Friday, March 13, 2009

Haven't Posted Much Lately.....

....Cause there hasn't been much worth posting. We haven't fished in a week. We'll finally get back in the boat tomorrow, but we're looking at only about 10-12 total days for this month prior to leaving for the Bahamas.

Most of what we've been doing this week is cleaning and organizing the boat in preparation for the trip. We did some fishing ourselves as well on the gulf side in this skiff for Spanish Mackerel and Ballyhoo, which we freeze and take with us to use as baits for Blue Marlin.

We're giving ourselves a bit of a break right now to watch some of the college basketball conference tournaments. Go Bucky.

I'm thinking about getting myself one of the pocket sized waterproof cameras in the next few days so I can keep it in my pocket and have it at the ready for some quick photos, especially in the Bahamas. Hopefully that'll bring some life back to the blog.

Anywho, looking forward to getting back on the water tomorrow. Fishing has been reported to slowly be improving as the weather has been warm for about a week now, and hopefully it'll hold that way and fishing will be even better next week.

Looking forward to seeing Little Ricky, his bride, and Craig this week as well.

Be well, everybody.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Cloud Nine....

...washed, waxed, new bottom paint and clean wheels. That's a happy boat right there.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

A Few New Photos....

....taken and kindly forwarded from one of our anglers this week.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Made a Big Splash this Weekend....

Unfortunately, it's because as I was a little late to the boat Saturday morning, I ran in, stepped onto the gunnel, proceeded to take the next step onto one of the docking ropes, and immediately rolled off the side into the water.

Go me. It was probably karma. Greg was late the day before. When he arrived, he told the anglers that he'd been to three different bait shops looking for "giant live shrimp" that we'd use that day for bottom fishing. So, of course, smart ass me, as I was running in said to one of the anglers "Hey, I was looking for big shriiiiiiiim......**splash**. I guess you don't f@*k with the Captain.

Fortunately, though, after realizing it was only me that fell in and not a customer, Greg calmly walked to the office, bought me a dry shirt, and away we went.

Saturday was my first day out Swordfishing. We dropped baits six different times between 25 and 36 miles offshore, at depths ranging from 1300 to 1700 feet. We had three bites in the six drops, but unfortunately never really stuck the fish good, and came home empty handed.

We were fishing the same group of guys for the fourth straight day, and they understood the game, so they were good sports, and knew that they were more paying their dues than anything.

Good thing they were such avid fisherman, because the rest of the week pretty well sucked as well. We did catch the two Sails we saw on Friday, a double header actually, and boated the second for the pictures. Outside of that, fishing was just slow slow slow, and we tried basically everything around.

From the cold front two weeks ago, to strange winds and little current, conditions just haven't been great lately for anything.

There's another front moving through right now. Barely hit the 60s today with gusty winds. It's supposed to be warming up by next weekend, though, and we won't fish until then as we're taking the boat out of the water this week to clean and paint the hull in preparation for the trip to the Bahamas at the end of the month.

Finally, even though the fishing offshore wasn't great this past week, the Redfish and Snook were biting in the back. At least, they were biting for my roommate Capt. Drew Moret and his angler Baker Bishop. The two paired to win the Backcountry Fly Championship in Islamorada. They bested 35 other boats in the two day competition. Each team could submit their largest Redfish and largest Snook (both length) each day. They finished I believe with 117", including a 36" Snook on the second day. Their margin of victory was by over 10". Congrats on a great job fellas.

PS: Cellphones and saltwater apparently don't go well together. Hopefully I'll have a new one in a few days.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Been a While....

...and fortunately, it's just been a bit busy. Doing a fair amount of fishing this past week, and we've got another big week coming up.

We're catching a lot of Yellowtail Snappers these days, along with a smattering of Mutton and Mangrove Snappers and Grouper, including a 80 lb. Jewfish we released last week, and a bunch of nice Kingfish.

We caught two sailfish yesterday, which was great, only it was a couple of days late for a woman's sailfish tournament we fished on Wednesday, when we struck out on the sails as we missed our only two sail bites of the day. It only took two fish to win the tournament, though.

