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Fantastic Fishing

by: Capt. Ray Kelly

Summer is over here on Long Island. Anglers can still get in on the fall run of Striped Bass, bluefish and false albacore on Long Island. Fall fishing is great here on Long Island. But on this adventure, we will head down to Amelia Island, Florida. In August, my son, Christopher and myself, filmed an episode of our television show, ADVENTURES IN FISHING WITH CAPT. RAY KELLY, on Amelia, Island. I must say there is fantastic fishing off of Amelia Island, Florida. There is a large variety of fish in the inshore and offshore waters in that area of Florida, which is just south of Georgia.

I contacted Capt. Ben Evans of HOT TICKET CHARTERS on the Internet and made plans to film Capt. Ben and his crew fishing. Capt. Ben told me that barracuda and king mackerel would be
the main targets for our fishing trips. He said the barracuda are very large at that time of the year. He mentioned that sharks are always prevalent in those waters also.
We flew down to Jacksonville, Florida via Southwest airlines out of Islip going through a severe rain storm in which I thought the jet might go down. I thought that this may be my last fishing trip but the pilot managed to land the plane and before long we were check into our hotel, The Inn at Fernandina Beach in Fernandina Beach which is on Amelia Island.

The hotel was great. It was only 200 yards from the beach. I got up early the next morning and walked to the beach to see Dolphin playing in the surf as well a beautiful sunrise. I was excited about the fishing trip which was scheduled for the next day. 
Chris and myself wanted to check the location of the marina where we would meet Capt. Ben the next day and drove to it. It was a beautiful marina which is owned by the City of Fernandina Beach. I called Capt. Ben that night and he told the fish were biting and we should do well the next day.

The next day, Chris and I met Capt. Ben at his boat, a nice 26 foot Cobia walkaround and you could see it was a fish catching boat fully rigged with outriggers and rocket launchers. I knew we were going to have a great day. Chris filmed the beautiful sunrise as we pulled away from the dock. Capt. Ben explained about the fishing in the area as well as the ecology. I always learn so much on these fishing trips in other parts of the country. Capt. Ben headed offshore about 12 miles caught some live bait by some channel markers. The rods were hooked and baited and before long we were trolling.
It didn’t take long and the right rod was hit by a nice barracuda. Capt. Ben landed the fish with no problem. Shortly thereafter, Ben’s friend, Mark Hardrick, was hooked up and landed his fish also. It was another barracuda. Within an hour four fish were landed and then it was my turn on the rod. I was amazed at how easy it was to catch these barracuda.

The reason was simple, Capt. Ben found where the bait fish were and the barracuda were feeding on the baitfish. I must say, Capt. Ben knew exactly what to do. This was not luck this was an experienced captain at work. I might add Mark was an excellent angler himself. Chris filmed the action and I knew we had a fantastic show filmed.
Capt. Ben headed back to port and said we would try it again the next morning as now we would try to capture a giant barracuda on film. We met the next morning and Capt. Ben again headed out the inlet. As he did he saw some other boats fishing just outside the inlet and asked if we wanted to try for some red drum or sharks. I said that fine with me and in no time at all Capt. Ben was anchored up just outside the inlet and started chumming. Within 15 minutes, a small hammerhead shark was on the line. Mark landed the shark and release it. It should be noted that Capt. Ben practices Catch & Release with most of the fish his clients catch. If the client was to eat it, they can keep it. Another variety of fish hit the line next.
It was a guitar fish which is a cross between a shark and sting ray. It was about two and half feet long and also was released. Capt. Ben battled the next fish which was big. The fight lasted about twenty minutes before we saw that it was a big hammerhead shark of about 4 to 5 feet. The line was cut just above the hook and this amazing looking fish swam away to freedom. Chris was filming this action and I was hoping he would take a break and pick up a rod. I grabbed the rod on the next fish which was another guitar fish. Chris finally reeled in the next fish but unknown to him it was a monster and just pulled line from the reel. Chris was having a hard time getting line back and then thought the fish was caught on something on the bottom. Capt. Ben check his line and said it was big shark or a giant sting ray. Chris battled the fish for over a half hour only gaining a little line. It was at this moment, the other line took off. Capt. Ben picked up the rod and started battling his fish. I filmed the action. I thought for sure Chris would lose his fish but he kept getting line back a little at a time.
Capt. Ben reeled his fish in in about twenty minutes and you could see it was another big hammerhead shark. I was sorry I did not bring any shark tags with us as these hammerheads would have been nice sharks to tag and release. Again, Capt. Ben instructed Mark to cut the line and the shark was released.

Chris was still battling his fish and was getting the fish up off the bottom. Finally the fish was on top and you could see it was a giant sting ray of about 40-50 pounds. Chris was tired but
kept reeling. Mark was able to grab the leader and lift the fish into the boat. We were careful not to get stuck with it’s barb on the tail. Chris posed for pictures and the ray was quickly put back in the water and released. I knew this would be the highlight of the show. Chris and Capt. Ben were both congratulated by myself and Mark.
I told Ben that this was one of the most enjoyable and exciting filmings that we had produced to date. I could tell he was happy. For all you anglers that want to experience some fantastic fishing, head down toAmelia Island Florida and fish with Capt. Ben. You are sure to hook up and have a great time.

Capt. Ben can be reached at 904-321-1668 or call ADVENTURES IN FISHING at 516-744-5951 and we will make the arrangements for you. Don’t forget to check the ADVENTURES IN FISHING website at . AND REMEMBER- "Let’s get kids hooked on Fishing NOT drugs!" 

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