Fishing Trip Review – Slow Pitch Jigging on the American Patriot
One of the newest boats to grace the waters of the southeast Florida coast is the American Patriot, based out of Hollywood FL and the Port Everglades inlet. The boat is set up for long-range fishing, with The Bahamas set firmly as a destination. But the boat also offers outstanding day trips and some specialized trips for slow pitch and deep drop fishing.
The American Patriot Boat
The American Patriot is a luxury long-range fishing head boat. It specializes in trips around South Florida, the Florida Keys, and The Bahamas. Trips vary in length and destination, as they do in the types of fishing offered. But their slow pitch jigging and deep drop trips are their most popular options. The boat is based in Hollywood, FL, near Fort Lauderdale.
These trips are typically 2-3 days long, or eight to ten hours on the water. Trips to The Bahamas and the Florida Keys typically last three or four days but can go even longer.
The boat itself is immaculate and new-one of the nicest head boats you’ll find anywhere. Wide side decks with easy access run the entire circumference of the deck, allowing anglers to easily move around as they reel in the big ones. The boat is designed with high bulwarks and a sturdy handrail for safety, but nothing is positioned to impede your ability to fish.
All along the side decks, you’ll find perfectly positioned benches to relax and lots of rod holders mounted outboard. The overhead keeps the sun off of you, and you can reposition anywhere along the boat for the best angle from the sun and most comfortable fishing.
You’ll find a huge ice maker and lots of cooler space and bait wells on the aft deck. In addition, there are two large freezers aft and two forward for flash-freezing fish on longer trips.
One of the best spots onboard is the bow, which has high bulwarks all around the bowsprit. It’s a wide-open spot with plenty of space to move around, and it’s the perfect spot to take advantage of the boat’s motion to improve your jigging. From up here, you’re king of the world!
The upper level, behind the bridge, is wide open for those looking for a bit of sun and breeze. Comfortable benches line the deck, and of course, there are plenty more rod holders and places to relax. While the fishings not quite as good from up here, it’s a super nice spot to hang out when in route and running in and out of port.
The main deck salon hosts the interior living space and galley of the vessel. Amenities abound to make your time afloat as comfortable as possible. There are heads (bathrooms) in the main deck salon area on the aft end, convenient to the dining room and the fishing deck.
There is a buffet bar for meal service, which is spectacular. Chef Mike mans the galley to starboard, which has all the amenities he needs to put out spectacular meals. The walk-in fridge and freezer hold enough food for those long trips to keep everyone happy and filled.
Chef Mike whips up some special menus for holidays, like the Valentine’s Day delights he put together. Included on the menu were crab-crusted Mahi, roasted beef tenderloin, and, of course, Key Lime pie! Of course, the menu always features lots of fresh seafood treats along with staples like burgers and fries.
There are also self-serve soft drinks, coffee, tea, and even a soft-serve ice cream machine! The dining area is spacious, with booths to port and starboard. There are six booths and seating for up to 48 people. Big picture windows line the room, so don’t worry about queasiness creeping up on you on those rough days.
The forward end of the salon has a neat sofa lounge arrangement, perfect for getting a little air conditioning and TV in before you hit the bunk for the night.
Speaking of bunks, the lower level of the American Patriot Boat has 38 bunks for long trips. On that level, you’ll also find two full bathrooms with showers. The bunks are arranged in an open layout, with upper and lower bunks. They aren’t claustrophobia-inducing, with lots of airflow and ventilation below decks and open partitions that provide a sense of space yet still give you privacy. If you’ve got a big group, you can easily find some bunks that are arranged so you can hang with your friends. But the berths are designed in a way that allows you to pick out a private corner of your own, too. The showers and baths are entirely private, large, and well-appointed.
Throughout the boat, you’ll be impressed by how nice everything is. If you’ve spent any time at all on head boats, you’ll know that a vessel like this is the exception to the rule.
The American Patriot launched and began offering trips in 2020, so its shiny newness certainly adds to the mystique. But the attention to detail, thoughtful layout, and perfect appointments make the vessel truly unique.
Besides food and berths, rod rentals are available onboard. So, visitors on vacation or anyone without their gear can get everything they need right on the boat.
The boat is 135 feet long and 30 feet wide, and it provides a fantastic ride in even rough conditions. It stops a lot of the worst sea motion. She’s powered by triple Caterpillar C18 diesel engines totaling 3,000 horsepower. She cruises at 14 knots efficiently and comfortably, but the boat will top out at more than 20 knots.
If there’s the perfect location from which to base year-round fishing trips, it’s undoubtedly Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood. Except for a few blustery days in the winter and the occasional tropical system in the summer, the weather is seldom a negative factor for fishing here.
The world-famous Gulf Stream and its fishing glory lie just offshore of Port Everglades, the main inlet into the Fort Lauderdale area. There are dozens, maybe hundreds, of wrecks and ledges teaming with grouper and snappers at the edge of the stream.
Farther offshore, the humps are fabulous fish grounds known only to the big boats. These sea mounds in the Gulf Stream attract all sorts of fish life, and they make an excellent destination for deep drop and slow pitching.
For a boat like this one, Port Everglades is the perfect set-off point for longer journeys. The Keys or central Florida are just a few hours away. Setting off to the east, you can be in Bahamian fishing grounds even quicker.
Generally speaking, shorter trips are the ones you’ll want to take for slow pitch jigging. Trips are typically sold by type of fishing available, which is excellent since every angler onboard will be planning the same techniques, and the captain will find the best spots to match the technique.
Trips start with a safety meeting, covering the standard life jackets and life raft etiquette, along with everything you need to know to enjoy the trip in comfort.
One of the most extraordinary things about fishing on the American Patriot is the breadth of options available. You can reserve short day trips or four-night trips to remote areas away from all the other fishing boats. It’s a great way to travel some miles and see a variety of conditions.
Expert local angler Captain Ralph knows where to take you for the best hits. Any fishing trip like this is subject to weather limits, and the captain has the final say. But, on tough days when it seems like nothing’s biting, Captain Ralph will find the fish.
Captain Ralph’s grandfather started chartering out of Hollywood on the Sea Legs. Offering great fishing trips has run in the family since, and the American Patriot is the family’s newest addition. The boat is specifically designed for four to ten-day Bahamian fishing trips.
On my slow pitch jigging trip, depths ranged from 200 to 400 feet offshore of Fort Lauderdale. The winner of the boat pool was a beautiful 26-pound tuna, but there was also an impressive 14-pound Mutton Snapper and an enormous 20-pound African Pompano. Those were the show-stoppers, but there were also tons of smaller groupers, vermillion snappers, and amberjacks.
Fishing on a boat like the American Patriot can be fun, but it can also be challenging. One thing that makes the trip more enjoyable is learning how to use the size and motion of the vessel to your advantage to improve your slow pitch technique. On the bow pulpit, the motion that even a three or four-foot swell imparts can be pretty impressive.
The great news is that that motion can easily be translated into a beneficial jigging motion. All you have to do is work with the boat’s movement–not against it. When the boat goes up, bring your jig into the upstroke. Let it fall as the boat goes down. This is easy to do from the pulpit, but it can be a little more challenging if you’re on the side decks.
Fishing Trip Review – The Verdict
Fishing on the American Patriot boat is a fantastic experience from the moment you load onto the boat. What a difference an expert crew on a state-of-the-art vessel can make! With the prospect of making trips of varying length, with particular attention to different types of technique trips, and the option of Bahamian fishing, there’s simply no better head boat in South Florida.