Monday, April 03, 2006

4/1-2/06 Weekend Report

As you can see from the smile on my face, it was a good weekend of fishing. It was a weekend of firsts. First time I was 30 miles offshore in our boat. First time I set the hook & landed a cobia. This is my largest fish ever caught at 36", 22 lbs. This was also our first time of limiting out on any species for our family. Florida regulations allows 1 cobia/person/boat.

My sweet husband & Captain landed the first cobia. He was a confused fish. He was circling a floating drum like a tripletail and then refused the customary cobia jig. He inhaled a live shrimp, again, like a tripletail. After a few runs back down to the bottom & a saltwater bath later, I was able to net Jack's 16 lb, 33.5" cobia. A few minutes later, we floated over a team of 4 cobia that never resurfaced. A few minutes after that, we see my cobia. Jack threw the jig to him and once it landed on his head, spooking him. A little while later, he popped back up on the surface swimming circles. I was so excited I couldn't cast worth a flip, so Jack put the shrimp directly in his swimming path. I then jigged the pole and set the hook. It was a good 15 minute fight and poor Jack could not get the net all the way around this long fish. His plan was to net the head and grab the tail and swing him aboard. Yes, we do have a gaff and could have used it in this situation, knowing the fish was large enough to keep. However, he was barely hooked and Jack was afraid that if he didn't get a clean shot w/ the gaff, it might unhook the fish and he'd be gone forever. It all paid off in the end.

Sunday, after church, we headed back out to search again for a smaller cobia for our son to learn on. The beaches of Patrick Air Force base seem to be breeding/stomping grounds for the manta rays each year. Cobia will occassionally ride on the backs of rays, so fishermen will throw jigs near them hoping to lure cobias away for a meal. This particular manta stalled in front of us to have a look at us and then went on her way. I wish I had a polarized lens because what we could see in person was so much more spectacular than this pic, fighting the glare. Those light colored patches are her 'shoulder pads' and her mouth is open feeding. Overall, we saw 8 rays (w/ nothing on their backs) and 2 sea turtles and 1 small cobia that spooked immediately as we drifted by him. It was a shame because he would have made a good learning experience for our son. I'd say he was in the 2 ft range.

While we were 30 miles offshore, we did come back in to 50 ft water depth, 73 deg temp, 2 ft waves @ 11sec, just a couple miles off the beaches of Patrick AFB - south tower. No mahi were sighted but water was clear. Bottom bite was mostly nibbles & break-offs. We did see a kingfish jump out of the water on Sat and I think a shark (bull?) slam something on the water surface on Sunday. I have only a split second to see things and make a guess. I saw grey, round, flat head, shark skin. To me, that seems like bull shark. Schools of bait were small but numerous and on top or mid-range of water column. Outside temp was 87 deg, UV 9, 5-10kts Sat, going still about 1:30, then back up. Sun, I think was a full 10 kts making white caps on the water, but almost no waves rolling.

I'll have more stories and pictures of our weekend to post in the next couple of days.

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