April 26th 2020 will go down as a day many of us fisherman will never forget. The day started early as we left Jupiter Farms around 6:30 Am. We arrived at the 38′ Sterling at around 7:30 that morning and like any other beautiful day it was pleasant and warm. I checked the windy app one last time and it called for less than one ft and 80 degrees. I fired up the boat after we lowered the lift and loaded up. The guys, James, Brian and Blaine got the boat situated as I started navigating towards Palm Beach inlet. We flew out he inlet and cruised south to Boynton where we decided to target Blackfin and Kings on the reef. We put he spread out and immediately got a hit. After a long battle on the planer we boated our first King of the day a nice 19lb specimen. We reset and kept at it. The bite was a bit slow for what we were expecting but the weather couldn’t have been nicer. The southeast wind picked up a few knots so we decided to try offshore and find the current and maybe find a few Mahi. As we headed offshore it laid down and got flat out. It was one of the nicest days I can remember out there. I was up in the tower and the guys were working the pit hard. We put out the 7 line spread with a dredge on one side and giant squid chain on the other. We reached about 2200′ of water and finally decided to turn around as it was like the dead sea. We decided to put the baits in anyways and start the troll back. Immediately we got jumped on the daisy chain by a nice 10lb Skip Jack. We kept trolling in and I noticed a line of clouds to the north that were lining up very wall like. I kept checking the radar and it didn’t look abnormal compared to most storms at first. A few minutes later we found mahi’s skying out of the water on a scattered weed line so we worked that line for about 25 minutes. The fish just wouldn’t eat the baits which was very strange. As we chased these Mahi’s I started seeing the storm moving at a ridiculous speed all of a sudden. It was no longer a wall but a giant boomerang looking blob of red moving about 40mph straight towards us. We were about 20 miles offshore palm beach at the time and we decided to pull in the baits and try to beat this storm to the south. We picked up and ran about 40kts for almost 30 mins. At that time we realized that the storm was spreading faster than we could drive and moving at us at an incredible pace. In my life I can’t remember a storm move that fast. We stopped and regrouped for a second to make a new plan. We were going to have to punch through it. That was our only chance. We didn’t want to get caught from behind by this monster. After reading the radar for nearly 5 minutes we decided to shoot for a notch in the middle. The storm looked like a giant boomerang and the thinnest part was in the middle. In hindsight it was probably two storms coming together but we couldn’t see that on the radar. So we started out about 25 knots right into it trying to punch through. There was another boat that was inshore of us but we lost them after we turned to run into it. There were also 3/4 other boats out on the sword grounds that we had passed on the way out. I figured most of them had turned to run in before we did. As we began this quest for the other side it started out with some water spouts popping all around us and some sideways rain and lots of lightning. The temperature began to drop drastically and that’s when the hail started. The hail was punishing our eyes as we had to slow from 20kts to about 7/8 to maintain headway as the seas began to build. Brian and I stood behind the helm yelling to each other the whole time which way was straight lol. Neither of us could see very well and we were just trying to stay into it. The winds began to get stronger by the minute and it felt like 65-70mph gusts. The waves built to around 12 ft and there was no space in between them. They were literally stacked up on top of each other. I kept looking back to make sure James wasn’t floating out of the cockpit and Blaine had closed himself in the cabin and took the beating inside the boat. Brian and I just kept talking or yelling because the wind was so strong. The boat wanted to go right the whole time as the wind and waves plus the 4-5 knot current wanted to push us north. I was trying to go almost due west 270 degrees and following the radar and GPS. Thank god for good Simrad electronics and a large boat. After a solid 45 minutes of pounding and not knowing if the next wave had a bottom it finally subsided a bit. The winds backed down to 20-30 as we came out of the back side. We barely gained ground at all with the wind pushing us back as fast as we were moving forward. Basically the storm ran us over as we kept headway. The miracle of it all was we didn’t take a single wave over the bow until after we were out of the bad stuff and James opened the back doors and the water flowed right out. The deck on this boat is flush and this boat doesn’t hold water I had flipped on the bilge pumps several times to make sure they were working but we barely had any water to pump out and they never came on by themselves which was a good sign for us. The boat was never in any danger at any point and we did all of the right things that day. As we finally got our wits about us we still had a long haul back. The guys were freezing cold at this point and I still had to get them in. The seas laid down to 3-4 so we picked up to 35kts again and let her eat. Finally we reached the inlet and the guys were done. My adrenaline was spiked and I wanted to keep fishing but I was quickly overruled. Blaine came out of the cabin and told us about all of the mayday calls. It was so windy and loud in the storm that I couldn’t hear my external speaker for the VHF. Most people wouldn’t believe this story if not for several confirmed boats that were rescued and a few that sank. Thank God as far as we know everyone was rescued. Coast Guard was a welcome sight as we got through the back side of the storm and saw those boys out there risking their lives as usual to save others. As we cruised to the dock through the Palm Beaches we saw the damage that this storm had left behind. Giant flower planters tossed like beach balls across peoples yards and all their patio stuff in the pools and all over. We don’t really know how hard the winds blew that day but I won’t ever forget the cold and hail. The image of those giant waves will forever be ingrained in my mind. Cheers to the next fish story!
Captain Darren Diaz
Pompano fishing has been on fire lately. With the winds finally calming down the pomps have made their usual journey through the treasure coast. I have recently gone down to 25lb floro from my usual 30lb for surf rigs due to clear water conditions. You can get away with 15lb if the waves are very small. The lighter you go the better the bite. Some guys are using 15lb and having great success throwing 4 oz sputnik sinkers on double hook rigs.
I personally throw a 6 oz sputnik with the 25lb setup and 40lb braid. The braid makes a world of difference for spinning reels for distance casting. I typically use sand flea flavored fish bites as they seem to work best but shrimp and clam have worked good lately too. Don’t be afraid to toss a short rod right in the surf too because this year there have been a lot of quality fish right in the break. Look for shoals and sand bars and set up right off the edges of these structures. Good Luck