Friday, March 09, 2007


As you will see, it started out as a beautiful Friday morning. The sun was shining with all its glory and promise of a great family day. We followed a fleet of fishermen out of Port Canaveral only to see most of them turn left, north and we headed south, down the beach.

Three years ago, we caught our first cobia off of Patrick AFB beaches while having a picnic lunch on our boat. We had no idea that mantas were like gold to local fishermen. Not to eat, but because they held on their backs a most prized possession - a cobia. Since then, we've always favored that area to do our hunting.

We were slow to spot anything in the late morning but I'm guessing by noon, we saw our first pair of juvenile mantas playing in 50 ft of water. The pursuer was holding a single cobia on his shoulder. Jack's first cast to it, his lure went into flight by itself and that was the last we saw of it. Jack quickly regained momentum on another pass of these two playful sea creatures and threw his other line with a live shrimp to the cobia.

I really love this series of photos because it shows the mantas coming closer and closer to our boat. If I showed you the originals, you could see Jack's shrimp airborne.

As it turned out, at one point, these two had enough of a big white boat following them and dove down to hide or possible take a little romantic get-a-way.

Maybe close to 30 minutes later, I see Jack on the floor, having taken all the screws out of the livewell base. All he can think of is that his live shrimp are now dead and that he wants to correct the kink in the water line. For me, I have border collie intensity when on our boat. I could care less about dead shrimp and my eyes have locked in on another ray. Too bad it was already being followed by another boat. But....... it gives me hope. I no sooner finish another fisherman's prayer and I spot our own manta to chase around. Jack leaps off the floor and goes back to his Captain duties. There is no time to be a mechanic.

This manta, however, has her own personality. [click on the pic to make it bigger] She is shy and mysterious. The two cobias on her back have chosen her well and have found their refuge - for the moment. Do you know that arcade game where the head pops out of the hole and it is up to you to hit it as quickly as you can? Well, that's how we felt with stalking this manta and her 2 brown parasites. We'd get to her, she'd duck down, a little further ahead, she'd pop up again, we'd remanuever the boat, she'd duck down and we'd try to predict her next move. A couple times, she popped up close enough to where we had predicted. I snapped this beautiful picture of her crossing our path. Jack threw his jig and like a well-orchestrated play, the cobia glided off the back of the ray and hunted the yellow jig. A little curiousity. A little snap of the wrist. An irresistable instinct to eat. Then, the smokin' scream of line going off the reel. Game was ON! The screaming line nearly put us in a chase-the-fish with the boat situation. This fish was MAD and heading back for his manta ray. The cobia made at least 5 runs from the boat. After Jack's near coronary, we had him in the cooler. [must eat healthier, must exercise!]

Oh, but the fun only had just began! He was not having any ice bath. Jack's always said that we needed a bigger cooler and being frugal, I've ignored him. I'm starting to rethink my naive ways and consider not only a bigger cooler, but one with a big lock on the outside. Jack's cobia popped open the latches several times in the process of working through his anger. It was much like those movies where the evil villian keeps coming back to life. No sooner would we get back to our routine and the cooler would open and rock and a tail would flash back and forth. It was quite some time before we were able to capture this trophy picture of Jack with his 44 lb cobia.

Almost immediately after picking up this fella, we were drifting along when another cobia swam right by us. Jack threw the boat in gear after missing his first cast. He parked the boat right in front of this 2nd one. He threw his yellow jig out. The cobia pursued it. Again, it was the perfect dance ending with a screaming line. Only, this story ends much differently. One really big head shake and Jack's line pops into the wind, flapping like a flag.

What had happened was that his line was stressed from having just pulled in a 44 lb fish on 30 lb line. The line was fraying and broke at the swivel. I'm sure that fish was in the 30 lb range. But, we can't cry over spilt milk. We're still blessed to have put several dinners in the freezer today.

Soon, the wind kicked up too much to see fish. On the way towards the port, we ran over another cobia (he's fine, but we spooked it). Jack spotted a borderline legal tripletail which I threw to 4x and couldn't catch. I did manage to feed it my shrimp without feeling a nibble. I get too excited and can't cast worth a flip in a pinch. Still, it was good practice to knock off my winter cobwebs.

Once back in the inlet, we let the boys throw the dead shrimp to the pelicans and seagulls. I love this picture I caught.

Take your family fishing,

1 comment:

Knatolee said...

Oh, what a beautiful picture of the pelicans. I just love it. The manta rays are also very cool!