Devon called me on Friday and asked if he/we could take his Uncle, Al Godding, out on Saturday for his 56th birthday. Sure, no problem, Uncle Al is always welcome as long as he brings me a pouch of his dehydrated mangos. Al retired from the Fire Dept. about a year ago and has become a full fledged fishing maniac who is now a permanent member of the “fun trip” team on The BEAST.
We didn’t want to leave real early, or too late, so we agreed to meet at the dock at 7 AM. After leisurely loading the boat, we finally untied the anxious BEAST. Our first stop was one of our bait spots. We caught a few Hardtails but they weren’t there as good as usual so we pushed on to Spot #2. There we found a few more and had enough in the livewell to satisfy us. OK boys and girls, let’s go see if we can fill the starboard well with some worms! I slowly pushed the throttles down and climbed to cruise speed. We were off like a herd of turtles.
We ran the patch reef waters to one of our favorite spots, only to find a couple of guys diving. NO flag on the boat and only one small dive flag in tow behind one of the guys, that kept turning upside down in the water. Smooth move, Exlax! That’s a good way to get yourself killed! We idled out of the area and pushed on to another patch.
Arriving at our “dink ‘hoo” spot we set out the chum bag and after a very short while we started to get the bait up. The dinks were there and we caught several on hook and line, then I got out my 10′ Calusa net and whacked ’em! We topped of the tank with a few more hookers and went on our way. The forecast was for S winds at 5-10 with a 30% chance of rain. Yeah right! So far we have spent the entire morning in light, drizzling rain with winds out of the ENE at 10-15. Occasionally, we could peel off our jackets for a few minutes. The only thing in the forecast that was correct was the seas at 2′ or less. Meteorologists are the only people I know of, that can be wrong 75% of the time and still keep their job!
We deployed our first baits at 10 AM to start our day. I don’t think it was 15 minutes and Bada Bing, we had our first customers. A pair of Dolphin came in and busted up the spread. Al was hooked up to a bull and Amy had the cow on her line. They were not that big but very respectable none the less. After several minutes of playing over/under with the rods the fish came to the boat. This duo fell side by side into our fish box. The bull weighed in at 15 pounds and the cow was 9 pounds. The dinner bell was already ringing and the day had just begun.
We restored the spread with fresh bait and Al broke out those dried Mangos. Man, they are good! We started talking about what we wanted to catch and someone mentioned Cobia. Well, let’s not get carried away with our wish list. As if on cue, the down rigger blows off and the line makes a short fast run. Amy was almost duped into believing the fish had gotten loose when the line came tight on the surface. What the heck! As if it were summoned, a Cobia comes into view. No way! We were just talking about that! Amy boats the Cobia and although it was a few inches short of legal it was a Cobia on the boards. Uncle Al held the fish overboard for about 5 minutes until it regained its composure and then he let it swim off! Nice job Amy, and pretty work on the release Al.
The downrigger was reset and began to get a workout. We caught a couple of “Snake” Kingfish and then a Cero Mackerel too. The Kings were all in the 5-6 pound category but that’ll work! We managed to grab a Caribbean Spotted Mackerel (Cuda) during this spree as well. During all of this, Al had broken out a speed jig and managed to jig up a Red Grouper!
BAM! The downrigger gets rocked and the line is screaming! Alright. What do we have now? Amy grabs the rod and gets a short fast run again, then it suddenly gets that heavy, sluggish feeling. Sharked? She tells us that the line is heavy, but no telltale movement. When the leader arrives at the surface we see a portion of a nice Kingfish. Look at that! Of course the nicest King gets nailed by a Cuda! A dog eat dog world out there, I tell ya! The remaining front end still weighed 10 pounds.
Once more a bait gets hammered by a nice Dolphin and Devon works the fish. The fish appears to be larger than the other 2 we have in the box. Things are going well and Devon is doing his thing when suddenly, for some unknown reason, the fish comes unpinned and gains his freedom. Tough luck Bro! We can’t catch them all. Right?
After this short but sweet feeding spree, we fell into a lull and continued searching for the mysterious 70% of sunshine as predicted by our mistaken forecasters. So far we had only found that 30% chance of rain. Trying to spark up a bite, we dropped the downrigger much deeper. I noticed a bite, but it didn’t trip the clip. Devon picked up the rod to check it, popped the clip, and said there was something on it. When it came to the surface we were surprise to see that a decent Yellowtail had eaten the ‘dink’ ballyhoo. The slow period continued which triggers Devon and Uncle Al to, once again, begin working the speed jigs. A strike here and there and Al manages to catch a couple of Mutton Snapper, almost back to back. Mmmm Mmm! Al is smelling that crab stuffing as he puts the larger Mutton in the fish box. Nothing goes to waste with Devon and Al. They will eat fresh fish 4 times a week, when available to them!
Time has run out! We needed to quit fishing and head in between 3 and 4 o’clock so Al could get cleaned up for his B’day dinner that night. With plenty of edibles in the box, we pulled lines, stowed gear, and made tracks for the barn. As we harnessed the BEAST to her lair, we recounted the trip. We had a V-8! A variety of fish equaling 8 different species, not counting bait types. We always seem to enjoy our casual, laid back, ‘fun trips’. More often than not, the outcome is catching, not fishing!