Guide Story - Capt. Jason Gabriel

My name is Capt. Jason Gabriel. I'm the owner and operator of Boneafide Fishing Charters in the Lower Florida Keys. I've been fishing down here since I was about four years old. Grew up in South Florida. Had a passion for light tackle and offshore fishing. I got on the water at a very young age and just loved every aspect of angling. Spin, fly, conventional. I just love to put my friends and my family on fish and the passion grew to where I could actually do this for a living which is the greatest job in the world.

There's a lot that goes on behind the scenes, but it is one of the greatest jobs in the world. To be able to wake up every day and do what you love to do. It's really not a job. I always tell my wife if I ever lose the passion, it's time to move on to something else. But as long as I have the passion and the drive, I'm going to keep doing it. 

What we basically did this trip is what we call running and gunning. We ran offshore looking for birds. Looking for weed lines. We'd find a school on the troll, get them to eat the troll baits and then we'd switch over to the light spinners with chunks and live bait. We'd bring them up behind the boat, and keep them interested by chumming them. My wife has a chum bag in the water and keeps them going, keeps them eating, keeps them happy.

Sometimes we get good schoolies, sometimes you get a 30, or 40, or 50 lber that shows up. Then it gets fun, especially on light-tackle. Wyler got a nice big fish on a light rod, 8-17# test and that was a lot of fun. It went around the boat I don't know how many times.

And then when you're coming back on the boat from a great day offshore and the box is full of green, you stop in on the reefs and target some nice muttons, groupers, yellowtails, AJs, by-catch of sharks. There's a plethora of fish down here in the Florida Keys.

The main thing is don't waste your fish. You want to vent the fish you're going to release. Purge them and get them down there nice and healthy because this is tomorrow's stock. We kept a couple of these for dinner. Just enough to send the boys home some dinner, but I practice catch and release a lot. We released I can't tell you how many dolphin, and it's just tomorrow's catch. It's our grandkids' fish. So the longer we keep the stock going, the better we're going to be down here.

When it comes down to other people that are conservation minded and that want to see our fishery grow. I think it's getting better and better every year. So we had to raise the Mutton Snapper limit. I think we should drop the Mutton Snapper limit from 5 per person down to 2 or 3 per person. I see a lot of people coming back from the Tortuga trips and it's just rape and pillage, rape and pillage, rape and pillage. That area right there is the breeding grounds for everything. If they start depleted all that, the trickle down is going to be enormous through the Keys. So you gotta think about that over a period of time.  

It all plays into it. It's all about the water quality. It's all about the trickle down effect. What's happening with Lake Okeechobee. We're seeing those affects down here. We're not emit from those affects just because we're an hour and a half away from Florida Bay. Because the water comes down through the 7-mile and out onto the reefs. We should have had 10-12 Mutton Snapper, but the bad water quality will push them out a little deeper. I think it's all trickle down. It absolutely is.

Getting back to the Mutton Snapper. We're coming off the spawn right now from the May and June full moon. But the fish are still down here. We didn't have a lot of current, but we were free lining. Sometimes we were using little baby chunks and sometimes they were a little bit bigger pieces. These Mutton Snapper are some of the strongest fish on the reef besides the Cubera Snapper and the Grouper. These fish are great table fare. My wife is a chef, so we eat well as you can tell. 

 I'm very fortunate. I've only spent nine days away from my wife in all the years we've been together. When we got the bigger boat, I searched high and low for a dependable mate that would do it with passion and do what she does. I just couldn't find one. She mates for me full time, and also takes care of me. She's great with the table fare and she makes some of the most amazing dishes that I've ever had. She does it all from the cleaning table to the dinner table and everything in between.

We eat fish probably six to seven nights a week. At least as an appetizer or for a main course. There's no lack of good seafood down here. But also sustaining the fishery is a very important thing. I've been blessed with having a wife that's amazing all around. Whether it's getting up at 5:30 in the morning, icing the coolers, getting the live well full, loading the bait, pulling pinfish traps. I've been blessed to have her in my life and as a partner in my business. I've just been the most blessed person on the planet. 


Fish Better. Fish Florida.