|Seas: 1-2 feet||Winds: 5-10 S/SE||Viz: 40 feet||Temp: 84 F|
After hearing from my brother in law all week how incredible the weather had been (SOB even sent me pictures), it was finally Friday and time for me to get back down there to shoot some fish for myself. With yet another late departure plus having to fuel up the boat on the way down after that week in Cat Cay (ouch!), we didn't roll into the campground until after midnight. It was probably 1:30 or 2 by the time I got the boat parked, disconnected and unloaded the truck. Boy do I hate these late night arrivals with so much to do.
The picture I got on my phone Friday from my brother in law showed a Sunfish that weighed about 200 lbs floating around (they don't swim very effectively) about 24 miles South of Marathon in water that you couldn't even find a ripple on much less any kind of waves (24 miles off!). Needless to say, I was hoping the weather would hold out for at least one more day for my arrival so I could take advantage of some smooth seas for a change after the past couple of weeks. The fact is that if I had spent the time I scheduled in the keys, it would have been mostly under rain so getting stuck in Cat wasn't all bad (weather-wise).
The winds called for were minimal so the plan was to head offshore in the bay boat and see if we could pick up some dolphin. My brother in law and some friends that had stayed the week had some success so we were hopeful we would at least be able to catch dinner for tonight. Of course the guns are loaded on the boat for good measure. We always hope to jump in on a school and pick off a few of the bigger members if we can, and we figured we would check out the reef on the way back in too. We headed out around 9a (not exactly an early start) and the water was pretty flat. I would call it an even 1 foot seas as far as the eye could see. We head almost directly South at about 25mph so we're making pretty good time in spite of the late start. We slow down along the way to check out some birds and patches, but nothing really worthwhile (fishing-wise) appears so we keep heading out.
20, 22, 24 miles out and we haven't seen much in the way of feeding birds or sizable patches of sargassum weed even though we've been seeing all kinds of bait as we make way. Quite literally, there was bait everywhere. Unbelievably enough as we keep heading offshore, we actually run into yet another Sun fish! I've only seen a couple of these in all my years of diving and now my brother in law has seen 2 in two days time. What are the odds? There was actually a lot of activity in the water along the way. We ran into a pod of Dolphins that were heading West. While we're watching them swim along, a smaller pod of Pilot Whales surfaces among them! Unfortunately by the time I got the camera out, they had submerged and continued on their way, but it was a very cool sight. We don't usually see Pilot Whales until we're at least 30 miles out.
At about 27 miles off (in 1100 feet of water), we find a line of some decent size patches of Sargassum and figure this is as good a spot as any and we start working the line. We troll around a couple of patches with no success when I mention that there is a considerably larger patch to our East (probably twice the size of any patch we've worked so far) and we head over to work it. We making our first pass when ZZZZZzzzzzz, one of the trolling rods get hit and we're off to the races. We picked up as many as would bite and were very happy with the sizes of fish we were landing. We weren't hitting large numbers, but no peanuts today. We didn't get to jump in and shoot anything offshore because we really didn't run into any sizable schools, but we did end up with about 8 nice sized schoolies. So after a last couple of passes with no activity we decide to head in.
As we head in we spot a large flock of birds actively feeding so we head over to see what the commotion is. Even though we think the flock is following some feeding Bonito, we chase them down to make sure there aren't any Dolphin tagging along just in case. As we catch up to the flock I spot Dolphin in the water so we drop the lines and hook up! Unfortunately, I missed the fish with the gaff and it was able to spit out the hook before we had another shot at it and that was the end of the action. So homeward bound we go again.
As we're heading home and get within about 2 miles of the innermost shipping lane, we get to see yet one more sight that really puts a topper on all the things we've seen today. We're watching a freighter that had to have been 500 feet long making way through the water and notice the size of the swell that is coming off the ship's bow. As we continue to get closer, I keep watching the bow hoping to see something that I've really only seen in pictures and video online and on tv. All of a sudden I see it and I call out to check out the bow of the freighter. It was so cool to actually see porpoises surfing off the wake from the bow of the freighter and to watch them breaching out in front of the ship as it moves along. We were too far for my underwater camera to capture any images that were worthwhile, but it sure was neat to see it for myself, especially when you see the porpoises spinning in the air as they exit the water in front of the ship. I really need to get a better camera!
We close out the day with a dive on the reef in 40 feet of water where we land a Mangrove and a couple of Hogfish to round out the catch. All in all it really was a very exciting day of both sightseeing and fishing even if we didn't get to do any bluewater spearfishing.