We've been fishing a lot with our kites lately, and it's led to some amazing top water bites. During the Sailfish Tournament, Greg shouted, "Slammer coming on the right short." (A nice sized Dolphin is often referred to as a "Slammer" or a "Gaffer," I'm quickly learning) I look over at the bait only to see the Dolphin thirty feet away. It swam another 20 feet toward the bait before shooting 4 feet out of the water and flying the last 10 feet to crash directly down on the bait. It was very cool to see. Hopefully just a precursor more exciting things to come.

There's definitely a lot to look forward to coming up. Sounds like a group of good friends will be down the third week in March, which I'm looking forward to, then off to the Bahamas for six or seven weeks at the end of March through mid-May. There's even rumors of TV episode being shot on our boat for a couple of days while we're there. I'm keeping my fingers crossed. Would be too much fun.

Hope all's well with everyone out there.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Sheesh It's Kind of Cold...

And the fishing is so so.

But when we warm back up, the snapper and grouper should get pretty good, along with a few straggling sails.

I'm really excited for the Bahamas, though. Come on March!!!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Taking a Beating for the Sail

Saturday morning we headed out to what could only have been described as a marginally fishable day at best. A cold front came through the night before, and we were facing 50 degree temps and 28-35 mile an hour winds.

Sure, people fish those conditions all over, be when weather like that comes through here, the fish clamp down, bait retreats from their normal homes, and tackle crashes around the cabin with every wave.

We had a couple of MIT students with us, and we went out and attempted to get bait, with no luck. So we turned to our kites which we had bait penned up for, but even with the specially designed "high wind" kites, it wasn't meant to be. Greg put the first kite up, and when he attempted to reel it back into make an adjustment to it, the wind snapped it off the 60 lb mono, and the kite crashed to the water. Fortunately we were able to recover it, but the kite option was gone.

We headed back again to a patch, where our angler caught a couple of small grouper on a jig, but the bait fish, which had been plentiful, didn't show up for breakfast. Everyone then agreed that it was time to go in, and we'd see if the afternoon brought any better weather.

Greg and I did some kite repairs from about 10am-12pm and the angler returned to about 10 knots less wind and a bit warmer temps, so we decided to head out and give it a go with the kites again.

Turned out for the best, as the skies were totally clear, temps hit the mid 60s, and the wind really eased up. Seemed almost remarkable how the day had changed from morning to afternoon. We landed a nice sail of about 65 pounds which I got into the boat for photos, and all were happy.

I had today off, so I was planning to go out last night, but my body had different ideas. After a burger and a couple of cocktails with Greg in the early evening, I headed home and proceeded to sleep for 12 hours. I think I needed it.

Heading up to Miami to a buddy's place to watch the game tonight. Hope everyone out there enjoys it.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Some Nice Little Honey Buns in South Florida

Kind of switched gears fishing yesterday and focused on Yellowtail Snappers. Caught about a dozen, along with a couple of nice King Mackerels. Threw at a Sailfish as well, but he was just behind a giant school of Pilchards, so he'd probably been eating for a while.

Greg and I went to play golf today. Did my usual steady but decent blah round with a few total blow ups. Shot 88. Nice public course, though. Miccosukee, I believe.

After, we were driving down the road past the airport on our way to a tackle shop, a little 4 door Acura wagon pulls past us. Greg says, "Damn, that car is full of honey buns."

I'm thinking to myself, "Sweet, a car full of women, let's take a look."

Greg gets back up next to the car, and the back seat was literally packed full of sweet tasty treats.


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Weekend Recap; 5 Days in the Keys Sounds Like a Weekend, Right?

Friday's tourney fishing was a good day. Was a charity tournament benefiting a small university in South Florida. Had seven sails come up and eat and raised a few others. We caught and released 3, which was good for third in the tournament. We had a good shot at winning, but it just wasn't meant to be for us that day. Four won the tournament.

Saturday we had a charter that didn't show from Ft. Lauderdale. But hey, wake up at 6 am on a Saturday, get to the boat at 6:30. Prepare everything for the trip, only to have Capt. Greg get a call at 7:05 telling him that they were still in FLL, they overslept, and were really sorry. Well, at least I had a nice sit down breakfast and was back in bed at 9 for a nice nap, right?

