While anglers in the Northeast anxiously await the arrival of their favorite spring species, a truly unique and first of its kind expedition got underway in Florida aboard the Viking FiveStar this past week. The “East Coast Voyage” is being orchestrated by Capt. Steven Jr. and Captain Bobby of the Viking Fleet as the East Coast answer to the popular long range trips out of San Diego. Over the course of 25 days, the Viking FiveStar will sail from Tarpon Springs, Florida to Montauk Point, dividing this conquest into four unique legs, the first of which has just been completed. Last Monday, the newly christened 65 foot sportfishing vessel set sail from Tarpon Springs and recently made port in Key West on Friday the 19th. In typical Viking Fashion, the first segment of the East Coast Voyage went off with a bang.
Upon departure from Tarpon Springs the afternoon of Monday April 15th, the Five Star began its long steam out into the Gulf of Mexico. The intention was to bottom fish in water depths ranging from 180 to 750 feet of water. At approximately 3 a.m. the following day, the boat reached prime bottom in the shallow water zone. The action at this initial drop proved to be fantastic and yielded a plethora of species which included scamp and gag grouper, vermillion and red snapper, huge amberjacks to 80 pounds, jumbo trigger fish, champagne porgies and a multitude of other reef fish as well as a stray cobia. With regard to the gag groupers, two of them approached the 40 pound mark and a few others were in the upper 20-pound class. Unfortunately the season for gag grouper, along with some of the other species, was closed at the time so these fish were all released healthy after a quick photo session. As night began to settle in, the FiveStar made a few drops for mangrove snappers – no big numbers but all were decent size.
Once darkness had cloaked the sea, Capt. Steven Jr. and Capt. Bobby decided to make a run to 300 fathoms and drift for the swordfish that Florida is renowned for. Within the first hour of the drift they managed to boat and release a feisty pup before the wind came up and effectively terminated the night bite. The blow remained steady through morning with 20-25 knot sustained winds but this did not dampen the day’s deepwater fishing. Everyone on the boat did a bail job on grey tilefish and saw a good mix of queen and black fin snapper, as well as yellow edge and snowy grouper in 750 feet of water.
As morning gave way to afternoon on the third day of fishing, the FiveStar began trolling its way back inshore and picked up a couple blackfin tuna, and a bonita, enroute to the Dry Tortugas. Upon arriving there, they prepared to fish for mutton snapper throughout the night and enjoyed a steady pick from the onset of the bite until the last line was pulled in. This resulted in a deck brimming with prized mutton snapper to 20 pounds and the vast majority of the fish boated falling into the mid-teens. By the conclusion of this snapper frenzy it was 4 a.m. on the fourth day at sea and time to call it a trip.
Overall, Capt. Steven Jr. and Capt. Bobby couldn’t have asked for a better start to their East Coast voyage. Pulling into the dock at A&B Marina in Key West, their first leg had accounted for 35 different species and a staggering amount of fish in the FiveStar’s hold. By the time you read this the second leg will be at or near its conclusion. This will take the FiveStar from Key West on Sunday the 21st and land them in Port Canaveral, Florida on Thursday the 25th. Spots are still available for the third and fourth legs so if you wish to be a part of this once in a lifetime fishing excursion be sure to visit www.vikingfleet.com or call (631) 668-5700 and book your trip while the opportunity still exits. In the meantime, stay tuned for weekly updates on the East Coast voyage.