Saturday, September 30, 2006

9/28-29/06 Tales of our No-Fish Trip (part 2)

The day started slow for all of us. I did dishes, started laundry, generally picking up around the house. Once the men were up and fed, Capt Jack got on the NOAA website and checked out Weather Buoy 41009. Hmmm..... it appeared to be better than yesterday. The 30 minute warning bell was rung and we were off flying. Here's a tip if you get seasickness: take Gingeroot before you leave the house!! Big M and myself both get queasy in anything over 2 ft seas. Friday was the true test on how well this homeopathic remedy works. We both gave it an A+. By the 8th hour, we could feel ourselves getting a little nauseated but overall, everything stayed down and there were no sleepy side-effects.

Ok..... so we are in the water by 11am, sun is rising and it's still around 2- 2.5ft but doable because the wave period was longer (time between waves). Around 60 ft (9-ish miles), we saw some nice weed mats, cast a couple times to a tripletail that was not hungry. We also saw a young hammerhead toying around the weeds which may have made the fish too skittish to eat. We keep moving on. Our goal is to start trolling at Pelican Flats (90 ft - 18 mi SE of the port), which we did. About 45 min into that, we stop the boat for Jack to test a bottom rig. Little did we know that he'd be hammered in seconds. After some time, up comes a reef shark (3 ft). Nope, don't need that. Released after I make a careless mistake of raising it up by it's tail. My idea was to hold tail with left hand and secure shoulders with right hand. Nope. He didn't agree. He swung back and forth a couple times to close for comfort. I dropped him back to the water. Next, I drop down my line w/ sardine & double-hook rig. Whack! I fight it but win the battle and can see another shark on the line. Now that wouldn't be bad except for the fact that I see another line caught in the mess. Oh no! It was our trolling line that we had carelessly left out while bottom fishing. It had gotten wrapped several times around the engine propeller. Jack is working with that while I'm taking my time with an angry shark. Eventually, he yanks his ownself off the hooks and I'm free to help Jack. Mostly, all we could do is raise the engine, thankfully most the line unreeled itself from the prop shaft and Jack cut the line. Unfortunately, his brand new trolling lure drifted down to the abyss. We looked at each other with an 'oh well' because losing a $7 lure is a lot cheaper than anything wrong on an engine. We were blessed to have learned that lesson fairly cheaply.

Jack put in new coordinates and I slow troll with my feet for another 7 mi east while he rerigs all the bottom poles. We came across what looked to be empty milk jugs floating inside a garbage bag. ??? Below it was a nice tripletail. Jack cast to it but before we could convince him it was delicious shrimp, he was high-tailing it. Tripletails are very smart fish. Back to business....We're suppose to be heading for some underwater rubble. What happened was we went to nothing, as Jack had punched in some wrong numbers. Strike 2. At that point, we shared the area with 3 shrimp boats, approx 34 miles offshore. The seas were laying down nicely especially for the Gulf Stream and the water was blue, clean and 82 deg. Ok, so we head back in some to 21F(athom) ridge where some rubble is also suppose to be close to the natural ridge.

We begin dropping lines again and getting major slams to the gunnel (side). I did catch this one silly Offshore Lizardfish. Their mouths really do look like lizards. I'm holding onto him rather securely because he had a mouth full of teeth! Our lines keep breaking (we use PowerPro braid - 50 lbs). We would get the big somethings (hindsight says sharks) up to the near surface and they'd head-shake until the line broke. We lost some kingfish due to that same scenario. Clearly, we need to get rid of the Powerpro braid. My pole is retired eventually. Jack raises a shark next. I'm goofing off with big M's pole (meant for small stuff) and I drop down a shrimp. I finally get a hit and start reeling. I'm taking it really easy because I only have 30 lb line on that lighter action pole. The thing headshakes twice and we know its going to be shark but we finally get it up. Jack lets me snap this picture before releasing it.

Well, we've had our share of mishaps and blessings. I think somewhere along the way I forgot to mention that we kept smelling this awful gagging smell. We've smelt it before but thought it was something at the port. So, Capt Jack starts sniffing and pulling hatches in the floor area. Upon opening the batteries hatch, our #2 battery is smoking and it is coming close to oozing battery acid everywhere! All is not lost because we have the ability to switch off to only battery #1 which did solve the problem. However, this could have been a bad situation for which we feel very thankful never did come to pass. We never travel without tools, extra supplies and a membership card to Sea Tow. Most of all, we never leave the port without a prayer for safety. One can never be in full control of every situation.