The time off also gave me the chance to call and check on my friend Mr. Walton who was in the hospital recovering from heart valve surgery. He still sounded a bit weak, but his doctors were assuring him that he was doing well and on the road to recovery, which is great news. They broke the mold when they made Mr. Walton, so the docs better keep him well.

We did end up heading out in the skiff a bit later on Saturday afternoon to try to catch some bait to freeze for the Bahamas, but unfortunately, no such luck.

Sunday (Happy Birthday Mama!!) we were booked for a half day with two gentlemen who turned out to be down from Winston-Salem, North Carolina. One was also a former Delta pilot, so we spent the morning listening to some flying stories in the wake of the recent Hudson River landing, and of course exchanged some notes on about our favorite local restaurants in WS.

Caught three sails on four bites that morning, so a nice day. Then celebrated with a pleasant evening out on the town.

Monday was another off day. Well, off in the sense that we weren't booked, but spent the latter half of the morning at the boat tidying up a bit. Capt Greg booked us for a half day on Tuesday so we went out in the skiff in the afternoon trying to find some Threadfins to use as Kite baits, but they weren't really biting, so we only ended up with four. We then went down to the local park where there's a golf cage set up and I gave Greg a quick lesson.

We headed back to the boat after that and went out fishing for Goggle Eyes, which are night feeders. While preparing to head out, I ran into the people we booked earlier in the day to fish on Tuesday. When I asked how their day went, they informed me that the went down to Key West for the afternoon and decided that they might as well get married. They'd been planning on Vegas or Sonoma, when they decided, hey, why not the beach in Key West. Turns out Tuesday would be my first ever Honeymoon charter.

Anyhow, Greg and I ended up catching about fifty Goggle Eyes. While we were out, I decided that I'd take out my SPOT device (personal satellite transmitter with OK, Help, and 911 modes) and give it a spin since I hadn't used it in a couple of months. I wanted to mark some of our positions so that I could take a look later where we were on Google Earth since the typical landmarks weren't visible. Night is funny like that.

About 15 minutes after I transmitted the second location, though, we saw flares go up, and then Coast Guard and Police Boats as well as a search and rescue helicopter were all working an area a few miles to the west of us. I got freaked out that I pressed a button other than the OK button. I double-checked the device and all looked normal. Turns out there was a boat that was indeed sinking down the way. Not sure of the outcome of that, but admittedly was relieved that I hadn't erroneously started an incident.

Anyhow, the fishing today was slower than it had been in the past few days. I didn't have my best day by any stretch, but it turned out OK. About 4 foot seas and variable gusty winds wreaked havoc with our kites and it was a bit frustrating. Fortunately, towards the end of the half day charter we hooked up to a nice dolphin and then about a 75 pound sail which we released at the boat, our newlyweds' first, so a good end to an otherwise rocky day for me.

Tomorrow will be a maintenance day again, and maybe some golf in the afternoon. It also happens to be my parent's anniversary, so Happy Anniversary to you both. 37, right? I love you both very much and am sorry I won't be there to share it with you.

Hope everyone out there is well and keeping warm.

EDIT: Oh, and here's a photo of me landing a sail for Mike from NJ last weekend. It was his first.

Friday, January 23, 2009

January 22, 2009

Caught a couple of sails today.

Pretty ho-hum actually.

Tourney tomorrow, and my rooommate Drew with be fishing with us.

Back country meets offshore. Should be lots of fun.

Odds are I'll be giving golf lessons part of the time.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Sails In Islamorada

I finally understand why everyone says "it's all relative."

I thought it was freezing when I woke up this morning. But the car read 47 degrees on the way to the boat.

When the boat left the dock, I was wearing a long sleeve shirt, a hoody sweatshirt, a hoody fleece, and also a windbreaker, with yes, a hood. It was terribly cold.

