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A Day with Bouncer Smith
#1
A friend in New Port Richey, Gary, belongs to the Virginia Anglers Club. One of the clubs requirements for "Master Angler" is to catch a billfish on a 8# flatline. To accomplish this, he booked a days fishing with Capt Bouncer Smith, a legendary sailfish captain in Miami, and asked me to accompany him as a "Coach" I have known Bouncer for 30 years but had never fished with him and jumped at the chance. Gary also invited another common friend Tom, who has never caught a sailfish. We left New Port Richey on Tuesday AM and arrived in Miami about 3:30PM After checking into our motel, we went to Miami Beach Marina to check out Bouncer's boat, a 33 Dusky with twin 225 Rudes, and then to Capt Harry's Tackle Shop where both of my two friends experienced a re-embodiment, having never sen such a tackle store outside of Outdoor World/Bass Pro or Cabelas. We then proceeded to one of my favorite Cuban restaurants, Havana Harry's for a great dinner. After picking up lunches for the following day, we returned to the room and put together Gary's 8# rods and reels, tied short bimini's and preset the drags for 2.5 pounds.


Arriving at the Marina at 7:30, we were met by Bouncer, his mate Sherman, and a brisk 15-20 MPH NE wind producing 4-6' seas. Bouncer asked if we were sure we wanted to go in spite of the windy and lumpy conditions and no one said "no" so we loaded the boat and off we went to catch bait. We caught about 100 large horse 6"-8" pilchards and threadfins and took off out Government Cut. Once we cleared the Cut, Bouncer brought the boat down and asked if we could take the conditions, as he was preparing to run 25 miles South to fish around Triumph Reef. Seems he had reports of green water off Haulover to the North and lack of current straight off of Miami, but had a report of a screaming North current the previous day around Triumph. Again, no one waived a white flag so we ran South thru Biscayne Bay to Lewis Cut and easily made it to 135'. We dispersed 2 8# flat lines and flew a Extra Heavy wind kite with 2 20# rods.

Within 5 minutes after getting the lines set, one of the 8# rods gets hit and is picked up by Gary. Very shortly after the first hit, the second 8# rod goes off and Tom picks it up. While these two friends are fighting their fish, we look at the kite baits and there are two sailfish on these baits. One of them ate a bait and I picked up the 20# rod and I'm on. Right after this hook-up, Gary's fish (don't know what it was) comes unbuttoned and Bouncer starts chasing Tom's fish while I'm loosing line to mine behind the boat. After a while, Tom's fish goes straight down, causing Bouncer to slow enough so I could gain back enough line to actually land and tag my sail. Then Tom's fish starts to head toward Bimini, both high and low in the water column. After about an hour, the 8# line decides to part. We all believe it was a yellowfin tuna as several in the 80 pound class had been caught in the Miami area in the previous several days and the rod tip exhibited the typical thump, thump of a tuna.

After regaining our position and deploying only the 2 8# flat lines we started to catch some dolphin. Great dinner fare, but not the billfish Gary needed. While Gary was fighting one of the dolphin, his second rod goes off and we see a sailfish jumping on the end of the line. I ran and took the dolphin rod from his hands while he grabbed the rod with the sailfish.. Then the unbelievable happened, a second sailfish started to jump. It was also on his line, but actually wrapped in the thin 8# main line. These two fish came right to the boat, but the leader was just out of reach when the line parted.

We were back to 2 8# rods being deployed and catching the sporadic dolphin (It's a bitch when I complain about catching the wrong specie, isn't it?Rolleyes ) but in the middle of this dolphin bite, a sail picked up one of the baits and Gary is finally hooked up on his fish. Now Gary, to put it nicely, is elderly, in need of a knee replacement, and is stumbling all over the cockpit in the heavy seas, but he finally plants himself in the port corner of the transom and I get behind him to brace him. Bouncer did a great job in maneuvering the boat and after 10 minutes of some really fancy boat work, Gary has the leader in the rod tip, constituting a "caught fish." Another 5 minutes, and the fish is actually billed, tagged, and photoed. Mission accomplished!!Big Grin

We return to our position and this time deploy two kites, with 2 20# rods on each one and a 15' sea anchor to slow our drift from 150' into 90', but manage only several more dolphin, a couple small kingfish and a very nice cero mackerel. All the macks were released and we had caught enough dolphin for the three of us, but Sherman stated he cold use a couple for himself and some friends, so we continued boating the larger of the many we were catching, and releasing the smaller specimens, all the while hoping for another sail to appear for Tom, but it was not to be. We pulled the plug about 3 PM and arrived back at the dock at 4. After cleaning the dolphin and settling out account with Bouncer we returned to the motel for a quick shower.

I then treated both my friends to dinner at the famed Miami Beach Rod and Reel Club. where I was a member before moving to New Port Richey. Wednesday is their meeting night and there is a sit down dinner served at every meeting. This club was formed in 1923 and the Club rules are the basis of many of the rules of the IGFA. There are a lot of very nice fish mounts scattered throughout the clubhouse including several fish that were world records at the time they were caught, as well as a lot of very interesting photos of various members. The clubhouse itself used to be one of Al Capone's nightclub hangouts and you can even see his house from the dock. Dinner was great, but sleep came early.

The following day we drove back home, stopping along the Tamiami Trail (US 41) to fish for tarpon and snook, without success, and stopping a second time at the new Outdoor World/Bass Pro in South Ft Myers for the purchase of several items we could not do with out. Good end to a great trip.


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#2
Great report, Jack. For those on the board who don't know, Bouncer Smith is legendary in south Florida. I remember listening to him on Mike Raneiri's program on IOD probably thirty years ago. Jack, has he gotten his weight down to a manageable level? I know he was waay too big back a ways.

Congratulate your friend for me on becoming a master angler. I'm still down at the baiter level.

~~Greg~~
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#3
You make the rest of us drool./////////Dan
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#4
Sad One day--- one day----one day I WILL get a billfish...

But good on you guys...Big Grin
There is always one more bottle of BatJuice to be drunk, one more woman to admire, and one more fish to catch before you die! Smile
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#5
Thanks Jack, that was better reading than any of my sport books.

My first Sailfish was off Mexico in 1954 it took less than 15 min. to bring it
in cause the Mex. captain chased it down. 110lbs.

Next day I hung into a Striped Marlin, told the Captain not to chase it that
I would do the work, he reached over and turned off the motor.
1 hr 35 min. later, with my arms about to drop off we landed it and I said
let go in. 140lbs.
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#6
Greg..
Bouncer lost about 150 pounds several years ago but sadly has put it all back on. Doesn't effect him noticeably in the cockpit, but then it's not hard to move 12'

Don..
Atlantic sails are a lot smaller than pacific, averaging 35 pounds. but when you are fishing very light tackle, you have to run them down. We had the drags set at 2.5#'s. The sailfish tournaments in Miami are all 20# tournaments. in the Keys, they drop to 12# and make it more fun.
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#7
Great report Jack.I like the picture of you hanging on to your buddys and looking at the camera at the same time.A Classic for sure.Rusty
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#8
Sorry to hear that, Jack. That can't be healthy. BTW, what sort of gear was used for the 8# stuff? Was it normal 8# class rods & reels..spinners? Or was it larger gauge stuff loaded with 8# line?

~~Greg~~
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#9
Rods were 8# offshore type, lots of tip but heavy butt section for lifting. Reels were a Penn Int'l 6 (they don't make these anymore) and 12, a FinNor Ahab spinner and a Penn 7500 Spinner.
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