Friday, March 31, 2006

3/31/06 The Night Before the Trip

Tomorrow, we wake up at the insane time of 4am to dress, load, hitch the boat and go to buy gas & bait for a 5am launching off the docks. The sun will be rising at 6:15am, so we want to already be heading to the first destination as sun rises. Early morning bite is important, especially when you're talking about an invasion of weekend fishermen coming from everywhere to our port to catch the migrating cobia. There have been days that we have left at 9am and I had to park in the overfill lot across and down the road. Not fun!

The weather is suppose to be beautiful. 86 deg, UV Index 9, 5-10knot winds w/ 2-3 ft waves from then south, then SE. I bet the water will be very clear for us. We will carry jackets for the morning pre-dawn but then have layers down to a bathing suit for me. We have a good chance of catching cobia but also the first Mahi mahi of spring that are trickling in this week. One local fishing friend saw a school of dozens of manta rays together. Then, later he came across what he claimed were 100 cobia together. I cannot fathom seeing these massive schools myself but I'm sure one day I will. Our first year here, we saw a mullet run from out of the river to the ocean. I'm sure there were 1000's because it took minutes for all of them to pass. Also, last weekend, there were a few/several beached whales in our county. We will have to keep a look out for these smaller whales.

So, back to tonight, all the poles, tackle boxes, outriggers, electronics, music, bean bags for the kids to ride in and towels are loaded in the cuddy. Both coolers are filled with ice and the smaller one with canned drinks and water. We have a wonderful 4 ft long cooler to keep the larger fish in because our boat did not have a sunken fish box. It had a not-so-efficient above one that we removed. At least w/ the cooler, we can move it around. It's hard to believe, but at some point, we're going to come across a fish that doesn't fit in that 4 ft. If we are ever blessed with tuna, I'm sure that 3 would be max fitting in there. Oh to have the problem tomorrow! Yeah, right.

Sandwiches & more drinks are bagged in the frig for quick removal. A large bag of snacks are also sitting on the counter. I need to be hitting the hay very soon if I don't want to feel sick when I wake up.

There are a couple things that are paramount to fishing and we have certainly made the mistake of leaving one of them at home at one time or another. The keys to the boat, the plug to keep the water out of the boat (left out to drain when not in use) and polarized sunglasses. I feel like Superman in my polarized glasses. Without them, the glare makes seeing your catch impossible. It also makes seeing what is following your catch up from the bottom of the deep impossible, too. Several times, we've had sharks, cobia or barracuda follow up pinfish caught on the kids poles. One year, we could see a small school of amberjacks swimming below us. I put some dead bait down 15 ft and could see them staring at it. It was almost like fishing in a Sea World tank it was so clear - only they decided they didn't have time to eat.

Well, be sure to check in tomorrow to see what we came home with.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

3/28/06 Ray of Hope

It looks like the entire weekend will be light winds & 2-3ft seas, which is VERY doable!! I doubt there will be one cobia left on the south side of the Cape so it may be an early run to deep waters for snapper & grouper. As the sun gets high in the sky, we can motor back in slowly to look for cobes & tripletail.
Below is a picture of a tripletail, roughly 12 lbs. They love to lay like a leaf on top of the water or directly under something floating,moving with the currents.

Monday, March 27, 2006

3/27/06 Withdrawl Reflexions

I am in true fishing withdrawl at this point. It has been 25 days since I've been on blue water and seen something on the end of my pole, which I might add is probably starting cobwebs on it. I think the only thing that has helped was that we went to the beach 14 days ago and got my sun fix. No, no, no.... I don't do sun worshipping, better known as laying out or tanning. However, I do feel much better when I get a good dose of sun & the vitamin D it produces. Fishing is also my form of escapism from the home. I truly love being a stay-at-home & homeschooling Mom, as well as Sunday School & Team Kids teacher at church - don't get me wrong. My life is filled with joy & laughter from living with big & little men. I cherish the freedom I have to school my children at home and teach them about Christ & the Bible. I wouldn't trade my life for anybody else's. However, when I stand on the bow of our boat, feeling the warmth of the sun & wind passing over me to cool me down, I feel GOOD. I feel free from the world & the cares of this world. No phones, no tv, no computer, no nosey neighbors (most the time), no washing machine, dishes or ironing or homeschooling to do, plus 100% time with my family making memories. Many times we pray for safety the day before or that day, then we give praise to God for our catch & good times and thank Him again once we're back on dry ground. I never take for granted our safety. Afterall, we're miles offshore, surrounded by water filled with energy (waves) and fish big enough to swallow us whole.