After raising the anchor for the last time, my left contact comes out leaving my eye in severe pain. Strike 3 or maybe closer to 4. Big M and I take to the comfort of the beanbags while Little M and Daddy drive the 24 miles back to Port Canaveral (from 6:10 to 6:45pm). I catch some awesome sunset pictures right before we hit the set of buoys. Jack takes a last ditch effort to cast his yellow jig to the buoys while I take photos of my baby and myself.

Just as we are into the inlet, the big casino boats are pulling out for the night. It's great to see all the lights on the boats. The sky is fading from pink to a dim purple. Once we are at the docks, I went ahead and got the trailer and did my job. Jack did offer but I was up to the challenge even without the contact. I have monovision, so as long as I have my right contact, I'm good. Everything goes smoothly which is wonderful, given I have the Friday night heckling crowd at the overlooking restaurant. It smells good and the music is fun, but the people sure do make me nervous. After the boat is hooked up and ready to pull out, some folks are cracking jokes. Most people mean well and compliment my ability as a lady angler working a big boat; however, this threesome was more like a thorn in the side. After I jumped in the suburban, they yelled to Jack that he was in trouble now, which made no sense to me. He was not in trouble for anything. I was so happy to be heading home.

We made a couple jokes that next time one of Jack's coworkers has trouble backing down the ramps, he can say, "My wife does that better half-blinded and in the dark."

9/28-29/06 Tales of our No-Fish Trip (part 1)

First off, let me preface this by saying that sometimes the NOAA officials make a call earlier in the week and then as late as the morning of, can change the forcast. That is what happened to us on Thursday. (Jetty Park Pier in picture)

Capt Jack was asked to work this and next weekend for a coworker. That is a long time without any sort of break, so what we did was look for a fishable 2 days that he could take only 1 day off of work. Next week, it looks like we'll have high seas from H. Isaac passing by in the Atlantic. We made a decision that Thurs/Friday would be our days to see if we could capitalize on the migrating cobia & mahi mahi. As it turned out, Thursday was not so good a choice for fishing. Because of the cool front that blew through the night before, the winds were directly from the west. Nice at the shore, but pretty sloppy offshore. Wind and wave action fighting each other, along with a current difference. We made it only 9 miles in following seas before we turned around at a shrimp boat and decided to follow it slowly back in towards the oncoming waves while looking for scavenger cobia looking for by-catch. There may have been cobia around, but it was really hard to concentrate on that and hold on. The water was a cloudy green and I'm sure anything pelagic (surface feeding) was well below our view. We did take in a spectacular wild dolphin show who seemed to enjoy the topsy-turvey water. Some went full airborne and some did side-slams onto the next wave. I'm sure they had their fill of bycatch from the shrimp boat and were simply enjoying life. We did catch a broken weedline that lead back towards shore. Looked that over carefully for a few miles before it ended. As we approached the beach, the water settled down enough to pick up speed and land very close to the beach. We threw the anchor down and proceeded to use up some shrimp. Jack found the right spot that was holding whiting. Me....... I found nothing.
Eventually, we moved the anchor a bit closer to shore and handed the poles over to the kids. I guess an hour went by and nothing. It was going to be a slow day! We started at 8:30 from home and now it was about 1:30. We were lulled into thinking maybe we could try going offshore one more time. We got about 2 miles and turned around again. This time, we anchored just inside the inlet, near the northside, but not close enough to get in trouble w/ the Coast Guard but far enough over that the big cruise ships could pass by us. Thursday is a big departure day.

The kids and I continued to fish our new spot while Jack went into the "sauna bath" cuddy to take a nap. While we only had two bites, which both stingrays released on their own, it still was fun in it's own way because the young stingrays were migrating through and doing their own aerobatics. Some went as high as 5 ft out of the water and then come down with a hard smack. I don't understand the purpose in this, but it was fun to watch. I had thought that it was possible to have one land in the boat accidentally. Meanwhile, the kids were thoroughly bored with the lack of bites and turned their attention to playing with shrimp in the livewell. They were giving them names like Snap, Crackle, Pop, Snap2, Crackle 2, Pop2 and Jane. They were making them walk on their hands.

Finally, this gianormous Coast Guard boats passes by us. Hmmmm..... he's got a lot of buoys on the deck. So, I grab the camera and catch them changing out Buoy #12A. How cool is that?

It certainly was entertaining for a short while as we tried our best to be quiet and let the Captain catch an afternoon nap. Jack had been up since 10pm the night before working. It was worth the effort letting him sleep. Because he was rested after an hour or so, we were able to stay out until dusk.