But then, I thought about it, and realized in college in Wisconsin, when it finally warmed up to 47 degrees after a long winter, all of the girls started running in shorts and a t-shirt when it hit 50 degrees. But, no matter, it was still cold this morning.

We'll blame it on a all of the moisture around us.

Caught a couple of sails today.

Tourney tomorrow, and I think my roommate Drew will be the other mate. Should be fun.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Awfully chilly this morning when I woke up. Going to be about the same tomorrow when I wake up and go fishing. The breeze as we're running out to the bait patch should be very crisp and refreshing.

Yeah, I know 47 degrees isn't quite as cold as most are dealing with around the country, but for those of us whose blood has thinned considerably, it feels awfully cold.

I hope I can find my winter hat in my car somewhere.

Hope everyone else is staying warm.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Wow, My Blood is Thinning!!!

58 degrees this morning, and I thought I was going to ice over. Can't imagine what's going on in the rest of the country, even though I grew up with it.

This past weekend after the Sailfly we didn't fish, unfortunately, but we certainly tried to make the most of our days off. Friday afternoon we played golf on the Hammock Course at the Ocean Reef Club, which I'm told is one of the nicer courses in South Florida.

I haven't played since I left NC in June, so I was a bit rusty, and certainly proved that on the front nine shooting a fifty-something. Yes, I was the score-keeper, and I refused to actually add it up. However, I was quite sure I knew what I was doing incorrectly, even though I lacked focus on the front to fix it.

When I stepped to the 10th tee, however, I had a little conversation with myself and proceeded to run off a 39 on the back. Typical Jekyl and Hyde round for me, I guess.

Saturday we did some shopping and preparation for Sunday's Pig Roast. That's right, what's better than a sunny day in Florida with football on TV all afternoon? Well, a sunny day, football, and a full split pig smoking on the front lawn of course.

Captain Greg did the honors, with a pig that had been marinating in Mojo (a Cuban sauce primarily made of garlic, olive oil and citrus juice). It smoked for about 6 hours over mesquite, and it was phenomenal.

We did get back to some fishing on Monday and Tuesday. A few sails, some kings, a few snapper and a triggerfish. Still lots of fish and lots of bait, just lots of fish full of bait who don't seem much interested in whatever you're tossing to them.

I'm continuing to feel more and more comfortable in my new life. It actually hit me that my sense of time seems so differnent to me now. Days used to seem very long, almost waitng for each minute to pass at work, and everything seemed to labor and drag, but before I knew it, it was July 4th, and then Labor Day, and then back to Thanksgiving and Christmas again.

Now, I get up, fish and it seems like it's 9pm and I ought to be in bed before I know it. But in the grand scheme of things, everything seems to move more slowly. New Year's and the Key West trip seem like months ago, but they were only 10 days to 2 weeks ago. Heck, I've only been here two months. Not sure what it all means, but this way certainly seems better.

Random side note: I'm officially a resident of Florida as of today.

Random side note 2: Rumor has it Little Ricky from Little Rock will be making an appearance in Florida in March, and I'll probably be lucky enough to finally meet his better half face-t0-face as well. Definitely looking forward to that if the rumor's true.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Sailfly 2009 Recap

It sucked. The fishing was bad. Only three fish were caught. Charlie Scoble, who's a master, was the winning captain for the 3rd or 4th time in 9 years. Great job.

And even though it sucked otherwise, I was still so excited to be a part of it, and just happy to be here.

I've had a lot on my mind lately. I've formulated lots of posts in my head, because a lot of times it's easier for me to express myself in writing than trying to talk things out. But that said, overall, every thing's just getting better.

There's a cold front coming through, and I'm still outside on the patio, with the breeze blowing, shoes off, and you realize that no matter what you think is bad, this is paradise.

Is everything perfect. No. Would I like certain things to be different. Sure. Do I know if I'll ultimately be happy here? No. But am I happy to be here at this moment? Damn straight.

Do I wonder if I'm supposed to be here? Sure. Do I wonder where I'm going? Absolutely? But everyday, I'm happier and happier.