Then, there are the summer storms. Below is a picture of the day that we decided that we needed a different, bigger boat. It had been very hot & sunny all morning, which lead to the infamous Florida Thunderstorm. We raced back as quickly as we could only to find ourselves meeting with the center of the cell. We contacted Coast Guard to give us guidance. We came as close to shore first, then followed up the coastline. Meanwhile, we could see lightening hitting the dock area. It was scary even with the boys & I in the cuddy and Jack getting pelted by rain in his wet gear. By the time we were inside the inlet, the rain had let up & lightening was nearby but not directly upon us. It was time to get a bigger boat, bigger cuddy & faster engine. Of course, I think being naive didn't help us either. We may wait it out offshore, if possible, next time.

Today the waves are still in the 4-5 ft range at 20 nm (nautical miles) offshore. We are still hoping that the weekend will bring them down to safe boating opportunities for our family. March came in like a lion and it looks like it will be going out like one too.

Friday, March 24, 2006

FACT OR FICTION???? - 3rd picture contained graphic blood & parts

Can a lobster really bite off a finger tip? Btw, this is not our lobster or fingers!

3/24/05 BOAT & CAPT. JACK

1987 248 Mako W/A Restoration project & fishing vessel

My hubby (AKA Capt Jack or Cocoa Jack)

Thursday, March 23, 2006

3/23/06 Reminiscing report
while waiting for waves to calm down.

Robin's 1st Oceanic Trigger Dec 2005

Jack's Mangrove Snapper Nov 2005

Jack's Blue fish - Surf fishing 2003

Matthew's Snapper May 05, Catch-Release

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

3/21/06 MORE WIND Report

Jack's job has kept us out of the water for nearly 2 wks and I'm having a little bit of withdrawls. I try not to be jealous of all the pictures coming in of the cobia being taken, yet our boat sits in the driveway. I was hoping for the weekend, but seas are expected up to 6 ft. Monday or Tuesday may bring less wind & an opportunity to fish. I am so glad that we're a little ahead on our homeschooling schedule so that we may take a spring break time on the water when the weather clears. After the cobia run is over, the mahi mahi (dolphin fish) will be next.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

CFOA/FSFA Cobia Tournament winners!!
Congrats to Chris & Billy for their win, beating 2nd place cobia by a few ounces.

FSFA club will retain the trophy for another year.

Thank you Dale & club for putting on a great event for the Port Canaveral community.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

3/18/06 Port Canaveral & Tourney update

Our family schedule has not permitted us time to fish this week but here is a short report of what I've been reading. When many boats headed back out, after a few days of high seas, they said the cobes were thinned out quite a bit more than last weekend. This probably means that some have gone ahead and moved north as the waters are warming up. Our area is still fighting the winds & high seas; however, the Cobia Fun Tournament has decided to move forward with the tourney, having weigh-in on Sunday evening.

Nice snapper, gags and flounder are being caught around the wrecks. I have heard the first 'other side' of the Gulf Stream report today with a nice Yellowfin being brought aboard. Nice weedlines gave way to dolphin- mahi mahi being caught. I am looking forward to them being on the west side of the Gulf Stream so that I can catch my first one. Jack caught one last year on a friend's boat. We really didn't have the right boat during last Spring's fishing season, which is the best season of the year.

Here is a picture of Jetty Park beach & south Inlet rocks. Just a couple miles past this lies cobia grounds.

Monday, March 13, 2006


Finally, they are here and they are hungry and they are in very close to shore!! It is still a bit sporty out of Port Canaveral for the smaller boats but from what I hear, the water is full of the beloved 'brown terds.'