To the right is the same Coast Guard ship pulling up the buoy. It is so hard to tell on this blog uploading. It was not nearly as far away as this picture makes it appear.

After Jack woke up, we headed out about a mile and the seas were still building so it dashed any hopes we had of getting offshore on Thursday. We reanchored on the southside of the Jetty Park rocks. Every cast (using shrimp on a 3/0 hook or smaller) produced a nibble. Some big. Some little. Mostly, we were robbed. I did land this good size Black Margate which is in the Croaker family. They are good eating but he was released after we I.D'd him. We only put him in the livewell to keep him healthy while we fumbled through the book.

When we ran out of shrimp, we took a slow cruise down to Cocoa Pier and back up. Actually our eldest son was the Captain for the trip. Daddy and I got to enjoy a few minutes of sunset and conversation alone.

Once we got back to the docks, little M and I picked up the trailer and it is my job to get our Mako out of the water. We have some pretty nifty teamwork going. Of course, less current and wind always is bonus.

Upon getting to the (un)staging area, somebody had carelessly parked their truck/boat rig blocking the majority of the entrance. I pulled up to the exit and backed in, which was a first for me. I must admit that I did better than I thought I would. Anyhow, even by the time we were totally stowed and ready for the road, a couple of the folks were returning to the truck. I would appear that they took their cooler over to the cleaning tables to clean fish. Niiiiiiice. Not so ironically, their boat was named Redneck Yacht. You might be a Redneck if.........a) you name your boat after it b) you leave your rig blocking the road to the staging area. If this had been a weekend, there would have been 250 lb men waiting on the driver to have words.
Part two to continue above.............

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

9/28/06 Fishing vacation

I know it seems strange to do this but we've been planning for this since spring. In Florida, we have such hot, muggy and buggy summers that it only makes sense to homeschool through those months and then as the mahi and cobia migrate back through our coasts, take some fall days off. So, tomorrow and Friday, we will be making some back-to-back trips out to troll mostly. We will also be bringing some bottom poles in case we get a wild hair to start dropping squid over the 21 fathom ridge. The captain is more set on the trolling but I'm definitely feeling the cooler weather and anticipating the big bottom fish like snapper and grouper.

I'll let you all know what we catch tomorrow night.


Sunday, September 24, 2006

9/24/06 Seals in Ft. Lauderdale???

One of the poor babies did not make it but the other one did.

Friday, September 22, 2006

9/22/06 Quiet Friday night (SeaWorld pics)

Here it is, Friday night and there is no big fishing adventure planned for the weekend thanks to something passing by in the Atlantic. Seas are 7 ft but will diminish down to 2 ft by Tuesday. We will more than likely wait til next Friday to fish so that the dirty water can clear. Gas has gone down considerably so we'll probably fill up the boat tank and wait for a good day. Here are some fun pictures in the meantime for our relatives.

Last Friday, our 4th trip to Sea World. (9/18)

Near the end of the day, we headed to the dolphin tank for a view. The window purchase fish for the dolphins was closed so really all we could do was wait around for a dolphin to feel particularly friendly.

And then it happened, this one jumped up on the wall for a petting. I'm so glad to have been able to capture this photo. I'm sure it will be making it to the fair in some category.

By the way, those are all three of my guys in the photo.

My 7yo captured this photo at the same tank. I went ahead and played with the color, brightness, and contrast on my photoshop and came up with this one. This may be his main entry for the fair for the enhanced digital.

Here is a leopard shark that sits in the tank in front of the restaurant where you can view sharks swimming while you eat. The couple next to me was feeding the fish. He was a little confused that I was giving handouts. Sorry guy.

As for the restaurant, its view is better than the food (not to mention pricey). We prefer to eat at Mango Joe's by the Polar Region. The food is excellent - I recommend the fahita salad in a taco shell.

Jack riding Kraken. He is sitting right above his name. It's not very clear here on the blog but nice in the original photo. On Wednesday, he and a coworker went back to SeaWorld together and they rode Kraken 9x in a row because the park was so quiet. Unfortunately, Bill got motion sickness.

The best show in the park is Seamore and Clyde's Seal and Walrus show. There is a lot of comedy but most of all, you want to get there early to see the mime make fun of others that show up seconds before the show. My kids could not manage to pose for the picture because they were so afraid he was making fun behind their backs in the photo, as you can see by this picture.