Sometimes you just have to let got. You can't just sit and wait for things to happen, and you've got to make your path, but you also can't necessarily make the things that you want happen, especially when they're not all in your own control. It's hard to always believe that things happen for a reason, or trust that things will work out just because, but sometimes you just have to have faith.

My faith is getting stronger each day.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Sailfly 2009

Just got the word that the Cloud Nine will be a last minute entry. I'm pumped.

New Years Fishing Wrap Up and More

First off, I'd like to wish everyone reading a belatedly happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year.

Unfortunately, since my December 29, 2008 post, I've yet to receive any photos from the anglers on the boat with cameras, so you'll just have to take my word for it that fishing was as successful as I indicated. Five sailfish, including a few that I hooked and landed in the boat, which was one of the big turns for me.

Yes, I've caught sails before, but all on fly which is a different game entirely. Yes, I've caught a number of other species before, but without the pressure of a fish that might only be near the surface for a few seconds, with anglers on the boat dependent on you hooking the fish in that moment, with the captain screaming directions from the tuna tower.

There are a lot of moments in fishing that call for quick reaction and quick thought. Seeing a tarpon rolling, or seeing a Bonefish feeding up a flat, but even in those instances, you typically have a chance to see the fish, look at the direction it's headed make a couple of false casts, and try to make a good presentation to the fish. Typically, they're also trapped in shallower water, so if you don't spook it off, you can even represent if necessary.

With the Sailfishing, though, if you're chasing bait showers, or just looking for fish swimming freely, they're in water that's still deep enough, 45-120 ft or more, where if they're not interested the first time you toss a bait, they'll release to the depths below before you've got your bait halfway back to the boat.

So seeing, casting, hooking, and boating these wonderful specimens for the first time on my own was a wonderful progression for me. All of it was also in the midst of boating a limit of King Mackerel, as well as a number of Yellowtail Snapper, and even a few shots at Cobia. And each switch involves preparing different tackle, and readying oneself for the transition to the different species. A lot of this took place while the other "experienced" mate sat with the captain up in the tower and let me handle the fire in the cockpit, which was a confidence booster in itself.

The day ended with praise from the captain, and a new found confidence for me. Not that I wasn't confident that I'd be able to do it, but of course accomplishment makes it even stronger.

Unfortunately, the fishing since that day hasn't been as hot for us. I had a couple of misses on sailfish, but really no major mistakes in anything that I did. We've had some more mackerel, and a few snapper and Cobia, but the water's been clear, which makes it difficult for bottom fish, and the wind has been changing directions daily, which seems to keep the fish skittish.

New Years hit the keys in a strange fashion. The famed Cheeca Lodge caught ablaze when a firework is believed to have caught the newly built Tiki Bar on fire, and the flames quickly went on to burn half of the main building there. It's the high-end lodging in Islamorada, so the prospect of it being closed for six months or more with the already tight economy isn't adding much hope to the situation. They've already cancelled the sailfish tournament they sponsor which was to be fished in the next couple of weeks as well.

New Year's morning, at the "Blessing of the Fleet" for 2009, a boat with an experience captain got too close to the bridge, and was subsequently trapped under the bridge for a bit, and nearly sank. Fortunately, it didn't, but that didn't save another boat from sinking just outside the channel of the Bud and Mary's Marina that we fish out of.

Not necessarily the bright and shiny signs you're looking for entering a new year.

I did hit Key West for a concert the other night which was fun. It was on Sunset Pier, which quite literally was a wooden pier (very sturdy), and a very cool venue to just sit and listen to music with water surrounding you from three sides and below. Moments like that remind you how lucky you are.

The Key West jaunt was preceded by a day of fishing where I found myself alone in the cockpit again for the entire trip. The fishing wasn't spectacular by any means, but I think I handled it well, and the captain commented that he was pleased at the end of the day as well.

Since then, I've also been told that I'll probably be handling all future non-tournament days on my own as well. Even though the captain and I both acknowledged that I'm probably not fully ready yet, I've proven myself well enough in under 30 days on the water that I'm capable of handling the majority of it, and picking up the rest as I go. It's a nice compliment to have someone put that trust in you when it comes to their livelihood.

Hope everyone reading out there is well.