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June 18-19, 2011 - Monster snappers!

Bob Diaz | SpearBlog 2011 | June 21, 2011 | Print
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Seas: 1-4 feet Winds: 10-15 S/SE Viz: 25-30 feet Temp: 84 F

After last weekend and the good luck we had with finding the large mangroves, we decided early on that this weekend we would focus on doing more of the same as we talked during the week. We also knew that we only had Saturday to fish since Sunday was Father's Day and even us dads have dads, so we knew most everyone needed to depart early Sunday to spend time wth family. With only one day to dive, I was hoping to arrive early on Friday to get a couple of things done so as not to take too much time away from fishing on Saturday with boat work even though I needed to address my trim problem on the port motor.

The forecast was modified late Friday after calling for 1' seas inside the reef all week up to 1-3' inside and 2-4' seas outside the reef with 10-15 mph SSE winds. Even though the update was closer to the actual conditions, at least for us, the actual conditions were closer to 2-4' inside the reef with the winds 10-20 from SSE. The water clarity seemed pretty good as we came out of Hawk's Channel, what we typically call a "Clean Green". Even in 25-30' we could see the bottom but we couldn't see the thermocline that was lying in the bottom 4-5' of water. The thermocline was very green and considerably more murky than the blue water above it. This thermocline was making pursuing the fish somewhat difficult but not impossible. It was nice to have a thermocline that was actually warmer instead of one that's so cold it makes it difficult to hold your breath. 

Either way, we started heading in the same general direction as last week, hoping to hit some of the spots in between those that we did fish on last week. We started out heading for #25 but found someone fishing right on it. It's totally amazing to me that with all the water there is that it's actually possible for someone to chance on the exact same spot that we have been fishing for years. Granted, that's how we found it but the odds should be against the same thing happening again based on the sheer vastness of the water. But I digress... So we turn off to a close spot hoping to be able to come back and hit this one a little later because of course, we're sure they're not landing the big ones with rod n reel that we would be spotting underwater :).

So it's off to 67, then 8 and back to 25 then 63 (The Horseshoe) and 36 and finally 16 (The Clumps) and The Staghorn (who says this fishing stuff is easy?). Believe it or not, by the time we got to the staghorn, half of us were nearly done diving with one type of equalization issue or another. I personally had my right ear pinch on me so badly that I was equalizing from the second I inverted to the time I touched bottom. This certainly didn't work wonders for my bottom time! That and the fact that we had only landed about a dozen or so mangroves so far (all very respectable size including one monster that my brother in law landed) but nonetheless a little less than encouraging for 6 fishermen (counting my son who was also with us today). 

My brother in law and I are the first two in the water with my brother in law just a second or two ahead of me. Just long enough for him to yell out "Monsters!" as I'm getting in to join him. As I peer towards the bottom, I see a huge school of monster mangroves running towards me. I immediately drop as fast as I can (pinched ear and all) give chase to the nicest mangrove that doesn't give me the slip and take the shot... Bobby 1, mangroves 0. If you've seen the video in the video library of the staghorn, you would know that the snappers on this spot love to hide in that rock, so I immediately head over to it and wait for the fish to start showing up. Sure enough, they do and I start picking them off as they show up. Some just hiding from the commotion and some hiding with wounds from tearing off my buddies' shafts. Either way, I'm-a pickin' and-a grinnin'.

 As my ear is closing up to the point where I will probably go deaf again and I know I should stop, my brother in law tells me and Adrian that he's had a large mangrove hole up in the smaller hole on the staghorn but he can't equalize to go down and fight it out. So Adrian and I proceed to take turns diving and wrestling this fish out of its hole for the next 5-10 minutes with both of us having trouble equalizing as well. While we're doing this for him, my brother in law spots a very respectable grouper and apparently has a miracle cure in his equalization problem while he dives on it and shoots it. While I'm happy we landed the fish, I will tell you that next time he can get his own $#!damn snapper!  All in all, the day ends strong and we end up shooting about another dozen or so at this one spot, all very nice size. Unfortunately, we didn't get a whole lot of worthwhile pics back at the campground but the memory will live on in our heads.