This is a great time of year for fishermen to get their wives hooked on fishing because you can wake up late, catch a nice tan, not go very far offshore and these fish have a lot of fighting stamina. Cobias will make a few runs away from boatside and unfortunately, many have been lost boatside. Legend has it that a cobia saves plenty of fight for once it is in the boat so get it straight into the cooler and then sit on the lid. You can always remove the hook afterwards. Oh and be sure it is legal size first!

Terminology class here: a cobia too small to keep is called a 'short or shortie'. A cobia in legal size is a 'keeper.' A cobia that needs two gaffs to haul it over the side (50+ lbs range) is called a 'slob'. A monster cobia that recently got away from an internet fishing friend was nick-named Mario. We may have added a new lexicon for the one that got away to become 'Mario.'

Friday, March 10, 2006

3/10/06 Banana River & Shrimp Whispering

Well, several folks enjoyed windsurfing in the river today. They do look like they have fun. We also enjoy watching the guys with the parachute w/ boards strapped to their feet. Some days, if we have time in our day of errands, sometimes we'll pull off the side of the causeway to watch them.

Banana River was very brown/green with 2-3 ft chop in the open areas. We tried to find a cove and throw some live shrimp out on a hook but only caught one small trout for our efforts. Mostly, it was a picnic day and then we headed back home after barely 4 hrs.

Upon washing the boat and cleaning the live-well, Jack had one shrimp escape down the hole that would normally head out to sea. Somebody forgot to tell the shrimp that he was heading towards the driveway. I got the hose ready for Jack to flush the 'tube' in the livewell. I waited and waited for Mr. Shrimp to pop out the hole on the side of the boat. He never did come out that I could see. Does anybody have a number of a good Shrimp Whisperer? We all tried our best to get him out, but I'm afraid he's stuck or holding for dear life. Here is Matthew practicing his Shrimp Whispering skills. Even our boxer tried Whispering to shrimp but it tickled his nose.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

3/9-10/06 WIND, WIND, WIND!!!

March is when the cobia migrate north, along with the Northern Right Whale and Manta Rays. It also lays claim to the most unpredictable month to forecast weather. We had winds stiff enough to blow over full garbage cans & move flying debris all the way down the street in record time. Last year, we barely got our hooks wet after the wind was done blowing, only to find the treasured 'brownie' was already gone.

Again, our local Cobia Tournament has been postponed in all fairness to the club members with the smaller boats. We are under Small Craft Caution for Port Canaveral! Our family's hopes of making a picnic/fishing day on the water tomorrow will probably be dashed.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006


First, let me say that seas went up to 9.5 ft but are settling back down in the 5 ft range and should be perfect by weekend for the FSFA/CFOA Cobia Fun-A-Ment. (Tournament) We are seeing cobia, large ones, being reported with some frequency in our deeper waters (65 ft). It is really fun to spot mantas & cobias right off the beaches though. To me, sight fishing is exciting because you never know exactly what you'll see if you slow down the engines, find the highest point on your boat to stand on and look. I have found the world of fishing to be highly educational to our sons. There are more things to see in a single day on the water than a classroom could ever teach. This is where memories are made. Some people spend hundreds of dollars and wait an entire lifetime to see a whale. We are fortunate to have them in our own backyard.

I hope the original photographer from the Florida Sportsman Forum doesn't mind me using a copy of his whale photo here.

I would really hate to miss the spring Cobia migration because of wind.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

3/7/06 WIND REPORT!!!!

Seas are building up to 8 ft over the next 48 hours, so most everyone will be staying either inshore or inside. We enjoyed grilled tripletail for lunch today between homeschooling sessions.

Many reports came in from yesterday's great day out on the water. Large Gag grouper, Red Snapper (sows over 30 lbs), Scamps, Flounder and some Cobia are being caught in deep water (160 ft+). One cobia was reported so big that it bent a cheap gaff; therefore, they lost the monster fish. Very sad.

Northern Right Whales are still being reported off the coast of Port Canaveral.

