Sunday, October 29, 2006

10/20-29/06 What a month!!!

This is my 2nd attempt to blog tonight. The blog monster ate my first attempt. How appropriate for Halloween.

Our trip to Cedar Key, FL on 20th- 23rd.

Dh and I at SeaBreeze Restaurant. The bay view is in the background.

Jack and my Dad. Two wonderful men. Thanks Mom for taking this picture.

My boys.

The fishing from the wall across from our motel was excellent. I'm holding a nice spotted trout.

Jack with a nice Red Fish (Drum).

We were catching fish pretty regularly on 3/0 or smaller hooks, monofilament and dead, frozen shrimp.

I don't know how well you can see the fish, but it is also another red fish. It had 2 spots on the tail.

We also caught too many baby sailcats, grunts, Dad's eel, and ladyfish. The inlet you see behind me leads to the marine (to the right). It is very hard to get under the bridge at high tide and get out past the oyster shell beds during low tide. Yet, Cedar Key is known to be one of the last towns in Florida that one can still make a living off the ocean.

Here I am with my Mom in the hallway of Dockside Motel. I hate that her eyes were closed because it was a great hug and moment for me. It has been about 10 months since I had seen my parents and this was out last night. You know, one of those times when you don't want to say good-bye. About 2 hours after these photos were taken, the flood gates opened up and we'd have to go to bed and leave early in the a.m. I hate good-byes.

Here we are at our third and last dinner at SeaBreeze. We did not plan for all of us to be in pastels, primarily pink. Something about FL weather that makes you go pastel. ha ha.

Our trip to Ft. Walton Beach, FL on 23rd - 25th.

Here is Capt Jack's 2nd cousin's home in the Ft. Walton Beach area. That is the beautiful intracoastal waterway behind their home.

They have gorgeous sunrises to the left and sunsets to the right to see from their balconies. They also share in our enthusiasm for boats and fishing.

Did you see those front steps? Try carrying a couple suitcases up them.

Here is why we went to Ft. Walton Beach:

Grandma Mary is 96 years young!!! Her sister is almost 94 years young. This is my husband's grandmother that he recently re-met a few years ago. She held him as a baby for the first year of his life. After that, Jack's Mom remarried and soon moved away. That's when everybody lost contact. Ten years ago, we reunited with Jack's biological father. Five years ago, we met Jack's grandmother. Last week, we met, for the first time as adults, Jack's Gr-Aunt and 2nd cousin. We tape recorded all the family history and all the fabulous stories of growing up in the FL Keys and Tortugas in the early 1900's. It was a priceless time.

Here is the family photo of 4 generations.

On a fishing note: Jack's family ran the Islamorada Fish House (Market) for many years. Grandma Mary's brother's were the founding owners. Also, Jack's father held the record for largest billfish caught on a pier in Key West for many years. I have some homework to do to dig up the facts on that. When I do, I'll present them here.

Tomorrow, 30th, is our Fair entry deadline! I have been frantically working with the boys to put together photography, artwork, bug boxes, rockets, and potted plants. I doubt I'll even get to the baking tomorrow. I simply have no more energy. I guess we'll have to settle for what we could get done. Life will go on........

UPDATE: We got everything entered and we finished with 37 entries into the Fair. We should have some results in the next couple days on how we did.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

10/13/06 Blessed on Friday the 13th!!!!!

M with a short American Red Snapper.

Again with one of the 20 something baby Red Groupers we caught.

Captain Jack with his short Amer. Red Snapper. You can tell they are juvenile ARSs by their black spot on the side.

Big M with his baby Red Grouper.

Capt with his Toad fish, nicknamed the Mother-in-Law fish.

Do not touch one of these!

Our guest Bill came to fish with us. He ended up numerous times like this. There are plenty of Goliath groupers (100-500 lbs) in this area that we were fishing. We could never muscle them up, so the best you can hope for is to stop the pressure and they generally will spit out your hook.

Uhhh ohhhh!!!!!!!!! Shark...... I saw the big sweeping tail and thought lemon but before I could grab the camera, Jack says, "Nurse!"

Indeed, it was a nurse shark.

This same shark took me for a ride a few minutes earlier before going to Bill's squid and somehow managing to hook himself in the pectoral (left side) fin. He still had my line hanging out of his/her mouth.

Estimated 5 ft, 25-30 lbs. Beautiful fish.

