Each trip is special for different reasons. Always at the heart of these reasons are the families, and Dylan Blair’s was no exception. He brought with him his parents Jeff and April, along with his brother Matthew and sister Carly. They shared with us our first trip using the original Spanish Fly 34 foot Sea Vee that Jose Wejebe ran for years. If boats could only talk! Raymarine, Mercury Marine, Sea Vee and Shimano put a lot of effort into outfitting the boat to top standards. Without even leaving the dock, this trip was already special.
The first morning I arrived at the Key West Harbor Yacht Club at day-break to get final preps done to the boat and tackle for the day ahead. Dylan’s family came shortly after and I told them our plan was to strike out and go for some barracudas, sharks, snapper and anything else we happened to encounter. Each of them seemed completely stoked for the day of excitement in front of us. Dylan looked as if he were ready for battle. He had a mission and was determined to catch some fish!
Soon Krissy and Capt. Kevin Rowley arrived and we started out to the west to a wreck that Kevin knew of south of the Marquesas in about 35 feet of water. We attempted to find some live bait as we cruised down the bar, but the wind was blowing pretty hard that morning. That made it difficult to locate any schools of pilchards in deep enough water for us to reach so we pressed on. As we arrived at our destination we let out the anchor and set the chum bag. We went right into some serious fishing!
It was not long before we were hooked up left and right with some massive barracuda and nice sharks! These fish had some energy because they were putting on an epic airborne show for all of us! There was plenty of noise from us, the reels were screaming, lots of excited conversation and attempts to give Dylan pointers. This is when I noticed that Dylan not only didn’t take any pointers from us, but the young man didn’t need any. He handled every fish like a pro! He was a natural born fisherman!
In the middle of all the cuda and shark action some nice yellowtail and a mutton snapper made it through to the boat as well. We spotted some ballyhoo behind the boat and Kevin was able to load up on them in the cast net. Later on in the day we still had our chum out and Dylan turned to Kevin and I and asked what kind of fish was that mouthing the chum bag? COBIA! Kevin and I lose it attempting to pitch it a bait, and we never could get this one to commit to us. Back in the chum slick we notice a school of 3-5 Cobia just on the surface about 30 yards behind the boat. Kevin casts a line and gets hooked up for a moment, but unfortunately soon comes unbuttoned.
By this point it was late in the afternoon and the wind was continuing to pick up. We high-tailed it back to the dock for a well deserved bite to eat that night at the yacht club, which was great I might add!
The second day on the water was just Dylan his dad Jeff, Kevin and myself. We decided to go offshore after we first head back to that same wreck for some more action. Everyone else had had enough excitement on the previous trip and decided to rest up. Today we were able to load up with more than enough live bait to accomplish our goals for the day.
We headed to the first spot and as soon as we got there, before we could even anchor, a school of 15+ permit briefly surfaced to check us out. They quickly sounded down and within seconds were gone. Moments later we turn and Dylan is hooked up with another huge barracuda. By that time in the trip he was giving Kevin and I pointers! After we landed a few nice fish there, we decided it was time to head to deeper waters in hopes for some different species of fish.
We get in about 200 feet of water and start to live bait chunk to see if we could get any tunas or sailfish up. Within a matter of minutes we had fish busting all around us. We could not tell at first what they were but with closer inspection they were mostly huge yellowtail snapper boiling the surface of the water taking advantage of a free meal from us! We managed to get Dylan hooked up with a couple of nice mackerel as well during the madness. We set up a drift as we tried for some larger fish to show up but they just did not want to cooperate with us.
By late afternoon we all decided to head back towards Key West being fully satisfied with the great action we witnessed throughout the day.
We got back in and everyone shared another excellent meal at the yacht club. Being a part of the fishing community you meet a ton of new people all the time. But as I sat at the table that night with these people I realized how extremely lucky I was to have them come into my life to share this time. This family was one of the most loving, caring, personal group of people I have ever met. I felt as if I were sitting with friends that I have known for years. I can’t begin to imagine what they have been through. In spite of this each one of them had an heart warming personality, especially Matt with his witty comments.
I can only hope that this was an experience of a lifetime for not only Dylan, but every member of his one of a kind family. All of us here with the Jose Wejebe Memorial Foundation enjoyed every single moment with each of them.
Capt. Neil Gryder