When you're fishing a mystery spot in 720 feet of water, there's no telling what you might catch from the bottom. For angler Chris Charles, he was part of a bite of a lifetime while discovering new fishing spots in seldom-fished Gulf of Mexico waters.
The trip came together last weekend. Along with Brandon Poole, Dan Sheradden and Travis Gourley, the crew of the 33-foot Contender Rezoned ventured out to commercially fish for grouper and snapper while hoping to find new spots in deeper water during a 36-hour trip.
With beautiful weather and calm seas, they first stopped to fish in 210 feet of water.
"We caught big gags, big red snapper, red grouper, triggerfish, amberjack, everything was biting," Charles said. "I made one drop and caught a 42-pound gag grouper then made another drop and got pinned to the rail on a fish I couldn't stop. The bite was on."
Never miss a local story.
After filling up the fish box, they left biting fish to push a little deeper, venturing to a wreck in 300 feet of water. Big grouper awaited once again: A monster from the wreck below took the bait.
"We could see at least four warsaws swimming on the bottom machine. We hooked one for about 8 or 9 minutes before it broke off, probably a 150- or 200-pound fish. We hooked another on the next bait and it broke off, too."
About 30 minutes before sundown, the crew started heading for deeper water, cruising about 7 mph to conserve fuel and get a better picture of the bottom while looking for new spots. It took 16 miles before they saw their first piece of structure 550 feet below. They kept looking, finding two more within 2 miles.
"We pressed out another 8 miles when we ran across a good rock in 680 feet. It was the first one that night to get us excited," Charles said. "We moved out another four miles and found a wreck in 720 feet. It stuck out about 8 feet off the bottom and was surrounded by mud."
The next morning the first baits down would be to the new find in 720 feet. Immediately something bit, and the electric reel was turning back toward the surface.
With four separate hooks came four snowy grouper. The crews excitement came through in a video Charles posted to Facebook.
From there, the crew would fish back toward home after deep dropping on two of their newly found pieces of structure.
Nearly every drop resulted in deepwater surprises.
"The bite was on," Charles said. "We could leave fish biting at one spot and head to the next spot where they would immediately be on again. We didn't realize how good the trip was until we got home and talked about it."
When all was said and done, they would end with about 300 pounds of gag grouper, 270 pounds of red snapper, a handful of new fishing spots and a lifetime of stories.