Monday, March 06, 2006


First off, the Cobia Fun-a-ment was a No-Go for last weekend; however, it will be on for this coming weekend. Captain's meeting Friday the 10th, then tourney on Sat & weigh-in on Sunday.
The smaller cobias are beginning to free swim on top of the water. This is part of their migration route. They are heading north for the summer, following the 70 degree water. Sometimes Cobia will follow on the backs of Manta Rays and sometimes they will hang on wrecks for a while. However, when the weather is perfect, you'll see them swimming on top of the water. If they're not shy from seeing jigs yet, they'll eat a nice yellow jig tipped with squid. Here is a pic from 2005 of the Captain w/ a small cobia on.

Also, a fishing friend saw the Northern Right Whale just off our port on Thursday.

Secondly, the weather was perfect out of Port Canaveral yesterday and today. We had to post-pone our trip out because the Captain had to see the chiropractor today. We are just praying that the weather will settle back down in time to head out around Friday (pre-tourney). Since we are not competing, we like to stay away from the tounament action. Our ramps are hectic enough on the weekends! The local dockside restaurant, Grills, sits adjacent to the ramps and many folks stand on the back porches heckling the boaters for lack of skills shown at the ramp.

When the ramp is very wet, tires smoke and skid and then the crowd gets loud. I've seen men so nervous that they leave their parking break on. Some people refuse to use the ramp closest to the restaurant. I don't like to because it is steeper but I really don't like onlookers even though we're a team on the ramp.

One weekend, we saw divers down at the Kelly Park (river) ramp. We hung around to be nosey and watched them pull a brand new truck and boat trailer out of the water. It was coming out on its tires but sadly, it fell back down, readjusted itself and came out on the roof. SO SAD!

This is the second time we've seen something like this. The other time was in Jacksonville, FL. It is the very reason why I leave my children with Jack in the boat.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Our local Cobia Fun-a-ment (Tournament) is going on this weekend. Results after the weigh-in on Sunday afternoon. For now, I'm looking ahead at the forecast to see when we'll be going out next week. Looks like Monday may be the day. This works out great for Jack's work schedule. We can be on the water by dawn to catch the morning bite and back home by 2pm for sleep & work.

If you're wondering how we determine which day is better, I also use other links to check wind speed & direction. NOAA provides us with much data. I like the lighter winds on Monday.








Friday, March 03, 2006


I suppose that I should tell you a little bit about our boat.

In August 2005, we aquired an 1987 Mako 248 Walk-around from a dentist in Orlando. We had a 1989 Rinker 19 ft cuddy cabin cruiser before that. "Her" hull design came highly recommended by friends and we had intended to power her soon. Jack, my husband, did a lot of maintenance on the old engine just so we could continue fishing while searching out the new engine; however, that would not be. It was unreliable and unsafe for us as a family. We were towed back to port more times than I cared to count.

In January 2006, we repowered her with a 2003 Mercury OptiMax 225 hp engine that has top notch speed & fuel efficiency combined. Not a bad thing with the gas prices going up. In February, we gave her a new bimini top with eisenglass sides.

She also has upgraded Lowrance Color Fishfinder and GPS. She is now very fishable although still needing cosmetic work.

Here is a before picture.

Her today.

She comes with a wonderful stand-up cuddy with potty, shower, bed, drawers and 2 sink stations. We have not stayed overnight on her yet, but I'm sure that will come.

I would like to share with you a picture from August 2005 before our old Rinker sold. I think that you will be able to appreciate the reasons why we upgraded to the larger, offshore boat for our fishing family.

3/2/06 FISHING REPORT of Port Canaveral
Started out at 10am, hitting ocean about 10:30. Seas 1-2 ft. Mostly sunny, water 67.8-68 deg, somewhat dirty water but clearing up compared to 3/1/06. Cobias have been reported yesterday due east of the port.

Quickly ran several miles SE of the port, to 30-45 ft of water. Saw white plastic debris. 1 large trip under it, then 2 more spotted swimming towards our boat which spooked and went under. After setting up for the big trip, we circle back around to the debris and NOW, there are 4 big trips in the 10-15 lb range hovering together. Our friend, John B has never caught a tripletail before and so we give him first dibs. He threw multiple times but had a sinker on which spooked them. While he was re-rigging his pole, Jack made a circle back and took a throw at one of them. HOOK UP! It was a nice fight with a few runs back down. I netted him and we didn’t even bother measuring him since he was so big.

