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|Seas: 2-4 feet||Winds: 10-15 S/SW||Viz: 30 feet||Temp: 79 F|
SUMMER IS FINALLY HERE! Finally a weekend that wasn't under the guise of some kind of work, whether paycheck related or otherwise. Of course it wasn't all honeymoon for me either, at least not at the start. I get a call from a friend Friday afternoon who asks me why we aren't down in the keys shooting fish when we're getting MMS messages from my brother in law with pictures of his 16lb Black Grouper while we're both at work (way to rub it in bro). And while I didn't have a really good answer (mostly because I agreed with him), all we could do was bide our time and hope the weather would hold up for us to get down there too. So I picked up my nephew on my way home from work to bring him down with us this weekend and haul a$$ home to get started loading up and hooking up everything I had to drag down there so my diving season could finally begin. You see in my house, "The Boys of Summer" has nothing to do with baseball.
For me, towing the boat to the keys was the last official sign of the arrival of Summer. We got to the campground around 10:30p (which for me is early as something always seems to delay our departure, but this weekend I was determined) and unloaded everything we could so we wouldn't waste too much time on Saturday. Later however, try as I might, I was just too wound up to get to sleep so I kept unloading and setting things up until I was just too tired and crawled into bed and passed out. It was like The Night Before Christmas...
Twas the night before diving and all through the camp, not a creature was stirring, not even a Scamp (Grouper of course).
The children were all nestled snug in their beds, while visions of 20lb Groupers danced through my head (let's face it, it's about me).
When at 5:30 there arose such a ruckus that I got up from bed to see "What the..." (let's keep it G rated folks).
After everyone got up and we decided what to do, we headed out hoping to out do my brother in law's first day results. As we hit the first spot, I jumped in and noticed the water was a little colder (ok, a lot colder) than I expected it to be for mid-May in South Florida but thought maybe I just needed to acclimate. Our first spot left us quite discouraged as we didn't get but a couple of mangroves that none of us would consider respectable but we would not be dismayed. As we dove our second spot we started to find some more targets but we still weren't satisfied. At the third spot our friend Adrian was the first in the water and the first to strike a very nice mangrove. We proceeded to work the area until we had about a dozen fish in the boat and decided to move on. By the time we finished up at this spot, I was chilled to the bone for some unexpicable reason. Adrian was cold too, but didn't seem to be as affected as I was. A quick driving (that's d-r-iving, not diving) break and some warm sunlight and I felt like a million bucks again. I felt like a reptile the way I was seeking out the sunlight to shake that chill. We hit one last spot hoping for some high tide hogfish but only found a couple (3 actually) worth shooting.
Even though Saturday was not what I would call stellar from a fishing perspective, we had our catch and were happy to be back in the water again. We spent the rest of the afternoon at the local sand bar having drinks with friends and lying (I mean talking) about our day's catch (what can I say, we're all fishermen). We heard from every rod-n-reeler in the park about how they had gone out that morning and everyone had hit dolphin inside 20 miles. As the sun started to dip, our veritable caravan of boats made way back to the campground to make plans for dinner and what we would do the next day. We were so stoked from hearing all the dolphin stories that it didn't take much convincing from Adrian to get us up in the morning and pull out those other sticks with reels on them and go out in search of that wonderfully delicious Mahi.
We headed out around 8:30 with more rods than I even knew we owned (but of course the guns were stowed on board as well) and took that relative South heading looking for those three elusive brethren of the dolphin... birds, flotsam and jetsam. We hadn't even gone 12 miles before we started chasing our first birds and landed some peanuts (small dolphin for you landlubbers). After a couple of hours and a couple of weed lines, we had 19 keepers in the boat. This is when we decided we'd had enough of the rod n reel game and decided to jump in the water at the next sign of fish. So that's exactly what we did and we ended up with almost as many fish by spear as by rod n reel (17 to be exact). By the end of it all we were pretty wiped out and decided to head back in. All this and it wasn't even 1:00p yet!
The water clarity was a little silty and there were a ton of stingers around, but the video still came out fairly clear.
All I can say is two things... "What a great day!" and "Damn, I wish we hadn't put off cleaning Saturday's catch...". It was a ton of work, but a ton of fun too and the exhaustion you feel is that satisfied exhaustion of having experiences that most people only read about in magazines. We were all left wanting for that 50lb bull, but you can't shoot it if you don't get out there, so we've already won half the battle! We'll get him next time.