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So our gameplan was this…leave Charleston first thing in the morning and pick the new boat up from East Cape around midday. Do a walk around, shoot the #$%& with everyone for a while, then head to wherever had the best tarpon fishing going on in Florida. With a massive front full of rain and wind about to slam Florida, we had a single day opportunity for weather.
An update from Graham and Marc that they just filmed and landed a 140lber in the keys meant a straight shot on the Turnpike from Orlando to Marathon. We made a quick stop in Miami to break the motor in while there was still daylight. We splashed the boat on Key Biscayne and ran out to Stiltsville and all around Miami harbor. Highlight was getting stopped by the Coast Guard as they were filming “coast guard Miami”. It was awesome getting to explain to them how we literally just picked the boat up and were breaking it in. No tickets later and we’ll see if we made the cut for the tv show.
So from there, we continued south and made it to Marathon just after midnight. Graham and Marc had a room and a beer waiting for us. Do you realize how hard it is to find friends like that? We parked the boat, tied some flies, and grabbed some sleep. Next morning came and we were off. We spent the entire day covered up in fish. School after school, line after line. We ran oceanside all day in conditions that would have otherwise been un-enjoyable in any other skiff. We ended the day with two eats but no connections but the real fun came when the weather arrived. With tropical storm like conditions Saturday we had no option but to bar hop. We expected clouds Sunday and were horribly disappointed to wake up to sunshine. We slugged through our hangover and decided to splash the boat in a small craft advisory. Winds were blowing 25 knots+ straight down the land leaving us nowhere to hide except in the inlets.
We figured it would be best to see what the boat could do in the absolute worst of conditions so we headed out. There is no way to describe how well the boat ran in this slop. Now I won’t lie and say we came out bone dry or didnt pucker up the butt cheeks every once and a while, but I flat out would not have been out there in most boats. The Vantage ate everything up we threw at it. Oceanside was swelly with a chop on it and gulfside was pure chaotic wind chop from the 25 mph gale. We made about a 10 mile run on both sides and never felt like we were doing something the boat couldnt handle. Running straight into the chop, we were able to easily ride the crests and stay amazingly comfortable. In the following swelly sea, I would have fully expected to stuff the bow a few times but it simply didnt happen. The only thing the boat didn’t do on it’s maiden trip was catch fish for me but due to the conditions it is understandable.
Thanks East Cape.
Southern Tail Charters
Capt. Graham Hegamyer