked up the boat and circled above the frenzied fish and again shut down our motor. By now our mate had 4 rods rigged with a short shank mustad hook, baited with one of the fresh sardines. We cast these baits towards the action and were immediately hooked up to not only bonitos but good size king mackerel as well. We continued staying with the bait for quite some time and never did get to our grouper spots. After three hours of non-stop action our anglers said enough and we headed in.

The moral of the story is to keep you eyes open for action and never leave biting fish! For more information on fishing visit Captain Allen's website

Allen Walburn has been a U.S. Coast Guard licensed master of power vessels up to 100 tons for 30 years. He has operated A&B Charters from the Naples City Dock since 1977. Recently he has become managing partner for Alaska's Kodiak Island resort.

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