Hope to have some more fishy pictures for you next week.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

9/18/06 Monday's morning report

Here it is Wednesday and I'm just getting around to writing about our fishing. You can probably guess that we were totally skunked again because otherwise I would have posted sooner a big brag & picture. (haha)

The short story is that the weather was beautiful and cooperative. Seas were low, sun popped out by 10am from the haze, temps rose around 92 degrees. The water was pretty dirty all the way out 17 miles. We could have gone much further out but there wasn't a need to. The Gulf Stream had moved inward to the 16 mi point, which pushed all the nice weedlines further in.

We found 2 nice major weedlines - one at 45 ft depth and another at 62 ft. Stopped at the first one and saw a nice cobia. He was following the golden weeds perfect. Almost too perfect to see him well. As Jack readied his shrimp on the hook, I was losing sight of him with the glare. I panicked and rush Jack's throw without him having his eyes on the fish first. Whizzzzzzzzzzz, and kerplunk right on the cobia's head! What are the odds of that? There are times in a marriage when you wish for such accuracy in mind-reading as this, but that very moment was not one of them. The big guy spooked a little so Jack was reeling in the shrimp. At the back of the boat, up pops the shrimp and a large brown cobia following it!!!!! His body went into attack "flare" mode and what's that? huh? there's something big and white in my way? OH my sardines, it's a boat w/ people in it! He dove down and that was the end of seeing him. We tried and tried to relocate the guy with no such blessing to be found.

We headed deeper to the 2nd weedline at 62 ft and threw a shrimp out under a couple mats. Nothing was playing except the little bait fish. There were so cute. Too bad they don't make much of a dinner. We trolled up and down and then back in to shore.

I can't say it was a total waste. For us, we love the thrill of sight-fishing and seeing stuff on top of the water. It was our first time seeing ballyhoo skipping across the top of the water. What funny little fish. We saw numerous turtles and dolphin playing. One even came over to swim under our bow for a short time.

Once back inshore, Jack stopped at each of the bouys to drop down a shrimp and see if any tripletail or flounder were home. Bouy #5 did have some barracudas hanging out and for a brief moment, a nice 15 lb tripletail surfaced, spotted us and high-tailed it back to the bottom.

For the 2nd time this summer, we ran into the man that holds the IGFA record of largest Tripletail caught. He's a very humble man, willing to share anything you ask of him. I almost asked him for 1 of his tripletail in the cooler. There has never been a time we didn't see him cleaning some fish at the boat staging area.

Seas will be high again as Helene passes by us in the far Atlantic. Gas prices are down, so we're hoping that soon we will be able to head out again. Many reports are coming in with dolphin migrating through again and snapper/grouper heading back to the 21 & 27 fathom ridges. I can't wait to bottom fish soon.

This picture shows the edge of a weedline with those little white specs in the green are bait fish.

Happy Fishing and don't forget the sunblock!
Robin (& a cobia from this spring)

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

9/11/06 Celebrating life - 5 yrs after 9/11

I don't know about you, but I spent a lot of my weekend watching shows that put together timelines of the events leading up to 9/11. Then there were shows that focused on Flights 11 & 175 that went into the Twin Towers. And a 3rd show on Flight 93 that went down in Shanksville, PA. The one that spoke about the artifacts found from the Towers really gripped my heart and I went to bed Sunday night so sad once again.

On Monday, I tried to stay away from the morning television news. I wanted nothing to do with the 5 yr anniversary of 9/11. After home-schooling, I had a 1:30pm ultrasound appt to check my polycystic ovaries for further growth or if they had stabilized. You see, if left untreated, it can lead to cancer. I was unwilling to stay on the medication only 2 months after starting it. By 1:40, I had been through with my appointment (the world's shortest appointment in my history) and the news was great - not just good. I was back in the normal range only 18 months after my original diagnosis! I felt immensely grateful to God for hearing my prayers and giving me a fresh slate to work with.

Once I got home, I relieved Jack and let him go off to bed but I was still reeling on this high of thankfulness. And, I certainly didn't want to relive 9/11 stories. The best thing for us to Monday afternoon was to head to the Jetty Park and celebrate by running around and getting wet and sandy. (Btw, Hurricane Florence is passing by and making quite a splash in the ocean this week, so there will be no fishing for a few days.)

Here are a bunch of pictures that we took, in no particular order. Most of them speak for themselves.

I live with a bunch of stunt junkies. The love to be daredevils and I love photography. I'm going to pick out some favorites and enter them in the Space Coast Fair this November.