Bill had been exhausted from his fishing battles after a long night on the job. He took a nap in the beanbags on the ride in. It looks like he found somebody to curl up with.

We fished the same general area from 11:30 - 5pm. We would have loved to anchor up and catch the evening bite. We were in Mangrove Snapper territory; however, we had to get Bill back on the road to Orlando.

Here's the tally for the day.
L to R: 9 big grunts (4 that escaped the picture) to make Grits-n-Grunts meal one night.
2 Lane Snappers
1 Mangrove Snapper

2 purple grunts (exact name unknown)
20+ baby red groupers
2 small Amer. Red Snappers
1 Nurse shark

No heroes, but we bagged fish and the kids had a fabulous time catching many of these. I played First Mate, helping them. Bill was happy to have caught his first shark (nice one too).
Pretty soon, the bigger fish will migrate into this area for the winter feeding and warmer waters. Fishing only gets better from this point on.

Happy Fishing!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

10/12/06 Quick Thursday Run

This is a pretty bad day of the week for Jack to fish on, but we decided we would take a chance and see what we could find in 4-5 hrs. That's not much time, but........ who knows.

(Photo: boys sleeping on the drive out)
8:30 Out of the driveway
9:00 Bait & Ice - done, launch off the docks. See a manatee right off the back-end of the boat. I'm so glad our motor was off!
9:30 Clear the Port and I drive until Jack gets done playing w/ the GPS & our first coordinates that he made, then lost, then found again.
10:30 21Fathom (F) ridge: natural ridge - 25 mi due east of the Port. Didn't hit clean, blue water until 20 mi., nor any flying fish until then. I love flying fish! I never tire of seeing them take off and smack back into the water a hundred of feet later.

The current was "doable", not as slow as we'd like, but not ripping fast, so we drift fish (no anchor). Jack and I drop our big bottom poles with a nice sardine (double-hooked). I hooked up first. About the time I see shark (or maybe about the time the shark sees me), he gives a big head shake and breaks the line. Part of me doesn't care about the line breaking, but I hate that I lost a brand new 6 oz sinker (lead) to the bottom. The shark will spit the hook in a couple days. We reset up for a 2nd drift and Jack's busy driving, my pole doesn't have hooks on it, so I get to use Jack's pole this go-around. Wham, the bite feels a little different than a shark but sheesh....... it is a shark. He decides to do this nice little aerobatic jump for the camera. Jack takes him off.

11:45am: We leave the sharks after listening to our Fishing Friends on the radio say they too have been skunked on 21F ridge that morning. We decided to drive back towards Pelican Flats (nice 85 ft grassy underwater shoal in the middle of nowhere).

12:15 pm: Can't really find any great spot to anchor, so we anchored over nothing but sent down a yucky chum block - sometimes referred to as a calling card. (see pic) The scent is suppose to drive them crazy. Ahhhh, it is really slow waiting for somebody to jump on your hook.

1pm: Jack catches a nice shark (same age & type as before) on Matthew's pole. Meanwhile, I'm getting nibbles on the big bottom pole. Eventually, I get something (??) strange but instantly gone. I reel up to see what's left....... no hooks, but the shark was gracious enough to not eat the sinker (lead) too. The big guy went straight from my squid to Jack's squid about 6 ft away and proceeds to eat his hooks, also leaving the sinker. Must have been a BIG guy since he razored through 50 lb line like butta.

In the picture, there is a red anchor ball. I'm including this to give you a visual of what it does. You simply hook it around your anchor line, drive directly parallel with where you anchor is locked down on the bottom, then the anchor ball is driven down by the water to the bottom by the anchor. It's upward pressure ends up lifting the anchor out of the sand, dirt or rocks. Once the anchor is free, it floats to the top with the anchor ball. Fabulous invention which saves many muscles from having to pull that stubborn anchor.

Hmmmm? Time to pack it up by 1:30. We took a nice cruise in at 29 mph, eating pb&j sandwiches and various chips & cheese puffs. The seas finally laid down very flat the last 10 miles of the trip. Oh, before I forget, we also saw some great Bonito schools working bait pods. As soon as we were 50-75 ft of them, they'd spook. THAT's how you know it is Bonito. Still, it was cool to see there little football bellies jumping out of the water from a distance. Ok, back to the boat....... Jack topped the boat out at 37 mph with our 225 hp Mercury engine. He was pretty happy to verify that with the GPS.