He’s on ice by 11:25am. All the other three have spooked and left the plastic. We motor a few more minutes and spot another large one between floating sea weed. While John getting read to throw to him, I see another pair swimming past the front of the boat. I whisper to Jack for the pole and I throw and the larger one follows my shrimp. BAM! Game on and it quickly joins Jack’s biggie. Mine is only 15.5 inchs (legal size is 15inches).
On ice at 12:03.

Meanwhile, John is throwing to his back at the patch of weeds and BAM, game on for him! Back to back hook-ups. John has a fun fight and lands his first tripletail ever! His measured about 16’ish inches. 12:08pm

With three in the box and being only 1.5 miles from the snapper hole, we decide to enjoy sandwiches and zoom over. We never spotted a free-swimming cobia or manta either inspite of seeing so many tripletails. We mostly drifted over the wreckage which produced a lot of snapper and break-offs. Wind & current made anchoring unsuccessful. On John’s first drift, he hooks up with a 12 inch Lane Snapper. (8inches legal) Somehow, I missed the picture because Jack too was fighting something and I grabbed the net. Unfortunately, we lost that fish. John had something big on and it broke off after getting it up off the bottom. (BTW, we’re all using big reels with monofilament backing and powerpro up front. Terminal end has anywhere from 30-100 lb line, depending on what we're hunting.)

Matthew reminds me to get the camera for his first reef fish – grunt family at 1:20. Back to the reef. Three minutes later, Michael’s pole goes off and up comes this monster size whiting. At first, down in the water column, I thought it was a red fish missing it’s spot. Don’t let the picture fool you, this fish is about 15 inches long. (1:23pm)

I don’t even get a chance to put the camera down and Matthew has something big on.
1:24pm Mr. John is holding the pole to make sure it and Matthew don’t go overboard. Thank goodness the pole was able to rest of the sides of the boat for leverage. (Dad, that is your Penn reel on there.) THE JOY! His First Keeper American Red Snapper (ARS), measuring 23 inches. Legal is 20 inches.

1:25 pm Look at that smile. Haven’t weighed it yet, but it was several pounds big.

Next, short snapper was Matthew’s I think. 18 inches and had to go back to the water. He couldn’t go down, so we had to recapture him w/ the net and vent the air in his stomach. 1:37pm
Upon repositioning the boat, we see a nice manta ray east of us.
We motored over and didn’t see any cobias riding its back but Jack still threw the yellow jig to it. No fish on top. At one point, this majestic creature with a wingspan of 8 ft stalled out right behind us. It is so very hard to capture a good manta picture with the glare on the water. 1:47pm.

We head back to the snapper hole and on my first drift, I pick up a baby red grouper who’s eyes were bigger than his mouth. We just received our tagging kit from Mote Marine Laboratories and red grouper is on the list of targeted species but I didn’t have the heart to put a needle in him. 1:57pm. He has white snow spots on his back and yellow fins.

You’re probably wondering how the other side of the boat is doing at this time. The men had a lot of big fish break off their lines and were re-rigging the poles. One point, we all snagged the wreck but with reversing, Matthew and I were able to recapture our line & gear.

At 2:45, I had a nice fight going on and got it off the wreck. I knew it was a big snapper but unfortunately, it wasn’t quite big enough. 19.5 inches. I held out my own fish and snapped a picture of him.

No long after that, Jack starts a grunting and fighting a fish. We’re all just yelling “Reel, reel!” Then, “easy, don’t break the line”. 3:03, he brings this bad boy to the ice box. 22.5 inches.

Now, Jack is happy to finally have his legal snapper in the box.
We high 5'd each other.

We headed home right after this. Fourteen miles back in.

I think there were some more throw back reef fish that we did not keep. Overall, we had a day of big fish bites rather than getting bothered with small guys, which is a nice change.

Nobody took a picture of me in my cute braids. I don’t think my guys thought the braids were too cool. I loved not having to deal with hair in my face or on my neck. I got a nice burn on my neck, ears and shoulders. I put on sunblock but it was already too late.

Off to go clean all those fish!