Every throw a bag of chips at the seagulls on the beach?

Friday, September 08, 2006

9/8/06 - Short [lack of] Report

Jack took 2 co-workers (Bill and Marcus) out fishing today. Poor Marcus didn't make it past the bouys for bait before losing breakfast. Then Bill started getting sick too. They went out 35 miles, never saw blue water or a single sign of life on top of the water. They were back home by 3:30 sharp - skunked and sick.

Note: We're near full-moon which doesn't help.

Happy Fishing and Don't forget to take Ginger for seasickness!

Saturday, September 02, 2006

9/2/06 It' Ain't Easy Being Green

I love Kermit the Frog, but that definitely is not what this post is about. Our family went fishing today, but we did not go catching. The fishing report is short. We only caught 4 bait fish - lost 1 to a kingfish that snapped a weakened wire. Lost 1 to a 7 ft shark. Lost another to ??. Never knew that we lost the 4th. Trolling seemed pointless, so Jack bottom fished on 8A (78.4 deg water) while I sabiki'd up some baby blk sea bass and an octopus (see pic). No keepers were caught. We had a nice ride home.

Ok...... that was the report, but here's the green story: Ernesto churned up the Atlantic so the water is what we call 'dirty'. We never saw pretty blue water and it definitely was not clean.
It was GREEN. Light green to dark green and everything inbetween. Green water equates to poor visibility and poor fishing. When we arrived back at the docks, a man asked how we did as he was trying to decide to fish on Sunday or not. We said, "Slow". He replied, "Everybody else said the same thing." Ahhh, there's comfort that it wasn't just us. We haven't come home skunked in several trips.

Secondly, not only was the water green, but it was 2-3 ft short wave period with a nice wind wave in there. That equates to my big boy turning green after having a few nice months of no seasickness. Oh I felt so badly for him. It is one of those helpless mommy moments. I must say that I had my fill of feeling green too, only without the relief of a good 'chumming of the waters'. Once a good case of seasickness gets into one's system, nothing will cure it but heading in to land. We were fortunate to have fished the 8A reef which is only 10 miles or so away from our Port. It was a quick trip back in by 1:30pm. Jack even took a small detour up the beach for a last scan for debris in hopes of catching a tripletail to fill the dinner plate.

The loading at the ramp wasn't bad for a holiday weekend. Sometimes it is good enough to cut your losses, save the gas and bait and head in before the crowds show up prior to the afternoon t-storms. (Btw, it is storming finally, at 6:15.) One man came up to Jack and told him that he was a lucky man (green with envy). Jack quickly replied that he knew that already. We talked for a few minutes with the man and his relatives about how his wife won't even get on the water much less go fishing or hook up the trailer. Poor woman! She doesn't know what fun she is missing.

I have one more part to this story but it has nothing to do with being green. For a short while, I shared a moment of time on top of the cuddy cabin with my 7 yo son. We sat looking at the beautiful spotted dolphins that came to say hello. Then, we were followed by a seagull for over several minutes. He has slept through the boring couple hours of 'nothing' and had woken up for the best parts of the trip - seeing the octopus, dolphin and seagull. I whispered in his ear that I was sorry that we got skunked today and he didn't get to fish. He quickly replied back to me, "Oh mommy, YOU didn't get skunked at all! You caught an octopus." Sometimes I've got to give up the dream of a tournament winning catch of a fish and see the simple beauty of the ocean like a 7yo. It humbled me and made me feel selfish for seeing this as any less of a trip than the times I come home with a huge cobia or personal best red snapper. He was right. I didn't get skunked. I was blessed with another day with my family, another safe day on the water and a chance to see something new in life.

Happy Fishing and Exploring the Ocean,

Friday, September 01, 2006

9/1/06 Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Ernesto is gone!

"Thou rulest the raging of the sea: when the waves thereof arise, thou stillest them." Psalm 89:9

I can't wait to be back on the water tomorrow. I'm having a little bit of fishing withdrawls. The water was really muddy yesterday and probably today. I'm hoping it will clean up nicely by tomorrow.

During Ernesto, we sustained only 1 bit of damage, which was my fault. When we threw the tarp over the front of the boat to protect the cuddy from side-driving winds & rain, pockets of water filled some of the walkways. As the water weight increased on each side of the antenna, it broke. Today, Jack will be installing our newer antenna sitting in the utility room. It's barely used from our former boat we sold last year.

OH! I almost forgot.... August marked the 1 yr anniversary of buying our Mako 248 boat. Yeah!