Most of everything is still on the boat, so we will make a turn-around trip back to our Ol' Fishing Hole - "Snap 176" and see what we can get there. It may be only small snapper or a variety of reef fish, but we're hoping to get something besides sharks there.

We are hoping that by the time we return from vacation, the sharks will have migrated away from our area. (One can only hope!)

Hope to have a more fishy report tomorrow night!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

10/11/06 Pre-offshore Prep Day

It will be a early morning call to be sure, but so far, it looks like we will be making an offshore run tomorrow. If not, Friday looks promising too (another change in the forecast).

On the way home from work, Jack picked up plenty of lead, hooks, sinus meds for our son and my 8x10's for the Fair. Next, we hooked up the ol' gal and took her over to Hess to fill up at $2.19/gal. We haven't seen these prices in quite some time. We ended up putting 52 gals in the tank. It was nice to see the gas needle working properly as we sat endlessly pumping that much gas. Once home, Jack tied the double-hook rigs. Essentially, they are one hook for the eyes of the sardine and one hook to be placed in the abdomen. It increases your chances of hooking whatever is stealing your bait. He made many of these and keeps them neatly on a special piece of cardboard. This way, if we're losing some terminal-end gear, we can get back into the action quicker. One simple knot and we're off fishing again.

Last but not least, I checked our licenses to make sure everything was in order. We aren't planning on catching a snook but I wanted to make sure that was in there for a possible Fri night outing. Snook love to eat at night at the mouth of the inlet. I printed off a new Regulations sheet because I read the regs were updated in July 2006.

Praying for tight lines and calm seas!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Best dog ever!!!

This is our boxer boy, Jackson. He is not an official fishermen, but he supports our family hobby by having amazing bladder control.

He guards the house while we are gone. As soon as the boat comes around the corner, he is anticipating what bush he is going to attack first. He gives us boxer wiggles and kisses and then does his business.

Jackson loves to smell what is in the cooler. He thinks we smell wonderful when we come home even though we rush to get showers. To him, it must seem like we are gone for endless days but he never holds it against us.

Now that the weather is getting cooler, we have been talking about taking him aboard our boat and let him stayin the cuddy cabin. I wonder if dogs get seasickness?

Thanks for letting me brag on my 4-legged child.
(below, Jackson and M in front of our apt inlet a few years ago.)
10/8/06 Boat maintenance

I know that I've mentioned this before, but I'll repeat it again. One really shouldn't own a boat if they're not mechanically gifted or know a good mechanic. There is always constant upkeep on a boat.

Last trip out, our battery was found to be smoking and thankfully we had the ability to switch off of it and use only the newer one. Today, Jack picked up a new battery and installed it. He also found a clog in a drain in the oil compartment that wasn't working right the past couple weeks. A year ago, he insisted that he had to own an air compressor and it has already paid for itself in upkeep. He blew out the clog in the line, then filled the air on the kids' bikes and air in the suburban's tires.

Last but not least, we had suspect the gas gauge to not be moving correctly. One trip, our gas needle actually went up instead of down. This last trip, we put on over 60-80 miles and the gauge did not move. So, Jack pulled the sealed hatch and he suspicions were correct. The battery acid (or fumes) had corroded the wires to the gas gauge. Once those were fixed, we started up the engine. Not only was the battery working properly, so was the gas gauge. We actually were down at 1/4 tank of gas, not 1/2 tank. That would have been an awful mistake to run out of gas 20-30 miles offshore. We do have a membership to help with that, but still....... it's one of those senseless mistakes to make.

The seas are still 3-5 ft all week. We're praying that they lay down to 2-3 ft by Friday so we can do some bottom fishing. The first reports of a nice mixed bag (variety) of bottom fish were coming in this weekend. We're also considering purchasing a couple nice new bottom reels to pull up this big ones. We'll see.

Tight lines and Happy fishing!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Today's Buoy stats of #41009

Significant Wave Height (H0):
5.2 ft

Swell Height (SwH):
3.0 ft

Swell Period (SwP):
7.1 sec

Wind Wave Height (WWH):
4.6 ft

Wind Wave Period (WWP):
6.2 sec

Wave Steepness (STEEPNESS):

Average Wave Period (AVP):
4.9 sec